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Nene Valley Railway

Nene Valley Railway
A view of the station at Peterborough
Locale England
Terminus Peterborough
Commercial operations
Name London and North Western Railway
Built by London and Birmingham Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Operated by Nene Valley Railway
Stations 5
Length Script error: No such module "convert".
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1847
Closed 1966 passengers,
1972 goods
Preservation history
1974 Line purchased by Peterborough Development Corporation
1977 NVR reopened
1983 Orton Mere (station building) opened
1986 NVR Extended
Peterborough (Nene Valley) opened
1995 Wansford (current station building) opened
2007 Yarwell Junction (current terminus) reopened
2008 Yarwell Junction Station Building opens officially
Headquarters Wansford
Nene Valley Railway

The Nene Valley Railway (NVR) is a preserved railway in Cambridgeshire, England, running between Peterborough Nene Valley and Yarwell Junction. The line is Script error: No such module "convert". in length. There are stations at each terminus, and three stops en route: Orton Mere, Ferry Meadows and Wansford.



In 1845, the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) company was given parliamentary assent to construct a line from Blisworth in Northamptonshire to Peterborough. Completed in 1847, it was Peterborough's first railway line. It terminated at Peterborough, later 'Peterborough East' station. The sheds and one platform face of this disused station are still clearly visible next to the former Matalan store on East Station Road, off London Road.

The line was of little significance until the late 19th century, when the London & North Western Railway (L&NWR), which had absorbed the L&BR, constructed a line via Nassington and King's Cliffe to Seaton, below Welland Viaduct. This turned Wansford, previously an unimportant village station, into a major junction. Its importance increased a few years later when the Great Northern Railway constructed another line via Sutton, Southorpe and Barnack to Stamford, on the Midland Railway line. In 1884 the line received a royal visit when the royal family travelled from Peterborough to Barnwell, some Script error: No such module "convert". beyond Wansford, to visit Barnwell Manor, home of the then Duke of Gloucester. The station building is now preserved at Wansford station on the NVR, and is known as the Barnwell building.

Between 1900 and the 1960s, the line formed an important connection from Norwich, Cambridge and eastern England to Northampton and the Midlands. The line was generally acknowledged to be a secondary main line and frequently saw large engines such as Black 5s and B1s. However, the NVR was one of the last passenger line closures of the Dr Beeching era, services to Northampton and Rugby having ceased in 1964 and 1966 respectively. It remained open until 1972 for freight traffic only.

Society formed

Wansford station viewed from the road

In 1968, the Rev. Richard Paten had bought British Railways Standard Class '5' 4-6-0 locomotive, number 73050, for its scrap value of £3,000. His intention had been to exhibit it outside Peterborough Technology College as a monument to Peterborough's railway history.[citation needed] However, the locomotive was found to be in good working order, and there was much opposition to the idea of the engine being "stuffed", and it was decided to restore it to full working order.

On 28 March 1969, the Peterborough Branch of the East Anglian Locomotive Society was formed, with the intention of purchasing and restoring the BR Pacific locomotive, number 70000 'Britannia'. By 1970, the branch was strong enough to operate independently as the Peterborough Locomotive Society (PLS). In 1971, 73050 was moved to the British Sugar Corporation's sidings at Fletton, where it was joined by Hunslet 0-6-0 locomotive 'Jack's Green'. Later that year, the PLS held a meeting at which the group's name was changed to 'Peterborough Railway Society' and the idea of the Nene Valley Railway was formally launched.

Purchase of line and locomotives

File:Santa Special NVR Julian Dowse.jpg
Swedish 'B' Class No.101 hauling the Santa special on the Nene Valley Railway

In 1974, the Peterborough Development Corporation (PDC) bought the Nene Valley line between Longville and Yarwell Junctions and it began leasing it to the PRS to operate the railway – a major milestone in the society's history.

When the PRS acquired the line, the intention was to work the line with British locomotives and stock. However, enthusiasts from other railways and preservation societies had already acquired almost all of the serviceable ex-BR locomotives – all that was left was a collection of rusting hulks. Apart from 73050, the society's locomotives were mostly small, industrial shunting engines and therefore not suitable for the Script error: No such module "convert". round trip. Ex-BR rolling stock was also in very short supply following the disposal of most pre-nationalisation (pre-1948) stock. The PDC, having paid out a considerable sum of money for the line, was anxious that trains should start running as soon as possible – certainly before the opening of the new Nene Park in 1978. However, with the PRC's lack of stock and locomotives this looked highly improbable.

