Thursday, 25 May 2017

Gala Timetable Published

Following on from the disappointing loss of USATC, S160, 6046 from the gala's line up announced yesterday, our timetable wizard has been locked in a darkened room, connected to an intravenous drip of industrial strength coffee and tasked with sorting out the myriad things that will have been affected.  He has at already churned out a revised timetable and is currently hard at work on the crew & signalling diagrams.  For those of you who are lucky enough to have booked places on the footplate rides (now sold out), you will be pleased to know that there will be no changes to the published times for those, please arrive on the time and date specified. An unfortunate consequence of the loss of 6046 is that we will no longer be able to offer a "driver for a tenner" at Cheltenham race Course Station.  Our apologies for the late withdrawal of this feature.

The process of getting the timetable published on the main GWSR website is surprisingly arcane, requiring skills more associated with the dark arts than information technology (though some might say that they are one and the same). I have nevertheless managed to do it, more by luck than judgement, and with no small amount of assistance from Maxine in the GWSR's admin office.

You'll be able to find it for yourself by following this link.

Having spent the last two days flying a laptop rather than doing the fun things that gala prep should entail, I wrenched myself out of the admin office, put on my overalls (not exactly the weather for that today) and put a fire in 76017 for its steam test (not the weather for that either).
35006 at the new northern end of the line yesterday (photo courtesy of Dan Wigg)
The trade stands marquee going up in the car park at Toddington
 The steam loco dept's main focus is on the gala at the moment, but it is still business as usual for the railway, Dinmore Manor running on the blue timetable.
35006 on the ash pit, Dinmore Manor sets off with the first train of the day
Visiting loco 76017 (from the Mid Hants Railway) during her steam test
 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

And Then There Was Seven

We'll start with the bad news, we regret to have to announce that a failure of a big end bearing on one of our visiting locos, USATC, S160, 6046 will preclude it from visiting our gala this year.  This is of course extremely disappointing news, but it is the way of things in the world of steam locomotive preservation.  It is very much hoped that we can arrange for 6046 to visit us for a gala in the next year or so.  Unfortunately, at this late stage there has been no possibility of obtaining a replacement, try as we might.  I note that another heritage railway has cancelled its gala scheduled for this weekend through the inability to obtain locos.  It's the downside of having a gala on a popular bank holiday weekend I'm afraid.  

The change has come too late to be able to be reflected in the brochure however  the online timetable timings will remain the same although the locomotive allocations will need to change.  At the time of writing, the revised timetable hasn't been completed, but it will hopefully be on the GWSR website sometime late on Thursday.  The printed copies of the timetable wil have the correct details.

On the good news front, the remaining guest locos have now arrived on site, 1450, along with its auto-trailer, W238W, Chaffinch (both by kind permission of the Severn Valley Railway & Push Pull LTD) and 76017 (by kind permission of the Mid Hants Railway).
76017 being coaled shortly after arrival
1450 awaiting its steam test
W238W Chaffinch
The home fleet (2807, 4270, 7820, Dinmore Manor, 7903, Foremarke Hall & 35006, Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co) are all still available for service and will be appearing.

Also under the heading of good news, is that we can now confirm that we will be running some trains more than 200 yards (I refuse to use the metric equivalent that the confirmation message employed) beyond Little Buckland bridge.  A round trip of approximately 8 miles from Toddington, and to within about a mile of Broadway Station. This is around 2 miles further north than Laverton, which had been our previous northern limit of operations. Our 3 car 117 class DMU made the first passenger carrying trip up there on Tuesday.  1450 and auto-trailer W238W will be taking shuttles from Toddington to Little Buckland each day, and several of the longer trains will top and tail there as well.  See the timetable for further details (note, not yet revised at the time of writing). 

One final bit of good news is that we now have a new fireman, Graham passed out at the weekend. 
Graham (r), being congratulated by inspector Irving.

