Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Regards Given to Broadway

The Cotswold Festival of Steam gala for 2018, "Give My Regards to Broadway" is done and dusted, your blogger has nearly recovered and he is desperately trying to dry a significant quantity of railway related laundry before his next rostered turns. He has now returned to his day job for a bit of a rest!

I would like to start with a word of thanks to all involved, the nearly 6000 visitors (comprehensively smashing the previous record), the volunteers/staff in all departments (Sine qua non) and of course my colleagues on the gala committee who burnt the candle at both ends, as well as using it to light up a few locos. I would also like to extend my thanks to those who responded to my request for cleaning rags in the last blog, especially John Carroll who apparently not having any rags, simply ordered some on line for us at his own expense. 
Half of the rags from John Carroll

 As you will know by now, 70013, Oliver Cromwell and 0-6-0PT, 6430 both turned up during the course of last week

Oliver Cromwell arriving last Wednesday
6430 on shed having its fitness to run exam

 The USATC S160, 5197 was running on the Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday before the gala as well as during the gala itself.  It couldn't stay any longer as it is leaving us straight for the Epping & Ongar Railway for their gala.
Pete ashing 5197 out on Wednesday
 I had a turn on 5197 on the Tuesday, like any loco it has its own quirks, but on the plus side, it was probably the most comfortable steam locomotive cab that I've had the pleasure of working in. Plenty of room, and on a baking hot day like Tuesday was, it was quite cool and breezy.

Thursday saw the gala preparations ramp up a bit:
The coal dock had just been filled, the ash dock was being emptied
 A priority on Thursday was to get the visiting locos cleaned up and to put a warming fire into 70013 for a steam test on Friday.  She had acquired some foliage on her way from Loughborough:
Camouflaged whistle?
Later on, a warming fire had been lit
 As is common, many parts were stamped with the loco's number
 It is also quite common to discover that some parts originated from other locos
70000, Britannia...
...70002, Geoffrey Chaucer
 This of course begs the question, what number is stamped on 70000's exhaust steam feed pipe to the injector?
32A turned out to be Norwich
 By Friday, it was all hands to the pump for final cleaning duties (5197 had been running for the last three days, so that was a priority), warming fires (steam test for 70013) and the shunt to get the locos into their start positions.

Walkie talkies are useful items for communicating between the gala controller and first aid/car park attendants etc as well as crews during shunting operations etc. Our usual supplier couldn't provide any this time, so we hired in from elsewhere.  An amusingly ironic point to note was that one of them was numbered 4270, the member of our home fleet that couldn't be present for the gala.
Giving 5197 a thorough going over so that she looked her best
Steve even cleaned her teeth works plate, with a tooth brush
Meanwhile Ade & Gwendolyne were setting up the tables inside the trade stands marquee
 Because we have the kit to do it, all visiting locos have their axles weighed to make sure that the weight is evenly distributed.
Just shunt the middle of each wheel to the black line...
...and read the weight on each side
 I was disappointed to note that the read out was in this new-fangled metric rather than proper imperial units of measurement. I shall be sending a sternly worded letter to the manufacturers!

Your humble scribe had written the Running Shed Foreman's (RSF) notes for the gala, which dictated the starting locations for each loco, what time they disappeared off and which locos replaced them on which pit etc.  I hadn't put any thought into the photo opportunities that might be presented, so it was nice to discover when the shunt was complete that all four of the GWR & BR(W) tender locos were lined up together facing the shed.

A rather gorgeous line up of motive power
Oliver Cromwell on the starting blocks
5197 and 35006 ready for the gala
 So that was seven locos accounted for outside the David Page shed, logistically, it made more sense for 6430 to be shunted round to the old pit, so that is where it started the gala
6430 alone on the old pit
The first day of the gala dawned, the weather, which had been quite pleasant at the beginning of the week had now turned for the worse.

My turn on Saturday was to fire 2807 on the 08:30 empty coaching stock (ECS) move from Toddington to Cheltenham, double heading with Dinmore Manor.  The joy of an ECS move is that it is usually non-stop, and we don't get many runs that don't stop everywhere.  

