Monday, 23 May 2016

Walking on Water

People have complained to me in recent years that Tina doesn't feature on this blog as much as she used to.  The simple fact of the matter is that our paths cross much less frequently these days.  We are now both firemen (Tina prefers that title to any gender neutral alternative that these politically correct times may try to force upon us) and thus we never get out on the footplate together any more.  Furthermore, Tina is in the process of training to be a DMU driver, which is a path I have chosen not to tread for the foreseeable future.  That is not to say that our paths never cross, and on one of these rare meetings, she informed me that she was in training for a forty mile walk in aid of Action Medical Research, a charity dedicated to improving the health of babies and children.  Forty miles in one twenty four hour period is quite a tall order.  She will be kicking off at midnight on June 11th, which is only a few weeks away.  It won't be a flat forty miles either, it is along the Cotswold Way, starting at Dursley and finishing at the highest point, the top of Cleeve Hill. The early sections of the walk will be completed in the hours of darkness.  Please encourage her in supporting this extremely worthwhile charity. You can sponsor her by clicking on this link and having your credit card details handy.  She will be walking with a group of colleagues from her workplace.

Tina went on a practice walk with James (a colleague who will be joining her on June 11th) and a few members of the steam loco dept along the Wye valley for a distance of less than twenty miles on Sunday. 
(l-r), James, Ade, Tina & Eleanor, Tintern Abbey is the scenic back drop.
 Back to the activities of the steam loco dept; Saturday saw a small number in attendance, the multitude were presumably saving their energy for the Cotswold Festival of Steam,  "Swindon Built" gala, which no doubt you will know by now kicks off for three days, commencing on Saturday 28th.  

A small team of people commissioned the parachute tank in the yard, a pump having been obtained to assist getting water from the tank behind platform 2:
Tim gives the chain a tug and water flows.

 Taking on water before leaving shed if necessary has always been a bit of a pain. It has traditionally involved shunting the stock in the platforms back out of the way far enough for the loco to reach one of the water cranes, or holding on until Cheltenham and refilling there.  The current pipe work is only temporary and will be replaced by a larger bore version in the not too distant future, but at least we'll be in a position to top up the locos before they leave shed in the morning over the gala.  Being able to top up from this water crane in the yard will make our lives a lot easier, many thanks to the gallant team of people who have made it happen.

The foundations for the container stack were receiving another pour of concrete on Saturday as well, in spite of the rain. 
Photo courtesy of Mark Harding
The Dinmore Manor Locomotive LTD group were mostly to be found at Sir William McAlpine's residence at Fawley.  The next two photos courtesy of Martin Ginger.
DMLL & 2874 Trust stand at Fawley
 Sir William McAlpine is a patron of the 2874 trust and was presented with a replica cabside number plate.
Sir William McAlpine
 I understand that a good time was had by all, in spite of the weather which was reminiscent of the Glastonbury festival at times.

Other members of of DMLL were present at Toddington and working on the new tender.  A fact that is perhaps not too widely known is that there is a layer of wood required between the tender frames and the tank to support the weight of the tank when full of water & coal.  To that end, the tender tank was raised by a couple of inches at each end to allow for the insertion of the wood.
Mark (r) raises the tank, Ian (l) reported that the earth moved for him.
The wood awaiting insertion between the tank & frames
 There was a fair bit of painting going on as well, I painted my face black as well as any hitherto missed spots underneath the tender, whilst Seb painted a few more of the tender's pipes.
Seb, paintbrush in hand.
Seb is to be congratulated on passing his driving (car, not steam loco) test, which will enhance his ability to make his way from rural Somerset to darkest Gloucestershire.  I understand that next Monday, he will be bringing a group of friends up from the West Somerset Railway to visit the gala.

