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Remembered Today:

Tracks to the Trenches - 2014 (WW1 Centenary Event)


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Dear All,

I am a volunteer member of a narrow gauge railway museum charity called the Moseley Railway Trust (http://www.mrt.org.uk), based in Staffordshire in the UK.

As you are aware, 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. This conflict was the catalyst for many changes, the result of which lead to the modern world we now live in.

One of the areas where it had a huge impact was transport, particularly military logistics in all theatres; there was a massive move away from the use of horses, with lorries & railways used on a previously unimaginable scale. Tactical narrow gauge railways, with their ability to rapidly adapt to the changes in the battlefield, were eventually used by all combatants – somewhat amazingly all sides standardized upon 60cm gauge field railways.

These railways, which served most front lines of the conflict, became the catalyst for many post-war industrial railways - providing high quality "war surplus" equipment at bargain prices, which served a multitude of industries around the world long after the war ended.

A short you-tube video of these railways filmed during WW1 is here:

You can also see some more details about these railways on my own personal website here: http://www.wdlr.org.uk

Our museum currently encompasses an extremely comprehensive collection of locomotives (around 60) and rolling stock – including a significant quantity of materials built for use in France during WW1. In addition to our passenger railway, we also have a large (currently undeveloped) field area – on which we are intending to start construction of a traditional “field railway” and various external cameo museum display areas.

Due to the timing, our WW1 area (hopefully to include a typical locomotive shed) is likely to be one of the first areas to be

developed shortly.

We are now starting to confirm plans for the major WW1 "Tracks to the Trenches" Commemoration Event centred around our site.over the weekend of September 13/14 (extending to possibly a long weekend) 2014. We are now starting to book some key attractions to this event - there should be a press release shortly & the event now has its own website - please see: http://www.ww1-event.org

The website is currently showing 2 days for the event (Sat & Sun 13/14th September 2014) - it is highly likely that the Friday would be added & possibly one other day.

We will appreciate any feedback to this!

I would be extremely interested to explore ways that we might be able to work together with other groups, or recieve expressions of interest in attending from Groups/traders/etc please.

Some projects that we are looking at are:

Construction of an outdoors WW1 cameo museum display area – probably including WW1 replica engine shed & other related items. (subject to planning applications!)

Extensive field railway

Event field

Possibly a small section of trench

Various Living history groups

Visiting locomotives/stock – hopefully to represent British, USA, French & German railways.

Our site has an active drift mine that provides tours - hopefully this will also be included to show the tunnelling war.

I’m sure that lots of other items and opportunities will start to present themselves too.

We are keen to have discussions with various Living history Groups who may be interested in working with us during this construction & gala creation.

I look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Thanks in advance,

Gareth Roberts

Moseley Railway Trust – Event Organiser

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  • 2 months later...

Good evening. The MRT has recently issued the following press release.

Release follows:-

The Moseley Railway Trust will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with a major event, entitled Tracks to the Trenches – 2014. The event will be on September 12, 13 and 14 2014. The Trust is confident that this will be one of the major narrow gauge and First World War centenary events of 2014.

The First World War was one of the key turning points in European history – and narrow gauge railways played a major part in the war. All combatants made considerable use of tactical 60cm gauge railways, supporting the colossal demands which the first truly modern war put upon logistics systems. This moment in history helped define and standardise the gauge of many post-war industrial railways (Ashover, Nocton, Leighton Buzzard, etc), through the use of readily available War Surplus materials.


The Trust is pleased to be able to confirm the booking of the first visiting steam locomotive to the Tracks to the Trenches - 2014 event; Baldwin 4-6-0T No 778 from the Leighton Buzzard Railway in Bedfordshire. No 778 has not made many visits to other lines since restoration was completed in 2007, so this event will provide some unique locomotive/rolling stock combinations and photographic opportunities.

These 10-12-D class locomotives (the classification designated by the manufacturer) were supplied en-masse to the British War Department from 1917 onwards in all theatres, eventually totalling nearly 500 by 1918. They were the most common steam locomotive operated by the War Department Light Railways during the Great War. Based on a very similar design previously supplied to the French Army in Morocco, they had a limited life expectancy on the Battlefield of a mere 6-8 months.


Gareth Roberts, one of the event organisers of the Tracks to the Trenches event commented - Today, only a very small number of these machines have survived and an even smaller number are operational. We are extremely grateful to the Greensand Railway Museum Trust and the Leighton Buzzard Railway for making available this locomotive, fully restored to original appearance, for this important WW1 Centenary commemoration.

A website has been set-up for the Tracks to the Trenches event – it’s at http://www.ww1-event.org. The Trust would be very pleased to hear from individuals or groups who wish to participate in the event – contact can be made via the website. The Trust is also seeking sponsorship for elements of the event – there are opportunities from main event sponsor to individual donations.

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