Cragside Royal Opening
22 April 2008

Although the extension to the passenger railway at Amberley was opened for use back in August last year, we do really like to do things properly at Amberley. So on Tuesday 22 April 2008, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent returned to Amberley to do the honours.

Wendy, nearer to the camera, and Polar Bear both look as if they've just been taken out of the box - I can't remember when we last had such clean and shiny engines!

Even the crews brush up quite nicely when they have to. Volunteers Simon Cable in the flat cap and James Pavey in the - er- flat cap await the commencement of proceedings.

Our Polar Bear driver, at least for the first half of the day was John Stanton - look he's even wearing a tie. New overalls too.

Wendy enters Brockham with the first trainload of guests on her way to Cragside.

There was then a lull in the proceedings as His Royal Highness got stuck in the same traffic jam in Storrington as everyone else, which delayed his arrival. But soon, the Royal Train, hauled by Polar Bear complete with headboard, two Union Flags and the Isle of Man flag, as befit's her Manx origins, passes non-stop through Brockham .....

..... and arrives at Cragside.

The Prince disembarks and is welcomed by the Cragside Stationmaster.

The discovery was then made of the BT volunteers having their lunch behind the Connected Earth building!! Is this is what you call a sense of occasion?

Howard Stenning outlines the history of the railway and the extension.

Some videoed the event .....

..... while the reporter from the local radio station, Spirit FM, recorded the speeches.

The Prince was then invited to install the final, gold, track screw .....

..... to officially complete the work on the railway extension to Cragside.

One thing Prince Michael always loves to do when he visits Amberley is to drive Polar Bear. So he did. The train arrives outside the new locomotive running shed ....

..... where His Royal Highness unveiled the plaque on the buiilding, now called Bentley Hall, in commemoration of long standing Amberley and Brockham volunteers, Doug and Vi Bentley. Their son David still works with us, one of the last four ex-Brockham volunteers at the Museum.

John Martin explains the work involved in restoring our Bagnall locomotive, Peter .....

..... and outlines the history of Motor Rail Simplex No.11001, the prototype 60S.

Prince Michael then completed his driving turn by taking Polar Bear back to Amberley for the customery nibbles and drinks in the Limeburners' Restaurant.

But, sometimes, in the interests of safety, even important people have to wait. Here Prince Michael has had to "stop and await intructions" before completing the journey.

Cragside Station is so named because it is by the EdF Electrical Museum building. Cragside was the name of the very first house, a large pile in Northumberland, to be lit by domestic electric light. So now you know. (The other reason was that as we had stations A for Amberley and B for Brockham it was logical to seek an appropriate name beginning with C for our third one).

Gerry Cork & Amberley Working Museum - April 2008
- Back -