Monday, 23 April 2018

The Fourth and Final Gala Visitor

In all of our recent series of Cotswold Festival of Steam galas, the aim has been to obtain three guest engines to supplement our home fleet of five locos.  This year, we have a slight problem which is that one of our home fleet locos, 4270 is now not expected back from repairs at Crewe in time for the gala. We have therefore on this occasion obtained a fourth guest engine, Collett 0-6-0PT, 6430, with kind permission of Hugh Shipton and the Llangollen Railway.
6430, seen here at Bishops Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway
6430 was built in 1937, one of a class of just 40 locomotives designed with small 4'7.5" wheels for working steeply graded branch lines and fitted with auto equipment.
6430 on the Dean Forest Railway
 We have no autocoach to pair with 6430 alas, but we do need a fourth rake of coaches now that we have opened to Broadway.  The only way to make that happen this year, is to press the three car DMU set into service as passenger stock hauled by 6430.  The DMU is green for at least two of the carriages (and we're hoping by the time of the gala for all three), so it will look not entirely unlike a three coach suburban rake.   Fear not, this is a steam gala, the DMU's engines will not be turned on.
6430 at Berwyn on the Llangollen Railway
 The views from the front few seats of the DMU will give an unusually good view of 6430 as it toils away up an down our line.
6430 at Llangollen
 6430 was finally withdrawn from Yeovil in 1964 and sold to Cashmore's for scrapping, however she was then promptly re-sold to the Dart Valley Railway and entered service there until 1996 when she was transferred to Llangollen
6430 working down the Llangollen line at Horseshoe Falls
To recap, the full line up for the Cotswold Festival of Steam "Give My Regards to Broadway" gala is:

Guest locos (in order of age):
Collett 4-6-0, 6023, King Edward II

Collett 0-6-0PT, 6430

USATC S160, 5197

Riddles 4-6-2, 70013, Oliver Cromwell

Home fleet locos (again in order of age):

Churchward 2-8-0, 2807

Bulleid 4-6-2, 35006, Peninsular & Oriental S.N.Co

Hawksworth 4-6-0, 7903, Foremarke Hall

Collett 4-6-0, 7820 Dinmore Manor

Don't miss out on this remarkable event, advance tickets are still available and can be obtained by clicking on this link.

Monday, 16 April 2018

The Third Gala Vistor is Announced

We are now in the position to announce, subject to contract, that the third (but not necessarily final) visitor to the Cotswold Festival of Steam gala  (May 26th - 28th) "Give My Regards to Broadway".  We are proud to present Riddles, 4-6-2, 70013, Oliver Cromwell.  We would like to express our gratitude to the 5305 Locomotive Association and the National Railway Museum for kindly allowing us to use Oliver Cromwell at our gala this year.
70013, Oliver Cromwell approaching Shap on the West Coast Mainline
The Britannia class of BR standard locomotives were introduced in 1951, with Oliver Cromwell entering traffic on the 30th of May that year.  Although she spent most of her working life in East Anglia or the North West of England, members of the class were not infrequently seen on our line.
Oliver Cromwell at Crosby Garrett on the Settle & Carlisle line
Oliver Cromwell has a couple of claims to fame, the first being that she was the last BR owned standard gauge steam locomotive to benefit from a routine heavy overhaul, emerging from Crewe works after a ceremony in February 1967.
Oliver Cromwell departing Twerton tunnel near Bath
Oliver Cromwell's best known claim to fame is that she was one of the four steam locomotives that hauled the famed 15 Guinea Special on August 11th 1968, which was the last mainline passenger service by BR before the steam ban the following day. We are of course rapidly approaching the 50th anniversary of that "final" steam hauled passenger train run between Liverpool, Manchester & Carlisle.
Oliver Cromwell on Ribblehead viaduct on the Settle & Carlisle line
The real life person that 70013 was named after is one of England's more controversial historical characters.  He was a puritan who joined the English Civil war on the side of the Parliamentarians, rising quickly to becoming a leading commander in the New Model Army.  He was a signatory of King Charles I's death warrant and later became the Lord Protector of England (which included Wales at the time), Scotland & Ireland. His repression of Catholics, especially in Ireland is viewed as near genocidal.  By the time that the monarchy was restored in 1660, he had already died of natural causes, but that didn't prevent his corpse being disinterred and beheaded.
Oliver Cromwell at Crosby Garrett
That is an impressive line up, 6023, King Edward II, USATC S160, 5197 and 70013, Oliver Cromwell.  With one more loco to announce and the first gala to operate into Broadway station, this year's event is simply unmissable.Advance tickets can be obtained by clicking here.

