Monthly Archives: July 2011

Nechells No.4 on video

Nechells No.4 on video around Chasewater Heaths on July 30th. There are also some stills of the loco as well as a couple of stills of Darfield No.1 in the engine shed at Brownhills West.

July 30th & 31st – Plus Darfield in – one out

RSH 0-6-0t No.7684 “Nechells No.4”

This weekend 30/31st July will see RSH 0-6-0t Nechells No.4 in steam on our service trains
One in/ One out
Darfield at Bolton Abbey on the Embsay Railway
  © Copyright Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
We are pleased to announce a new arrival at Chasewater Railway which will see Hunslet 0-6-0st No.3783 of 1953 “Darfield No.1” coming for an extended stay on loan by kind agreement of it’s owner and will be delivered by road from it’s regular base at the Llangollen Railway very shortly. This locomotive is now planned to be included in the upcoming September Gala line up and will then see regular service alongside the home fleet. Unfortunately though it is goodbye to long term resident Andrew Barclay 0-4-0st Wks.No.1964 which has been sold by it’s owner. The big Barclay under the care of it’s new owner will be moving to a new home when it’s annual boiler exam has been undertaken at Chasewater.
The ‘big’ Barclay – 1964/1929, also known at Chasewater as ‘701’ – goodbye and thank you!

Chasewater Railway Museum – New Additions

 New Additions to the Chasewater Railway Museum Collection

One new addition to the display in the Chasewater Railway Museum is the industrial steam locomotive nameplate ‘Wellington’, from the Manchester Ship Canal loco No.43, supplied by manufacturers Hudswell Clarke, their works number 758 of 1906.  The loco was of the maker’s ‘short tank’ variety and lasted until 1959 when scrapped.

‘Wellington’ is on loan from David Jones of Great Central Railway Auctions and is the second nameplate kindly loaned by the same gentleman, the first being ‘Bickershaw’ which was on display for three years before being returned to Mr. Jones.

The Museum does not as yet possess a photograph of ‘Wellington’ to display with the nameplate, so if anyone can help please let us know, either in the Museum or through the blog or by telephone – 07748130215.

Amongst other items recently acquired by the Museum, although not yet on proper display (but are available for viewing!) are two railway maps, the first, Airey’s Railway Map of Staffordshire and District, and the other

   Bradshaw’s 19th century ‘Map and Sections of the Railways of Great Britain’

  This final item is of particular local interest, as they don’t come along very often.  It is a block instrument from the East Cannock Junction signal box at Hednesford.  The signal box was situated between Cannock and Hednesford where there was a junction between the Walsall to Rugeley line and the Norton Branch which went to High Bridge Sidings at Pelsall, through Norton Canes.

The block instrument was purchased by the Museum, the two maps were donated and the nameplate is on loan.

If you should have anything of railway interest that you no longer require, remember us!

Come along and pay us a visit – open every Sunday from 11.00am till 3.30pm, and it’s free!

Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era 1878 – Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway – 0-4-4T

Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era

 1878 – Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway – 0-4-4T

0-4-4T Single Fairlie 

This engine is of historic importance in that it was the first British locomotive to be fitted with Walschaert’s valve gear.  It was also unusual in that it was a single Fairlie engine, the coupled wheels and cylinders forming a separate forward bogie.  It should have been a very flexible machine on curves, but in other respects it was anything but a success.  Its valve gear was not properly understood by the engineers into whose hands it came, and it was very heavy on coal, even on light trains.  Walschaert’s gear was not used again in Great Britain until the 1890s, when it was applied to some Wordsell-von Borries compounds on the North Eastern and Belfast and Northern Counties Railways.  Of more recent years it has been adopted extensively.

After a few years of comparative inactivity the engine quietly disappeared.  Its owners, the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway later became the Midland and South Western Junction, which was absorbed into the GWR at the Grouping.

Illustration: The only known one of the engine, it is from a photograph probably taken about 1880.  The plate resting on the running plate bears the inscription ‘Fairlie’s Patent’.

Driving wheels – 5’ 6”,  Trailing wheels – 4’ 0”,  Cylinders – 16”x 22”,

Weight – 44 tons.