In 1973, PRS member Richard Hurlock had approached the society for a home for his ex-Swedish railways 2-6-4T class S1 oil-fired locomotive, number 1928. Because the engine was higher and wider than British stock, it was to be a static exhibition only. During 1974, it was realised that the use of foreign stock and engines could answer the NVR's aspirations. After a feasibility study was carried out, it was discovered that only one bridge would have to be demolished to allow the running to continental loading gauge. Some reductions would also have to be made to the width of the platforms. In 1973, BR gave PRS permission to use Wansford signal box and, in September of that year, the first items of stock arrived at the PRS depot.


Before the stock could be moved from the BSC depot to Wansford, the missing Script error: No such module "convert". of the Fletton Loop had to be rebuilt, allowing access to the Nene Valley line. The track was completed in March 1974 and the stock moved to Wansford in time for the Easter weekend, when the new 'Wansford Steam Centre' opened for the first time. Between 1974 and 1977, the line was upgraded to passenger-carrying standard and the first passenger train ran on 1 June 1977, hauled by the 'Nord' – a French locomotive and '1178' – another Swedish tank engine, pulling a set of ex-BR electrical multiple unit coaches owned by the Southern Electric Group.

Extension to Peterborough

In the early 1980s, the NVR decided to extend its running line, which then terminated at Orton Mere station, along the route of the original Nene Valley Line to a new station west of the East Coast Main Line, adjacent to the new Railworld Museum. Peterborough Nene Valley opened, for the first time, on the Late Spring Bank Holiday weekend of 26 May 1986. This extended the NVR to its current length, Script error: No such module "convert"..

Proposed developments

Crescent Link/Peterborough Parkway

Since 1999, there has been talk of the 'crescent link' project promoted by 'Railworld' – a scheme to allow the NVR to run trains through the westernmost end of the Nene Park, across the river Nene into the Peterborough mainline station to connect directly with East Coast, National Express East Anglia, East Midland Trains, Arriva Cross Country and First Capital Connect services.

This might be done in connection with the proposed redevelopment and modernisation of Peterborough station. However, no fixed date has been set for this development.

The Crescent Link could include a reconstruction of the old Peterborough East station site as "Peterborough Parkway". This would be at least Script error: No such module "convert". east of Peterborough Nene Valley station.


The society aspires to extend the line westward via Elton towards Oundle crossing the Cambs/Northants border in the future.

An attempt was made to extend the Nene Valley Railway to both Elton railway station and Oundle back in the 1990s, but was abandoned for financial reasons. The station site is still intact but the buildings have been demolished since closure (with whole/entire land still free from redevelopment to a new site at Oundle[clarification needed] (as the original station site at Oundle itself is now in private residence, meaning a new site might be required).


The brand new station building at Yarwell
File:3 Ferry Meadows.JPG
The new station building at Ferry Meadows, which used to be a goods office
File:4 Orton Mere.JPG
Orton Mere station building, which opened in 1983
File:2 Wansford 1.JPG
The original station building, which is not in use, on Platform 3

Yarwell Junction

Yarwell Junction is the former junction between the lines to Northampton and Market Harborough. It is the current terminus of the NVR's operating line. In April 2006 the track was realigned, allowing a platform to be built at Yarwell Junction, which opened at Easter 2007 (there was never previously a station on the site). The new station is linked by footpaths to Nassington and the mill village of Yarwell, but there is no vehicular access. Yarwell Junction is about Script error: No such module "convert". west of Wansford station, at the other end of Yarwell Tunnel.


Wansford is the headquarters of the railway and most of the facilities are based here. The current station building was opened in 1995 and contains a ticket office, shop, cafe and toilets. The locomotive sheds are located at this station. Also at the station there is a picnic area and children's playground. The station was formerly the junction for a branch to Stamford, which diverged to the north just east of the river bridge at Wansford. The original Wansford station is located on platform three and was built in 1844–1845 in Jacobean style for the opening of the railway. This building does not belong to the railway, though the railway is trying to acquire it.


Castor is a disused station between Wansford and Ferry Meadows. It closed in the 1960s and despite the NVR (which runs through it) reopening, the station remains closed as of March 2013.