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Second Gala Visitor

As you may remember, we have already announced our first gala visitor for the Cotswold Festival of Steam Gala "Give My Regards to Broadway" on May 26th - 28th in the form of 6023, King Edward II.

We are now in a position to announce the second visitor for our gala is USATC S160, 5197, which comes to us courtesy of its owners, Batt Holden LTD and the Churnet Valley Railway.
5197 on the West Somerset Railway
The United States Army Transportation Corp's S160 is an American design of 2-8-0, built primarily for hauling heavy freight trains on the railways of Europe at the close of WWII. Some 2,120 were built by a variety of manufacturers and many were shipped to Europe. 
5197(l) and sister loco 6046 at the Churnet Valley Railway
Manufacture commenced in 1942 and continued through to 1945. Around 400 S160's found their way to the United Kingdom during WWII, before being shipped on to mainland Europe after D-Day. Prior to the D-Day landings, they frequently worked along our line.
5197 on a demonstartion freight train on the West Somerset Railway
5197 was one of a batch of 45 S160 locomotives, built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1945 and exported to China in 1946 spending the majority of her life working on coal trains in the Fushun area until withdrawal in 1990.
5197 leads sister S160, 6046 up to Ipstones on the Churnet Valley Railway
Expect more announcements soon on the other visiting locos for the gala.

Advance tickets for the gala are already available online and can be ordered by following this link.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Red Scarf Means Danger

Well we've finally got to Broadway, all those years of planning, dedication and hard graft by so many people has finally paid off.  Some of the crews on over the Easter opening weekend chose to mark the event in their own inimitable way, Ben for instance came over all patriotic:
Not quite wrapping himself up in the Union Flag...
...experimenting with flags as earrings...
...before opting to adorn the lamps with them
The above three photos all courtesy of Aaron Smith.

It was my turn to head out to Broadway on Monday, with John & Steve on Foremarke Hall. We just stuck with the prescribed "Return to Broadway" headboards, no flags for us. I'd like to be able to bring you a report of how fabulous the new station building is etc, but the timetable left just enough time up there to run around the train and head back again.  I'm sure that the station really is as excellently constructed as many of our other blogs would have you believe, it's just that I had no time to investigate it for myself.  I can see that I shall have to make a special trip out there to check it out at some point.
Steve manning the Broadway ground frame
Something which caught my eye on the Broadway section of the line was this bit of old broad gauge track which has been recycled into fence posts.  Nothing much too remarkable about that, I'm sat typing in my living room at home, less than a quarter of a mile from a number of examples alongside the big railway.  The curious aspect to this is that the GWSR line was built in the early Edwardian era to standard gauge.  This bit of track obviously never saw service on our line and must have been kept in store for a while somewhere before being transferred to its current duty.
Edwardian recycling
The new station at Hayles was out of use for the Broadway opening weekend, however it will be in use for the normal timetables throughout the year.
Passing through Hayles
Not far beyond Greet tunnel, John (driver) looked back down along his side of the train and threw in the brakes saying that he'd seen a red flag from the guard at the back of the train.  I looked back and sure enough, there was the red flag.  When we had stopped, in accordance with the rule book, I grabbed the token and set off along the north west (Malvern) side of the train to meet the guard and find out what was wrong and how we should proceed.  When I got to him, the conversation went like this:

Guard:  "Why have we stopped?" 

Me:  "Because you waved a red flag at us"

Guard: "No I didn't"

After a bit more of a chat, we determined that the guard would check back along the train and find out who had waved the red flag, then when satisfied that all was in order, he would display a green flag to indicate that we could proceed again.  I returned to the footplate, shortly afterwards a green flag appeared, and we carried on. Upon arrival at Cheltenham Race Course, a young lady came up to us and apologised, saying that she had been waving her red scarf out of the window to attract the attention of some of her friends. 

