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:-

Metre gauge 

PO Corrèze 0-4-4-0 Mallet tank 101 (Blanc-Misseron 337/1906) visiting from the Voies Ferrées du Velay in the Ardèche, one of the two preserved sections of the old Vivarais system. Fully restored in its old SNCF paint scheme it returned to service there in May 2011. Two of these locos remained at the Corrèze system until it closed in 1970. The other, no. 104, is on the Tournon-Lamastre line which is probably the better known preserved part of the old Vivarais line. Here it is turned at Noyelles.
Tramways d'Ille-et-Vilaine 0-6-0T 75 (Corpet Louvet 1234/1909) visiting from the MTVS museum at Valmondois, north of Paris. Here it waits to leave Noyelles station as an SNCF train from Amiens to Boulogne calls at the main line station.
Enterprise Paul Frot 0-4-0T no. 11 (Corpet Louvet 1589/1921) visiting from the Train Touristique du Bas Berry, the preserved part of the CF du Blanc-Argent near Romarantin and restored there after many years storage at St Valery. One of three of these locos which spent their working days at Paul Frot’s contractors depot at La Chapelle-St Luc, Troyes and which moved to the CFBS in the 1970's. It is being shunted at St Valery Canal by Rhatische Bahn 15, one of two of these small diesel shunters which the CFBS have bought from the Swiss railway in the last few years.

Tramways de la Corrèze 0-6-0T no. 4 (Piguet 1912) built for the opening of the system and remained in service until its last stretch closed in 1959. It's just arrived at the CFBS for assessment for restoration to working order as part of a long-term loan arrangement. It was a star exhibit on display at St Valery Ville station during the Fete but here it's standing at St Valery Canal depot.

Standard Gauge

0-4-0T "Marcia" (Peckett 1631/1923) visiting from the K&ESR along with a recently restored SECR 4-wheeled coach. This tiny loco weighs only 12 tons and must be a lot smaller than most of the narrow gauge locos at the event. She had a varied working life. Her first owner was Marcus Bain Ltd of Mauchline, Scotland and she later moved to the West of Scotland Shipbreaking Co. at Troon, Ayrshire. In 1942 or 1943 she was sold to the Manchester Oxide Company at Pendleton and used on a small system serving a plant which processed spent iron oxide from gas works to produce prussian blue. The company was taken over in 1948 by Hardman & Holden of Salford but the plant and railway system along with the loco continued in operation till the 1960s. The Peckett was named after Marcia, the wife of James Clayton, the company's managing director. She was donated to the K&ESR in 1960.

0-6-0T Bébert (La Meuse 3223/1926) visiting from the Stoomcentrum Maldegem in northern Belgium. Together with "Marcia" and the SECR coach it ran a shuttle service between St Valery Port and Noyelles during the two days of the Fete.
SNCF 2-10-0 150.P.13 built in 1942, one of 115 of these locos built between 1940 and 1950 which were based on an old CF du Nord design and the only one to have been preserved. It's part of the reserve collection of the Mulhouse museum and normally lives in the old roundhouse at Mohon. It is not in working order. Here it receives a check-over at St Valery Canal before being towed to Noyelles for display during the Fete.

The following residents were recorded

0-6-0T no. 101 (Pinguely 165/1905, ex CF du Morbihan, Brittany) has been restored to working order since 2009 and repainted. This was its first weekend back in traffic.

4-6-0T SE Reseau Breton E332 (Fives Lille 3587/1909) re-entered service in 2009. It's much the most powerful loco at the railway.

2-6-0T no. 15 of the Compagnie Générale des Voies Ferrées d’Intérêt Local (HSP works no. 1316/1920) is similar, if not identical, to eleven locos, HSP works no’s 1304-14/1920, which were built for the SE for operation on the Baie de Somme lines to replace locos lost in WW1.


St Valery Canal shed was a hive of activity with locos being prepared for service on the Friday evening before the Fete. From left to right are POC 101, Aisne No. 1, No. 25, SE 3714 and E 332.
The race between trains leaving Noyelles for Le Crotoy and for St Valery is one of the railway's traditions but only really makes an attractive photo late in the afternoon when the sun has moved well round to the west. Here TIV 75 on the left is heading for Le Crotoy and POC 101 on the right is bound for St Valery on the Thursday evening. Even though the small Corpet Louvet loco had a head start the Blanc-Misseron Mallet is clearly winning the race! Note the mixed gauge track.
The CF Cappy-Froissy Dampiere visited the Fete for the first time. Their Decauville 0-6-0T sits outside Cayeux station where a temporary length of 600mm gauge track had been laid in the street leading out to the station from the town centre. This was a surprisingly long run of track, maybe ½km. 
Another visitor was this 1932-built De Dion railcar which spent its working life on the CF Cotes du Nord in Brittany. Here it approaches St Valery Canal from Noyelles on the Friday. Apart from the generally similar railcar which lives in Damascus I wonder if any others survive.
POC 101 crosses the Somme bridge at St Valery on the Thursday. St Valery continued to be a commercial port until the 1980's. In those days the isolated pink house on the dyke overlooking the port looked from the outside to be a cheap bar and cafe but in fact served as a house of ill-repute, the sort without which no port is complete. It's just along the road from the loco shed and in the society's early years at least one CFBS novice wandered in there blissfully unaware of the true function of the place.
POC 101 passes the pond at St Valery on the Saturday with a train from Noyelles.
SE 3714 on the bank out of St Valery on the Saturday evening bound for Cayeux. One of the railway's joys is its set of wooden bodied coaches originally supplied for service on the Baie de Soome lines after WW1. In recent years many of them have been restored to their original varnished wood finish and, as can be seen here, make a magnificent sight.
TIV 75 near Le Crotoy on the Saturday morning.
E 332 on the bank out of St Valery on the Sunday morning.
TIV 75 and 3714 double head a mixed train on the Friday, seen here approaching Lancheres.
The two Frot 0-4-0T's, visiting 11 and resident 25 on their mixed train passing Hurt on the Saturday morning heading away from Cayeux.
CF du Morbihan 101 and TIV 75 double head a train of the old Somme wooden coaches from Le Crotoy past Morlay on the Saturday afternoon.
Friday's mixed train returned from Cayeux as a quadruple header with (from right to left) POC 101, Aisne No. 1, and TIV 75 and here pass Hurt.
This is a map of the system taken from Wikipedia:

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.

Rob Dickinson