 Another single Fairlie engine is now running on the Festiniog Railway.Taliesin as single Fairlie – Guy Chapman 2007

Replica Single Fairlie locomotive built at Boston Lodge works in 1999. The original 1876-built locomotive was scrapped in 1935 after colliding into Welsh Pony. The replica used a few parts from the original but was largely built from scratch. Named after the 6th century Welsh poet Taliesin. Having been built for easy conversion between oil and coal firing, the locomotive has been coal-fired since 2007. In service and usually found on low season trains.

Some Early Lines – The Festiniog Railway (Rheilffordd Ffestiniog)

The Festiniog Railway (Rheilffordd Ffestiniog)

 Busy Saturday at Tan y Bwlch

© Copyright Derek Benett and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Ffestiniog Railway is a narrow gauge heritage railway, located in Gwynedd, Wales. It is a major tourist attraction located mainly within the Snowdonia national Park.

The railway is roughly 1312 miles (21.7 km) long and runs from the harbour at Porthmadog to the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, travelling through forested and mountainous scenery. The line is single track throughout with four intermediate passing places. The track gauge is 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) allowing trains to interwork through to the Welsh Highland Railway (operated by the Ffestiniog). The first mile of the line out of Porthmadog runs atop an embankment locally called “the Cob”, which is the dyke of the Traeth Mawr “polder”.Porthmadog to Ffestiniog RailwayTaken from near the Boston Lodge Depot, and looking over the Cob towards Porthmadog.

© Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The railway company is properly known as the “Festiniog Railway Company” and this anglicised contemporary spelling is the official title of the company as defined by the Act (2 William IV cap.xlviii) that created the railway. It is the oldest surviving railway company in the world (although not the oldest working – a record which goes to the Middleton Railway), having been founded by the Act of Parliament on 23 May 1832 with capital mostly raised in Dublin by Henry Archer, the company’s first secretary and managing director. Most British railways were amalgamated into four large groups in 1921 and then into British Railways in 1948 but the Festiniog Railway Company, in common with most narrow gauge railways, remained independent. In 1921, this was due to political influence whereas, in 1947, it was left out of British Railways because it was closed for traffic despite vigorous local lobbying for it to be included.

Various important developments in the Railway’s early history were celebrated by the firing of rock cannon at various points along the line. Cannon were fired, for instance, to mark the laying of the first stone at Creuau in 1832 the railway’s opening in 1836, and the opening of the Moelwyn Tunnel in 1842. The passing of a later act for the railway also saw cannon celebrations but, on this occasion, a fitter at Boston Lodge, who was assisting with firing, lost the fingers of one hand in an accident.Boston Lodge Railways Works, Gwynedd – The engineering works for the Ffestiniog Railway locomotives and carriages. “Prince” and “Lilla” are simmering gently.
© Copyright Peter Trimming and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Horse and gravity operation

The line was constructed between 1833 and 1836 to transport slate from the quarries around the inland town of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the coastal town of Porthmadog where it was loaded onto ships. The railway was graded so that loaded wagons could be run by gravity downhill all the way from Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port. The empty wagons were hauled back up by horses, which travelled down in special ‘dandy’  wagons. To achieve this continuous grade (about 1 in 80 for much of the way), the line followed natural contours and employed cuttings and embankments built of stone and slate blocks without mortar. Prior to the completion in 1844 of a long tunnel through a spur in the Moelwyn Mountain, the slate trains were worked over the top via inclines (designed by Robert Stephenson), the site of which can still be seen but there are no visible remnants.

Up to six trains daily were operated in each direction and a printed timetable was published on 16 September 1856 by Charles Easton Spooner who, following his father, served as Manager and Clerk for 30 years. It shows departures from the “Quarry Terminus” (later referred to as Dinas) at 7:30, 9:28, 11:16, 1:14, 3:12 and 5:10. Trains waited ten minutes at the intermediate stations called Tunnel Halt, Hafod y Llyn and “Rhiw Goch. The fastest journey time from Quarry Terminus to Boston Lodge was 1 hour 32 minutes, including three stops. From Boston Lodge, the slate wagons were hauled to and from Porthmadog harbour by horses. Up trains took nearly six hours from Boston Lodge to the Quarry Terminus and each train ran in up to four sections, each hauled by a horse and comprising eight empty slate wagons plus a horse dandy. This timetable gave a maximum annual capacity of 70,000 tons of dressed slate. Two brakesmen travelled on each down train, controlling the speed by the application of brakes as needed. At passing loops, trains passed on the right and this continues to be a feature of Ffestiniog Railway operation.