Congratulations on making the grade Graham, and welcome to the firing team.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

All You Wanted To Know About The Gala, But Were Afraid To Ask

The Cotswold Festival of Steam Gala (May 27th - 29th), "Workhorses of Steam" is less than two weeks away, and there are a number of updates.  Last time we brought you a gala update, we announced that scheduled works on Black 5, 45305 were going to over-run and that we had lined up a replacement in S&DJR 7F, 53808.  Unfortunately, the West Somerset Railway have suffered a failure of one of their other steam locomotives, which meant that they can no longer spare 53808 as it would be needed to cover their own bank holiday services.  Fortunately, courtesy of the Mid Hants Railway, we are enormously grateful to be able to announce at such short notice that we will be running BR Standard 4MT, 2-6-0, 76017 instead.
45305  53808  76017, photo courtesy of Ben Evason
The BR Standard 76XXX class were allocated to all regions except the Western Region, but Midland allocated examples of the class would have traversed our line on occasion.  Like all BR Standards, they had a relatively short service life in BR ownership, (12 years and 1 month in this case) before being swept aside in the rush to abandon steam in favour of diesel or electric motive power.  Of the 115 members of the class built, 4 survived into preservation, all by virtue of being sent to the legendary Barry Island Scrapyard.  Students of the GWSR will of course be familiar with fact that there are the mortal remains of a steam locomotive quietly awaiting its turn in the restoration queue in Toddington's north siding.  That steam locomotive is 76077, a sister to 76017.  Hopefully in the fullness of time, 76077 will be returned to steam and running on our line.  Until then , 76017 can be considered to be a foretaste of what is to come.

76017 will be appearing alongside our other two guest locomotives. 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 shipped to Europe. 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.
 

6046 was one of the last batch of 55 S160's locomotives, built by Baldwin Locomotive Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and delivered direct to France. Although many were scrapped in France at the end of their service there, 6046 was later exported to Hungary. At the end of her working life in Hungary, she was brought to the UK for restoration and eventually ended up along with sister S160, 5197 at the Churnet Valley Railway in the ownership of Greg Wilson.

174 S160's were allocated to the Great Western Railway during WWII, and they were a regular sight on our line during that period. Unfortunately I have unearthed no photos from the time (wartime railway photos in general are fairly rare).

USATC, S160, 2-8-0, 6046
On the evening of Saturday 27th May only, we will once again be running a 14 coach train.  At the southern end of the train will be 6046, whilst at the northern end, we will have 35006 from our home fleet.  This proved to be extremely popular last year, fortunately with 14 coaches, there should be ample room to accommodate a fair number of passengers.

Our third and final visiting loco is Collett 0-4-2T, 1450, and autocoach W238W, courtesy of the Severn Valley Railway and Push Pull LTD.
1450 in action on the Dean Forest Railway
The 14XX class were no strangers to our line, with eight or nine of the class being shedded at any one time at Gloucester Horton Road. Regular duties for the class were on the Cheltenham St James' to Honeybourne locals. An autotrain working was a sensible choice as the turn involved working from Cheltenham St James' to Cheltenham Malvern Rd, which involved a change of direction at Malvern Rd.

It hopefully hasn't escaped your attention that the GWSR is in the process of rebuilding Hayles Abbey Halt. The very first blog post from the team that are recreating it included a photo of 1424 which judging by the water overflowing from its water tanks had just screeched to a stop at Hayles Abbey Halt. The halt is now substantially complete, but won't be open for use during the gala, yet seeing 1450 pass through with an autocoach will see another bit of our line's history recreated.
 

1424 screeches to a stop at Hayles Abbey Halt, photo courtesy of Hugh Ballantyne
The timetable for the gala will feature 1450 & auto-trailer W238W running shuttles from Toddington to Laverton (and hopefully beyond to Buckland) as well as a full round trip of the line.

The above visitors are all in addition to our home fleet locomotives, which will be all be running an intensive timetable.
Churchward, 2-8-0, 2807, built in 1905

Churchward, 2-8-0T, 4270
Collett, Manor class 4-6-0, 7820, Dinmore Manor
Hawksworth, Modified Hall class, 4-6-0, 7903, Foremarke Hall
Bulleid, Merchant Navy class, 4-6-2, 35006, Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co
The preliminary timetable includes double headings of 76017 with 35006 and 7820 with 7903 amongst others. 

