91 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces June 1979 1
News from the Line
The close season has seen a tremendous amount of work done, though with the start of the STEPS programme on 2nd January this is not altogether surprising. By the middle of March there were twenty one men in employment on the railway, their basic task being to rebuild it! Our thanks go to Derek Cartwright for giving up his job at British Rail, Derby to oversee the project. Due to the severe winter the STEPS workers have done a variety of smaller tasks including repainting the interiors of the Great Eastern and Midland passenger brake vans and completing the refurbishing of the DMU trailer coach. Their greatest impact so far is to be seen on the loopline where one line has been dug out and weeded. Great activity can also be seen in the vicinity of the causeway which has slowly been washed away over the last few years. The track has now been dug out in preparation for lifting and a start has been made on tipping some of the estimated 8,000 tons of hardcore needed to rebuild the causeway. Other tasks completed include extending the compound fencing around the station area and digging out and re-aligning the level crossing.
Whilst the STEPS programme has been busy there has been no let up on the volunteer’s workload, despite the inclement weather.
Since the last Newsletter there have been two new additions to stock. A three plank dropsied wagon has been donated by British Reinforced Concrete Limited of Stafford, and the Chasewater Light Railway Company has purchased a Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 diesel electric locomotive No. 458641/61 (which is, incidentally, the most modern item of rolling stock on the line) which will be ideal for pulling works trains and deputising for a failed steam loco if required. In both cases transport was provided by John Moores Limited of Hixon.
‘The Colonel’Work proceeds apace on the restoration of this loco which should see service before the end of the summer. The boiler inspector has given the go-ahead for conversion to coal-firing and so all the oil-firing equipment, including the hideous fuel tank of the cab roof, has been removed. Other work done on the loco includes removal of the tank, removal of boiler cladding and lagging, replacement of the dumb buffers by proper Peckett style buffers (these were taken off AB 1223 which has since been fitted with ‘Barclay’ style buffers off Hibberd diesel No.1, construction of a coal bunker on the rear of the cab, descaling of boiler and preparation for its hydraulic test. Removal of all the paint off the saddle tank reveals that it is not as rotten as first feared and thus the anticipated repairs will not be as expensive as first feared.
Inspired by this, the owner has ordered a set of name and number plates, the loco becoming No.2 ‘The Colonel’.
The end of 1978 saw the closing of the ‘gap’ between the present running line and the loopline. This enabled us to get a train up to the causeway and a start was made on filling up the holes which had undermined the trackbed. This was incredibly tedious work, unloading 8 ton wagons by hand, and thankfully this work is now in the hands of the STEPS workers. Following this we turned our attention to the station area and it was found that last year’s extension to the platform was slowly slipping away due to inadequate drainage. To this end, a series of trenches have been dug to drain the area, including the overflow from the water tower. The associated pipework now drains directly into the lake. With this problem overcome, work can be completed on the platform including the provision of lighting, and facing the platform walls with red bricks.
The brothers Grimm have been busy converting the box van body into a refreshment room cum waiting room which will enable hot food to be served due to the provision of electricity in the van body and the neighbouring office (yet another trench!) The other project done this winter has been to install mercury-vapour lighting in the compound area which will enable the various lamp posts in the compound to be installed on the platform. One other task has been to hire a JCB and driver to dig a drainage ditch alongside the loopline to prevent the ballast being washed away.
Passenger figures for the 1978 season show a 25% increase on those for 1977. Due to the modest fare increase implemented, receipts were double those for 1977. During the coming season trains will operate on the second and fourth Sundays of each month, starting at Easter.
One benefit already gained off the STEPS programme is the Cox’s Portakabin which has been set up as an office and contains all the Society’s files and information accrued over the past 20 years. The office is also on the phone, and will be used as an information centre on operating days.