There is evidence for tourist passengers being carried as early as 1850 without the blessing of the Board of Trade but these journeys would also observe the timetable.

Hafod y Llyn was replaced by Tan y Bwlch around 1872. Dinas Station and much of that branch is now all but buried. It was removed many years ago. Whilst these two place names existed in the past on the FR, they also existed on the Welsh Highland Railway, albeit some 10 miles+ to the northwest of the originals.

Steam and gravity operation

In October 1863, steam locomotives were introduced to allow longer slate trains to be run and this also enabled the official introduction of passenger trains in 1865: the Ffestiniog was the first narrow-gauge railway in Britain to carry passengers. In 1869, the line’s first double Fairlie articulated locomotives was introduced and these double-ended machines have since become one of the most widely recognised features of the railway.Down trains continued to run entirely by gravity but faster up journeys and longer trains increased line capacity. A new timetable dated October 1863 shows six departures daily from each terminus at two hour intervals, starting at 7:00 am and taking 1 hour 50 minutes including stops (totalling 20 minutes) at Tanygrisiau, Hafod-y-Llyn and Penrhyn. Trains passed only at Hafod-y-Llyn (from 1872 Tan-y-Bwlch). When passenger services started, the usual practice was for locomotive-hauled up trains to consist of loaded general goods and mineral wagons, followed by passenger carriages, followed by empty slate wagons with brakesmen. Down trains were run in up to four separate (uncoupled) portions: loaded slate wagons, goods wagons, passenger carriages and, finally, the locomotive running light. This unusual and labour-intensive method of operation was shortlived and eventually the passenger and goods portions were combined into a single train headed by the locomotive.

The loaded slate trains continued to operate by gravity until the end of passenger services in 1939. Slate trains eventually became very long – trains of less than eighty slate wagons carried two brakesmen but over eighty wagons (and this became common) required three brakesmen. About one wagon in every six was equipped with a brake, the others being unbraked. Trains continued to pass at Tan-y-Bwlch and, to a lesser extent, at Minffordd. The Summer timetable for 1900 had nine trains daily in each direction and trains had been accelerated to one hour from Porthmadog to Duffws including stops at Minfford, Penrhyn, Tan-y-Bwlch, Dduallt (request), Tanygrisiau, Blaenau (LNWR) and Blaenau (GWR). Speeds in excess of 40 mph (64 km/h) were then normal.Porthmadog – “Blanche” ready to haul the next train to Blaenau Ffestiniog – Porthmadog expanded rapidly as a slate exporting port. Welsh slate was in high demand as a construction material in the English industrial cities, and was transported to the new port by horse drawn tramways. The Ffestiniog Railway, opened in 1836, was later converted to steam operation, and trains ran straight onto the wharves. By 1873 116,000 tons (117,800 t) of slate were being shipped out of Porthmadog.

© Copyright Ken Bagnall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The original passenger coaches (some of which still survive) were small four-wheeled vehicles with a very low centre of gravity. In 1872, the FR introduced the first bogie carriages to operate in Britain, Nos 15 and 16, which were also the first iron-framed bogie coaches in the world. The continuous vacuum brake was installed in 1893. The line was fully signalled with electric telegraph and staff and ticket working. Electric Train Staff instruments were introduced in 1912 and they continue in use to the present day.Dduallt Station, Ffestiniog RailwayThe station at Dduallt taken from a Ffestiniog Railway train on the spiral track.

  © Copyright Gordon Cragg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


From 1949, various groups of rail enthusiasts attempted to revitalise the railway. Eventually, on 24 June 1954, a group of volunteers funded by Alan Pegler purchased the company to run it as a tourist attraction and gradually restored the line to working order. This was not helped by a decision by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in 1954 to build the Ffestiniog Pumped Storage Scheme, including the creation of Tanygrisiau reservoir (Llyn Ystradau), which flooded part of the northern end of the line. The Festiniog Railway Company was able to obtain compensation in 1972, after the second-longest legal battle in British legal history, having taken eighteen years and two months. Two years later, as a result of the case, the British Parliament passed the Land Compensation Act 1973.