Ferry Meadows

Ferry Meadows is located near the site of Orton Waterville station and provides access to the nearby country park. The current building was moved brick by brick from the old goods yard at Fletton Junction on the East Coast Main Line; it replaced a portable building desperately in need of repair. NVR plans to add a canopy. The station building was offered to the NVR for £1 plus transportation costs. The Park is open throughout the year, but most facilities such as the miniature railway and pedaloes only run from Easter to the end of October. The station is also the site of the new Night Mail Museum, with construction due to start 2013.[1]

Orton Mere

Orton Mere is a two platform station with a station building built in 1983 and a signal box. Until 1986 this was the terminus of the line. Most trains depart from platform 1. Just outside the station towards Peterborough is the Fletton Loop which links the NVR to the mainline. The signal box controls the passing loop and had to be adapted from one lever to three.

This station provides access to the eastern end of the Nene Park.

Longville Junction

Longville (or Longueville) Junction is about Script error: No such module "convert". from Peterborough (Nene Valley) and links to the nearby East Coast Main Line. As of March 2013, there is no platform here, as Orton Mere station is only a few hundred yards close by.

Peterborough (Nene Valley)

Peterborough Nene Valley (aka Peterborough West), is the current end of the line. Here there is a platform, a bay platform and a station building housing a ticket office, a small souvenir shop and toilets. It is a 10-minute walk from here to Peterborough City Centre. Railworld is next door to the station with a wide variety of rolling stock on display.


The Nene Valley Railway has a full-scale "replica" of Thomas the Tank Engine working a passenger and freight service on 'Thomas' events; it was the first railway in the world to possess one.[citation needed] The Nene Valley Railway considers its Thomas to be the "official" Thomas The Tank Engine, because it was named by Thomas' creator, the Rev. W. Awdry, in 1971. However the Nene Valley Railway does not host official 'Day out with Thomas' events as many railways do. The Nene Valley Railway runs Thomas at various special events, weekends and bank holidays.

Operational steam locomotives


Steam locomotives undergoing overhaul or restoration

  • Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No 1800 'Thomas' – restricted around Wansford Yard and hauling Wansford – Yarwell shuttles only – Withdrawn for overhaul January 2014. [2]
  • BR (Southern) Bulleid 4-6-2, Unrebuilt Battle of Britain class, No. 34081 '92 Squadron' Built in 1948. Arrived on 20 May 2010 at Wansford, from the North Norfolk Railway, for its impending major overhaul. The locomotive originally left the line in 2003. The overhaul is well under way with the frames recently being rewheeled.
  • Danish 0-6-0T Class F No 656 'Tinkerbell' (unofficial name) Built in 1949. Undergoing a major restoration.
  • Swedish 2-6-2T Class S No 1178. Built in 1914. Undergoing major restoration.
  • Cockerill 0-4-0WT Tram Engine. No.1626 'Toby' Built in 1890. Undergoing a major overhaul and restoration.

Stored steam locomotives

  • BR Standard Class 5 4-6-0 No 73050 'City of Peterborough' built in 1954.
  • Polish 0-8-0T Class Slask/TKp No 5485. Built in 1959. Withdrawn Summer 2012 for overhaul. Plans for this locomotive remain uncertain with the owner putting it up for sale. There are no plans by either the railway or owner for an overhaul.
  • Swedish 4-6-0 Class B No. 101A. Built in 1944. Withdrawn towards the end of January 2005 for overhaul and is stored awaiting an overhaul.
  • Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST 75006. Built in 1943. Awaiting overhaul after being withdrawn in 2004.
  • German 2-6-2T Class 64 No 64.305. Built in 1936. Now stored awaiting overhaul. Original intentions had been to start work once 1178 was completed. However due to the potential costs of asbestos removal this now looks unlikely.
  • Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST No 1539 'Derek Crouch' Built in 1924. Originally on display in Wansford Yard, this locomotive has now been moved to the siding between the 1995 built station building and turntable following a cosmetic restoration.
  • Hunslet 0-6-0ST No 1953 'Jacks Green' Built in 1939. Has currently been moved into the shed for cosmetic restoration to begin, including a repaint into its original industrial livery.

