Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c
|8-10 June 2015
Peterborough - Steamtown
As the era of the steam engine faded the Steamtown Peterborough Railway Preservation Society was founded in 1977 specifically to run a tourist service between Peterborough and Euralia; the first train ran on 17 April 1981. Operations ceased in June 2002. A series of obstacles to continued operation had arisen but the final straw was a very large increase in public liability insurance premiums which were impossible to meet. The society was dissolved in January 2005.
Assets of the Railway Preservation Society were taken over by the Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre based at the unused railway workshops on the edge of Peterborough. This is a static display based on the Roundhouse and Turntable with a collection of locomotives (steam and diesel), passenger carriages and special purpose carriages on display. Steamtown is the premier tourist attraction in Peterborough; the District Council supported the formation financially (it opened in 2009) and expected to continue supporting it for seven years; visitor numbers are high enough (there is an entry fee) to raise expectation that Steamtown will become financially independent before 2016
Visitors to Steamtown join a continuously rotating escorted tour, lasting an hour and a half, through carriages (passenger and special purpose such as child health) in the roundhouse, into the diesel workshops, around the turntable then back to the other end of the roundhouse for a fascinating visit to several steam and diesel locomotives. This tour is particularly well done. Even non-rail enthusiasts are impressed by the collection and the presentation.
The roundhouse is the major feature of Steamtown. In a working steam maintenance workshop the roundhouse provides shelter for locomotives being repaired or serviced. As the name indicates, the roundhouse is semi-circular (very large ones are circular in plan) containing short lengths of railway track, each on the radius of the circular plan. The turntable at the centre of the circle can be aligned with any of the radius tracks or on a section of track linking with the workshop network. In use, a locomotive to be worked on is moved onto the turntable from workshop tracks, then the turntable is rotated to align with an empty radius track and the locomotive moved into the roundhouse to be worked on. The reverse process is used to move a repaired locomotive out of the roundhouse.
8-10 June 2015 - Peterborough Steamtown, page 2
8-10 June 2015 - Peterborough Steamtown, page 3