Thursday, 17 June 2010

Moved on!

Well it's happened folks - I'm now at: and will begin blogging again as soon as I get to grips with the slightly different format there. I hope you'll join my colleagues and I there - we're in for a busy summer!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Quick round up of this week

A quick canter round the week's events. Mallard moved into the workshop in readiness for her holiday in Shildon, Richard Pearson and the Shildon team preparing the engine by examining all axlebox underkeeps, pads etc and removing the connecting rods. In the Great Hall, "Mallard" and the dynamometer car's place has been taken by "Gladstone" and the class 31 until another shunt later in the month brings the SECR D class 737 and Pullman "Topaz" into that position.
Here are an an example of a worn out pad from Mallard with a new one in the foreground ready for fitting. Most of the A4's ones needed replacement, and I had to fetch two pads for the Cartazzi truck from Grosmont and the A4 Society later this last week.
Later afternoon, and the coupling rods on the left side have been removed for cleaning and examination and were then refitted.
The Shildon team with the aid of two lifting trolleys refit the rods. This could be an entry for a caption competition...
The rods back on, the team is ready for a wash, a quick cuppa and the trip home.
Thursday saw a Management planning day in the GWR inspection saloon on the NYMR, undertaking two full line return trips to allow full time for discussion and debate. A shed tour during the run round had been arranged, and we were lucky enough to see Black 5 45428 passing classmate 44871 at Grosmont during the morning.
At New Bridge yard, I was pleased to see our NER Stores Van had been safely unloaded and awaiting the short trip to Pickering carriage & wagon shops where it will have roof repairs and bodywork before going on display at Pickering station.
A major project for the NYMR has been the replacement of Bridge 30 over the winter. Here, 30926 "Repton" forges uphill towards the new bridge, with NRM Director Steve Davies enjoying a cab ride.
The sun came out in the end as we arrived from our final trip at Pickering, with the Schools class loco and inspection saloon on the end of the service train awaiting to work back to the carriage sidings before the loco went to New Bridge for stabling overnight. A very productive day, despite the appearances of us having played trains all the time!

On the Move

Hello everyone, and apologies for the lack of updates recently - time has been at a premium and I'll try and get something up soon. In the meantime, a news item - this blog will soon become part of the official NRM blog site so if you don't want to miss out, I suggest you move your favourites to that site - where colleagues are also blogging, so a better picture of what we're up to can be obtained. See you there!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Great Western 175 - the Cotswold Festival of Steam