On 18 August 1954, prior to commencing the restoration, in an inspection, the first of many, Colonel McMullen of the Ministry of Transport Railway Inspectorate accompanied by Alan Pegler, several directors and other supporters, walked the line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. The work of restoration began on 20 September 1954 when Morris Jones, the foreman fitter who had last worked for the railway in March 1947, rejoined the staff to complete the rebuilding of the locomotive ‘Prince’ on which he had been engaged when the works closed. He was joined at Boston Lodge works by two volunteers, Bill Harvey and Allan Garraway.  The completion of sixty years service with the FR by Robert Evans (for almost 25 years as Manager) was marked on 6 November 1954 and a special train was run (with difficulty) from Minffordd to Porthmadog to celebrate the occasion and convey Mr Evans, his wife, Alan Pegler (Company Chairman) and guests en route to a clock presentation ceremony.  Mr Evans continued in service as Manager until his retirement on 1 June 1955 when Allan Garraway was appointed as Manager.

The first public passenger train from Porthmadog to Boston Lodge ran on 23 July 1955. Prince returned to service on 3 August 1955 and, following extensive boiler repairs, Taliesin, then the latest of the FR Fairlie articulated engines, returned to service on 4 September 1956. The passenger service was extended to Minfford on 19 May 1956, to Penrhyn on 5 June 1957 and to Tan-y-Bwlch on 5 April 1958. Increasing traffic was putting severe demands on the track – over 7 miles (11 km) had been reopened in four years. A long period of consolidation, rolling stock restoration and track renewal followed before the extension to Dduallt on 6 April 1968. Extension to Dduallt was celebrated on 28 May 1968 by the re-introduction of the Ffestiniog Railway Letter Service.Ffestiniog railway at MinfforddTrains cross on a wet day on the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway. The Cambrian Coast Line also crosses – it runs underneath the tourist line. Caution – the clearances on the Ffestiniog railway are very tight and it is strongly advisable not to lean out of the window

  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Tourism and heritage

One of the earliest references to tourism is in the LNWR Tourist Guide for 1876, which waxed lyrical about the Ffestiniog Railway, which it illustrated with a drawing of a lady in Welsh national dress (then still in regular local use) travelling on an FR up train (since many empty slate wagons – with two standing brakesmen – were attached at the rear) with the caption “On the Ffestiniog Railway”. The guide uses the “double F” spelling throughout.  It was, however, in the inter-war years from 1919 to 1939 that tourism, though always valued, came to acquire a major importance.

Since restoration commenced in 1954, tourism has been the only significant source of income. The role of the Ffestiniog Railway in the promotion and fulfilment of tourism and in preserving railway heritage has been recognised many times, and notable mentions have included:

  • 1964 Wales Tourist Board certificate for conspicuous service to Welsh tourism
  • 1972 Wales Tourist Board lists the FR as fifth most popular tourist site in Wales, after Caernarfon Castle, the Swallow Falls, the National Museum of Wales at Cardiff and Conwy Castle.
  • 1979 The FR was one of only six sites in Wales to receive the British Tourist Authority’s Golden Jubilee Award.
  •  1987 The FR was the outright winner of the Independent Railway of the Year award
  • 2004 The “Talking Train” (an internal audio guide) was awarded the Heritage Railway Association ‘interpretation’ Award.

Recognition of the railway’s importance to tourism and heritage has been increasingly marked by financial assistance given to the company towards capital expenditure. Prior to September 1987, the FR had received £1,273,127 in gifts and grants. Of this: £450,476 was Gifts from the FR Society and FR Trust and other supporters; £379,335 from Wales Tourist Board; £134,320 from EEC Grants and £308,996 from other public sources.

Major grants received subsequently have been: In 1989 a grant of £430,000 (£797,572 as of 2011) mainly from The EEC (National Programme of Community Interest for the promoting of tourism in Dyfed, Gwynedd and Powys);] in 1995 a grant of £500,000 (£716,550 as of 2011),[9]to promote work in Blaenau Ffestiniog and in 1998 a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £375,000 (£491,885 as of 2011), for the construction of workshops to facilitate the restoration of historic vehicles.

Today the railway is promoted as one of The Great Little Trains of Wales, a joint marketing scheme launched in 1970 that encompasses ten narrow gauge railways in the country, mostly found in north and mid Wales.Ffestiniog Railway Train Passing Campbell’s PlatformCampbell’s platform is an unstaffed halt on the Ffestiniog Railway which serves the nearby Plas y Dduallt Manor House. The station is for the use of residents and visitors staying at Plas y Dduallt only. The platform was built in the 1960’s when Colonel Andrew Campbell of the Black Watch restored the house.

