Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

Well that's 2012 all done and dusted. Those passengers who could find the room to force down a mince pie or two on top of all the turkey from Christmas have now done so and all the locos have been safely tucked up in bed until the 2013 operating season kicks off for steam on March 9th (diesel railcars Feb 9th).  However for the crew of Stanier 8F, 45160 this morning, there were no mince pies and the mess coach was down to its very last tea bag.
Solitary tea bag in the tea pot
I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you that this was a disaster worse than running out of coal, in fact nearly as bad as running out of beer.  A volunteer walkout was narrowly averted when Clive Norton managed to rustle up some emergency supplies of tea bags from deep within the bowels of his kit bag.

This Season’s Santa Specials have exceeded our previous best  in spite of the fact that we managed to sleigh Santa  and of course, the past year has been significant in the railway's history; the million pound appeal reached its target and the works to reinstate the line at Chicken Curve after the landslip of 2 years ago have been completed, culminating in the reopening event on October 30th.
Historically, Chicken Curve has been one of the most popular locations for line side photographers to congregate. This shot kindly provided by Paul Stratford of a beautifully back lit Kinlet Hall at Chicken Curve is an example what can be achieved here.
4936 Kinlet Hall on Chicken Curve (pre-landslip)

It would be easy to lean back on our laurels at this point in time and relax thinking that the hard work is over and done with.  Nothing could be further from the truth of course, there is still all the winter maintenance to be done, not just on the locos, but for all departments of the railway, be it permanent way, buildings, signal & telegraph, carriage & wagon etc. Mike Hoskin of the Churchill 8F group has already sent out an extremely lengthy email outlining all the work that he is looking for volunteers to assist with over the next couple of months.  I have no doubt that the 7903 and 2807 groups will be doing likewise in the near future.  Somehow I rather fear that what many rashly assume to be the ‘quiet season’ will actually turn out to be the busiest.

Our return to Toddington this evening found Andrew Goodman’s Austerity, Earl David stood on road 9 with a warming fire in her. I thought that the 8F and Earl David made quite a nice contrasting pair of ex-war dept locomotives, especially with Mike Hoskin symbolically blowing out the lamps of the 8F for the last time in what was still technically the 2012 season.
45160 & No 15,  Earl David
Finally, thanks are due again to Clive, Adrian, Paul & Mike for permitting me to join them during the course of the day. Thanks are also due to Karl for helping out with the cleaning of the 8F this morning.  They epitomise the warm, friendly and welcoming volunteers that I have had the privilege to work with over the course of the last running season.  Here's looking forward to a very happy new year for the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, its volunteers and all of the readers of this blog.

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