Thursday, 29 April 2010

North Eastern Giants of Steam - The Prequel

Very few words today. 60163 is proving a real crowd puller, 2400 visitors yesterday alone! We shunted the locos into position tonight ready for steam raising and cleaning tomorrow and here are a couple of pictures to tempt you into visiting the event this weekend, shame the sun wasn't out...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Tornado to the fore

I make no apology for the predominance of Tornado and Shildon features recently - it is great to have the loco at one of our sites on display, particularly so when this is the closest stay that it has had to its Darlington place of construction since it was completed in August 2008. It is spending this week on display in the Collections building alongside "Deltic", APT-E and others, with its cab open for a small admission fee and host to a large number of schoolchildren too. Maintenance is ongoing on the engine even here, but being undertaken outside opening hours, so that visitors are not disturbed by the work. Visitors this morning take the chance to get up close and personal with the A1.An additional display piece is this very fine 5" gauge A1 model, on loan from a NELPG member, seen here with the real thing in the background.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

J72 lined out

Very brief update to show you NELPG's J72 tank, featured a lot recently and now lined out and lettered on one side, and hopefully in action at Shildon this coming weekend. Looks lovely!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A Taste of Things to come

Today was a Covenantors' Day for the A1 Trust and a day off for me, though I needed to go in this evening to do a shunt ready for the morning. One of our shunt moves involved "Tornado", and the chance to pose it by the coal drops was too good to miss. Richard Pearson kindly obliged with positioning and then joined us with his camera. As the shunt continued, we ended up with the A1 and K1 aside each other, with the Great Eastern saloon as a backdrop!
The final vista that opened up to us was "Green Arrow" alongside "Tornado", a fine pairing of two apple green East Coast main line locomotives.
Just before we lost the sun, there was a photo call for the A1 support crew, including Richard Pearson on the extreme left and fellow Talyllyn footplate voulnteer Bob Morland on the far right.
A better chance to take pictures like this and maybe have an A1, K1 and V2 line up will be next weekend at Shildon, hence the title of this blog entry - this is only a taste, let's hope the sun shines on 1st, 2nd & 3rd May - and admission is FREE! There is a small charge for cab access to the A1 and our site train rides. See you there?

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Tornado returns to the North East

Yesterday we welcomed the K1, No. 62005 to Shildon - and this afternoon's sun lit the engine perfectly as it is stabled on the apron outside the collection building.
Today's main attraction was the arrival of the Darlington built A1 pacific "Tornado", built down the road at Hopetown works. The engine has worked trains through the region since it was completed in 2008, but this is the first time it has returned to the area of its construction for any length of time. It had worked a train from York this morning and came off the southbound return working at Darlington this afternoon before heading engine and support coach as 5Z28 to Shildon. Richard & I brought the loco in again today, and here it is coming off our headshunt onto the Locomotion site.
After a brief shunt to stable the support coach, the loco was positioned over the pit for servicing, and we can see John Graham inspecting the loco before finishing for the night.
"Tornado" goes on display at Locomotion on Monday, and is in steam over 1,2 & 3 May, before departing on 6th May by the main line for York.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Steam arrival at Shildon

Apologies for the lack of updates recently, we had a week in Wales and this week has gone into meltdown - there will be a much larger update soon! However, I couldn't let today pass. We have over the next two weeks two Peppercorn designed locos visiting at Shildon and the first arrived today, NELPG's K1 No. 62005, known as "Lord of the Isles". It was due at 14.28, and an hour beforehand, Richard Pearson and I went to Shildon signal box to discuss the move on to our site. With the signaller's permission, I took this picture to share with you of the manual box, which controls the line to Heighington and Bishop Auckland. Please note, although it is an interesting and historic box, it is still operational, and casual visits are not permitted. Not far off time, 62005 and coach running as 5Z68 (the train reporting number), passed Richard & I at our ground frame and we reversed the train onto our site. Again, this photo was taken on Network Rail land with full PTS certification.
We then worked the engine into our sidings where it dropped the support coach and then moved over the pit for servicing, before stabling on the apron outside the museum building.
Inside the museum, NELPG's other loco on site, J72 69023 is being lined out, alongside Furness 20 whose boiler has been repainted and varnished this week.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the A1 "Tornado" is due to arrive in the late afternoon - I hope to include pictures during the evening some time.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Heritage Traction Cab It at Shildon

Just a quick note to remind you of heritage Traction Cab It at Shildon this weekend 10am-5pm, free admission, DELTIC cab open, plus NER Bo Bo No.1, and the class 71 in Golden Arrow regalia for today and tomorrow only (just got back from putting it all on). Also cab rides on the Dutch shunter for a small fee - and I did see steps up to the 2 BIL this morning too - if there are enough stewards for the cabs, that'll be open as well.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Bo'ness by the sea...