Operational diesel locomotives

File:19TH April 2008 D306 Wansford Signalbox.JPG
No D306 'Atlantic Conveyor', in service

Diesel locomotives undergoing overhaul or restoration

  • BR Class 14 0-6-0 No D9504 Stratrail undergoing maintenance
  • Hibberd 0-4-0 No 2896 'Frank'. Undergoing a major restoration.
  • Yorkshire Engine Co. No D2654. Undergoing repairs.
  • BR Class 56 Co–Co No 56128. Arrived at Wansford early in 2008 for overhaul. Once complete, the locomotive will be departing for use on the mainline under the management of Hanson Traction Ltd as No. 56313

Stored diesel locomotives

Locos that have left the line

LNER Class B1 1306 "Mayflower," now at Battlefield Line, Shackerstone

Steam Locomotives

  • LMS Fowler Class 4F 0-6-0 No 44422 Built in 1927. courtesy 44422 Locomotive Fund 2010-2013- After failing a boiler exam in July 2013 it was decide to withdraw the engine for overhaul early. The said work is to be completed at Peak Rail where agreement has been reached to run the engine after it is completed.
  • German/Polish Kriegslok 2-10-0 Class 52/Ty2 No 7173. Built in 1943. Withdrawn from service in 2001. This locomotive has been sold to Patrimoine Ferroviaire et Tourisme, a museum collection in Belgium and has left Wansford MPD.[3] Since 2013, it has been cosmetically restored as Belgian class 26.102
  • French de Glehn Compound 4-6-0 NORD No 3.628. Has left the railway and went to France to be restored to work on the mainline. Is being cosmetically restored.
  • LNER 4-6-0 Class B1 No 1306 'Mayflower' built in 1948. 1991–2006 Battlefield Line, Shackerstone
  • Avonside 0-6-0ST Class B4 No 1945. Built in 1926. Elsecar Railway, Barnsley.
  • BR 4-6-2 Class 7MT No 70000 'Britannia' built in 1951. 1980–2000 Crewe Heritage Centre
  • German 0-6-0T Class 80 No 80.014 Built in 1928. 1981–1997 Holland
  • Danish 2-6-4T Class S No 740 1980–1995 Denmark
  • LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT No 5321 Built in 1937. 1988–1993 Ropley
  • Barclay 0-4-0ST (2248)/90432 1972–1991 East Kent Light Railway, Shepherdswell
  • Swedish 2-6-4T Class S1 No 1928 1973–1989 Tunbridge Wells (Now in private hands)
  • Peckett 0-6-0ST No 2000 1977–1984 Built in 1942. Barrow Hill
  • Avonside 0-6-0ST No 1917 'Pitsford' Built in 1923. 1973–1983 Elsecar Steam Railway
  • Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST No 3837 'Corby No. 16' Built in 1934. 1974–1981 Leatherhead (now Lavender Line with Hawthorn Leslie 3837 Preservation Society)
  • Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST No 1604 1975–1981 Built in 1928. Wetheringsett
  • Avonside 0-4-0ST No 1908 'Fred' Built in 1925. 1976–1981 Dendermonde, Belgium
  • Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No 1844 1976–1980 Scrapped (spares for 1800 'Thomas') Built in 1947.
  • Southern Railway 4-6-0 Class S15 No 841 'Greene King' built in 1936. 1977–1978 Grosmont

