|The North Yorkshire Moors Railway was transported back to a bygone
era when the annual velocipede rally returned last week.
Enthusiasts from all over the United Kingdom traveled to the heritage
railway to ride along sections of the track in their lightweight
three or four wheeled vehicles all of which rely on pedal
power to get them from A to B.
The custom-built machines, invented in 1879 and resembling bicycles
but on railway lines, have historically been used for track maintenance
But Thursday and Fridays visit was purely a social affair
with members of National Railway Velocipedes enjoying leisurely
round trips from Pickering Trout Farm to Levisham and from Goathland
Station to the summit and back hitting speeds of up to 20mph.
We have had a really good reception on the North Yorkshire
Moors Railway, said Roger Fuller, the national coordinator
of www.railvelocipedes.org, who made the trip from Staffordshire.
They are fantastic people and just to be in the area is lovely.
The railways involvement began by chance when a velocipede
was spotted in an engine shed by an enthusiast who then contacted
A phone call followed and a visit was organised by representatives
from Pickering to see the national rally at first hand at the Churnet
Valley Railway, near Stoke-on-Trent.
We then had the seed of an idea to see if they could introduce
it here and they did, said Tammy Naylor, the events
local coordinator, on Friday. Technically, this is the second
rally we have held but in reality it is the first proper rally.
A dozen velocipedes some powered by arms, others by legs
made the journey to North Yorkshire and certainly turned
heads in Goathland with motorists passing along the railway line
stopping at the station to find out more about the eye-catching
and curious machines.
Building a velocipede is easier than many would think, says Jacqui
Thomas, editor of www.railvelocipedes.org, an engineer whose interest
began when she would watch her father, a shed master on a sugar
cane plantation in South Africa.
I thought they were so interesting, she said. Ive
had an interest in them since childhood and was collecting photos
but then when I found the rally, I built one of them from photos.
Her first attempt, with which she guessed the dimensions from a
photo proved to be not so successful, but then she collected a velocipede
and has been knocking them up ever since.
Now Jacqui and husband Kevin are the proud owners of eight in total
and believe it is an easy and cheap hobby to pursue.
If someone is interested in DIY or engineering, it is as
easy as pie they are not very sophisticated, she said.
The altruistic nature of the velocipede owners means help is always
on hand, especially through Jacquis website which features
design specifications for all manner of machines, ranging from the
Drasine and Track Bike, through to the Velorail and Walking Car.
Helpfully, it also includes AutoCad codes so you can get the wheels
for the tracks laser cut by firms in their locality.
She estimates some of the machines cost as little as £200
It is going to be more and more popular because more of these
are being built, Jacqui, of Stone, in Staffordshire, believes.
Improving its popularity is something Roger is pushing for, having
approached other railways like the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
to join forces with their group.
We are trying to encourage private railways to develop the
use of velocipedes on their lines because it is a fun activity,
he said. There are plenty of sites out there where we can
hold a rally but we need them to get on board. Interest in velocipedes
is growing and it is just a case of getting the message out there
to people so they can develop it as a hobby.
He added: It is a fun hobby. Its about travelling new
lines, meeting new people, finding you share an interest with people
from different parts of the country. It is absolutely fantastic
the more the merrier.
The two-day visit ended with an informal competition to pick the
best machine and also to share tips on improving their machines.
And to a man and woman, all of last weeks participants are
united on why a velocipede is such a fun way to travel.
Its a view of the railway that you would never see
otherwise. You are close to the track, the wildlife just ignores
you completely. It is just completely different it helps
keep you fit and it is a green way to travel, said Jacqui.
Tammy agrees: When you ride them on the railway, it is just
lovely. You are in touch with the railway more, you see much more
than sat in a train. The people are eccentric and very lovely. This
is just a part of their interest in the railway and they are always
bouncing ideas off of each other.
I think the railway are really pleased with it.