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Steam classics 'spruced up' for Christmas duty

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

  • Steven Trenouth works on a 1946 Collett Goods Train, the only one left of 120 made in Swindon

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A vintage locomotive got a festive tune-up in the run-up to the busy holiday period.

The workhorses of the South Devon Railway are considered a joy to behold and attract crowds of enthusiasts but with many well past pensionable age they also take a fair bit of looking after.

Summer is the peak season for the heritage railway, based in Buckfastleigh, and winter provides the chance to give some of the engines a lick of paint and a service.

Dick Wood, a stalwart of the line for 40 years and general manager until this summer, said the 50 full-time staff had a job on to keep the engines running smoothly.

"It is a simple technology – boiling water to create steam and drive valves and pistons but they do take a lot of looking after," he added.

"We are dealing with pressure vessels and safety standards these days are incredibly high.

"Most of our trains are 50 or 60 years old with some more than a century – it keeps us busy and costs a lot of money."

The railway is running its annual Christmas specials taking children on a trip to visit Santa Claus in his grotto at "the North Pole" , complete with presents, mince pies and mulled wine.

Most of the trips are already sold out but tickets are still available on December 18, 19 and 20.

This year the line is running a new service on Boxing Day and December 27.

The 'picnic leftovers' express will provide the chance to take a festive packed lunch on the rails.

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