|Must have cramped his style (Photo courtesy of Paul Richardson)|
...Or this one that appeared on Christmas day, apparently our crews can't cook it if it isn't on a shovel:Photo courtesy of Nick Carter
The weather forecast was spot on when it had suggested heavy rain in the morning, and it dutifully dried up at about 09:00 as predicted. The forecast had also said that there would be sunny spells in the afternoon, which combined with the remnants of the recent heavy snow on the ground could make for ideal photography conditions. Once again, hope triumphed over experience, as the much heralded sunshine stubbornly failed to materialise and the snow, whilst visible on both the Malvern and Cotswold hills in the distance was largely AWOL anywhere near the running line.
|Foremarke Hall and Dinmore Manor being prepared for duty... in the pouring rain|
|Foremarke Hall in the snow|
|The wrong boots!|
|Foremarke Hall makes a fine sight in the snow at Didbrook|
|Again at Didbrook|
The sun had been popping in and out from behind the clouds whilst I was there, and in a hitherto unprecedented moment of celestial cooperation chose to illuminate the scene at the right time.
I once again braved the flooded path & field to return to the car, and set off next for Gotherington. The sun had used up its quota of goodwill to me and was now sulking behind the clouds. Ideally, the passing shot would be taken from a path on the field opposite the signal box, the sun would be behind you and it would look rather like a section of double track. The last few years have seen a number of ash trees spring up to obscure the scene (though our good friends in the line side clearance gang appear to be edging ever closer to the spot, I'm living in hope) and with the heavy cloud, there was no reason to be on that side of the line anyway. I reasoned that I should investigate an option not open to the public, which was to use the signal box as a vantage point. Rod the signalman on duty kindly allowed me to join him.
|Dinmore Manor approaches from CRC...|
|...Foremarke Hall departs Gotherington station...|
|...and they cross outside the signal box.|
|The immovable token|
Eleanor was Dinmore Manor's fireman, and apparently she featured on Santa's "nice" list, receiving a new shovel for Christmas. Quite how Santa managed to get the shovel down the chimney, I really don't know.
|Eleanor, putting her Christmas present to good use.|
The rule book doesn't actually demand it, however the fireman training material recommends that for the avoidance of confusion that the ex-pilotman should not remain on the railway, it even helpfully suggests going to the pub as an acceptable alternative. By now, all the steam locos were either running tender first or behind something else, so I set off to do a spot of shopping in Cheltenham and grab some lunch. I knew that the pilotman working issue had caused the timetable to slip by about half an hour, so I arrived at Three Arch Bridge at what I judged was a suitable time to see the 13:20 from CRC behind Dinmore Manor. Unfortunately it was a slightly longer wait than I had anticipated. It turns out that the run of bad luck had got worse, with the class 45 having failed.
|Foremarke Hall piloted by the class 20, passing through Dixton cutting.|
|Dinmore Manor approaching Three Arch Bridge|
|Dinmore Manor leaving Winchcombe|
Thus thwarted, I repaired to the mess coach at Toddington for a refreshing cup of tea and awaited the return of the steam locomotives for a few disposal shots.
|Eleanor closes the door after checking the smoke box|
|Dinmore Manor simmers by the ash pit.|
|Some of the clinker even stayed in the wheel barrow.|
|Foremarke Hall appeared for disposal just as I was finishing off emptying the pit of Dinmore Manor's ash.|
|Failed spring hanger on 7820's bogie. Photo courtesy of Steve Burnett|
And finally, it's nice to be able to finish on a happier note, you may recollect that BR Standard 4MT, 76077 (sister of 76017 which visited for our gala this year) and which has been sat awaiting restoration at Toddington for some 30 years now, is about to see work commence once again. The following is based on part of an article by a previous head of the Steam Loco Dept that will be appearing in the next issue of the Cornishman.
"Due to the railway requiring the use of the full length of the north siding at Toddington station for the 2018 season, a plan needed to be produced that would enable 76077 to be moved from its long term storage in the north siding and ideally restored to working order. This is where I became involved in the project. The locomotive's current owner realises that for it to be restored, a team of people and a company dedicated to the restoration needs to be set up, to enable this to happen. While the locomotive has been hibernating in the north siding, the owner has not been idle, he has managed to collect a huge number of parts which will mean that compared with other restorations this one will have a great head start. Many of 76077’s parts are already running on 76084 on the North Norfolk Railway under a temporary loan agreement, after which they will be returned to us or replaced. Initial boiler examinations on 76077’s boiler have shown that it is in excellent condition, and with only a short BR career, there is plenty of life left in the main component parts. One Item we don’t currently have is a tender; there is an agreement in place that means much of the frame steel will be provided to us in return for a previous donation of a GWR Hawksworth tender chassis which is now running behind Earl of Mount Edgecombe on the main line. We also have a set of wheels, horns and axle boxes, which with slight modifications should be suitable. Quite a few new tenders have been built in preservation including one for GWSR resident 35006 so with the full set of drawings available to us, this should not cause any serious issues. In the short term we might consider the possibility of operation with a borrowed tender which would get the loco running quicker and help us to fund the new build tender.
|76077's driving wheels...|
As soon as the chassis leaves for LMS at Loughborough, the focus will be in setting up a new company to own and oversee the restoration, in time, shares in the locomotive will become available for people wishing to financially support the project, and other funding avenues will be explored to restore this locomotive as quickly as possible. As well as the financial assistance we would welcome people who wish to get involved in the running of the company, raising funds and “hands on” restoration of components for use on the loco. If you wish to become a share holder please be patient with us, as we want to ensure the right type of company is incorporated and as such the loco restoration has the best possible chance of succeeding. In accordance with the standard contracts the railway has with locomotive owning groups, we need to submit a full restoration plan to the railway for their approval and support. Rightly so, they need to know the loco is not going to spend another 30 years rusting in a siding.
After so many years out of the limelight, I think the time is right for this locomotive, to take its rightful place at the head of one of the GWSR service trains. Locomotive crews who were fortunate enough to work on the 2017 Gala’s visiting loco 76017 from the Mid Hants Railway will tell you it’s an ideal tool for the job and I am pleased to say that some of them have already given their help and support. But we will need more help, it’s the only way we will see 76077 run again soon. "
|76017, visiting from the Mid-Hants Railway for our 2017 "Workhorses of Steam" gala|