Thursday, 24 December 2009

A snowy postscript

Well, I know I'd signed off with Christmas greetings, but the snow and hard frost have persisted and remained for our shunting operations this last week, so here are a few images from Tuesday to get us in the festive spirit! Here's the signal and wheels on the road island at the main road junction into town.

And the view from 663 as we head up the yard with Green Arrow, GE No.3 and 75s in tow. Almost good enough for a Christmas card.

With there having been a hard frost, I was rather taken by the cobwebs on the vehicles parked outside - the bogie bolster and GNR tender being particularly good as you can see below.

And I'll leave you with the shot of the day - Green Arrow and the Great Eastern saloon on the running line out of the way whilst we shunted in the building.

So, one more time for this year, Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year! More to come in 2010...

Monday, 21 December 2009

Ho ho ho

This weekend was the last of the Santa Special events at Locomotion and to add to the festive feel, the temperatures dropped and the snow stayed - indeed, more fell on Saturday night. It got so cold on Saturday that one of Furness 20's injectors that had frozen on Friday night never fully thawed out. We therefore elected on Saturday afternoon to bring the engine and Dutch shunter in overnight to prevent any more frost problems and make sure the diesel stood a chance of starting on Sunday morning to pull 20 out. The nice warm museum interior provided an impromptu caravan site for Tim Owen and Alan Middleton - with temperatures below -4 degrees Centigrade, it was no weather for engines or people to be outside.
Sunday morning dawned very cold but bright, and fortunately we had put a hosepipe into 20s tender overnight from inside as the external hose used for watering stayed frozen all weekend. With a chimney lid on, the engine still had steam from the previous day so Alan set to work lighting the fire whilst we pulled 20 out and put her over the pit for preparation. Here's the view from 663's cab as we head down to the water tower.
After 20 had been oiled and steam raised, she moved off to begin her work, but not before we posed her in the snow for next year's Christmas card pictures!

1348 visitors later, I don't know how many trips to and fro, and floors mopped, bins emptied and tickets clipped; plus 1 1/2 hours as relief driver, it was time to pack up. We took pity on the poor frozen 03 which looked like an iced cake and put it inside along with 663 and 20.

Tim, Alan & Kate spent another night in the museum (and watched on a video "Night at The Museum"!) and found a use for the 03 as a wine cooler for their dinner bottle of white...
With the museum now closed until 4th January, we are shunting tomorrow to put the Stirling tender inside and also move the HAA Merry Go Round hopper to the workshop so it can join the queue for attention - then of course still paperwork and other things to get on with.
In the meantime, I'd like to wish you all a Happy & Peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year, let's see what 2010 brings!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Let it snow...

Wandering around the NRM this week, I noticed that in the Triangle part of the Great Hall was one of our most unsung exhibits and also one of our hardest working on the York site. Class 02 diesel shunter D2860 usually lives outside in the North yard and is seldom seem by visitors, though passengers on the East Coast Main line often get a view of it in the yard. With cold weather looming, the loco was brought into the warmer climes of the Triangle where it risks less chance of frost damage. Nice to see it inside for visitors to see as something different.
This week has been one of learning certain corporate aspects of the job, along with some long hours on the computer and phone beginning to deal with collections issues, loans and maintenance matters. It was good to have a cup of tea yesterday with Andrew Goodman, haulier, corporate partner and custodian of "City of Truro" - especially as there has just been released a 00 gauge model of the loco: and I will admit to pushing the boat out and Dad & I have bought one to share between us!

Meanwhile, we awoke in County Durham to snow storms and several inches of snow, a lot having fallen last night anyway. Knowing we had to shunt Furness 2o out for Santa Special steaming this weekend, I wondered who we'd have to help as some staff were stuck trying to get in. The 03 refused to start it was so cold, and we breathed a sigh of relief when the trusty Dutch shunter fired up. We treated it to some fuel later this morning in gratitude! Here's FR 20 and the two shunters on the museum apron ready for coaling the steamer.
I rather liked this view of our running line and Shildon station as seen from the cab of 663 as Jason and Dale cleared the yard points so we could take FR20 over the pit.

Inside in the relative warm, Phil Anderson was putting the finishing touches to the lettering on the new bufferbeams on NER electric loco No.1. Here he's trying to dry the paint a bit faster with a fan heater so he could come out to lunch with the workshop team! A beautiful job has resulted from a true craftsman - look out for it next time you visit Shildon.

Coming back from lunch (ok, it was more like afternoon tea by the time we got to Darlington with the train delays for the snow...) I rather liked this view from the level crossing by Shildon station. I'll hopefully see a bit more on Sunday as I'll be in at work with all our team on the Santa steamings, and maybe as relief loco crew. Better look out my woolly hat!

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...?

Friday, 4 December 2009

First week survived!

After the wet weekend, I began this week in my new position and have had a REALLY busy time, which has been great, and very challenging already! On Wednesday, I had a York day and popping into town over the Lendal Bridge took a picture of the River Ouse, looking towards the Scarborough line bridge. The waters were going down, but I really feel for anyone affected recently - it gets very high in York...

Back in the warm and dry of the NRM, one of the less recognised stars rests in the Lean To next to the Station Hall. South Eastern & Chatham Railway "D" class 737, an absolute piece of mechanical artistry, which, if all is well, will get a better airing next year - as ever, watch this space! It's a beautiful engine, set off by the amazing SECR livery and repays careful study if you are at the NRM in the future.

Today was another York day, and part of it consisted of having to examine "Hardwicke" on the turntable to answer a query and I took the chance to photograph some of the collection from a slightly different angle. Here are the Chinese 4-8-4(left), the Southern Railway Q1 0-6-0 and the British Railways class 76 electric loco taken from the footplate of "Hardwicke". The line up still remains rather special - and now it's all my responsibility...

I am trying to get my head around the collection and what is going on with it, so I was pleased to get the chance today to meet Alex Williams and some of the team working on Deltic 55 002 "King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry". The loco is currently in the Flying Scotsman exhibition, awaiting a move into the workshops to allow heavier work to be undertaken.

A major milestone has been reached today with the delivery of the refurbished radiators for the loco, and the group hope to get the loco back into working order during 2010, which will be fantastic. There's still a lot more to do, but further info can be gleaned from the group's website and I am sure that they'd welcome more assistance if anyone feels able. I stood in the South Yard at York in 1998 and watched the loco leave for its abortive restoration and finally it's all coming right for the loco - please have a look and give the group your support.