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REA LogoFestival of Steam on the Baie du Somme

The Chemin de Fer de la Baie du Somme is a preserved meter-gauge line based in tiny Noyelles-sur-Mer in northern France. Built in the 1880's, the present line consists of two separate branches connecting Noyelles with, respectively, Le Crotoy and Cayeux; 27km of trackage is serviceable. The railway is open for excursions on summer weekends. For more information about this charming operation, see the official site of the CFBS (note: French-language only).

Home of a large selection of beautifully-preserved vintage equipment, each spring the CFBS holds an open house featuring most of its rolling stock in operation. The event attracts hordes of visitors, many of whom arrive in style via steam-powered mainline excursions laid on for the occasion. On 26 April 1998 the Station Agent had the privilege of witnessing this extravaganza, and before the crowds got too thick, managed to document it with his trusty Nikkormat. Here's a selection of pix from his visit.

The locomotives are paraded down to Noyelles in the morning, allowing spectators a good chance to see the power unobscured by the crowds that arrive later in the day. Here, little 0-4-0T 25 (Corpet et Louvet, 1927) and two larger sisters wait their turn to take on fuel and water (25_01.JPG; 94Kb).
One of the stars of the event was freshly restored 2-6-0T "Aisne", seen here arriving in Noyelles early in the day (AISNE_1.JPG; 82Kb).
Another Corpet et Louvet product, No. 3714 positions a wagonload of coal for the use of its brethren (3714_1.JPG; 112Kb). Behind is a set of rebuilt standard-gauge "Caravelle" railcars, displayed by SNCF for the occasion.
Tiny No. 15 of the TS (Tramways de la Sarthe), visiting from the museum and tourist line at Valmondois, north of Paris, has a hefty load already as it backs down to pick up its train at Noyelles (TS_01.JPG; 66Kb).
Another No. 15, this one built by Haine-St-Pierre of Belgium, has just pulled into the terminal at Noyelles. As soon as the train just behind pulls out, the locomotive will run around its carriages for the next trip (15_01.JPG; 87Kb).
Belying its small size, TS No. 15 has a roll on a six-carriage train of vintage stock as it heads back to Noyelles from Cayeux (15_02.JPG; 66Kb).
The line runs right down to the docks of Cayeux, where we see 2-6-0T 15 running around its train. Is the gentleman in the hat reminiscing about the days when this was a working railway? (15_03.JPG; 91Kb)
Two steam-powered fan trips visited Noyelles the day we were there. This one, behind Pacific 231 G 558, originated in Caen. The locomotive ran in reverse to Noyelles as there are no turning facilities there (231C_01.JPG; 92Kb).
A visitor from the UK was standard-gauge 0-6-0ST "Charwelton", a resident of the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The 1917 Manning, Wardle product spent the day trundling up and down a short stretch of track at Noyelles (14_01.JPG; 75Kb).
  This recently-restored Michelin railbus, seen here negotiating the complex dual-gauge trackwork at Noyelles, is the last operable piece of equipment from the abandoned railways of Madagascar. Seats were available for a premium over the regular ticket price (MICHEL01.JPG; 101Kb).

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