The locos will be facing in the directions shown below:

1450     Facing Cheltenham Race Course
2807     Facing Broadway
4270     Facing Broadway
6046     Facing Cheltenham Race Course
7820     Facing Cheltenham Race Course
7903     Facing Cheltenham Race Course
35006   Facing Broadway
76017   Facing Broadway

The mainline steam locomotives are a big attraction to any gala, and once again, we've done ourselves proud on that front, however they're not everything.  We like to expand the appeal of the event beyond just the mainline steam locomotives, yet stay true to our steam power roots.  Included in the price of the ticket, will be entry to the North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway, which will have locomotives from its home in operation.  As if that wasn't enough, in the car park at Toddington, we hope to have four steam powered traction engines, including Burrell Showman's Road Locomotive 3950 'Progress' and vintage fairground organ.
3590, Progress, photo courtesy of Ben Evason
Progress' fairground organ, photo courtesy of Ben Evason
 If all that steam is too much, and you'd like to let of some steam of your own, then pump trolley/Wickham trolley rides will be available at Gotherington, as well as refreshments.  Winchcombe will once again play host to a beer tent and there will be a trade stands marquee at Toddington.  There will be a bus service from Cheltenham Spa Network Rail Railway station to our own Cheltenham Racecourse Station.  As ever, for visitors by car, the recommendation is to park at Cheltenham Racecourse Station (for directions, follow this link) and some parking will be available in the field (not the main car park) at Toddington (for directions see here).  

Once again, we will be offering brake van rides on the freight train (spaces are limited) and footplate rides on some of our home fleet locomotives.  The footplate rides are book in advance, and as of Saturday 13th May, just two places remain.  Book now to avoid disappointment.

More details and advance ticket sales can be found on the main GWSR web page

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

SPECIAL EDITION: A Look Back to 1996 / Wartime in the Cotswolds

Ah, the Steam Department Mess Coach. An old carriage turned into a haven for tea lovers of all kinds, somewhere to rest awhile and chat, away from the noise of the shed and workshop.

On the table you can find all kinds of literature to read while whilst drinking a cup of the best tea or eating the finest sandwich that the local shop has to offer. You might find the odd copy of Classic Car Weekly, a newsletter from a far-off railway, Railwayana auction booklets, numerous Steam monthlies. And, just occasionally, you might find gold.

No, not the shiny, 24ct kind, but still a nugget nonetheless - a nugget of GWSR gold in the form of a well-thumbed copy of our quarterly magazine, The Cornishman. On this occasion I was thrilled to find a copy from the Summer of 1996 - a time when British Rail was being privatised, Damon Hill won the Formula 1 Championship, The Spice Girls were just making their debut, Dolly the sheep was created, and your very own blogger here was still at junior school...! A little bundle of history, a snapshot of time when our Railway was just a little bit different. I hope you will find this as interesting as I did, either to bring back memories or to learn more about the modern history of the 'Friendly Line in the Cotswolds'.

The Cornishman from Summer 1996
Cover image by Steve Standbridge


At a time when we are looking forward in anticipation to the opening of Broadway in 2018, sometimes it is a good idea to stop to appreciate and look back at just how much has been achieved in the last 3 decades.

I discovered this issue not too long after I'd visited the South Devon Railway and seen 4920 Dumbleton Hall in the sidings needing quite a bit of attention. I was told that she had visited the GWSR some time ago, so how strange for this to turn up with none other than 4920 on the front cover. It's interesting to note the changes to the magazine over the last 21 years - cover price has gone from £1.50 to £2.80, however the 1996 copy (Issue 57) has just 46 pages in comparison to Issue 140 which sports 74.

The GWSR is a story of successes and 1995/96 was no different, with passenger figures up due to the early arrival of 4920 and a high profile marketing campaign.

Finger through the pages of Issue 57 and they are mostly black and white with a centre spread of colour photographs, dedicated for the 1995 Photographic Competition, with the following image being chosen as the winner.

The 1995 Photographic Competition Winner - No. 7752 near Hailes Abbey (30/3/1991)
Photo by Ralph Ward 
It was a closely contested competition, it says, and Ralph Ward narrowly beat Eddie Roberts to the footplate pass first prize.

Over 100 people took part in a sponsored walk in the February, raising £2,200 for the GWRL. Here they are seen walking down onto the old platform at Cheltenham:

Sponsored Walk 18/02/96. Photo by Wayne Finch

CRC as it is today
It's interesting to note the lack of rails and the general condition of the walkways compared to how it looks today, because, of course, the GWSR would not finish the line to Cheltenham until November 2002 (although initial tracks were laid in the station in 1998 to launch the share issue). 

Indeed, even the 1.5 miles of track from Winchcombe to Gotherington would not open until a year later in 1997, meaning that at the time the line was only 5 miles long compared to today's 12 miles, running from Toddington to Far Stanley. 

