A record number of passengers and turnover made the first weekend of Nene Valley Railway’s 40th anniversary celebration worth toasting.
And the over-subscribed fish and chip train was just the appetiser, according to marketing director Jerry Thurston, who said he hoped to announce in the near future that one of the top five steam locomotives in the UK (and not the Flying Scotsman) will be making a future appearance.
But before then Jerry was full of delight for the past weekend which he said raised thousands of much needed pounds for Nene Valley.
“It’s the biggest Spring gala we’ve ever held both in passenger numbers and revenue,” he announced.
“We took the decision not to charge gala prices because it’s our anniversary year and we are trying to give a little back.
“I’m still excited - we knew it was going to be big but not that big.
“We had 2,000 enthusiasts each day just through Wansford and we had points where you almost could not walk down the platform. It was unbelievable.
“We’ve had big gates but nothing like this.
“This is only the opener, the appetiser, because we have some major stuff this year.”
The Bulleid locomotive ‘92 Squadron’, which is only a matter of weeks out of a meticulous rebuild, was joined for the first time over the weekend by sister engine ‘Sir Keith Park’, giving visitors a rare chance to see both magnificent steamers.
Next up at Nene Valley is the Tornado, the first new main line steam locomotive to be built in Britain for almost 50 years.
This will be appearing on April 22 and 23.
And on June 2 it is the turn of the Royal Scot, said Jerry, who was also full of kind words for the help given to keep Nene Valley running.
He added: “I would like to give a huge thanks to our volunteers without whom we could not exist.”