We are pleased to offer a day of photography at the Avon Valley Railway, Bitton (near Bristol) using A1X Class 0-6-0T No.32678 which is visiting for a short period courtesy of the Terrier Trust, Kent & East Sussex Railway.
During the day, we will pair the locomotive with both a short mixed train (a bauxite van and two maroon Mark I coaches) and a short goods train. We also intend to set up some cameo shunting scenes around the yard and station at Bitton to recreate some slightly different opportunities during the day.
No.32678 was from the last batch of ‘A1X’ locos (Rooters!). The locomotive was originally No.78 Knowle, built at Brighton Works in July 1880 by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway and initially working London suburban services before being transferred to Portsmouth to work on the East Southsea and Hayling Island branch lines. It was fitted for push-pull working in 1907. The loco spent the years 1929 to 1936 on the Isle of Wight (as W4, then W14) before being returned to Eastleigh, ostensibly for withdrawal. However, instead she was put to work on the Hayling Island Branch, shedded at Fratton and also had a spell as Guildford shed’s pilot before being loaned to the Kent & East Sussex Railway in 1940 to help them through the motive power shortage they were experiencing at the time. She worked the branch up to and after Nationalization, becoming (with Stepney) one of the locos to ‘top and tail’ the last passenger working on the KESR in January 1954.
Although her Rolvenden depot was closed in 1954, No.32678 continued to work the branch, from St Leonards shed, until transfer in 1958 back to the Hayling Island branch. No.32678 became the last operational member of the A1X Class, not being withdrawn from Brighton Depot until October 1963. Withdrawal saw the locomotive sold for preservation and static display at Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Minehead in Somerset along with No.46229 Duchess of Hamilton. After two further brief periods of private ownership, 32678 moved to the Kent & East Sussex Railway where, apart from short visits to other heritage lines, she has been based ever since.
The Avon Valley line, former Midland Railway route, dates back to 1869, when the railway through Bitton was opened as part of the Bath to Mangotsfield line. It was closed to passenger traffic on 6th/7th March 1966 at the same time as the main Somerset & Dorset system was shut down, though the line remained open for goods traffic to Bath Gas Works until July 1971; the track was lifted in the following year. The embryonic preservation project began in 1972 when a group of local people came together with the idea of reopening part of the route as a commuter line. Many physical and legal hurdles had to be overcome but the line gradually grew into the popular three mile long tourist attraction that today runs from Bitton Station to Oldland and Avon Riverside.
We expect there to be a night shoot at Bitton station in the early evening and the excellent station café will be open during the day. The line is short but enterprising and we are keen to support them with a return visit in November. Numbers on the charter will be limited to ensure comfortable conditions for photography, and we hope you will wish to join us for a day with this veteran locomotive on Thursday 15th November.
Event cost per person.
Lenses- suggest bringing lens lengths between 16-200mm
Basic to Advanced
Low - Medium
Appropriate outdoor clothing and walking footwear