  © Copyright Jonathan Simkins and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era – 1869 – Fairlie Engines of the Festiniog Railway

Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era

1869  Fairlie Engines of the Festiniog Railway

Taliesin as running in 1932 HCC

With the rapid growth of traffic, the Festiniog Railway soon found it necessary to provide a more powerful locomotive than the 0-4-0engines mentioned in the previous post to handle the more lengthy trains necessary to avoid doubling the line, a costly alternative.  It was decided therefore to try a design patented by one Robert Fairlie in which the locomotive incorporated two separate boilers with a common central firebox.  The two independent swivelling steam bogies each carry a saddle on which its own boiler rests, steam connections being made by means of flexible pipes.  The driver occupies one side of the central cab, and the fireman the other, on which the firehole is situated.James Spooner – Blaenau Ffestiniog 1879

The first Fairlie engine had been built in 1852 for the Semmering Incline in Austria, but it was its application to so narrow a gauge as 1’ 11½” coupled with its flexibility on extremely sharp curves which attracted railway engineers, from many parts of the world, who came to see it in action.  As a result the design became widely used abroad, chiefly in Sweden, Russia and South America, particularly Mexico.Merddyn Emrys – Porthmadog Harbour Station – Andrew Stawartz 2007

The first engine, No.7 – Little Wonder, did not last very long, being broken up in 1883.  It was largely experimental, and a certain number of initial faults found in operation were rectified in the subsequent engines, which were eminently successful.  No.7 had been built by George England & Co. in 1869, but No.8 – James Spooner, which came in 1872, was the product of the Avonside Engine Co.  The last two, Nos.10 – Merddyn Emrys and 11 – Livingstone Thompson were constructed in 1879 and 1885 in the Festiniog’s own shops at Boston Lodge, but the boilers were probably supplied by Avonsides.Livingstone Thompson – Porthmadog Harbour Station – 1879  DH Bleasdale

No.8 – James Spooner worked until 1929, when it was thoroughly worn out, but parts of it were cannibalised to repair the remaining two engines.  No.11 had been renamed Taliesin and renumbered 3.  Both this engine and No.10 were still in existence when the line was closed in 1946, and since re-opening in 1955 Taliesin has been repaired and put into service again.  It is hoped to renovate Merddyn Emrys similarly.Little Wonder – Porthmadog Harbour Station –  RH Bleasdale

                                      No.7                       No.8                            Nos.10 & 11

Driving wheels              2’ 4”                       2’ 8”                                      2’ 9¼”

Cylinders (4)                 8¼”x 13”               8½”x 14”                     9”x 14”

Pressure                       160 lb                    140 lb                          160 lb

Tractive Effort               5357 lb                  5410 lb                        6059 lb

Weight                          19 tons 10 cwt      20 tons 1cwt               24 tonsTaliesin as single Fairlie – Guy Chapman 2007

Steam Locos of a More Leisurely Era 1863 – 0-4-0s of the Festiniog Railway

Steam Locos of a More Leisurely Era

1863      0-4-0s of the Festiniog Railway

No.4 – Palmerstone as running in 1926

 The first four of these engines, which were built in 1863-4, came out with side tanks.  They have always run with small 4-wheeled tenders attached, and are therefore in effect both tank and tender engines.  Their numbers and names were: 1 – Princess,  2 – Prince,  3 – Mountaineer,  and 4 – Palmerstone.c1870 Princess at Porthmadog Harbour Station

Nos.5 – Welsh Pony and 6 – Little Giant, which followed in 1867, were somewhat larger and fitted with saddle tanks from the start, and Nos. 1, 2 and 4 later had their tanks altered from the side to the saddle variety.  All of these engines were built by George England & Co., of Hatcham Ironworks, London.  The gauge of the Festiniog Railway is only 1’ 11½”, and this was the first attempt to use steam locomotives on so narrow a track.  Charles Spooner, the line’s General Manager and Engineer, was, however, convinced that such small engines would be a practical proposition, a suggestion which was challenged amongst others by such a notable personality as Robert Stephenson.  Events, however, proved Spooner to have been right, and these remarkable little machines were the forerunners of many thousands of other narrow gauge engines which were to be built later in all parts of the world.Little Giant Duffws Station  c1889-92