New territory for me today - a visit to the opening of the Manuel extension to the Bo'ness 7 Kinneil Railway in Scotland. the 7.26 from Shildon awaits departure from platform 2 unusually. Due to bridge work in Bishop Auckland, trains are temporarily terminating at Shildon.
The train north from Darlington was an East Coast 125, leading power car turned out to be "Deltic 50", part of the naming ceremony involved presenting a nameplate the same as this to Locomotion - and it is on the wall there.
At Bo'ness, our special train was to be hauled by the unique LNER D49 class "Morayshire" no. 249, owned by the National Museum of Scotland. Here it is prepared for duty.
Guests were treated to guided tours of the Scottish Railway Collection, our guide Chris Lothian being long involved with the railway, so having a unique insight into many of the exhibits. Barclay 0-6-0T No.24 worked on the NCB Waterside system in Ayrshire and is fitted with a Giesl ejector chimney, like Florence seen at Foxfield a few weeks ago. It has just had a cosmetic restoration in the museum workshop.
North British Railway Pug (Y9 class 68095) and Neilson Reid pug "Kelton Fell" form part of the display in the second hall.
Outside, a Merry Go Round hopper wagon and log wagon portray the modern Scottish railway scene.
Back inside, equal consideration is given to a fantastic array of goods vehicles and ephemera.
A Barclay crane tank stands in front of the famous North British 0-6-0 "Maude" with its links to World war One.
In the loco shed, the Caledonian tank is under overhaul
Whilst this Sentinel from Tennent's Foundry, Coatbridge, was one of a fleet of four which pretty much were the last working steam locomotives in Scottish industry, running well into the 1980s. In full working order, SRPS have three of them at Bo'ness.
Boarding our special train having enjoyed a fantastic lunch, we travelled to Birkhill, where, after speeches, David Morgan, Chairman of the Heritage Railways Association flagged the train into the paltform to break a ribbon and formally open the extension.
On return to Bo'ness, I was invited to ride in the cab of class 27 diesel 27 001 for a stock shunt to put the carriages away. 30 years ago there was NO railway or infrastructure here - an amazing achievement!
Even a Glasgow suburban electric unit is part of the collection, and SRPS have had it running on power. Full restoration is planned before long.
There is also a comprehensive diesel fleet - much more to see than my short notes allow or do justice to!
And the story brought bang up to date at Edinburgh Waverley, with class 67 "Keith Heller" in DBS livery working a passneger train to Aberdeen.
A wonderful day, do go to Bo'ness! Many people were welcoming today and helpful, including giving me a lift back to Linlithgow station - thank you all!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Mr Tilt pays a call

This morning at Shildon, we have had Kit Spackman of the APT-E support group up to visit. Kit developed the tilt mechanism for the train (hence his nickname) and has a phenomenal amount of knowledge, history and stories about the train. He has been working with Richard Pearson these last few months to devise some "anti-tilt" blocks to stabilise the train now it is not in service and marshalled into one unit. Once that is done, the Support Group can regain access to the train and continue their excellent conservation work. We hope to have the cab open in June, so keep an eye out on progress. If you'd like to know more or even join the group, have a look at Paul Leadley's site at: . The picture shows two of the blocks being trial fitted to see how they need to be trimmed to fit in properly.Kit has produced some display boards on E Train as it is known, and he had these out today whilst he was working on the train. Kit is seen on the right in the hat, as he explains the history of the train to a friend of mine, Michael Ablett, who was visiting today.
Outside, Richard Pearson had the J72 in steam for testing, and here he brings it into the platform at the collections building whilst fault finding. It seems to go well, but as ever, a few tweaks will be needed.
Having made sure that the wheels went round, and, more importantly, stopped, Richard invited me on to the engine and let me see if I could make it go. The reflection off the new paint is amazing as we drift down towards the yard throat at Shildon in this shot. The loco is a credit to the NELPG team who overhauled it, and it will look grand on the site service at Shildon this summer.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Another one in

This evening saw NELPG's J72 tank loco no.69023 arrive at Shildon. It will be test steamed tomorrow and run in light on the museum's line before going inside for lining and lettering. Its first public passenger duties will be at Locomotion's "North Eastern Giants of Steam" event on 1,2 & 3 May, starring this, K1 No. 62005 and A1 "Tornado"

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Day at the coal face

York are running the N7 loco from North Norfolk every day this Easter holiday along with the Furness Railway Trust's North London Railway carriage. I went to York today to meet up with friends Keith Foster and Peter Kazer and have a day with them assisting the yard operations. Here's the N7 after we had cleaned the side closest to the camera. We also worked the engine during the lunch break for the rostered crew. Keith is a Talyllyn driver and a Great Eastern Railway enthusiast - and having the chance to drive the N7 means that he has now worked on all the operating GER preserved steam locos.
During the morning, we played host to the NRM's "Director of Fun"...and the television cameras, at which point we made ourselves scarce, while Tony Filby did his bit for the silver screen.
Meanwhile, over in the Great Hall, Spooner's Boat is in full sail, displayed next to the Once upon a Tide exhibition.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter weekend - railways for pleasure