The weather forecast for Monday had predicted rain of biblical proportions lasting all day long and indeed the prep crew must have had a pretty miserable time of it.  By the time I had arrived to start the turn, and very much in spite of the forecast, the rain was easing off, we only needed to employ the broom under the storm sheet trick for the first round trip, after that we removed the storm sheet and enjoyed something approaching summery weather.
Visibility aid when running tender first
Although we crossed other trains at Gotherington, we were not scheduled to stop in the platform
Passing 2807 at Gotherington
As is usual on special timetables, a whole gang of volunteers were scrambled into action to police the barrow crossings and make sure that the passengers kept off of them whilst the trains were in motion.  Thank you to all of them, especially the ones who got stuck out in the rain at times for helping the day to run smoothly.
I think that is Kate under there
Dinmore Manor ran with an Easter Eggspress headboard when running south instead of the"Return to Broadway" headboard.  There was even an Easter bunny about on the platform at Winchcombe, but it hopped off before I could get my camera out.
Easter Eggspress
Running round again at Broadway
We had a footplate passenger for a while on one of the trips, this chap is the chairman of Foremarke Hall LTD, he wanted to grab some video footage from the footplate for their website.   It hasn't arrived there yet, but hopefully will some time soon
Looking very pleased with his loco
When I first started on the GWSR, it wasn't uncommon after heavy rain to see rain water gushing along the track bed, particularly in the vicinity of Bishops Cleeve.  This is not a good state of affairs and if not dealt with properly can result in landslips.  We know all about landslips on the GWSR.  Recent years have seen a small team of volunteers working diligently on the drainage channels and culverts etc that are to be found all along our line.  I am sure that they, like the rest of us are more than a little gratified to see that even after the recent heavy down pours of rain, along with melting snow, that the waters have remained in the drainage channels where they belong and haven't been wreaking havoc on the track bed.
Just one of the many drainage channels removing the excess water
The cleaner, Steve is a member of the 35006 group, so for him being on the left hand side of the footplate probably felt a bit strange.  That didn't seem to deter him though when I let him have a go at firing.
No trouble hitting the front of the fire box
From the footplate point of view, Broadway is a whole new experience, with the timetables that we have been running in recent years, apart from odd gala turns etc, they have all involved a lengthy layover at Toddington.  The upshot of that has been that heading north from Cheltenham, I had rarely found it necessary to fire once past Gotherington in order to let the fire die down in anticipation of the break at Toddington.  The new timetables are radically different, no longer than ten minutes at Toddington, typically around 15 minutes at Broadway, if you're lucky, a half hour break at Cheltenham Race Course.  This all meant that on Monday I found myself picking up the shovel in several strange new places in order to keep pressure and water levels where they needed to be. 
Crossing Dinmore Manor at Gotherington

Steve fetching coal forward
Another change to the plan, where on earth should I turn off the steam heat?  Going towards Cheltenham Race Course, I turn it off at the fixed distant signal, giving the steam heat pipes a bit of time to cool off a bit before I uncouple them.  Correspondingly, I always used the fixed distant just short of Didbrook when approaching Toddington as a cue when heading north.  Clearly that would be a bit premature now.  Eventually I settled on using this boundary marker sign as my cue when approaching Broadway.
Worcestershire here we come
The points at Broadway are for the time being operated as ground frames by the crew in the same way that we used to at Laverton, in fact these are exactly the same points as were used at Laverton.  The signal box will of course be commissioned at some point in the future and we won't need to go through this process any more.  Steve, the cleaner was rather keen to operate the ground frames, so he did it on the first couple of visits to Broadway.  I had a go on the last trip just for old times sake.
Foremarke Hall just past the points at the north end of Broadway station...
...and passing the ground frame at the south end.
Note that in the pictures above, the sun is shining, the forecast had been adamant that it would be otherwise.  Needless to say, nobody complained.

Once we had got back to Toddington after our third visit to Broadway, one of the diesels was timetabled to take our train over for the last trip down to Cheltenham Race Course and back.
The green class 37 sets off as we head off to dispose
Topping up the tender.
Locomotive failures when out on the line are (touch wood) a mercifully rare occurrence, however on Tuesday on the first of the normal Blue timetables to include Broadway, the class 47 failed at Cheltenham Race Course.  Foremarke Hall was sent down the line to rescue the entire train.  Eight carriages plus the weight of the class 47 was probably something like the equivalent of pulling 11 carriages.  I'm sure that the fireman enjoyed that.  Both the following photos are courtesy of Tom Wright.
Just about to set off from Cheltenham Race Course...
...safely back at Toddington
And finally, Dinmore Manor LTD are running a quiz, with a footplate ride on Dinmore Manor as the first prize.  The quiz entry form and conditions can be downloaded by clicking on this link, and hints to the answers can be found in this promotional video.  Best of luck!
You could win a footplate ride on Dinmore Manor (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 I haven't had a turn on DInmore Manor for ages, maybe I should enter the competition.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Spring Cleaning

The week started with another few photos from one of my regular spies.... as usual, the negatives were rolled up in the bottom of a tube of toothpaste... I'm sure that the KGB will rumble his disguise soon, the shiny white teeth will give him away.  The photos concerned show the Wednesday gang at work concreting in the apron between roads 9 and 10.  For those of you who may not be too familiar with how the road numbering goes, that is the space between the steam shed and the diesel shed.  It was raining
Pouring concrete in the rain (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
 It's amusing to note that the inspector in the photo is wearing the wrong colour hi-viz.
The finished job (photo courtesy of Peter Gutteridge)
I say "finished job", they ran out of concrete just before they got to the end, a last little bit will have to be added at some point in the future.