No.3 had a very short life as it met with an accident in 1879 and was damaged beyond repair.  No.6 was cut up in 1936, but the other four were still in existence when the line closed in 1946, although in varying states of repair or disrepair.   Upon the line being re-opened in 1955 by the Festiniog Railway Society, No.2 – Prince was the first engine to be restored to work the traffic, and was in 2010 in the Engine House at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway, and will hopefully be restored for the 150th Anniversary in 2013.Prince in the Engine House on the Severn Valley Railway

No. 1 – Princess has been on display in Spooner’s Bar at the Harbour Station.  No.4 – Palmerstone was restored in 1993, converted to coal firing from oil in 2005 and is currently in traffic.  No. 5 – Welsh Pony is currently under consideration for restoration – possibly for the 150th Anniversary in 2013.Welsh Pony Porthmadog Harbour Station

Nos. 1 – 4   Driving wheels – 2’ 0”,  Cylinders – 8¼”x 12”, Pressure – 140 lb,

Weight – 8½ tons

Nos. 5 – 6   Driving wheels – 2’ 2”,  Cylinders – 8½”x 12”,  Pressure – 150 lb,

Weight – 11 tons

Both classes were originally pressured at 200lbPalmerston at Porthmadog Gala 2005

121 – A tale from Brownhills Station – Chasewater News Dec 1989

121Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News December 1989 – 2

Brownhills Memories – P.Aldridge

Sidney Browne worked on the railways in the area foe nearly fifty years.  Like many railway men he had many anecdotes recalling his long service.  Sadly Sid died in 1985, but many of his tales are well-remembered by his grandson, Peter Aldridge, who now works on the railway at Chasewater.  One of these tales is now recalled, and if it is not true, it ought to be!In the 1950s Sid worked for British Railways at Brownhills Station in High Street.  One morning in late summer a local resident by the name of Meacher arrived in his brand new Austin motor car.  Pic by oakparkrunnersorry, don’t know which model – here’s three to chose from


Before catching his train Mr. Meacher entrusted his car keys to the Station Master.  The train, an excursion to Blackpool, arrived hauled by a Bescot ‘super D’, and plodded off towards Lichfield.Super D at Consall, Churnet Valley Railway, 2005

Later that morning some of the other station staff reported for work.  They immediately took a shine to the new car parked in the station yard, and promptly purloined the ignition keys and drove off towards Cannock.  Sid, being rather busy, remained at Brownhills.

The day wore on and the Austin did not re-appear.  The evening came, still without any sign of the car or its occupants, and Sid began to get worried.  What would he do if the owner came back and found his beloved car missing?

Sure enough at 11.30pm a grimy ‘super D’ wheezed up the long climb through Hammerwich, past Anglesey Sidings and into Brownhills.  There was Mr. Meacher fast asleep.  Carefully opening the carriage doors, Sid called out in a faint whisper “Brownhills….Brownhills” and then quietly sent the train on its way, with Mr. Meacher, fast asleep, still on board.

Half-an-hour later the phone rang….”Hello” came a voice “Is that Brownhills railway station?  This is Mr. Meacher.  I must have fallen asleep on the train and missed my stop”.

“Yes” replied Sid “I looked for you everywhere, I walked up and down the train calling ‘Brownhills’ as loud as I could”.

“Oh well” said Mr. Meacher “Never mind, I’ll get a taxi home from Walsall and collect my car tomorrow”.

“That’s alright; I’ll look after the car for you! Said Sid, and put down the phone.

At ten to two the Austin re-appeared, being pushed by some very hot and tired railwaymen.  The car had run out of petrol near Milford Common, and having spent all their money on beer, they could not buy any petrol from a garage.Barley Mow on the corner of Milford Common
© Copyright David Bagshaw and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Needless to say the joyriders were sent out early next morning so that Mr. Meacher would, hopefully, never know about his car’s unauthorised – not to mention illegal-day out!

120 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News December 1989

120Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News December 1989

From the Editorial

Looking back, this year has been quite successful for the Railway with relatively few problems to contend with and a number of major advances made.  Train operation, although hectic for the staff involved, ran smoothly and every special event seemed to go well to the extent that our period of ‘survival’ of the last few years has begun to progress into a time of modest expansion.

