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|
Thursday saw the gala preparations ramp up a bit:
|The coal dock had just been filled, the ash dock was being emptied|
|Later on, a warming fire had been lit|
|...70002, Geoffrey Chaucer|
|32A turned out to be Norwich|
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 |
|Meanwhile Ade & Gwendolyne were setting up the tables inside the trade stands marquee|
|Just shunt the middle of each wheel to the black line...|
|...and read the weight on each side|
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|
|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)|
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|
|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|
|The C&W 03...|
|...which has put in a request for a new paint job|
|Tom, demonstrating modelling techniques|
|It was a double sided layout... one side...|
|...and the other.|
|Queen's St Yard|
|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.|
|6430 taking the DMU for a ride|
|I seem to recollect that the chap on the left writes the 2807 group newsletter|
|35006 passed by|
|70013, Oliver Cromwell running round at Broadway|
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 7As 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|
|Just some of the crews/cleaners/owner's reps in the morning|
|(L-r) Jack, Ian & Neil|
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|
|Andy with 6430, just before heading off for siding 1 to attach to the DMU|
|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|
For the first time this year, we had a few miniature traction engines giving rides around the car park at Toddington
|Miniature traction engines|
|Inside the trade stands marquee|
|Gigantic by name and nature|
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|
|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|