There were 18 footplate passenger slots available for the gala at a price of £99.  Our return journey had Graham joining us. 
Brian (cleaner) with Graham (r)
 Yes, I know what you're thinking, a white shirt is not usually considered to be the best choice of attire on the footplate however Graham assured me that it was an old shirt and this was the last time it would be worn before it was retired from use.  I have discovered online the corresponding picture taken by Graham of Jon (driver) and myself, don't worry, I'll spare you from that.

 Once up the line at Winchcombe, we crossed 5197 leading 35006 double headed. this would be the turn that I would work on Sunday.
5197 leads 35006 into Winchcombe
 Once at Toddington, 70013, Oliver Cromwell attached itself to the rear of the train and we dragged it to Broadway, and shortly afterwards, it dragged us as far as Winchcombe where we detached from the train.
Oliver Cromwell drags us out of Broadway
At Toddington we ended up parked next to 6023, Kind Edward II
At Winchcombe... it's odd seeing your train pull away without you
 We started off parked up in the yard at Winchcombe for a while, close to the 03 shunter outside Carriage & Wagon
The C&W 03...
...which has put in a request for a new paint job
 As we were to be sat in the yard for a while, I set off for the cafe on platform 1 to acquire some lunch, taking in the Tim Mitchell building on the way as I knew that there was a model railway display inside:
Tom, demonstrating modelling techniques
 Buttermere is one of my favourite places, it was never connected to the railway though (Flanders & Swann suggest Cockermouth was the nearest you could get), so I was a little surprised to find a 00-9 narrow gauge layout called "Buttermere Mining Company".  It was rather good though
It was a double sided layout... one side...
...and the other.
At the other end of the scale, there as an O gauge layout
Queen's St Yard
Nigel was on hand with the fictitious "Fryupdale Brewery".  Of course Fryupdale isn't fictitious, just the brewery..  
Presumably it supplies the pub with no beer
Some shunting was taking place though
There may have been no beer, but there was a rather nice little E class Peckett...
...with a detachable cab roof and a wealth of detail inside
Pannier tank & auto on another layout.
 Although we had an auto fitted pannier in the shape of guest engine 6430, unfortunately we didn't have an auto coach, so we had to use the DMU instead.  I'll be honest here, I wasn't the biggest fan of putting out a steam loco to drag the DMU around, but I was definitely won over by it in the end.  
6430 taking the DMU for a ride
 Once again back on 2807 and having had lunch, we chuffed gently back into the platform to let people onto the footplate for a while
I seem to recollect that the chap on the left writes the 2807 group newsletter
35006 passed by
 We handed over 2807 to Chris & Martin, and rode on the cushions stood in a corridor back to Toddington, where we took over 70013, Oliver Cromwell and crewed it to Broadway and back.  
70013, Oliver Cromwell running round at Broadway
 A very nice machine indeed, you really wouldn't have thought that it is in the final year of its boiler ticket. 

 Sunday, the second day of the gala had a grey miserable start just like the first day. 

We don't usually light locos up inside the shed, but 6023 was deemed unable to cope with the curves on roads 8 and 9 where the outdoor pits are, so once lit up and the worst of the smoke had died down, it was shunted inside the shed onto the pit on road 7 
King of the castle shed
 As mentioned earlier, I was rostered for a second turn on 5197, quite a nice turn as it happened, double headed with 35006 to Cheltenham Race Course, run round the train and drag the whole lot back (including 35006) up to Broadway and then get dragged back to Toddington where we detached and displayed the 5197 in the yard.
Just before setting off from Toddington
Crossing 6430 and the DMU at Gotherington

Plan A was to spend the afternoon investigating the attractions at the various stations up and down the line, however (and there is always a "however" when it comes to my plans) an old friend had inconsiderately chosen Sunday evening to get married. 

Back again on Monday morning bright and early, it was my turn to be RSF and to get the locos off shed in the right order at the right time.  Having written the RSF notes, it was quite gratifying to be able to follow them and see them work like clockwork.  

I had checked when I got back to Toddington after the wedding that all the locos were parked up in the right places (they were) and that none had been failed (they hadn't).  The Monday was all set to start.

