Santa trains successfully ran for the first time in December. Santa arrives by boat and meets the children in his grotto in the new lake activity centre.
Relaying of a 100 metre section of track is complete between Lakeside and Hunthouse Wood and ballasting is in progress. A new lattice type bracket starter signal has been installed at Rudyard. A new platform shelter & ticket office has been provided on the old platform at Rudyard.
The normal 2004 season finished on a high note with very popular Halloween Specials. Large numbers of Kids in costume were welcomed to travel free. They were treated to lollipops and spiders and both were equally popular. The ghostly guard hijacked the brake van for the day. The phantom goods train also put in a couple of appearances
Work has moved on to coach No.10 which has been through air piped for braking. New bogies have arrived for this coach and fitted. This was used on Santa trains with complete success. A successful test run was made over the whole line on Sunday October 3rd. This coach should be in use soon and will bring the operational coach fleet up to 8.
The next coach will be No 11. This is expected to be a 12 seat enclosed coach.
A new crane wagon arrived on November 21st and following the tradition of having the name of a type of fish has been designated as a carp. It has already been used to lift equipment.
The Lake Festival Day Sunday August 8th was the busiest ever day at the railway. The train had 9 vehicles and two engines and was so long two guards were needed.
In 2004 we had a Steam Gala on June 26 & 27th to celebrate the centenary of the opening of the Leek & Manifold Light Railway in 1904. Our visitor was engine E. R. Calthrop which returned to Devon on July 18th. It proved to be a powerful engine easily capable of pulling our trains. We have been promised that we can borrow it again or perhaps one of the other larger engines from Trago Mills!!
A new tank wagon built by Alan Boon arrived and was adapted for fishplate oiling and weed killing. Its bright red livery is very striking. It was successfully used for the first time on 7th of July to weed kill the track. The next off the production line was an impressive crane wagon. ( These particular wagons have now left the railway.
The steam Gala on June 26 & 27th saw frequent trains in use on both days from 10.30 until 5pm. Goods and mixed trains operated early and late in the day and an intensive two train service most of the time.
The steam engine Waverley will return soon for at least a two year stay. With King Arthur the railway will have 4 steam engines in regular use in 2005.
The siding at Rudyard was installed in May along with more secure storage to give more space for the expanding fleet. Mains electricity supplies are also now available.
The new Rudyard signal box looks very well in red and cream and the site is starting to look attractive with dry stone walling and flower beds being created and planted. A new bracket signal has been installed at Rudyard station.
Problems with poor steaming due to bad coal caused two trains to have diesel haulage on 28th of March. These were the first diesel trains since Easter 2001.
The express atlantic type steam engine Waverley is having a boiler overhaul in Scotland. The boiler tubes have been removed and the boiler inspected. New boiler tubes are on order and will be fitted. With some work to re-profile the tender wheels the engine will be ready for use and will visit us later this year.
Work to lower and extend the platform at Rudyard has been completed. The run round loop has been extended and re-laid with new rails and sleepers adding 20 feet to the length of the loop. This will allow 7 coach trains to operate if necessary.
A ground signal has appeared to act as a point indicator to trains returning to Rudyard. The loop has been relayed and the point for the siding installed.
Work on adding extra sleepers to the track will continue throughout 2004 ready for the delivery of the new steam engine King Arthur. A replica of the Leek & Manifold Engine E. R. Calthrop visited in June.