Another of my spies, who I ended up doing the old swapping of identical brief cases ruse with on a crowded Toddington platform sent through the following photos of painting the frames of 3850 last weekend:
Even the fittings need cleaning and painting where necessary (photo courtesy of Matthew Harris)
The outside of the frames are now largely in primer (photo courtesy of Matthew Harris)
 There was even a little last minute welding taking place on the drop grate of Dinmore Manor during the week.
Not sure who it is, but the photo came from Luke Hudman
Saturday arrived, and in a bid to avoid the crowds on the trains, in spite of the less than favourable weather, a hardy band of individuals turned up to get on with the myriad jobs that needed doing.  Now that 35006 has finished her winter maintenance programme and is in traffic once again, the jacks on road seven of the David Page shed are free once again.  This means that Dinmore Manor's old tender (T1761 of 1908, originally built for 4016 Knight of the Thistle) could be put on the jacks once more to have her recently refurbished axle boxes refitted, along with finishing off the painting on the underneath.  
The missing footplate on tender T1761
 The jacks were set far enough apart to lift 35006, unsurprisingly, this wasn't quite the right dimensions for a Churchward 3500 gallon tender, some moving needed to be done.
Well, a couple of the jacks were nearly in the right place
 To free up as much room in the shed as possible, a few extraneous items needed shifting elsewhere
3850's smoke box door and chimney were in the way for instance
 As it turns out, smoke box doors and chimneys are far from light weight items, you'd certainly notice if you dropped one on your foot. Discretion being the better part of valour, I decided to leave the heavy work to Eleanor
Eleanor providing the muscle power
 Soon enough, the smoke box door was safely squirrelled away in one of the containers, the chimney had been left outside. 
One smoke box door in the dry
 The reason for leaving the chimney in an accessible place was that 3850's new ejector ring needed final machining, and it's easier to offer it up to the chimney and mark out where the bolt holes are supposed to be than any other option.
Ejector ring outside the machine shop, awaiting attention
By then end, we had cleared enough space to manoeuvre the jacks and beams into position ready to raise the tender off of its wheels again.
Soon be working on the tender again
 John was so pleased with the progress made, that the rest of the day became a general tidy up of road 6 and 7
John doing his Britannia (not to be confused with 70000) impression
 Of course, it wasn't just spring cleaning the shed that was going on, Keith got stuck in on wire brushing and priming the insides of 3850's frames
Keith wielding a paint brush
 The outsides of 3850's frames have now largely moved on to undercoat
Works photographic grey?
 During a well earned tea break, I noticed that a really useful engine has taken up residence on top of one of the many notice boards
No doubt hiding from the Fat Controller.
 Alright, alright... but what about Broadway? I hear you say.  Well the fact is that I haven't been up there yet, my turn for that comes on Monday the 2nd.  If you've seen the same weather forecast that I have, I'd be better advised building an ark in the car park at Toddington than firing Foremarke Hall up and down the line. I'll be packing a snorkel and flippers in my footplate bag, and I'll be checking that we have enough lifeboats in the tender to at least accommodate the crew... women & children last!

Andy was on the prep turn on Friday and has kindly allowed me to use a few of his photos, all photos from here on, by kind permission of Andy Webber. The prep crew were supposed to appear at Toddington at 04:30 (ouch!) and get the first two locos off into steam, then as a reward crew Dinmore Manor for the first round trip.
Bringing Foremarke Hall and Dinmore Manor into steam, 2807 waits her turn
 All of the locos running are supposed to wear one of the new "Return to Broadway" headboards.
Andy fitting the headboard at  Cheltenham Race Course
 Observant readers of this blog will no doubt have spotted that Dinmore Manor's shed plate is no longer 83D (Laira), but 89A (Oswestry).  She was shedded at Oswestry from entering traffic in November 1950 until December 1953, apart from a couple of months in 1952 when she was at Aberyswyth, and it is during this time that she was in lined black, so his shed plate ties in nicely with her newly applied lined black livery.
The view from the footplate as Dinmore Manor arrives at Broadway for the first time
 And finally, there are now many videos of the return to Broadway doing the rounds, here is one from the volunteer special event last week filmed on 35006  by ITV.  If you happen to know where a longer version is that features an interview with Eleanor, then please let me know, I'd like to see it.