Task one for the RSF is to check that each crew arrives on time and that they have everything that they need to get started, so cleaners are organised to fetch wood from the wood store, oily rags from the oil store and of course to clean the locos in the order of departure from shed.
The four GWR/BR(W) tender locos being lit up

In fact, I like that so much, here it is in sepia
 We usually manage to get a line up of locos and crews as best we can at some point during the gala.  Monday seemed the most likely time to give it a go.  I'm afraid that not everybody managed to get into the shot, but this is what we ended up with, left to right we have 35006, 5197 & 70013, plus names far too numerous to mention.  Note the 70013 owner's rep on the right who preferred to clean the loco rather than pose for the camera.
Just some of the crews/cleaners/owner's reps in the morning
 To be fair, the line up of crews was nearly matched by the number of papparazzi
(L-r) Jack, Ian & Neil
 An amusing contrast in attire in the above photo, Jack had turned up in blues, Ian had chosen high-viz and Neil was wearing a green t-shirt.  NB, we don't mandate high-viz in the yard, until you get up by the running line.

The timetable for Monday was the same as Saturday, so 7820 was the first to head down siding 1 to platform 2, followed by 2807. 
7820 & 2807 head onto their stock to run ECS to Cheltenham Race Course
 Once each loco has had time enough on a pit for oiling up, it is important to make sure that they enter siding 1 at the right time and in the right order, if they get into the wrong order, then it makes it very difficult for trapped in locos to get to their trains on time.  An added complexity this year was that 6430 was parked up on the old pit, the 04 shunter had to be fired up, fetch the DMU out of siding 2, put it onto siding 1, then 6430 entered siding 1 from the other end to connect up to the DMU.  It all worked out OK though.
Andy with 6430, just before heading off for siding 1 to attach to the DMU
 One of our cleaners, Gwendolynne hails from the United States of America, so it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss to grab a photo of her in the cab of 5197.
Home from home for Gwendolynne
Once the last few locos were off shed, I had a little while to kill before they would start returning and need disposing.  Here is a bit of a flavour of the attractions at Toddington beside the steam locos, all of which I should add were included in the entry price
One of several traction engines
The home guard were standing sentry at the entrance to the yard
A rather tastefully lined out showman's engine
The narrow gauge were in steam
 The two narrow gauge locos running meant that we had a grand total of 10 locos in steam, I doubt that there are many galas where you will find so many running locos.

For the first time this year, we had a few miniature traction engines giving rides around the car park at Toddington

Miniature traction engines
 The trade stands marquee and some private gazebos contained stands by many loco owning groups (including many of our home fleet) as well as new build projects, other heritage railways, model railways and of course our sponsors, Mortons Media.  One visitor to the Dinmore Manor stand as a school boy in 1950, remembered seeing Dinmore Manor set off on it's first ever revenue earning service from Oswestry.
Inside the trade stands marquee
Gigantic by name and nature
 The close of the day for the RSF is the start in reverse, you now have to get the locos back in, disposed and put to bed in the right place for the following day.  In this case, most home fleet locos wanted to end up inside the shed somewhere, however 6023 needed to end up inside the shed on road 7, with 35006 and 70013 outside the shed on the pits on roads 8 & 9 as they would be running Tuesday to Thursday this week.

While I'm here, all being well, 6023 & 70013 are both running on the weekend, then 6023 on its own on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday next week, and finally 6023 & 7820 on the weekend of the 9th & 10th.  If you missed the gala or simply want to travel behind any of those locos again, then you know what to do. 

As usual, once again a big thanks to the disposal crews who gallantly emptied out 8 ash pans at the end of each day
Disposal crew in action on Monday.
70013 about to come onto the old pit for disposal
 Notice how on each day, the sun came out in the afternoon, after a fairly miserable start to the day.
End of the gala, everything put to bed
Just when you thought it was all over, on Tuesday, our recently retired driver, Jeff, paid us a visit to have a play with 70013, Oliver Cromwell.  Having been based at Cardiff Canton back in the days of steam, he remembers the Britannia class well.
Jeff in the driving seat (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
Ben presented him with a commemorative gauge frame spanner (photo courtesy of Steve Parker)
Photographed earlier on the running plate of 6023, King Edward II
And finally... we're all gala'd out now until next year.
Will, hibernating in the mess coach until the next time