Friday, 15 January 2010

The Freeze continues, but work carries on.

I can't believe that it's now a month since the first snowfall, but inside the Shildon workshop, Richard Pearson and the apprentices and volunteers push on with the steam crane restoration. This week they have removed the cover of the other ballast box and cleared it of rust before leeting it dry out and then applying primer. The hoist and winch drums have now been painted red, and elsewhere in the workshop, the crankshaft and connecting rods have also been painted. John Shiel has worked like a trojan cleaning the underside of the crane and painting it, his work will not be seen by many but is a vital part of conserving this machine. Here's the crane as of Tuesday night.
A long but necessary NRM+ meeting was held on Wednesday at York, after it I popped down to the workshop to catch up with the team, and Chris Beet & Rod Lytton in particular. I picked up a spring to take to the Mid Hants Railway for "Lord Nelson" and had a chat with Chris about the work on the NRM's class 36, D6700 which was in transit to York as we spoke, returning from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for bodywork over the winter months. As I left, I grabbed this picture of Tornado, now re-united with its front bogie, but with plenty of work still going on.
Thursday morning saw Richard and I take the van into Darlington for servicing, on our way back we called into Hopetown works to see NELPG's J72 No. 69023, which you may remember we recorded having its boiler refitted back in November. Progress has been excellent and steaming is but a matter of a few weeks away, before the loco is transferred to us at Shildon for running in and lining out. Here's the view from the cab window, something I hope to see a bit more of in the coming months!At lunchtime on Thursday, our Education Officer at Shildon, Tony Attle, launched his exhibition "Railways At War" which runs until the end of February. Tony has worked hard with his colleague Sarah Goldsbrough from Darlington Railway Museum to produce this very effective display which incorporates memories from folks involved, one of whom, Alan Holmes, was principal guest. Alan was a fireman at Darlington during World War Two and some of his stories are amazing, including his experience of being a fireman on a train chased into Darlington by a Messerschmidt - where the train took shelter under the station roof whilst the aeroplane was forced to fly up and away before it hit Darlington power station's cooling towers. Tony, Sarah and Alan have produced a booklet of these stories to complement the exhibition and this will be available from Locomotion once printed. The display will tour County Durham and hopefully wider after it has been on show at Darlington Railway Museum. The photo shows (from left), Sarah, Alan & Tony at the launch event. Do come and see it - it's well worthwhile seeing alongside our other temporary exhibition "The Art of Robert Stephenson".
Finally for this week, we were up early to say goodbye to the first locomotive restored in the workshops at Shildon back in 2007, the Avonside saddle tank "Woolmer" built for the War Department's Longmoor Military Railway. "Woolmer" is returning in its centenary year to Hampshire and from Tuesday next week will be on display at Milestones Museum in Basingstoke Here you can see "Woolmer" being winched onto the lowloader as Johnny Molloy from the workshop follows it up the ramp with a chock. It's sad to see the engine go in one respect, but good that the restoration will be appreciated by more people - and of course it gives us a little more space to work with for the collection. I hope that we can get pictures of it in position sent to us in time to put them on the blog during next week.

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