Diesel Locomotives

  • D306 'Atlantic Conveyor', BR Class 40. Departed May 2011 to Washwood Heath
  • D9516 BR Class 14. Sold following death of owner, April 2011 To Wensleydale
  • D9523 BR Class 14. Sold following death of owner, April 2011 to Derwent
  • Sentinel 4 wheeled No 11. May 2010 to Washwood Heath
  • BR Class 47 Co–Co No 1971/47270 'Swift'. 'BREL', Mainline use. Departed 30 July 2009.
  • BR Class 56 Co–Co No 56114. Hanson Traction Ltd. Departed 14 August 2009
  • BR Class 31 A1A-A1A No 31190. Hanson Traction Ltd.Departed 30 July 2009
  • BR Class 50 No. 50008 'Thunderer'. Hanson Traction Ltd. Departed 9 October 2009
  • BR Class 117 3 car DMU Nos 51347 / 59508 / 51401, 1998–2009. Destination: Gwili Railway, Wales
  • BR Class 56 Co–Co No 56057 "British Fuels" 2004–2007 Main Line use
  • 2894 "Percy" Hibberd 0-4-0 1972–2006 Norfolk
  • 31108 BR Class 31 A1A-A1A 200?–2005 Midland Railway, Butterley
  • D9529 "14029" BR Class 14 0-6-0 DH 1988–2000 Stratrail (Kent & East Sussex Rly) Returned in 2012.
  • D2112 BR Class 03 0-6-0 DM 1991–1998 Boston Docks
  • 08704 BR Class 08 0-6-0 DE 1993–1997 Boston Docks
  • 319294 Ruston & Homsby DS165 0-6-0DM 1991–1996 Northampton & Lamport Railway
  • 4220033 John Fowler 0-4-0DH 1991–1996 Northampton Ironstone Railway Trust, Hunsbury Hill
  • D7594 BR Class 25 Bo-Bo DE 1992–1994 K&ESR
  • 804 Alco 1986–1991 Railworld, Peterborough (adjacent to Peterborough Nene Valley station)
  • 8368 "Horsa" RSH 262 hp 0-4-0 DH 1980–1991 East Dereham
  • 294268 Ruston & Homsby DS48 4wDM 1975–1991 East Kent Light Railway, Shepherdswell
  • 321734 Ruston & Homsby DS88 4wDM 1979–1991 East Kent Light Railway, Shepherdswell
  • D2089 BR Class 03 0-6-0 DM 1991 Mangapps Railway Museum, Bumham-on-Crouch
  • 1212 SJ Class Y7 Diesel Rallcar 1984–1989 Fleggburgh then Tweddle Animal Farm *** Returned to NVR 22 November 2011
  • D9016 "Gordon Highlander" BR Class 55 Co–Co DE 1984–1989 East Lancs
  • D9000 "Royal Scots Grey" BR Class 55 Co–Co DE 1983–1986 East Lancs
  • D615 Hudswell Clarke 153 h.p. 0–6-0DM 1977–1978 Ellastone

As a film location

The line has been a location for a number of films, TV shows, and music videos.

Scenes from the James Bond film Octopussy were shot here and Castor church can clearly be seen in the background, even though this section of the film was set in West Germany and East Germany (pre unification).

Also, the Bond film GoldenEye was filmed on the line. For the film, a Class 20 was disguised as a Russian armoured train. In the film, a tunnel that the train seemingly goes into is in fact a small bridge over the tracks.[4]

Scenes for the biplane/helicopter dogfight from the 1986 film Biggles: Adventures in Time were filmed here, involving one memorable shot where the helicopter piloted by Biggles "lands" on a flat-bed railway carriage.

BBC TV drama Casualty has also filmed here.

Between 1977 and 1979, many sequences for the BBC's wartime drama Secret Army were filmed here, principally at Wansford station, notably in the episodes: The Hostage, A Matter of Life and Death and The Last Run.

In Spring 1989, the rock band Queen shot a video at the railway called Breakthru that reached number 7 in the British charts. They are filmed on a steam train (a GWR 2884 Class, No.3822 from Didcot, repainted) that was given the name 'Miracle Express' after the title of their 1989 album The Miracle.

In October 2008, the filming of the musical Nine, starring Penélope Cruz and Daniel Day-Lewis, took place at Wansford.

In November 2009, ITV spent three days at the Nene for their remake of 'Murder on the Orient Express' for Agatha Christie's Poirot Series. They used the BR Standard Class 5 73050 'City of Peterborough' numbered '305' and the Belgian Coaching Stock, with most filming taking place at Ferry Meadows.

In September 2010, scenes were filmed for the BBC soap opera, EastEnders, on the line, in which characters Janine Butcher and Ryan Malloy were trapped on a level crossing with a train approaching them.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Hive of Activity". A personal View of the nene Valley Railway. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Sinister Class 20 is new James Bond movie star" Rail issue 250 12 April 1995 page 6
  • Rhodes, John The Nene Valley Railway Turntable Publications, Sheffield, 1976
  • Waszak P.J. and Ginns, J.W. Peterborough's First Railway: Yarwell to Peterborough Nene Valley Railway, Peterborough, 1995
  • Nene Steam (magazine of the NVR) 1979 onwards

External links

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Coordinates: 52°33′50″N 00°20′23.25″W / 52.56389°N 0.3397917°W / 52.56389; -0.3397917{{#coordinates:52|33|50|N| 00|20|23.25|W| |primary |name= }}