A bumper year for the HRA Awards

Ffestiniog Railway
Heritage Railway Association awards recognise best of the UK’s heritage rail industry
Published Wed, 2019-02-13 16:51

Saturday February 9th saw the celebrations surrounding the Heritage Railway Association’s 2019 annual awards. At a gala dinner in the Burlington Hotel, Birmingham, attendees were entertained by guest speaker Pete Waterman, prior to an awards ceremony that recognised the very best of the UK’s heritage rail industry.




Ffestiniog Railway © HRA

The HRA Awards recognise a wide range of achievements and distinctions across the entire heritage railway industry, and the awards acknowledge individuals and institutions as well as railways, tramways and cliff railways.

The February 9th event saw the presentation of awards in record 15 categories, which includes one completely new award. Several categories saw a record number of nominees, and in one case, joint winners.

The Statfold Barn Railway won the Morton’s Media (Heritage Railways) Interpretation Award, for their outstanding museum of international narrow gauge railways, and repository of information and artefacts relating to the Hunslet engine.

The Railway Magazine Annual Award for Services to Railway Preservation was won by John Bate of the Talyllyn Railway, quite possibly the world’s longest-serving heritage rail volunteer, and whose skills have made a unique contribution to railway preservation.

The NER 1903 Electric Autocar Trust won double honours. The Trust took the Morton’s Media (Rail Express) Modern Traction Award, for their restoration of the pioneering 1903 NER Autocar, the first railway vehicle to combine an internal combustion engine with a generator and traction motors, and thus the forerunner of all modern trains. Underlining their achievement, the Trust also won the Heritage Railway Association Manisty Award, one of the heritage rail industry’s most prestigious awards, which acknowledges an outstanding contribution to railway preservation.

Steam Railway magazine took a different approach to picking their winner this year. A list of ten nominees was put to a readers’ vote. The nominees were the Bahamas Locomotive Society, the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, the International Railway Heritage Consultancy, the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, the Vale of Rheidol Railway, and the War Office Locomotive Trust. The readers’ vote declared a clear winner - the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, for their Broadway Extension.

The Heritage Railway Association’s Awards featured a significant new award, the Lord Faulkner Award for the young volunteer of the year. The award recognises the crucial importance of succession generations in securing the future of heritage rail, and acknowledges a distinguished contribution made by one or more young volunteers, under the age of 26. The winner was Matthew Wilson of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. Runners-up were Ashley Helleur of Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Matthew Jackson and Matthew Sutton of West Somerset Railway, Matt Riley and Conner Thornton of Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, and Lee Robbins of West Somerset Railway.

This year’s Awards Night also included the bi-annual HRA Carriage & Wagon Awards. The Carriages category was won by the Downpatrick and Co. Down Railway for the Belfast and County Down Railway no 72, also known as the Holywood Railmotor.

Highly commended were the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust, for their Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway - S & D First class 4-compartment 6-wheel carriage No 4, and the Churnet Valley Railway for their BR Mk 1 BSK No. 35473 Disabled access conversion.

Joint winners in the Wagons category were the Chasewater Railway for their GWR Toad brake van, and the Ffestiniog Railway Society for their FfR Sentry brake van no 3. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s rake of four coal wagons were Highly Commended.

The Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society won the Self-propelled category, for the Liverpool Tram no. 245.

The Morgan Award for Outstanding Achievement, was won by the Seaton Tramway for their New Seaton Tram Station. Runners-up were The International Rail Heritage Consultancy Ltd. for the Channel 4 programme: Great Rail Restorations with Peter Snow; the Isle of Wight Steam Railway for the Composite No 10 - The Oldbury Carriage, and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for the Channel 5 program documenting the day-to-day life of the NYMR.

The Coiley Award is presented to an HRA member who has completed an outstanding engineering project in the field of locomotive overhaul, restoration or preservation. The 2019 winner was the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway Preservation Society for the ‘Train from Spain’ project, 'Whillan Beck'. Runners-up were the Greensand Railway Museum Trust for their Restoration of the 40hp petrol 'Armoured' Simplex WDLR LR2182, the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway Historic Vehicle Trust for ‘Jurassic In the Park’ and the Moseley Railway Trust for the War Office Hunslet – a unique survivor of the Great War.

The award for an Outstanding Visitor Attraction, Small Groups, was won by the Horse Trams on the Isle of Man. Runners-up were the Great Laxey Mine Railway, for their Hop-tu-Naa event, and the South Tynedale Railway. The Large Groups section for Outstanding Visitor Attraction was won by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The Lynton & Lynouth Cliff Railway and the Talyllyn Railway were runners-up.

The HRA Annual Award (Small Groups) was won by the Helston Railway, for the reinstatement of Truthall Halt. The runners-up were Churnet Valley Railway, for Leek Brook Station, and the Steeple Grange Light Railway, for their World War 1 Armistice Commemoration.

There were four nominees for the HRA Annual Award (Large Groups) . The winners were the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, for Broadway Station. Runners-up were the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, for partnership work with the wider rail industry; the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway, for business continuity in the face of adversity, and the Friends of Black Prince at North Norfolk Railway.

HRA Chief Executive Steve Oates said ‘Not only did we have a record number of awards categories, we received a record number of nominations – all of them illustrating the stunning levels of achievement and excellence our members are capable of. In the fields of operation, restoration and preservation, customer engagement and volunteer service, our members large and small are shining examples of what can be achieved in heritage rail and in providing outstanding visitor experiences. Everyone comes away from the HRA awards night proud to be a part of such a terrific movement.’

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