Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Out and about

You can read this post at its new home in the official National Railway Museum blog.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

York wanderings

You can read this post at its new home in the official National Railway Museum blog.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Pre-weekend postscript

You can read this post at its new home in the official National Railway Museum blog.

Mother Ship

You can read this post at its new home in the official National Railway Museum blog.

The Big Shunt part 1

As part of our ongoing work in the conservation workshop, we needed to make space to bring our 5 ton Smith steam crane undercover to allow our workshop team to work their magic on it in the dry over the winter. Seeing as the workshop is at the very bottom of the museum building, it was mega shunt time! Some rare views of stock were to be had as vehicles moved around last night and adjacent roads cleared. Here's the North Staffordshire tank from the side that isn't usually visible.

Having pulled all of road 6 out, we then fetched the Peckett "Merlin" and the steam crane out of the back of the workshop in readiness to put the rest of the vehicles back on road 6! My 00 gauge models of 30 years ago were much easier!

One of the engines exhumed was the Avonside "Woolmer" formerly at Longmoor and latterly Beverley. It's going on loan soon back to Hampshire to be part of the excellent Milestones museum in Basingstoke. Here it catches the last of the evening light before being put back inside.

The stalwarts of the evening, other than the staff and volunteers who were part of the shunt were our two diesel shunters, 03 090 and 663 (the Dutch class 11 equivalent belonging to Capt Andrew Mills and on long term loan to us). The 03 awaits its next move as dusk falls on Shildon.

Now well and truly dark, here's my view from the cab of 663 as the team put something else back inside with the 03. And we do it all over again tonight to get Sans Pareil out of the workshop and on display to replace it with the crane!

Ok - so I have yet to learn how to rotate a picture once I've posted it...sorry! (Now learned how to do it but not delete the old pic!)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A sleeping Standard and rallying madness

On Saturday lunchtime I needed a distraction to take the girls (my daughters) to; fortunately I remembered that the Darlington Railway Preservation Society were having an open weekend, so we decided to go and see what was going on at North Road. Long overshadowed by the Head of Steam Museum and more latterly the A1 project, this group have been beavering away for 30 years preserving a goodly amount of local railway hardware, most of it housed in the old goods shed adjacent to the Head of Steam Museum.

We arrived and I was pleased to be met by Alan Usher, one of the stalwarts of the Kirkby Stephen project, who is also an active DRPS member, and a fine railway modeller as we discovered, seeing his layout inside the shed. Fortified with a welcoming cup of tea, we had a good wander round, the girls getting a look inside the cab of the ex Cleveland Bridge Fowelr diesel shunter "David Payne" and me gricing the industrial locos present - you will find over the duration of this blog that I have weaknesses - two being miniature railways and industrial ones. A Triang 10 1/4" gauge train set catered for the former too!

One that it was good to learn about was this overhead wire English Electric loco which took power from a 550volt DC system at a chemical works in West Auckland.

Venturing outside, the girls were delighted to have a free ride on a 7 1/4" gauge line set up for the weekend, then with Isobel protesting that she "wanted to look in the workshop", we moved on to see what is regarded as the star of the collection, British Railways Standard Class 2 No. 78018, a 2-6-0 tender locomotive that unwittingly starred in the classic film "Snowdrift at Bleath Gill" (incidentally on show at Locomotion ever day next to the snowplough). After a spell in Barry Scrapyard in South Wales and an abortive perservation attempt in Leicestershire, the DRPS brought 78018 back to the town it was built in and have spent most of 3 decades patiently restoring it and amazingly not owing anyone a penny. Now it is just the boiler that remains to finish the job, and I believe an HLF application is being made to try and speed up the final stages. This will be a very useful little engine once done, well done to the DRPS, and thanks for your hospitality - it's rare my girls complain at having to leave a railway venue!
The following day, Sunday 4th October, saw a chance to indulge another of my passions - but at work. I have had an interest or involvement all my life with vintage road vehicles, especially road steam as those who know me will testify. An annual event in th Locomotion calendar is our end of season rally, this being our 6th. The sun shone and the crowds came - we entertained over 3000 visitors on the one day, and as ever, the quality of exhibits was second to none.
Some of my good friends from the road steam fraternity brought their vehicles. Here we see (left) Mark Sutherland's Wallis & Steevens traction engine, then Alan Borthwick's Aveling roller, Anthony Lister's Clayton & Shuttleworth traction engine and Ronnie & Ruby Linsley's Sri Lankan Aveling & Porter oil engined roller. We took the Aveling stemer and the Clayton for a lunchtime run out to Michael Bowman's Vintage Vehicle museum around the corner from Locomotion where a pleasant half hour of tea an a natter was had before bringing the engines back. The roller is unusually fitted with rubber tyres to the rolls, a modification made this last winter - it's kinder to one's backbone and fillings and was an interesting experience.

Across the museum apron was this fine line up of commercial vehicles, including a Scammell ballast tractor on its first day out. Elsewhere were over 120 classis and vintage cars and a never ending stream of classic motorbikes. Now I know what a Brough Superior is and why it is called the Rolls Royce of motorbikes!

And added attraction were our friends from the Furness Railway Trust and our own Merlin Group volunteers providing train rides along the site. Here Furness 20 approaches the coal drops with Shildon signal box in the distance. FR 20 will be providing steam rides at York over half term along with the FR Trust's North London Railway coach - do pay a visit and see this amazing machine in action.

This morning I've entertained a party from the Nairobi (Kenyan) Railway Museum, who are on a fact finding mission and I may catch up with them again tomorrow in York. Wonder what else I'll find when I get there...?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

5Z13 and a Red Wheel

I've just had a pleasant half hour in the company of Geoff Morris, David Wright, Chris Cubitt and 70013 - making 5Z13 from Shildon to Grosmont. I "bailed" at Darlington where my colleague Pam Porter had kindly agreed to pick me up. It was the first time I'd footplated over the Shildon line and also on steam - and mercifully it was a bright day. Having got the train out of our site, I joined the crew before we crossed over on to the down road. I was amazed how good the track is, and got a new view of the old S&D line from Cromwell's cab. It's all downhill from Shildon to Bank Top, so very little chuff was needed, and very soon I left the train awaiting the road onwards to Eaglescliffe where it would turn, then on to Battersby and Grosmont. There are some perks of the job! In case anyone gets too worried - I do have a full PTS card and have been main line support crew in the past.

Leaving Shildon with visitors and staff watching with green eyes!

David Wright puts a round on as we head for Newton Aycliffe

Looking back out of the cab as we pass Heighington. It was here in 1825 that "Locomotion" was put on the rails and steam raised for the first time.

Having dropped me off, Chris Cubitt opens the regulator and heads through Darlington Bank Top station to the home signal and wait for the road.

One of the other newsworthy items of the last week has been the presentation by the Transport Trust of a Red Wheel plaque to be mounted on Timothy Hackworth's house. This is the transport equivalent of a Blue Plaque, and recognises Hackworth's contribution to the early days of steam locomotion. The picture shows Jane Hackworth Young receiving the plaque with Councillor Brian Stephens outside Hackworth House.