A festive feast - cooked on the footplate

Darlington and Stockton Times: Rail Operations coordinator Matt Ellis prepares to cook the sausages on his shovel in the firebox of Teddy Rail Operations coordinator Matt Ellis prepares to cook the sausages on his shovel in the firebox of Teddy

MUSEUM staff enjoyed the ultimate outdoor meal – when they tucked into a Christmas feast cooked on the footplate of a steam locomotive.

The engine was used to cook the festive turkey feast for six people, complete with stuffing, roast vegetables and gravy.

Preparations started at 9am, when Teddy, the loco used by the National Railway Museum in York for its Santa rides, was getting warmed up.

The turkey and trimmings were baked to perfection in the firebox while pigs in blankets were sizzled using the traditional fireman’s shovel technique. Gravy was warmed up using a baked bean tin.

And the resulting repast was served with all due ceremony on Christmas-themed paper plates- making the meal the zenith of disposable outdoor cookery. Even brandy butter was brought out for a Christmas pudding slowly steamed by the engine.

Operations coordinator Matthew Ellis said: “There is a long history of cooking on the footplate, as although it was often frowned upon by those further up the railway hierarchy it was often the only way loco crews could get hot food on the move.

“Some locomotive footplates were even designed for sizzling sessions on the sidings.”

He added: “Even today crews try to outdo each other with the complexity of food cooked in this steamy fashion, and I think our attempt to cook a full Christmas feast by firebox is about as difficult as it gets.”

*The museum is open every day over the festive break except December 24, 25 and 26.

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