Another visitor to the GWSR for the 1996 season bears some similarities to the 'Workhorses of Steam' 2017 Gala - a USA S160 No. 3278 'Franklin D. Roosevelt' from Mid Hants visited two decades ago, to replace GWR 7752 which was due instead.

USA S160 No. 3278 'Franklin D. Roosevelt' visited here over
20 years ago. Photo by Wayne Finch

In 2017, 3278 can be found at Tyseley Locomotive Works, undergoing restoration. However you can see USATC S160 6046 at our gala next month, from Churnet Valley (photo courtesy of Ray):

USATC S160 6046 visiting in 2017

Now on to the Loco Dept. news from the day, written by Ian Coull & Malcolm Hill.

The Goods Shed was on its way to becoming what we know it as today. 

"Work on the goods shed continues to make progress, despite the Railway Inspector asking us to move the track over by 5" at one end. We have replaced all the wooden sleepers at the Toddington end of the shed with concrete ones and we are now ready for our first load of concrete. The old cabin inside the shed is being demolished ready for the first section of floor to be removed. This is due to much good work by Dave Scott and Nigel Hawkins."

An interesting reference to sleepers in the shed - I'm not sure that there are any in there nowadays, perhaps the goods shed was used for the locos prior to the David Page Shed going up?   

Talking of the DP Shed, 1996 was the year when initial meetings were taking place to discuss its building. Now it stands proudly in the car park, with most its floor having been concreted over the last couple of years. Interestingly, there was a turntable on the site where the shed sits today. It was moved to a new location - where was that?

The steam locos that lived at, and visited the GWSR in 1996 were very different to those in the home fleet today. Rather than the full size GWR 2-8-0s, Manors and Halls, there were a couple of 0-6-0s. 

"4920 Dumbleton Hall arrived in March and is in regular use." As mentioned, can now be found at the South Devon Railway.

"King George The frames for this loco have now been moved across to the loco shed, with some minor work to be done. On the boiler front, the new foundation ring is back from Roger Pridham, together with the new side plates. On first offering of the ring up to the boiler, it looks good. Copper stay manufacturing is under way in our own machine shop, courtesy of Rod Minchin who has to make around 200 stays on our new Capstan lathe using our newly purchased tooling. Thanks go to Kevin Markham and Ian Windscheffel for their good work in this area." Refers to Hunslet 0-6-0ST King George No. 1 (or was it 2409?), which has since been converted to a Thomas the Tank Engine. King George was also the first steam loco to travel to CRC in over 30 years.

"Robert Nelson No. 4 In spite of some minor mechanical problems, it remains available for service." I couldn't find much out about this loco, where is it today?
  
"6984 Owsden Hall Is now back on her wheels at the SVR with some small jobs underway at Toddington, such as the cab structure. We plan to start the boiler later this year." Owsden Hall is currently under restoration at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.

"Franklin D. Roosevelt We took delivery of this S160 from the Mid Hants during May. It is totally different to any locomotive we have had on the line in the past and we feel it will prove a big attraction as it is as powerful as an 8F." Currently under restoration at Tyseley.

In 1996 there was also the first 'Ladies Day' - no, I don't mean to do with the Cheltenham Races, but a day where there is an emphasis on the ladies that undertake duties on the railway. It was cleverly held on Mother's Day, March 17th 1996 where there was an all-female footplate crew on 4920 Dumbleton Hall, plus a female guard and TTI, booking office and shop staff. 

(l-r) Judith Crockford (fireman), Betty Dixon (guard), Joanna Elvey (driver), Sheila Deakin (TTI).
Photographer unknown.

With the first two trips under her belt, Joanna enjoys a chat with
some of our visitors.
Photographer unknown.

Joanna Elvey and Judith Crockford became the GWSR's first all female
footplate crew when they took charge of No. 4920 Gumbleton Hall.
Photographer unknown.

There is quite a similarity to May 11th 2016, when, 20 years later, there was yet another Ladies Day (details here), with Tina as the fireman and myself as cleaner. Unfortunately we are lacking in the lady driver department in 2017, perhaps that will change soon?

Myself (left), cleaner, with Tina the fireman. Photo by Malcolm Ranieri

(l-r) Tina, myself, Theresa, Sally and Mary (Photo by Malcolm Ranieri
'Membership Matters' says there were a total of 2,039 members in March '96. Fast forward to early 2017 and that number has over doubled to 4,248. 

