Plans are now finalised for the key event of the year at the Stoomcentrum Maldegem, in Belgium.
This is one of my favourite European preserved railways – and one that can be visited as a day trip from the UK too.
“Fred” at Maldegem, 13/08/17 (JW)
The event will be held on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May 2018, on the theme of “100 years since the end of the First World War”. There should be seven steam locos in steam on both the narrow and standard gauge, as well as one diesel loco and a diesel railcar in use too.
In addition, several First World War-themed attractions are planned including re-enactors, musicians and a small memorial festival involving a steam loco and a large work of art featuring a poppy each day. As usual, there will be an international selection of trade stands present.
The seven steam locos consist of three on the (600mm) narrow gauge and four on the standard gauge, and include foreign visitors:-
Kerr Stuart 0-6-0T “Joffre” (no.3014/1916) from the Apedale Valley Light Railway (used in the trenches)
Barclay 0-4-0T “Jack” (no.1871/1925) ex Granton Gasworks
…as well as Hanomag 0-4-0WT no.4618/1906 (this loco is believed to have been taken “POW” by the British during the First World War).
Hanomag no.4618/1906 at Maldegem, 13/08/17 (JW)
SLM 0-6-0WT “Tigerli” (no.2079/1910) from the MBS at Haaksbergen in the Netherlands – formerly of the Aluisuisse factory at Chippis, Switzerland
War Department Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST WD196 (no.3796/1953)
Avonside 0-4-0ST “Fred” (no.1908/1925) ex Buxton Quarry
St Leonard 0-4-0T “Yvonne” (no.947/1893) ex Soumagne Colliery
Many readers of this website enjoyed Austerity WD196 during its appearance at the Bocq railway “Festival” in August 2017. It may be more familiar to others in the UK as the former “Errol Lonsdale”, a name it gained whilst employed at Longmoor – where it also featured in a St Trinian’s film. Here it is seen at Dorinne, 12/08/17 (JW).
As the above implies, the railway has both standard gauge and 600mm lines, both running from its operational centre of Maldegem which is situated 14km from the Belgian-Dutch border. The standard gauge line runs from Maldegem east to Eeklo, and the narrow gauge from Maldegem west along the route of the former line to Brugge as far as Donk.
The railway can be reached by train via the branch line from Gent to Eeklo. The SCM station at Eeklo is located just across the road from its mainline counterpart.
Alternatively, should you wish to head for Maldegem first, it is linked to Brugge railway station by the no.58 bus operated by De Lijn, with a journey time of roughly 25 minutes. Via either of these methods, a day trip is eminently feasible, either by Eurostar or by plane to Brussel.
The railway advise that for groups wishing to attend from the UK, transport from the Zeebrugge P&O Ferries terminal (served by a nightly sailing from Hull) or Brugge railway station can be arranged by preserved bus.
With many thanks to Kevin Hoggett for his help with this article.