THE BRITISH OVERSEAS RAILWAYS HISTORICAL TRUST
 
A UK Registered Educational Charity

Sierra Leone Festival Report


Venturing North of the Tees

by Julian Rainbow

The Deputy High Commissioner responding to Steve Daviesís address at the start of the festival with SLGR 2–6–2T No 85, Hunslet 3615 of 1954 on the well wagon behind.
Photo: © Roger Darsley

It had been brought to our notice that the NRM, Shildon was holding a Sierra Leone Festival during the weekend of 8/9 September 2012. Three people volunteered to help man the stand, Henry, Paul and myself. I made contact with the NRM and they were happy to have us. This would be the first time we had been to the North-East since I was at university in Newcastle about 12 years ago.

Just for once, it was not our normal early start from Paulís house. I arrived there just after 09:00 hrs. on the Friday morning and we loaded the car with the display stands, slide projector and a few models. We set off north across the Dartford Crossing, M11 and up the A1. Just after midday we decided that we should have lunch at the Ram Jam Inn, this was a mistake. It took them an hour to serve us coffee and pie of the day with mash. They were not busy, just understaffed. Having fed we resumed heading north to Shildon where we found Henry Gunston awaiting our arrival just after 16:00 hrs. We found two tables, set up the display cards and bookstand. We also knew some other exhibitors so said hello. By then it was 17:00 hrs. and the museum was closing, so we headed north again to our hotel called the Honest Lawyer, just south of Durham. We booked in, decided we would eat there that night and having washed etc., went to sample the food. Starters was omelette for me followed by fresh sea trout. I then tackled the cheese board, sampling Durham Camembert and Northumberland Smoked cheese, washed down with a Chilean red wine.

Breakfast on Saturday was at 08:00 hrs, and we were back at the museum by 09:00 to continue setting up the display before opening at 10:00. We had brought a small display of models and some journals to sell. The Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone appeared with his entourage, and responded to the N.R.M. Director, Steve Daviesís speech of welcome. The official party eventually left at about 13:30 and I prepared to give my illustrated talk on the history of the railway at 14:00 hrs. Unfortunately the museum slide projector did not work, but happily Anthony Coulls, the N.R.M. Senior Curator, Rail Vehicle Collection was there with a PowerPoint presentation, so he and I jointly talked to a small, but select audience, I did the historical bit, and Anthony talked about the present day slides. Paul was busy engaged in selling some journals. We left at 17:00 hrs. when the museum closed. The evening meal in my case was mackerel, followed by fish and chips and the cheeseboard again.

Sunday was a reasonably early start, and we were in the museum just after 09:00 hrs. I repeated my talk on the projector which now worked, but the room was not dark enough to see the slides well. Most of the visitors had left by 16:30 hrs, and we rapidly took the displays down and packed up. We left shortly after 17:00 hrs, and headed south, reaching Paulís at about 22:30 hrs, having stopped on the A1 for a meal which is not worth describing. I eventually arrived home at midnight.

Overall, although we did not take large amounts of money, we did meet some very interesting and useful people, reminded some others that the Trust still exists, and hopefully spread the gospel a bit.

Julian Rainbow with the BORHT display of photographs of the Sierra Leone Government Railway.
Photo: © Roger Darsley
BORHT model display. Two 4 mm scale models of SLGR 2–6–2Tís at right hand end of middle shelf and an HO model of an African 7th Class locomotive, bottom right; both types were present in full size at Locomotion.
Photo: © Roger Darsley.
The Mayor studying the BORHT display.
Photo: © Roger Darsley
A General view of our stand.
Photo: © Roger Darsley
BORHT President David Shepherd's Rhodesian 7th Class 2–8–0, which is now resident at Locomotion.
Photo: © Julian Rainbow

 


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