Any visitor or volunteer should be familiar with 'The Flag and Whistle' tea room and the food it has to offer. Off limits to the public is the staff canteen to the rear of the tea room, but it hasn't always been like this. There used to be another canteen on the premises which is reported to have been demolished in less than a week, and parts of it were recycled and used in the building of the Flag and Whistle extension. 

The 'Flag and Whistle' extension, April '96
(Photo by Bryan Merrett)

21 years later, the F&W extension today

The car park had also been levelled/resurfaced, with an average of 5" fill, the deepest depression receiving nearly 11" of fill. 


The car park being levelled. It looked so bare before the DP shed was built!
Meanwhile, the oldest privately owned GWR loco in preservation was undergoing its restoration - the magnificent 2807. She wouldn't be complete until 2010 but the cab sides were receiving some attention:

Mark Taft at work on one of 2807's cab sides at Toddington, 30th March 1996
(Photo by Martyn Hall)
The next article, 'Cab Chat', is something I'd like to share with you as it's an account of life as a fireman on a push/pull locomotive on The Honeybourne Line. You may recognise the first image - just so happens to be the same historic photo that is included in the last blog post! I gather it's a famous image but it is so appropriate given the visiting loco for the Gala and the official opening of Hailes Abbey Halt soon.

As GWR No. 1424 (in unlined green) draws away from Hailes Abbey Halt with auto trailer No. W238W working the 1.17pm Honeybourne to Cheltenham, water surges out of the full side tanks (probably replenished at Toddington) 27th February 1960 (Photo by Hugh Ballantyne)
Cab Chat by 'N.C.J' (Norman Gibbs)
"Joining the GWR and receiving the 'Cornishman' has brought back many memories of my time on the original GWR (the one that built the Honeybourne Line). I started as a cleaner at Malvern Road loco shed, later being sent away on promotion to fireman before moving back to Malvern Road, eventually becoming a passenger fireman. My next move would have been to driver, but it was not to be - another story. 

The Honeybourne Line was one of our normal runs and we knew every bank, bend, cutting and bridge. For a couple of years I was in the 'Auto Link' (two coaches and a loco in push/pull mode) and the first run of the day left St. James station about 6am. With about an hour to prepare the engine, this meant rising about 4:15am (no central heating then, we were a tough lot!). Once we had moved off shed to St. James, we hooked on to the auto coaches and connected the vacuum and steam pipes, plus a fiddly system of rods and levers to enable the driver to work the regulator from the other end. A length of cable with a hook (but very often a length of string) was also needed to attach the engine's whistle. We were definitely not in the 'fly by wire' or 'computer control era', more like the 'iron age'. We didn't like the rod to regulator system. It was very hit and miss and sometimes caused a nasty blowback from the fire if the regulator was slammed shut without the blower being on, doing a 'nasty' to your eyebrows and lashes. 

The crews in the loco department will agree with me, so we usually ran with the rod and regulator uncoupled, the fireman doing the lot, hurriedly hooking them back if anyone important was looking! The driver was quite happy and trusting as he still had the main vacuum brake, a big pedal operated bell and if the string held, the engine whistle in case of emergency.  

The early run only went up to Broadway as there were not many passengers, but we had the daily papers on board. As we only stopped at stations, the papers were thrown into the tin sheds of the halts by the guard as we went by. The earlier we got to Broadway the longer breakfast break we had, so we didn't hang about, sometimes causing the guard to miss the tin sheds with the bundles of papers. If any of the permanent way staff find fifty-year-old bundles of newspapers around the areas of Gretton, Hailes and Willersey, they should now have a good idea how they got there!

Leaving Broadway, we picked up all and sundry school kids, shop girls, folk going to town, bikes, prams etc., arriving at St. James pretty solid. The next shift took them all back after school had finished and the shops had closed. During the blackout in the war, with no lights at the halts, we needed all the knowledge of the line mentioned earlier to find them. The Autos on the Honeybourne Line did a very useful and important job as there were very few cars or buses around in those days. 

Alas, old father time marches on and all my old drivers have now passed over to that 'great engine shed in the sky' - still trying to get their tea cans filled I suppose. They're probably having some difficulty getting their breakfasts cooked on the shovel though, the other place would have been better for that (heaven forbid!).

