The Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway (LCLR) runs for around three-quarters of a mile on a 60cm narrow gauge, and operates three locomotives: two diesel and one steam – Jurassic.
Graham Morris is the person who made possible what was then feared to be Jurassic's last journey in 1986, and Richard Shepherd was its driver at the time. The pair met again on the footplate of Jurassic at the rebuilt Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway in the Skegness Water Leisure Park. Here is the background story …
The Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway (LCLR) was the world's first railway built by enthusiasts on a greenfield site when it opened sixty-three years ago on 27 August 1960, and was based at North Sea Lane, Humberston, south of Cleethorpes. But in 1985, the railway closed, and supporter worried that its locos, carriages and rails would be sold dispersed.
The LCLR's veteran Jurassic steam loco (an 0-6-0ST) had been built in 1903 in Bristol by Peckett and Sons Ltd., for Kaye & Company's quarries at Southam in Warwickshire, and was still ‘in ticket': it's boiler's safety certificate was still valid, so it could still work.
Graham Morris, of Daventry in Northamptonshire, owned a small steam engine of the same gauge. Named ‘Peter Pan', it was a ‘Wren' type loco, the type popular with contractors and other firms for use on very lightly laid temporary railways.
Peter Pan had been built by Kerr Stuart & Co. Ltd in 1922 for use on a construction project in Essex. After its retirement, it was restored to working order and was scheduled to run in a gala on the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway in Bedfordshire.
Graham had bought a low-loading lorry so he could take Peter Pan to events around the UK. So when he heard that Jurassic was stuck at Humberston, in ticket but with no railway on which to run, he agreed to collect it on his low loader, ran it in steam for three weeks alongside Peter Pan on the Leighton Buzzard line, and returned it to the LCLR on the day its ticket expired.
Volunteer Richard Shepherd, now Chair of the LCLR's Historic Vehicles Trust, was among those who travelled from the disused Lincolnshire line to Leighton Buzzard to drive and fire Jurassic. Graham was one of the Leighton Buzzard volunteers who drove Jurassic during her stay in Bedfordshire.
Peter Pan went on to visit and operate on more than eighty railways around the UK, a record figure. Jurassic and the LCLR's rolling stock and track moved to storage, and then returned to service after LCLR reopened at Skegness Water Leisure Park in Walls Lane, Ingoldmells, in 2009. A Lottery Heritage grant help to fund the restoration of Jurassic, and returned to steam at Skegness in 2017.
Thirty-seven years after driving Jurassic in Bedfordshire, Graham decided that he wanted to see the little loco again. These days, Jurassic is a star attraction at the LCLR, and Graham spent a day on its footplate, travelling between Walls Lane station and the LCLR's terminus at South Loop, accompanied by Richard, who is still a very active LCLR volunteer on the line.
Graham said: “It certainly brought back some memories of Jurassic's visit to Leighton Buzzard and seeing her next to Peter Pan. While she has gone on to attract new generations of admirers and to run again on the revived LCLR, I've taken Peter Pan to some 80 railways around the UK, a record for any steam locomotive. It was a wonderful experience at Skegness to be back on the footplate of Jurassic and to see that her visit to Leighton Buzzard was not the end of her working life”.
Richard Shepherd added: “Absolutely remarkable to be back on Jurassic's footplate with Graham after 37 years; that visit to Leighton Buzzard helped keep together the LCLR's volunteers at a time when our railway seemed inevitably doomed. In the long run, by Graham making it possible for Jurassic to run one last time in 1986, it was a significant factor in enabling us to rebuild our railway. Now that Jurassic is the star of the show here in Skegness, we were delighted to share her footplate with Graham and show him what has been achieved, not only with Jurassic, but with the rest of our collection”.
Asked whether this reunion might lead to Peter Pan accompanying its owner to the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway, Richard replied, “In the immediate future that might be difficult, not least because we are building a new station at our South Loop terminus and that in itself will pose a number of challenges … but in the longer term, who knows? After all, the revival of the LCLR and its current success shows that nothing is impossible in the world of narrow gauge railways, especially ours”.