Last year I went to the wonderful Beamish Open Air Museum, and loved it! Only thing was, we went a tad early in the season and not everything was open. Vowing to return, we opted to visit during the Great North Steam Fair, which pretty much opens the season.
As we’d already seen a lot of the pit village and town already, we spent more time looking at the transport that was running. This was many and varied, but the resident attractions are predominantly railways and trams. This intriguing device is known as the Steam Elephant, an exact replica (built in 2002) of a loco originally built in 1815. Predating Stephensons ‘Rocket’ by 14 years, it is atypical of the early locomotives with it’s single tube boiler and vertical pistons and motion.
This was the first time I’d seen an engine like this in actions and an intriguing (and slow) thing it is to. It’s ironic that the North East was the cradle of steam railway technology thanks to the needs of the massive local coal mining industry, but this engine is actually fuelled by Welsh coal!