WWI rail vehicle on track for big event

16 May 2012

The National Railway Museum has just taken delivery of an unusual rail vehicle ahead of Britain's biggest rail celebration – Railfest 2012. Despite its odd appearance, the 'Simplex WDLR' holds historical significance as a mechanical World War 1 warhorse which transported supplies to the front line.

A number of rail vehicles have now arrived for the event, which takes place on 2-10 June, with more historic and record breaking engines expected to descend on York in the coming weeks. However, the Simplex WDLR is certainly one of the most unusual engines to arrive so far and is expected to attract a lot of attention when this rarely seen vehicle goes on public display next month.

The Simplex currently operates on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway however its original purpose was operation on the War Department Light Railways. These were a system of narrow gauge trench railways run by the British War Department in World War I. The railways made an important contribution to the Allied war effort as they were used for the supply of ammunition and stores, the transport of troops and the evacuation of the wounded.

After WWI, the Simplex was rebuilt in 2ft 6ins gauge for service in the sugar industry on the West Indian island of St Kitts. It was later repatriated to England, where it was regauged and refurbished with a diesel engine, and has remained in operation on the on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway ever since.

Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Rail Vehicles at the National Railway Museum, said:

"The Simplex is just one of a selection of weird and wonderful rail vehicles we will have on display at Railfest 2012. We have everything from traditional looking steam engines like City of Truro and Flying Scotsman, to unusual looking exhibits like the Simplex WDLR, rarely seen track maintenance machines, a sail powered rail vehicle and more."

The nine day celebration of Britain's railways will see an enormous space the size of 11 football pitches bustling with an awe-inspiring line up of more than 50 locomotives including record-breaking historic and modern locomotives from the museum’s collection and visiting locomotives from across the UK. A wide variety of railway-related activities, attractions, sights, sounds and smells will add to the exciting atmosphere with the opportunity to get up close to the exhibits.

The festival will bring together over 30 record-breaking locomotives that have made their mark on rail history for being the fastest, strongest, first, last and oldest. Among the confirmed record-breaking attendees is holder of the record for the fastest steam locomotive in the world at 126mph, Mallard, the newest mainline steam locomotive in operation, Tornado, and the most powerful industrial tank engine to run in the UK, Mardy Monster. The first locomotive to reach 100mph, Flying Scotsman, is also set to attend the event. The locomotive is currently undergoing major restoration work and will be on display to the public during Railfest with further work being carried out on Flying Scotsman after the event. Railfest 2012 will welcome the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever brought together in one place.

With key support from the leading rail magazine titles; RAIL, Steam Railway and Model Rail, the festival is expected to draw railway fans from far and wide.

The action-packed event will invite visitors to get-up even closer to the exhibits and locomotives by climbing into the driver’s cab, taking a ride behind working engines of all sizes and speaking to inspiring railway characters. Hundreds of stalls, refreshment areas and live music will also add to the bustling and exciting atmosphere.

A number of special events will take place across the nine days including poetry by Ian McMillan and drawings by cartoonist Tony Husband. Card trickster Ollie Mealing will be working his magic with the Limited Edition Railfest Top Trumps cards which will be available to purchase at the event. Artists David Charlesworth GRA and John Wigston GRA will also be capturing the atmosphere of Railfest on canvas and through detailed pencil sketches.

Two exclusive photography events also take place during Railfest giving railway fans a unique opportunity to get clear shots of their favourite attending locomotives without the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Tickets for the photography sessions are sold separately to the daytime event with only a limited number of places available.

Tickets can be bought by visiting nrm.org.uk/railfest2012 or by calling 0870 870 4840.* Those wishing to attend the event are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance to fast-track their entry and avoid the queues. Ticket prices start at £8 for children aged 2-15 years and £13 for an adult. Family tickets and group offers are available. Railfest will be hosted in an outdoor area at the museum with entry to the rest of the museum remaining free to visitors during the 9 day event. For all the latest updates and announcements, visit nrm.org.uk/railfest2012 or sign-up to receive the museum’s email newsletter.


* When booking over the phone, a £1.50 booking fee will be added to your total order. Phone sales end at 6pm on 22 May 2012.

For more information contact:
Gemma Sneyd, Senior Press Officer, National Railway Museum
01904 686271

Notes to Editors:
• Vehicles confirmed so far:
o A4 No. 4468 Mallard
o A3 No.4472 Flying Scotsman
o LNWR Webb No.790 Hardwicke
o GWR No.3717  City of Truro
o No.6229 Duchess of Hamilton with matching coach
o Shropshire & Montgomeryshire 0-4-2WT Gazelle
o Schools No.925 Cheltenham
o RSH No.1 Castle Donington
o A4 No.60007 Sir Nigel Gresley
o Peckett No.2150 Mardy Monster
o Peckett No.2012 Teddy
o Tysley 0-6-0PT No.L94
o Webb No.1054 Coal Tank
o A1 No. 60163 Tornado
o No. 55002 King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
o Prototype HST 41001 
o LMS Jubilee Class No.5596 Bahamas
o SR Brighton Belle brake car No.88
o Hunslet No.1786 Courage / Sweet Pea
o Spooner’s Boat
o Furness Railway No. 20
o George England Palmerston with FR carriage No. 15 and curly roof van
o Echills Wood Railway, Peggy
o B&W Engineering observation coach, Sylvia
o LBSCR ‘A1X’ 0-6-OT No.55, Stepney
o Bassett-Lowke 4-4-2, Synolda (15 inch gauge)
o Taylor 0-4+4-OT, Hawk (15 inch guage)
o LNER ‘Beavertail’ observation saloon No. E1719E
o Middleton Wagon
o Class 37 D6700
o 4-6-2 Britannia No. 70013, Oliver Cromwell
o LNWR Railway Directors’ Saloon No. 5318
o GWR Prarie 2-6-2T No.5521
o LMSR 4-6-2 8P No. 6201, Princess Elizabeth
o GWR 4900 Hall Class 4-6-0 No 5972, Olton Hall
o 12 Sarah Siddons (LT electric locomotive)
o Class 91 91110
o Class 395
o Prototype HST passenger car
o Class 43 HST 43159 power car
o Class 57 Pendennis Castle
o Class 66 with a biomass wagon
o Class 92, Europorte 92032
o Class 56 No. 56312
o Class 31 No. 31190
o Class 50 No. 50008
o Snowblower
o MPV in leaf buster mode
o Roadrailer
o York Model Engineers – locomotives running on 5 inch & 7 ¼ inch gauge tracks
o 4-6-2 DH Neptune
o GCR O4 63601
o Drift Bogie
o Wickham trolley x 2
o Andrew Barclay diesel No. 615
o Quarry Hunslet Gwynedd
o Super Voyager 221144
o Class 57 Thunderbird
o Class 40 D200
o Class 20 D8000
o Peter Pan
o Ex WW1 motor-rail ‘Simplex’ LR2156
o Puffing Billy

• The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year.

• The National Railway Museum’s collection includes over 300 locomotives and rolling stock, 628 coins and medals, 4899 pieces of railway uniform and costume, railway equipment, documents, records, artwork and railway related photographs.

• The National Railway Museum houses a world class collection of Royal trains, which includes a collection of Royal carriages, from those used by Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

• The National Railway Museum’s vast art collection comprises of 11,270 posters, 2,358 prints and drawings, 1052 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs, many of which have never been on public display.

• The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, the National Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion – the National Railway Museum in Shildon.

• Admission to the National Railway Museum is free.

• For more information visit nrm.org.uk.

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• Join us at facebook.com/nationalrailwaymuseum.

Background: L&SWR Adams 563