The International Steam Pages
The C.F. Baie de Somme Fete de la Vapeur, April 2013 / April 2014
James Waite original report on a visit in April 2009 contained a lot of background to the railway and those who are not familiar with it should consult it. The April 2014 pictures are added at the end.
Here he writes about his latest visit:
Here are some notes and photos from the Fete de la Vapeur at the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme in the last week of April, the first of these events to have been held for the past few years. Difficulties with running steam specials over the SNCF meant that this was the first of the fetes for many years which have not seen steam working in over the main line to Noyelles. In compensation the railway invited no fewer than five working steam locos, three on the metre gauge and two on the standard gauge, which must be something of a record, and put on the most intensive train service that I can remember. It was a brilliant weekend and was characterised by well-loaded trains on both days of the fete.
We arrived on the Thursday before the event when the railway was running a two-train service using what were probably the two most interesting of the visiting metre gauge locos. Probably the majority of the enthusiasts at the lineside on the Thursday were British and many of the French, Belgian and Dutch contingents didn't arrive in strength until the following day. If the car registration plates at the lineside were anything to go by very few of the linesiders came from further afield. For the first time the railway had produced a detailed working timetable booklet listing in precise detail the composition of every train during the weekend. At 3 euros it was a good buy, was much appreciated by all concerned and proved a good means of obtaining contributions from the linesiders towards the costs of running the event.
This is a truly delightful corner of the country. It has become visibly more prosperous in recent years, encouraged no doubt by the construction of the A16 motorway which affords easy access from the Netherlands, Belgium and the Channel Tunnel to the north and east and from Paris and Amiens from the south. Nonetheless it still retains much of its bucolic charm. For sheer Frenchness the district still takes some beating - remarkable for somewhere that is little more than three hours driving time from London. On one of the days I got talking to an resident of one of the houses by the lineside at Morlay, now a gentle man of somewhat advanced years. He had worked on the SNCF during WW2 and had many tales to tell of life under the German occupation and of how much more effective the RAF had been when attacking the railway than the USAF, most of whose raids could be relied upon to be wide of the mark. The continuing gratitude of many of France's residents of a certain age to the British in particular for their help in freeing their country continues to be an abiding characteristic of visits to many parts of the country. On this trip, though, the most abiding memory will be of the immense kindness of many members of the CFBS who willingly gave up their time to help their visitors at a time when they must have been fully occupied in running the railway's hectic schedule for the weekend. Merci beaucoup!
The visiting locos this time were:-
The following residents were recorded
The pictures show FC de Puerto Rico 2, Tramways de la Corrèze 0-6-0T no. 4, stripped down for repair, Aisne no. 1, the line's rolling stock, 0-6-2T SE no. 3714 (X 2) - details of these locos are above or in James' first report.