Thursday, 21 January 2010

Over the hills to Appleby

Back in October, I went to Tyseley to see progress on the South African Sharp Stewart loco which David Shepherd brought back from the Zambezi Sawmills Railway in 1975. It returned with a sleeping/day coach built by the Midland Railway Carriage & Wagon Company in 1927. Since 2008, the coach has been under restoration by Tony Vollans at Appleby Heritage Centre, and today, Richard Pearson & I went over to see how he is getting on with the rebuild. The coach is in a purpose built workshop and Tony & his team are working wonders on it. We're now at the repair and replacement stages, but I was rather taken by this emergency stop handle on one end, it destroys the vacuum in the brake system and the brakes come on, stopping the train.
Here's a general view of the coach in the workshop; you can see how little new material has been required during the course of the rebuild, but all window mechanisms have been repaired and interior fittings are going back in. With luck, at the current rate of progress, it will be ready in the middle of the year, giving us the challenge of where to put it, until NRM+ is ready for it!
At the back of the Heritage Centre is a polytunnel just long enough for a coach. Walking over to it we found our friends from the Furness Railway Trust working hard on Great Eastern Railway saloon No.5. There is some fantastic work being undertaken on this, including some ingenious repairs to the teak panelling, which I have filed away in the memory bank for future reference. If all is well, this is another coach that will be ready for service this summer.
At the entrance to the site, the Furness Trust's Great Western Railway Hall Class No. 4979 "Wootton Hall" stands, publicising the Trust and the Heritage Skills Training Centre as it waits its turn in the restoration queue.
We stopped off at Appleby main line station for Richard to drop off some NELPG railtour publicity, and in the booking hall I noticed this - a Midland Railway loco chimney, recovered in the 1980s from the embankment near Dandry Mire viaduct by Terry Sykes, and now displayed at Appleby. There are numerous stories of buried engines, on this occasion nothing was attached, but a fascinating exhibit which I didn't know was there.
We didn't come away empty handed! At the Centre was a complete 5 inch gauge railway in store which hasn't run for a long time. We have agreed with Tony to borrow it to see if we can get it to work for use on site at Shildon. It consists of this battery powered 08 diesel shunter, one coach behind it and 160 feet of steel track. Another challenge for Richard and the workshop'll be fun if we can get it going!

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