Sunday, 19 May 2013

Laverton Lily

Yesterday morning dawned, and once more I set off for Toddington.  I was booked to clean 2807.  The other steam loco out yesterday was Cheltenham.  I didn't fail to notice as I beavered away at cleaning 2807 that all the other cleaners had gravitated towards Cheltenham:
Jonathan, Matt & Karl swarming over Cheltenham
Arty-farty shot of Cheltenham reflected in a puddle
Well almost all, Andrew spent a while working on 2807 too.  The peace of the Cotswold morning was rudely interrupted when it was discovered that there was no milk to be found and we had to drink our tea black.  Discontented mutterings of  'one out, all out' were to be heard.
Black tea... yuck!
Mercifully somebody was dispatched to mug a cow the nearest store to obtain supplies and subsequent tea breaks were rather more civilised.  It wasn't all bad though, Andrew had brought chocolate biscuits with him:
George has found the biscuits.... they won't last long
Shortly afterwards, once Cheltenham had gone off shed, the newly arrived second guest engine for the gala, BR standard 80072 was shunted down to the pits for a spot of cleaning.
Cheltenham going off shed
80072 prior to being shunted
Like just about everybody else who was around on Saturday, I took a quick peek inside her cab:
Inside 80072's cab
 The layout of the controls seems to be quite sensible.  Initial impressions are that aside from having to fire left-handed, it all looks good.  Rocking grates are always welcome and that nice fully enclosed cab must be a delight in wet or wintry weather. You get good views running in either direction too.  The Llangollen railway may have difficulty getting her back from us :-)
There are many who mourn the demise of BR
Once again, when she had been shunted onto one of the pits, the cleaners swarmed all over her, even Andrew gave up on 2807 and left me to finish her off on my own:
Karl, Andrew & Chris smartening up 80072
Dan and Matt
I'm sure Matt was thinking that if he stood there long enough, Dan might just clean his boots as well.  Speaking of Dan, congratulations are in order as he has just been put forward for practical fireman training.  His instructor will be Ben.  I've never seen Dan fire a loco, but by all accounts he's already extremely proficient and should sail through the practical training with ease.

It was soon time for 2807 to set off and join her carriages waiting in platform 2 at Toddington:
Paul and Tina take 2807 off shed
Before I set off to join them, I noted a few things around the yard, firstly that the Permanent Way gang were now hard at work finishing off the turnout into the old ash pit. 
The permanent way gang working on ballasting the turnout to the ash pit
According to their flickr site, they have now finished the job, in fact they made it look like a piece of cake.  Needless to say, the steam loco dept is extremely grateful to the sterling efforts of the Permanent Way gang, the Cotswold Steam Celebration Gala which kicks off on Friday just wouldn't work without access to the old ash pit again.

I also noted that the fence holes that were excavated last week now have a fair amount of fence inserted into them:
The new fence takes shape
Ian Butler, the chairman of the steam loco dept had promised that he would donate an entire month's wages of his dept head's salary to me if I kept photos of him out of the blog.  That's him in the JCB, so he's let off the hook this week.  Well 100% of nothing is still nothing, so what did I have to gain?  He'll have to do better than that if he wants to avoid being in here.

A trip down the line is always entertaining.  I noticed that we had something of a reception committee outside the Carriage & Wagon Dept at Winchcombe:
Carriage & Wagon Dept at Winchcombe
And of course, we passed Cheltenham at Winchcombe:
Cheltenham at Winchcombe
We crossed Cheltenham at Winchcombe several times during the day, Andrew has uploaded a couple of short videos to youtube which can be found here and here.

We picked up a footplate passenger for the return journey, Ed Bounds, of the Permanent Way gang joined us for the ride up from Cheltenham to Toddington.  Tina was wearing make-up for once, so I was allowed to include her in this photo:
Tina and Ed
The bracket signal controlling the entrance to Winchcombe station from the Cheltenham end of the line is visible for quite some considerable distance from within Greet tunnel:
Board off for platform two
We were a bit surprised to find a marquee on the platform at Winchcombe and lots of people milling about who didn't seem to be wanting to get onto the train.  We'd completely forgotten that it was the 'Real Ale weekend.  Crowds on the platform meant that spotting the signal to depart from the guard was a bit tricky.
People in search of real ale and obscuring the view
Derek hadn't forgotten about the Real Ale weekend though, he'd chosen not to sign on for any duties and spent the day down at Winchcombe as a customer sampling the beers.  He'd strike up a conversation from the platform every time we appeared.
Derek waiting for the beer tent to open
On the second & third round trips, Paul had disappeared off the footplate to be replaced by Tony.  Tina very generously allowed me to fire those two trips.  There are few photos during this bit as I had my hands full with other things.... like the shovel for instance.  Once again, we picked up a footplate passenger, this time it was Gilbert who claimed 'owners representative' privileges and joined us for one of the trips.
Tina and Gilbert
Tina wasn't having the best of days, on a couple of occasions she got smuts of soot in her eyes, a larger chunk of coal managed to disappear down the back of her shirt and worst of all, she had a slight contretemps whilst watering the loco.  Tina usually prefers to stand on the tender and hang onto the water hose rather than operate the water crane, as can be seen in this shot taken on the first trip at Cheltenham:
Tina filling the tender of 2807 at Cheltenham
Now the new water crane on platform one at Toddington turns out to be slightly quirky in it's operation, water continues to flow for some considerable time after it has been switched off.  You need to call out for the water to be switched off some little while before the tender is completely full.  Tina, like me had hitherto been unaware of this... she knows now though:
Soggy boots and trousers
A gentleman of course would have bounded onto the tender, and swept Tina off her feet with one hand whilst wrestling the water hose with the other.  Needless to say, I just took photos.  I don't think that Tina reads this blog so I'm hopeful that she won't see these shots and add herself to the (long and growing) list of firemen who won't have me clean locos for them.  She sent me on top of the tender whenever we filled up after that. She seemed rather disappointed that I called out for the water to be switched off early enough and chose to stand safely out of harms way on top of the water scoop dome anyway.