By the way, the shovel was not only used for frying up, it also made a good wash basin when placed across the tender. It could also be used to lay back on when placed between the fireman's jump seat and the tender handbrake. Very comfortable with an upturned bucket to put your feet on, so long as it wasn't raining!!!! Happy Days." 

Finally I will leave you with a bit of humour.

The Innocent Visitor - Part IV by Justin Thyme
[I'd love to know what parts I, II and III were like]

Arriving early one morning, I admired the freshly-filled rock pools which had been carefully placed in the car park. Clearly, some enterprising member had decided to compete with the nearby garden centre. An oily pair of overalls strolling past explained that it was something to do with the water-table. When I asked him if there were plans to install water-beds and water-chairs, he stared into the distance and muttered something about a pillock. Presumably this is a small Cotswold hillock.

Feeling rather thirsty and in need of a cup of tea, I wandered down the yard because someone had said that a kettle was brewing up. After some time, I noticed a large cloud of black smoke making strange noises. Closer examination revealed a steam engine apparently trying to hide from the sunny day. A stoker was loading coal into the coal-house on the back of the engine, playing a game called 'one on the engine and two on the track'. Hiding around the corner of the goods shed was the duty officer, muttering "there goes another forty chuffs-worth. It's a pity they don't have to pay for it". 

Using the greasy poles on either side of the door, I climbed up into the cockpit. I knew what it was called because the nice diesel men had told me. "You're standing on my footplate!" said the driver. "Sorry," I replied, looking round for the broken crockery. Next, I gazed in awe at the tangle of tubes and levers on the front wall. Obviously, someone had been messing about. It looked like an explosion in a pipe works. 

Pointing to a thingy, I enquired what it was for. "It controls the vacuum." said the driver, but didn't say if it was for a Hoover or an Electrolux. "That's the regulator and those are the injectors." he continued. I knew what injectors were because they have them on diesels - they squirt fuel somewhere. Presumably, the injectors squirt steam somewhere on this engine, probably to make it start easier in cold weather, like a choke on a car. This technical stuff is quite easy once you understand it.

The driver now put his hand on the reversing gear and talked about a 'short cut-off'. This puzzled me because his trousers looked the right length to me. "Tell me," I asked, "where's the woo-woo valve?" This time it was the driver's turn to look baffled, so I said, "you know, the thing on the roof that goes 'woo, woo, woo' when you get near the station."

Suddenly, the driver sat down and seemed to lose interest. He offered me a drink from the billy-can on the mantlepiece over the fireplace. As the neat tannic acid scorched my throat, I wondered if this sort of chemical warfare had been banned by the Geneva Convention. Have you ever tasted a steam-man's brew?

By now, the man who had been playing with the coal climbed up onto the feet-plate (well, they'd both got two legs, so how can it be a foot-plate?). I asked him how long he'd been a coal-man but he grumpily replied that he was a fireman. That explained the small fire engine just outside the fence which he probably used to get to work. It must be nice to have two jobs, so these steam men are obviously very wealthy. The stoker now proceeded to shovel some coal onto the bonfire in the grate. Someone must have upset him (or we was very inexperienced), because every time his spade came back, it only just missed my nose. Clumsy fellow. The crew now indulged in a technical discussion that I was able to follow because of my wide experience. Reference to a 'clack box' obviously meant that one of them had a sore throat. Further reference to 'trimmings' showed that one of them was a barber. Drain cocks puzzled me as I hadn't seen any sign of poultry by the man-hole cover at the station. However, a comment about the 'smoke box' showed that there was a small room somewhere where you could go to light a cigarette and a comment about the 'blower' showed that they had a telephone somewhere around. 

Leaving the feet-plate, I examined the long metal bar fixed to the wheels to stop them falling off. Some shorter rods go into things that look like oil drums on each side of the engine. "What's in here?" I called to the driver. "Pistons." he replied. Completely misunderstanding him, I relieved myself on a wheel. Dodging the lumps of coal, I wondered if anyone would like to get involved with steam locos. If so, write to the Station Master at Toddington. Maybe you would enjoy having coal dust blown into bloodshot eyes when working tender-first on a dry day, or oiling up the inside bits, hoping no one will buffer-up, thereby turning you into mincemeat. Alternatively, maybe you'd like to work on restoring locos, leaving the skin of your knuckles on rusty iron, or walking with a permanent limp after something heavy has been dropped on your foot. Express the preference for whatever kind of purgatory interests you, and your enquiry will be directed for the appropriate department.