Visiting family over the weekend, I expected no railway input. Father in law had other ideas and Saturday afternoon saw us heading for the York model railway show. Lots of quality models, and a good time, but I just wanted to share this little cameo that took my eye - a part of a layout with an ironstone quarry modelled. I have never seen such a feature before, but have been interested in the iron ore industry for over 20 years - and this made my afternoon. Simple pleasures! Needing to take smallest daughter out this morning, she asked to go on a train ride (oh dear...). So we popped over the hill to Ingrow and caught the 10.31 to Keighley as we didn't have much time. To my delight, in came 25 059, my first class 25 for haulage in nearly 30 years.
We had a smashing little run to Keighley and back, arriving at Ingrow just after 11am in time for a quick look around the Vintage Carriages Trust Museum of Rail Travel. They, along with the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway are celebrating 40 years since the filming of "The Railway Children" on the line, and have an exhibition to commemorate. The little Husdwell Clarke loco "Lord Mayor" is also decorated for this - it wasn't in the film, but did feature in posters and publicity for the film.
Inside the museum, the emphasis is on being able to access the carriages and sample the exceptional restorations that the VCT have carried out.
Trustee Michael Cope was kind enough to show us round the restoration workshop, containing a 1924 Southern Railway corridor third "matchboard" brake on the left, and a British Railways Bulleid designed open third coach, made in 1950 and undergoing extensive work that has so far taken some 22 years!
The Vintage Carriages Trust also maintain a very important on-line register of preserved railway heritage items - carriages, wagons and horse drawn vehicles. To access it and investigate what it where, have a look here:

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Leicestershire Railway Heritage

A visit to old haunts for me today, to investigate future partnership working...

For 2 1/2 years from 1999, I was Assistant Keeper of Working Life for Leicestershire Museums, and I was based at the former Snibston Colliery in Coalville. During my time there, we rebuilt the former colliery railway into the town from the pit. Having made good time down to Leicestershire this morning, I took a quick walk round the town to see how things have or haven't changed! The view from the level crossing on Belvoir Road shows the town platform and the running line with the colliery headgear in the distance.
The level crossing is a local feature and the gates and track have been retained. The line carried on behind me to join the Leicester-Burton main line which still exists in a freight only/diversionary capacity.
If you blow this picture up, you will see the level crossing gates in the distant centre - the trackbed down to the main line follows the line of trees across the car park. The track was lifted around 1986 when the colliery site passed to the Museum service.
The museum's current running line goes from the buffer stops in the first picture, through the museum site on original parts of the colliery system past the pit buildings and over another road up on to the former pit bank. There is one station alongside the main gallery building, and the main rolling stock in use is this Hunslet 0-6-0 diesel hydraulic, no. 6289 of 1966 (I can still remember that all these years on) and a BR EMU trailer car fitted with dual brakes and for push-pull working.
Inside the main gallery are displays on Leicestershire transport and industry amongst other things. One of my favourite exhibits is Brush saddle tank loco, works number 314 of 1906, which we put on display as a major project when I worked there. This machine was built new for Powlesland & Mason who worked Swansea Docks under contract for the GWR. In 1924, P&M were absorbed into the GWR, who then "Swindonised" (at Caerphilly!) the loco, which became GWR 921. It was then sold in 1928 into industry, finishing its days with Berry Wiggins & Co of Kingsnorth in Kent. Owned by Leicesthershire Museums since the late 1960s, it has mainly been stored until 2000, when it was stripped of asbestos, put on gallery and conserved.
I am particularly taken with the fact that the engine still shows its GWR heritage with the number 921 as applied at Caerphilly works showing through the paintwork of later years. You can't beat that for railway archaeology!
My final visit of the day was real railway archaeology. In all the time I lived in the area, I only managed to go past the Swannington incline on a rainy wet day inthe short time I owned a car - and the rain put me off getting out to look. What a gem I missed! The story of the Leicester & Swannington Railway is told in brief here: by the very active Swannington Heritage Trust, and the picture below shows the remains of the winding engine house with some relaid track heading up the incline towards the works van parked on the site of a level crossing.
I walked a section of the trackbed on from the engine house with my former boss Fred Hartley, a fellow early railways fan and this picture is taken from halfway down the incline looking back up through a rebuilt bridge towards another bridge and the winding engine site over the crest of the hill. It was a bit wet and boggy today, but is a super little walk in the summer I should imagine
In the meantime, I cannot ignore happenings at York or Shildon with it being Easter weekend. Furness 20 is in steam at Shildon, the N7 in steam at York, and at the same time, our replica "Rocket" is running at Hyde Park in London. Lots to see at both sites, and lots to do, including a fire engine rally at Shildon on Easter Monday. Why not come and have a look?