Tony asked me at the end of the day if I had learned anything during the course of the day. I seem to recollect that I gave one of my usual flippant answers along the lines of not to trust him when it came to operating the tap at water towers. Having had a bit of time to reflect, a better answer would have been that 2807 can still make steam with very little fire on the grate, and keeping her from blowing off whilst still keeping the fire in good shape is quite an art form. At one point during the day, Tony said that she "steams like a witch".  It's an expression that I have heard before, but don't understand at all.  Witches are known for cackling, flying around on broomsticks and cooking bizarre ingredients in cauldrons, (ok, given the recent food scandals, perhaps eye of newt and wing of bat aren't quite so bizarre)  but not at all for making steam.  If anybody has a clue how the expression originated, I'd like to know.

As we were arriving back at Toddington after the second round trip, I noticed some of the steam loco dept were busy enjoying a brew al fresco:
Ian, Ade, Matt, Rod, Tonia, Karl and Nick enjoying a brew
I have no idea what Ian was doing, possibly auditioning for "the steam loco dept's got talent".  Tonia is Nick's mum and today was her first day as a member of the steam loco dept.  Welcome aboard Tonia. Should you read this, you now know to be very careful using the water cranes at Toddngton if nothing else.  We have a couple of father and son teams in the steam loco dept, (Hoskin & Windscheffel) but this is the only mother and son team. I rather cheekily asked them to fetch three cups of tea up to the platform for us as we went past, but they declined.  I think that one of them said that we had a big enough kettle right in front of us and that we should make our own.

And finally, this morning at 08:30, yours truly became a grandad for the first time (people are soon going to stop believing me when I tell them that I'm only 21).  I was informed by my daughter that yes I could buy my new grand daughter a teddy bear however it couldn't be a Thomas the Tank Engine one.  I had no idea that they did such a thing.  Well I was as good as my word, a teddy was bought and it wasn't anything to do with a certain really useful blue engine. I purchased Laverton Lily from the good people in the 2807 owners group and couldn't resist the temptation to take a few photos of her on 2807 before we set off yesterday.
Laverton Lily and 2807
Lily at home on 2807
Lily knows her own number
Before anybody complains that I'll have got her mucky, this was straight after cleaning 2807 and in all cases she was either perched on top of my camera bag, on top of clean gloves or in the last case, held aloft by Tina wearing the clean gloves.  Should you be an impending parent/grandparent or just have a craving for collecting soft toys, then you too can obtain your own Laverton Lily, either through the 2807 website or perhaps on the stall that they will have in the car park at Toddington during the Cotswold Steam Celebration Gala which commences this coming Friday.  Laverton Lily is named after the current northernmost extension of the line of course.  They'll have to come up with new names when the line is extended.... perhaps Broadway Broad and Honeybourne Honey.  I presume that in the past they have sold teddies by the name of Toddington Ted, Gotherington Gertie, Cheltenham Chav and of course Winchcombe Wench Witch.


  1. Toddington Ted20 May 2013 at 10:54

    Yes they have sold bears with unusual names before, hence my postname. Excellent blog as ever and great to know that 2807 is steaming so well. She was chosen by CSP as she was the oldest in Barry Yard of course rather than for her steaming qualities but the 28xxs lasted a long time in BR service so they must have been OK!

    1. Well all I can say is that the CSP chose very well, she is a lovely engine to fire. Give my regards to Winchcombe Witch when you next see her.

  2. How far down the side will the fence extend ? As far as the gate to the narrow gauge ? And will it just have the two railings or is a third goin in the middle ?

    1. The original plan had been to extend as far as the narrow gauge, in fact even further than that again however sinking those fence holes has proved to be far too difficult a task, so for the time being at least it is finishing at the north end of the wood store. I have no idea about the final number of railings, I'll look at it again on Wednesday.