Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Shepherd, a Centenary and a Scots interlude...

This week was the week my cover got blown and a picture appeared of me in Steam Railway magazine, so I am now going to shave my head and grow a beard... It's been another busy week of meetings in York & Shildon, plus writing of conservation management plans and one or two little surprises, including a positive future for the class 306 electric unit that has been stored at Kineton for the last few years.

This has also been the week that the Stephenson Locomotive Society celebrated its centenary, and as part of this, there's a small display at York until 3rd January, of the class 87 electric named "Stephenson", the LBSCR loco "Gladstone" which the SLS preserved back in 1927, and the 9 1/2" miniature locomotive "Orion" which is normally kept and demonstrated in steam at Shildon. Below are "Orion" and "Gladstone" on display together.
The SLS display was formally opened on Friday 11th December with a centenary dinner (at which "Orion"'s caretaker Derek Cobby was made a Vice President and the gathering addressed by Sir William McAlpine), and talk and tour the following day. The talk was by the eminent railway artist David Shepherd, and Ed Bartholomew & I were privileged to have lunch on Friday with David and show him photos of progress on the restoration of the loco and carriage that he brought back from the Zambesi Sawmills Railway in the 1970s and gave to the NRM about 5 years ago. He was delighted and we then took him to see some of his work in the collection, including the sketches below that he made at the old Clapham Transport Museum in the 1960s. He showed great interest in the works of Terence Cuneo, saying that Cuneo was the real master of railway pinting and that his (David's) efforts were mere daubings in comparison - which I had to dispute! Anyhow, a fascinating half day in the company of a legend!

This weekend we've had a christening to attend in the Scottish Borders, so travelled up to stay overnight in Edinburgh on Saturday. On our way up the A1, we took a short detour to see this Peckett in a garden at Beal alongside the East Coast Main Line. It was sold on eBay from the Swanage Railway last year, and whilst I doubt it'll run again, it's nice to see it in one piece and loved albeit in a different setting to normal. Thenumber on the cab "1611" is its works number. I regret that typing this late on a Sunday night, I can't tell you what year it is, other than 1920s, nor without my Peckett works list, who it was supplied to...
Having arrived at our accommodation, we took a bus ride into Edinburgh en famille and then I'm ashamed to say I abandoned the family to shopping whilst I shot up to the National Museum of Scotland - never having visited before. What a place, I shall have to go back! However, I'll share two highlights (the Lewis chessmen don't really fit in a railway blog...). The first was to see "Wylam Dilly" on display in the old Royal Scottish Museum gallery, a wonderful link to the earliest days of steam traction:

The second was the locomotive below. With my industrial railway fetish hat on, I had long wanted to see "Ellesmere", built by Hawthorn's of Leith - and there she was, built in 1861 and worked in Lancashire until preservation. Restored for display in the NMS by an acquaintance, Geoff Hayes, she flies the flag for the story of railways and locomotive building in Scotland and is a joy to behold. I can't promise the same excitement for this next week - but who knows...?

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