Development Begins 1970-1974

The next steps

After the split with the Lakeside railway in 1970 development of the railway museum proceeded. The Company had a good collection of main line locomotives, the old locomotive depot, two of the original Directors Dr. Peter Beet and Joe Greenwood and a group of volunteers.

A manager Jack Cherry had already been appointed. A caretaker Bill Coates and his brother in law  Eddie arrived and allowed the museum to open daily. The caretaker lived in a caravan next to the main entrance at the Keer end of the site. Work on restoring the locomotives proceed apace. This was enhanced when Ken Cottam the former BR foreman fitter at Carnforth returned and with his brother in law Frank Swindlehurst to work in the workshop.

On open days engines were steamed and footplate rides given for a fee. My recollection is that this was initially 5 shillings.

The Industrial Locomotives arrive

In order to operate more effectively a number of industrial locomotives were sought as they could be steamed cheaply and commanded almost the same fee for a footplate ride. A great Western toad brake van was also obtained. To start with the only small locomotive was a small vertical boilered sentinel Gasbag. This was followed by an Andrew Barclay from Cooke & Nuttall at Horwich and then a group of 4 Barclay 0-4-0ST's from British Gypsum' three sites along the Settle & Carlisle Railway

dropping the ashes from No.2 Jane Darbyshire

 Andrew Barclay No.1 & Hawthorne Leslie Faraday

Jane Beattie(Newall) drops the ashes from Jane Darbyshire                                    Andrew Barclay  No.1 & Hawthorne Leslie Farday

Steam engine David at Steamtown

Flying Flea was bought from Croppers at Kendal







David came from Millom ironworks at their No.1 along with Alexandra another 0-4-0Barclay saddle tank

In due course further locomotives arrived. Cranford No.2 was a Bagnall 0-6-0ST brought by Dick Lacy from Somerset and a 0-6-0 Bagnall Fireless loco from Trimpell at Heysham. Faraday an 0-4-0ST came from Newport in South Wales. A Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 diesel shunter came from the storage depot on the old Carnforth Ironworks site.

The Main line steam ban

From 1968 British railways imposed a ban on any steam locomotives operating on the national network. The only exception was No. 4472 Flying Scotsman which had a contract to operate until 1970. A great deal of work went into overturning this. An exhibition at Morecambe allowed locomotives to be towed by a diesel but in steam. Finally in 1972 the ban was overturned and steam returned and Carnforth was one of the designated sites from which steam could operate. Test runs to Ulverston with 44871 and 44932 preceded special trains to Barrow in Furness.

Green 5 No 44932 at Ulverston

44932 at Ulverston after the test run. Joe Greenwood is on the extreme right

The Collection Expands

As well as acquiring locomotives from around the UK efforts were made by Dr. Peter Beet to bring locomotives from abroad. financed by David Davis the first to arrive was a French Chapelon Pacific No. 231k22.

french pacific 231k22 outside the workshop B1 No. 1306 Mayflower steaming up eraly one morning

231k22   & B1 no. 1306 Mayflower

This was stored in the Old wagon shop as it was initially too high to go in the main shed. It was followed by a West German oil fired 012 pacific No. 012-104. These very impressive locomotives were much larger than anything else to be seen in the UK.  There were early attempts to get a Union Pacific Big Boy, and a locomotive from the Caribbean but both fell through because of the costs.

Notable locomotives to arrive from within the UK in 1973 were Gresley V2 Green Arrow and A4 Sir Nigel Gresley. They arrived together in steam from Tysley. There remained based at Steamtown for many years.

However attempts to obtain LMS express locomotives from the Butlin collection failed with much acrimony and legal action. 

More successful was the acquisition of three locomotives from the famous Barry scrap yard of Dai Woodham. These were Hall class No. 6960 Raveningham Hall, No. 35005 Merchant Navy class - Canadian Pacific and GWR 56XX No. 5643. This latter locomotive had left the scrap yard already to an abortive preservation scheme the Eastern Valley Railway. In due course all these locomotives were restored and are now widely travelled.

Gresley A4 Sir Nigel Gresley at Steamtown Green Arrow exits the turntable at Steamtown Carnforth

Sir Nigel Gresley and Green Arrow on the day they arrived

The expanding collection proved popular with the public and visitor numbers steadily climbed. Open days with engines in steam were regular occurrences as well as the daily opening. A cafe and gift shop were opened in the old stores and signing on point.

Then in 1974 an exhibition was held over a fortnight in August and as an attraction the world famous Flying Scotsman came as a visitor. The exhibition was a great success with engines in steam every day and an relationship with its owner Bill MacAlpine developed. This will be the next chapter in the story.


Steamtown Carnforth home page

Steamtown Miniature Railway was a 15 inch gauge railway on the site

The people who made Steamtown happen

Steamtown memories & recollections

Steamtown and the Lakeside railway

My interest has continued with the purchase and development of the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway in Staffordshire, one of the Uk's foremost miniature railways.


Contact for queries, additions etc

 email or Telephone 01995 672280