While resting on the rusty turntable, I wondered if the visitor coach 'trains' passengers? Is a 'steam chest' something to do with asthma? Does the 'Fat Controller' live in the elephant van? Can you get a 'cheque-rail' from a bank? But these are other stories...

The moral of the blog is - always keep your issues of The Cornishman! As you never know when you might fancy a trip back in time...

Thanks to whoever it was that dropped this in - it will be making its way back to the mess coach soon. 

Now we will make a zig-zag in time and come back to 2017, when we are actually hopping back to the 1940s and enjoying a selection of photos from Wartime in the Cotswolds.

On arrival at Toddington there were the sweet sounds of music emanating from the car park, and scores of people in 1940s dress were milling around, leaving yours truly feeling rather under dressed.

The first attraction was a 1940s style cafe adorned with union flags:




The Local Defence Volunteers' Recruitment Office.
On the left there was the recruitment office for the Local Defence Volunteers (later to become the Home Guard). It looks decidedly empty, perhaps they went for tea?

There were classic vehicles of all shapes and sizes in the car park, both military and civilian, all adding to the sights and smells of the 1940s weekend.

A fantastic display of vehicles line the car park. Meanwhile, the gentleman on the right looks like he's forgotten something!
An impressive tank sits proudly, while the truck next to it wears a bright red poppy in remembrance

The replica Spitfire was a big attraction, offering pre-booked sit-ins (for want of a better expression), even with the engine running if you so wished. It sounded fantastic!
An RAF serviceman surveys the scene while the Spitfire receives some attention

Military meets civilian with this pair 

Wartime transport of all different shapes and sizes, from 2 wheels and up!

And of course there were a lot of people adding to the occasion by going about their daily business as would have occurred back then.

Uniformed ladies pass by a smart line-up of Willys Jeeps
Unloading sandbags at Toddington
Whilst doing the housework, this lady decided to show
me how well her whites come up!

The admin cabin well camouflaged to hinder any attack

The LDV's plan for machine gun posts in Warmington on Sea

On Platform 1 in Toddington, they were suitably prepared for whatever may occur with the careful placement of sandbags:



Our very own Kate in period dress waits for her train

Dinmore Manor at Toddington

Andy and his trusty steed
I had a quick trip to Winchcombe to catch the flying 4270 before it headed back to Toddington.

A 40s-looking Winchcombe Platform 2, with the waiting room turned into
an air raid shelter
A band plays on Platform 1
Moments later, 4270 and her 7 coaches came roaring into the platform, the shiny new red lamp glistening in the sun.
4270 pulling into Winchcombe, sporting the new red lamps

While on the subject of red lamps, John C sent me these photos just after they had been painted, and had this to say:

"As you many of you would know 2807 & 4207 are both historic engines, in terms of longevity of life.

Well the early loco lamps were painted red and didn’t change until mid-1920’s to white.

And so as we have two locos pre that era we have painted two lamps red.

However before you say wrong shade of red, if that is your view, please respond with the correct shade of red, guesses Are not allowed. Our sincere thanks go to Chris Smith of the Steam Department for his loco lamp repair work and the repainting of these lamps."

A pair of finished lamps (photo by John Cruxon)

As fitted to 4270 (photo by John Cruxon)
Fireman Chris (who also happens to be good at painting) poses for a photo whilst watering up a very clean and shiny 4270

Watering up complete, Chris closes the tank lid

On Platform 2, the waiting room had been converted into an air raid shelter. And sure enough after a short while, the siren sounded and all those that had disembarked from the train were ushered into the shelter for safety.


When the air raid siren sounds, it's time to take cover

I wonder what they were talking about?

A family chats to the dental officer
4270 about to leave Winchcombe

And they're off - Chris watches the train out of the platform

Later that afternoon I was able to catch a video of the Spitfire fly-past at lunchtime - it passed over three times and at the last pass it seemed much lower than the other times. I happened to be at home in the garden at the time (it's great to be this close to the railway) but had my camera ready. At the end of the video, my better half rightly points out, "You couldn't have got more perfect than that." 

You can watch the footage here: Spitfire Fly-Past