The GWSR hasn't run any such photo charters since before the landslip at Gotherington, at least six years ago now. Whilst on charters elsewhere, I have been
The arrival of Dinmore Manor on the railway has generated a great deal of interest amongst the general public and the photo charter community alike and so a couple of dates using Dinmore Manor were arranged with Martin Creese of 30742 Charters, the first day with a freight train, the second with a three coach maroon rake. The dates were the Wednesday & Thursday of last week. This is how it all went:
I had a slight panic the night before the first one, when it suddenly dawned on me that although I could get into the car park at Toddington, none of the charter participants would be able to without me standing by the electric gate all morning to let them in. A strategically placed empty crisp packet sorted that one out. I now know how to keep the gates open without having to recourse to employing litter for a purpose for which it was never intended.
|Crisp packet 1 : 0 Electric Gate|
|The Operations Manager was as good as his word and the freight train was ready and waiting in platform one|
Once the crew had Dinmore Manor ready, we were off to Stanway Viaduct for a few runs past. This is probably the GWSR's signature shot, and one that wouldn't have been available the last time charters ran. Helpfully there was an Easterly wind which carried the exhaust away from us.
|7820 with freight on Stanway Viaduct|
Transportation between photo shoot locations was of course in the brake vans.
|Jack Boskett relived a misspent youth sat on the only seat on the Toad's verandah|
The next stop was at the popular Didbrook 2 location (second bridge at Didbrook).
|Crossing over Didbrook 1|
|Approaching Didbrook 2|
|Dinmore Manor in a sea of hi-viz vests|
|Silhouette at Chicken Curve|
|7820 mug shot|
|Jonathan was the driver for the day|
|Fireman Andy damps down his coal|
|Red flagged at Hailes|
|Given the green flag and we were off again|
|Andy at work in the office|
|What is the collective noun for lineside photographers?|
|Leaving Winchcombe in B&W|
|And again in colour|
|Wait for it... Another Brick in the Wall!|
|Roaring into Greet tunnel|
Down in Dixton cutting, we had a rare opportunity to get photos of her approaching a functional distant signal. I'm not sure that too many other railways have distant signals that are operational.
|In Dixton cutting|
|Three Arches Bridge|
|Three Arches Bridge|
Normally points are deducted if a fireman creates too much black smoke. If you bung some coal on and the smoke becomes too black to see through, then you're supposed to open the firehole doors a bit or stick the blower on to clear it. Woe betide the trainee fireman who causes such clag as to besmirch the washing hanging on the lines of the houses alongside the railway. Photo charters are an exception however as the photographers are keen on anything that can make the loco's exhaust stand out from the background sky. The Fos-Y-Fran coal that we are using at the moment is very clean and generates little black smoke, so I decided that testing out a few smoke bombs would be in order. I filled an old water bottle with contaminated oil which could be thrown onto the fire at a strategic point.
|The Mk I smoke bomb, primed and ready to go.|
|Pan shot at Didbrook 2|
|Dinmore Manor bursts out of Greet tunnel|
|The guard (Mel) with Clive and Stephen relax on the platform at Winchcombe|
|The guard takes it easy, the crew share a joke|
Further on down the line, we tried a few runs past at Gotherington station. It was here that we tried using the smoke bomb.
|Mk I smoke bomb in action|
|That did the trick|
|Mike with a couple of the mk II smoke bombs|
|Approaching Stanway viaduct|
|Leaving the viaduct|
|And somewhere in the middle|
|One of the mk II smoke bombs in action|
|Clive keeps his feet dry|
|I've lost track of the number of times I've done this in the past, but it still works.|
|This is another mug shot possibility|
The list of people that I need to thank is extensive, and I'm always loathe to say who as I will be guaranteed to miss somebody important off, but here we go, in no particular order:
Colin Fewell for working out the commercial aspects of the charters.
The staff of the Flag and Whistle for opening specially for breakfast and lunch on both days.
Carriage and Wagon for assembling that rather nice freight train.
Whoever was involved in the shunting operations required before and after the charters.
Martin Creese for bouncing ideas off of and for getting the interest of so many photographers to support the event as well as organising it.
To the photographers who paid to join us. I very much hope that they all enjoyed themselves.
To the lineside clearance team who have kept the undergrowth at bay. There's no point paying to photograph trains from the lineside if you can't see them for trees & bushes.
To the crews, guards & signalmen; Jonathan Windscheffel, Andy Webber, Stephen Burnett, Clive Norton, Mel Curnock, Malcolm Hector, Peter Giddins & Peter Smith.
To Simon Hopkins who stood in for Martin Creese as organiser on the second day.
As always to the myriad other groups who do all the work that keeps our railway ticking over from day to day. Can't do this stuff without track, stations, carriages etc.
A big vote of thanks to all the good people of the Dinmore Manor Locomotive Group who have pulled out all the stops in order to get Dinmore Manor ready to run in time for the agreed charter dates. Looking back it was a scarily close run thing, the two charters were her first two revenue earning days in traffic during this boiler ticket, a loaded test run having taken place just a few days beforehand. In particular I'd like to thank Mark Young and Mike Solloway for keeping me posted on developments with the restoration and reassuring me that all would be ready when the charter dates arrived.
Thanks also to the Bluebell Railway for the loan of the Dukedog's tender.
Finally, my thanks must go to our Operations Manager, Neil Carr who provided invaluable assistance in helping me draft the document that describes the terms under which we will operate photo charters as well as making sure that the stock was checked to run (remember the freight train hasn't been used since last year's gala) and shunted to the right starting points before the charters started, as well as making sure that it all got put away where it was supposed to go afterwards. Most especially, I am grateful to Neil for coming to our assistance at the end of the first day, when a signalling failure had us all stranded at Winchcombe and unable to get back to Toddington. He quickly turned up and fixed the problem, even though he had already gone home and was relaxing in the bath when the call came in. Definitely dedication above & beyond the call of duty.
Now that we have something of a template as to how it will all work going forward, it should be easier to roll out more photo charters. We already have another sold out event with one of our visiting locos for the gala and the prospect of more being scheduled for the Autumn.
Remember that Saharan dust, well I turned up on Saturday expecting to have to clean it all off of Dinmore Manor before she could go out on a regular service train for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mike, Dan and possibly others had already made a good start on cleaning her up on Friday, leaving me with little to do. Quite a few other people turned up on Saturday to help as well, for which I was very grateful. Kenneth Sims the chairman of DMLL was one of them. He kindly sent me this photo of the assembled throng of cleaners & crew taking a tea break. He's clearly cottoned on to how to get his photos published in here as it doesn't include me.
|Breakfast Tea Party, photo courtesy of Kenneth Sims|