That of course leads me nicely into the details of the gala.  The gala itself can be likened to a swan, gracefully gliding effortlessly across the water, yet look beneath the surface and the feet are paddling furiously.  Behind the scenes, all departments of the railway have been pulling together to make sure that the whole event goes off as well as it possibly can.  I can't possibly mention all the people involved, there are simply far too many of them and I would run the embarrassing risk of leaving some of them out.  On behalf of the gala committee, I would like to thank everybody who has, or will be contributing in any way.

From the locomotive point of view, it will be an intensive timetable over all three days of the gala (28th - 30th May) celebrating the 175 years since the founding of Swindon works by the Great Western Railway.  The gala will feature the following locos, starting with the visitors and in numerical order (all the usual caveats about locomotive availability apply):

Collett, 4-6-0, Manor class, 7812, Erlestoke Manor 

Appearing by kind permission of the Severn Valley Railway and the Erlestoke Manor Fund.  Erlestoke Manor will complement our own resident Dinmore Manor, being one of the GWR built batch and Dinmore being from the later BR built batch.  As of early this afternoon (Monday 23rd), her tender had reached Strensham services and the loco wasn't far behind.  Hopefully by the time that you read this, she will be safely on our unloading road, reunited with her tender and being prepared for the gala.
7812, Erlestoke Manor at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway.

 Ivatt, 2-6-0, 2MT, 46521

Appearing by kind permission of the Great Central Railway.  She has very recently been turned out in lined BR green for the first time in many years.
Ivatt 2MT, 46521

 BR Standard 9F, 2-10-0, 92214 

This is the youngest Swindon built steam locomotive currently capable of being steamed.  92214 appears by kind permission of the Great Central Railway.  It is hoped that one of our firemen, Chris Smith, who remembers firing 92214 when based at Bath Green Park during his career as a BR fireman will be reunited with it at some point during the gala.
BR Standard, 9F, 92214
Moving on to the home fleet, again in ascending numerical order:

Churchward, 2-8-0, 2807

Entering traffic in 1905, she is the oldest steam locomotive built at Swindon currently capable of being steamed. At a number of points during the gala, it is anticipated that she will be renumbered to 2808. The reason for this is that on 26th February 1906, identical sister locomotive No. 2808 hauled a record-breaking train from Swindon to Acton. The trainload of coal was made up of 20 twenty ton, 6 twelve ton, 78 ten ton, 2 nine ton and 1 eight ton capacity coal wagons. Assembled at Swindon, the whole train totalled 2012 tons, including the dynamometer car and brake van. This record by a production locomotive stood during the whole steam era, surpassed only by the one-off prototype G.W.R. locomotive The Great Bear which hauled 2375 tons in 1909.
Churchward, 2-8-0, 2807

Churchward, 2-8-0T, 4270 

Like 2807 and 92214, 4270 was intended primarily for freight traffic when built.  Once again this year, brake van rides costing an additional £10 for the round trip, Toddington to Cheltenham Race Course and back will be available on the day. 
Churchward, 2-8-0T, 4270 in action with a demonstration freight train

Collett, 4-6-0, Manor class, 7820, Dinmore Manor

Footplate rides are available on some of our home fleet locos such as Dinmore Manor, but at the last information I had, only a few spaces were still available, and then only for Monday 30th.  If you fancy a footplate ride, best be quick.  Please note there is a slight error when following the booking link above, it should read "Monday 30th May", not the 25th.
Collett, 4-6-0, 7820, Dinmore Manor

Bulleid Pacific, Merchant Navy Class, 35006, Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co

35006 will be making her first public revenue earning trips in over fifty years, which is quite an event in its own right.   Furthermore, 35006 and 92214 will top and tail a 14 coach special train on the evening of Saturday 28th May for a full round trip of the line.  35006 is of course the exception to the "Swindon Built" theme for this year's Cotswold festival of Steam gala.
35006 approaching three arch bridge on a recent loaded test run, photo courtesy of Jason Houlders.
There is one question that everybody is asking.  The answer is simply that we really don't know, but everything possible is being done to make it happen.  There is still time for an announcement before the gala kicks off.  Watch this space.  I will bring updates as and when I can. 

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