As 1989 draws to a close and we all wait for Santa’s Special to arrive at Brownhills West, we can begin to plan next year’s work on the line.  It is all very easy to draw up a long list of jobs, but short of ‘asking Anneka’, they wouldn’t get done.

Realistically, in addition to all the regular maintenance work, we could have a platform built at Willowvale Halt ready for Easter, carry on to complete the run round loop at Brownhills West and relay enough track past Willowvale to run a goods train up and down on Gricers Day.  That would be an excellent season’s work, but it is only possible if people put the effort in. Locomotive News

Asbestos – Having worked the majority of this year’s trains, this loco is now due to be taken out of service for its six-yearly major boiler inspection.  The work will involve the removal of the saddle tank and boiler lagging as well as all fittings.  It is likely that a certain amount of repair work will be necessary around the firebox foundation ring and also renewal of a number of boiler tubes.

Sentinel – This engine finally re-entered service on Sunday 6th August when it took over from Asbestos to work he last two trains of the day.  The recent introduction of two-coach trains meant that this little loco has to work really hard against the gradient on the return run to Brownhills West with the regulator wound wide open for most of the distance.  The result of this is that coal consumption appears to have increased slightly over last year’s running, so that the bunker needs topping up towards the end of the day.  To cure the problem it is planned to fit coal rails to the bunker to increase capacity to around 8cwt.

Lion – The good news is that the Boiler Inspector has done his preliminary examination and has given the go ahead for the loco to be re-tubed and prepared for its hydraulic test.  Painting of both the frames and boiler shell has continued, along with work on new fittings and pipework needed before the engine can be steamed.

S100 – The frames of this loco are currently being jacked up in the back of the loco shed so that the wheels can be removed to allow machining of the horn guides.

DL7 – this remains our only working diesel and has continued to run well, although on the morning of the Bonfire Night steaming its contactors had to be quickly cleaned as the traction motor suddenly refused to ‘switch in’.

Fowler – At last the necessary information for the renewal of the blowing cylinder head gasket has been found and the repair work was carried out on Sunday 12th November.  With train operations gradually expanding it is becoming more important that at least one of the two diesels be vacuum brake fitted so that it can be used to work passenger trains if required at short notice or on quiet non-steam days.  Hopefully the work will be carried out shortly.

Other Locos – No work has been carried out on any other locos.

 Carriage & Wagon News

The Gloucester & Wickham trailers have remained coupled together since June to form the operational passenger stock.  The bodywork of the Gloucester is now looking positively tatty and will require repairs and a repaint before next season’s running.  Again no work has been carried out on any rolling stock other than the three DMUs. Permanent Way News

A few dedicated men are still pushing on with the trackwork and as a result the old turnout which marked the start of the Norton loop has been completely removed and the line is gradually increasing in length towards the causeway.  Progress on this work quite honestly is very slow, but when only three or four people on average seem to be prepared to help, and even the shorter rails which have to be moved weigh about a third of a ton, this is to be expected.  Just to give the P. Way gang a break from trackwork and to provide variety in their work, the local toe-rags managed to cut every strand of wire between every fence post from the level crossing right down to the bridge.  This had to be patched up again before trains could run on Gricers Day when everyone was already pushed to near the limit. Operating

August bank Holiday Monday marked the end of the two months of weekly running allowing a very welcome break for all the operating staff.  Gricers Day saw both Asbestos and the Sentinel in steam, with the last two trains of the day being double-headed.  Rumours that this was brought about by one case too many of a certain lager in the buffet car causing the gross train weight to exceed the maximum allowable Sentinel loading were untrue, but merely an example of the Midland Railway Company’s small engine policy in action!   The Sentinel will now work the remaining trains of this year to allow Asbestos to be stripped for boiler examination.

New arrival in 1961

119 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News Autumn 1989

119 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News Autumn 1989

From the Editorial

This magazine sees another change of Editor as I (Nigel Canning) volunteered to take some of the load off Steve Organ.  We both spend a lot of time at Chasewater so we have up to date material for the magazine, but perhaps the problem is recognising it.  A number of members and visitors who had not been to Chasewater for a while have expressed amazement at the recent improvements and are obviously delighted, whilst those of us who work there every week tend to have on our minds want we haven’t done yet rather than what we have.  As you read the various sections of this magazine you will see the usual excuse for jobs not being completed, ‘lack of manpower’, however, if you look back through previous magazines the problem has subtly changed, hopefully for the better.