Yesterday we headed for Toddington for a full day of Great Westernry - and were not disappointed! As well as the operating railway, there were several extra displays, from model railways to road vehicles and seemingly everything in between. A major exhibition was of Great Western and Western Region railwayana organised by Neil Booth of Railwayana Auctions Limited, including a full set of Western shedplates and many items never displayed in public before. Further Western oddities included permanent way inspection vehicles...
Whilst in another marquee is our replica broad gauge loco "Iron Duke".
Due to the unfortunate landslip between Gotherington and Cheltenham, services ran to Gotherington only, plus an auto-train ran northwards from Toddington over Stanway viaduct on the extension towards Broadway - of which more later. Here's the Auto-train in platform 2 of Toddington station.
We travelled the line as far as Gotherington, where the former station is now a private house, belonging to Bryan and Sunita Nicholls, who had very kindly opened their gardens and collection of railwayana for the festival. Before we had a look around, 9466 was caught banking the train we arrived on out of Gotherington back towards Winchcombe. The restored station can be seen on the left.
Bryan has amassed a superb collection, but displays it in context - including a short length of line with a classic GWR Pagoda halt platform and building at one end, known as Gotherington West. For the duration of the festival, steam operation on this line took place for the first time on record, using the Gwili Railway's RSH 0-4-0ST "Olwen" made up as former Swansea Harbour and GWR loco 1144. In this picture, the atmosphere of Bryan and Sunita's garden can be seen as "1144" prepares to take us on a short trip to Gotherington West. One of the real gems of the festival, and the Nicholls are to be thanked for taking the risk and opening their garden to so many visitors.
In a marquee in the garden are a selection of railway road vehicles and a couple of displays, this pair of Scammell Mechanical Horses remind us that the story of railways and goods went beyond the rails.
A star turn for many was the debut of the former Turkish Railways LMS 8F, allocated LMS number 8274, but appearing as 8476, a Swindon built example, showing how the 8Fs were built in the workshops of all the big four railway companies during the Second World War. It is seen here taking water at Winchcombe.
In the station yard at Winchcombe was an Aveling & Porter steam roller with railway credentials. Owned now by Nigel Keene, this is the famous roller that took part in the duel with 1401 in the film "The Titfield Thunderbolt".
Moving back to Toddington, 9466 arrives at Winchcombe to take us North.
Leaving Winchcombe, we passed ex Port Talbot Railway and GWR 813 coupled to GWR Royal Saloon 9007.
Back at Toddington, we took a short ride on the North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway to Didbrook loop. The train paused at "California Crossing" on the way down, headed by a Hunslet diesel.
Due to a track problem, we were then taken back to Toddington by steam, this being a Feldbahn type 0-8-0T, a very pleasant extra to the afternoon.
Another of the marquees at Toddington included the most incredible display of large scale GWR locomotive models, the biggest of which was this amazing 10 1/4" gauge 47XX 2-8-0, something I'd never seen modelled in live steam before.
In the yard at Toddington, another exhibit had been shunted into place, this being the pioneer GWR gas turbine loco, 18000, jokingly known as "Kerosene Castle".
In the loco yard being prepared for the following day were 7802 "Bradley Manor", 92203 "Black Prince" and the NRM's 3717 "City of Truro", here getting a clean and being lit up.
A particular highlight for me was the granting of a footplate permit for use during the day, thanks to Andrew Goodman of the GWSR. Time did not allow us to take it up on a full line trip, so instead, a ride was arranged in an autocoach on the auto-train over Stanway viaduct, and here the driver eases open the regulator in the leading coach of the train, controlling 1450, the auto-fitted tank loco behind us.
And the view out of the driving compartment as we head north over the viaduct towards Laverton. Notice the immaculate permanent way.
Back at Toddington, there was time to see another visitor being watered, GWR Mogul number 5322 which saw service in France on the First World War, and recently overhauled at Didcot to wear the Railway Operating Division khaki livery.One could not of course have a celebration of all things Great Western without a nod to the man who started it all, Isambard Kingdom Brunel - seen in front of 5051 "Earl Bathurst", which is carrying the "Cheltenham Flyer" headboard.
Next to the Castle and 18000, the ex-Barry condition 3845, giving a very vivid idea of what work has had to be undertaken to restore the majority of the stars of the Festival to operation after years in the South Wales scrapyard.
A nice touch was the GWR saloon in the yard, offering manicures etc should they be required!
My last picture shopws the final departure of the day, pannier tank 4612 making a spirited depature from Toddington with another well-filled train, giving pleasure to hundreds as evidenced by the photographer in the foreground. What an event, well done GWSR!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

An hour in York

I needed to attend a meeting at 3pm this afternoon at York on my way back from Wales, so took the chance to have a quick scoot round to see what colleagues are up to and bring blog readers up to date with some of the happenings there.

In the next month, Mallard will leave for Shildon, and during Half Term week there are a series of events planned to say farewell - but it WILL be back!In the South Yard, visiting Jinty 47406 is covering Half Term steam operations, whilst "Rocket" is at the Great Central. This is the Jinty's first visit to anywhere after its restoration, and it's here cooling down after passing a steam test and Fitness to Run exam today.Finally for today, we had a preview of the new exhibition, Great Western Reflections, our contribution at York to the GWR 175 celebrations which opens on 29th May - do come and have a look.

A morning with Hefin Owen and Wild Aster

At the suggestion of Julian Birley who was on the Welsh Highland train yesterday, I made my way back to York today via the Llanberis Lake Railway where I found 1904 Quarry Hunslet "Wild Aster/Thomas Bach" raising steam. The loco's second name is in honour of a former driver at the quarry "Little Thomas" rather than any engine with a face on it! Its regular driver is Hefin Owen, son of a Dinorwic Quarry loco fitter - the railway nestles in the shadow of the quarries - and through the good offices of Julian, it was arranged for me to accompany Hefin on a 9.50am special extra departure. Hefin is here watering the loco at Gilfach Ddu station.

Some seven years ago, the line was extended to Llanberis village, giving the railway a much needed shop window on the main road, and diverting off the trackbed of the former Padarn Railway which it follwed along the lake. "Wild Aster" is seen here about to cross the main access road to the Padarn Country Park complex, which includes the Welsh Slate Museum, part of which can be seen on the right of the picture.
Runnig back to Gilfach Ddu along the lake shore, it can be seen again that Snowdon is in cloud as it was yesterday. That said, the view from Hefin's "office" is particularly fine and his company was very enjoyable - it's a lovely railway and a very unexpected experience, diolch yn fawr iawn Hefin.

Take me to the Bridge

Yesterday was a momentous day for the Welsh Highland Railway, opening the line to Pont Croesor from Hafod y Llyn and now giving over 20 miles of line from Caernarfon and leaving only 3 more miles to open to get through to Porthmadog. Steve Davies was unable to attend and thus I was asked to represent the NRM. This was a particular delight for me as a narrow gauge enthusiast and also as I had yet to travel on the Welsh Highland line beyond Waenfawr. Our special train left Caernarfon at 10am and was hauled by Garratt 87, seen here rounding the curve into Rhyd Ddu station.
We paused at Beddgelert to pick up local VIPs and prepare to journey through the Aberglaslyn Pass, one of the spectacular parts of the line. The concrete pillars in the middle of the picture are the supports for the old water tank from the days of the original Welsh Highland line.

At Pont Croesor station, we were welcomed by schoolchildren and shortly after, the station was opened by Dr Dewi Roberts, seen here with the microphone, alongside John Prideaux of the Festiniog & Welh Highland Railway Company.

Travelling back to Beddgelert, we paused at Nantmor for Dr Dafydd Gwyn to open the station there and dedicate it to the memory of the late Dr Ben Fisher, a staunch supporter of the railway project and maintainer of an excellent website devoted to the railway.

As the train exits Aberglaslyn Pass on the way to Beddgelert, it crosses the Brynfelin bridge, a sympathetic replacement of a 1920s original and a classic location.

Guests were treated to an excellent buffet at Beddgelert's Royal Goat Hotel, after which I nipped up to the station to have a look at 87 before the crowds returned.

Before leaving Beddgelert, two National Railway Heritage awards were unveiled by Andy Savage, Robin Leleux and a representative of the supporting Ian Allan group, David Lane.

Dafydd Gwyn invited me into the observation car for part of the return journey to meet representatives from Gwynedd County Council and Dr Dewi Roberts amongst others, a very sumptuous experience.

Leaving Rhyd Ddu, we rounded a curve beneath slate tips, and Snowdon hiding in the cloud - for once I was glad I wasn't up there!

Returning to Caernarfon, we noticed newly overhauled Garratt 138 outside the shed at Dinas in light steam - so we drove back to the yard to have a look - and very nice it is too! It'll find its niche on the newly extended railway...

Also in the station yard at Dinas is this little 3 foot gauge De Winton loco "Llanfair" built in Caernarfon for the Penmaenmawr Granite Quarries - I have a very soft spot for these locos and the De Winton company in general.

In a bay platform at Dinas was pioneer Beyer Garratt, K1, undergoing maintenance before rejoining the working fleet.
Finally in the top yard was this pair of modern diesel locos, obtained for permanent way and maintenance use, but I was unable to find a manufacturer for them or anything about where they had come from. They look to be very useful engines however!