It used to be:  ‘Insufficient manpower to rebuild the railway to allow train operation’.

Then:  ‘Insufficient manpower to run trains more often’.

Now:  ‘Insufficient manpower to open the bar every week’.

Next perhaps:  ‘Insufficient manpower to sell tickets at Willowvale Halt’.

All of this shows that we must be making progress and makes me wonder what we will have insufficient manpower for in, say, ten years time???

Locomotive News

Asbestos – This engine has worked all of this year’s trains so far with only various minor leaks having needed attention.  The recent introduction of two coach trains has proved to be no problem at all for it, with only apparent minimal increase in coal consumption.

Sentinel – Getting this loco through the various stages of a major (five yearly) boiler examination has proved to be a long drawn out business, however it is now ready for its steam test and should be back in traffic by the time you read this magazine.   In addition to the statutory inspection work, an extra water level gauge has been fitted to the boiler, also a new, larger ashpan ready for working the new Norton Expresses.

Lion – Much enthusiastic work has continued on this engine, mainly getting the boiler ready for its initial major examination.  In addition to this, various new boiler fittings have been procured and machined, further vacuum brake pipework added and more paint applied to the frames.  Hopefully the loco will enter service during 1990.

S100 – Work has concentrated on splitting, cleaning and re-assembling the springs of this loco, a job involving a lot of heat and brute force.

DL7 – This loco has again run well, performing all the shunting and works train movements.  The only minor failure was that of a bearing in the small battery charging dynamo which was repaired fairly easily.  Following a bout of vandalism by local tow-rags the loco has been repainted in ‘Rail Blue’ complete with yellow and black striped ends to cover the graffiti.

Fowler – This has remained ‘standby diesel’ due to a blowing cylinder head gasket.  Attempts at finding the necessary details required for the repair, type of head gasket, torques and torquing sequence, etc. gave been somewhat protracted due to the engine manufacturer’s inability to provide the information even when the block number was quoted.  This loco is also in the process of being repainted, but in Longmoor Military style of blue with the motion and other details picked out in red.

Other Locos – Little or no work has been carried out on any other loco since the last magazine.Carriage & Wagon News

The big news is that the Wickham trailer entered service on Saturday 17th June coupled to the Gloucester to form the first regular two-coach train.  The following day there was another first when the bar was opened and refreshments were served on the moving train.  Although a certain amount of finishing off work is still required to the interior, the coach has run every week since its inaugural day and has been a great success.  A finishing touch currently underway is a pub sign ‘The Wickham Bar’ being painted on the large unglazed body panel at the gangway end of the vehicle.  A precedent for this was the Southern Region ‘Tavern Cars’ which ran for a while in the fifties in ‘ blood & Custard’ livery with brickwork and a pub sign painted at one end.  Other than the three DMUs, no work has been carried out on rolling stock due to lack of manpower.Permanent Way News

One problem with running trains every Sunday is that it doesn’t leave enough people to do much in the was of trackwork.  However, the track we are currently running on is in reasonable condition and, by our standards, is remarkably free of weeds.  In view of the above situation, all efforts will be concentrated later in the year, starting around September, on a number of projects.  These will be; packing rough bits of the existing line, repairing the fencing again, completing the run round loop at Brownhills West, building a platform at Willowvale and then extending the line towards the causeway.  Any volunteers for this work will receive a warm welcome and a choice of shovels!


So far this year operating the railway has been even more hectic than usual for a number of reasons.  A lot more trains have been scheduled, running every Sunday in July and August, which is another ‘first’ for the railway.  In addition to this, steam trains were run on Monday July 3rd, two school specials, and the first ever Birthday Party Special, all of which were very successful and will hopefully be repeated regularly.  The recent addition of two-coach trains in itself has been no problem, but when the bar is in use at least one extra person is needed to staff it.  For the obvious security reasons the day’s work involves loading every item of stock onto the train and unloading every remaining item at the end of the day.  As a result, so far this year the bar has been open only on special days when staff have been available.  A similar problem has of course existed for a long time with the Wickham buffet car with all stock having to be transported to and from safe storage.  As usual any volunteers will receive a warm welcome and a choice of whatever the apparatus for this work might be!