Monthly Archives: August 2011

Chasewater Narrow Gauge Railway Video, Part 2, now on youtube

Chasewater Narrow Gauge Railway Video, Part 2, now on youtube.

This covers the time from the Fiftieth Anniversary Gala and the visit of steam loco ‘Taffy’ right up until August Bank Holiday Monday 2011.

Now that the Narrow Gauge Railway is open to the public, it is good to see its popularity with our visitors and the Railway Staff alike.  Congratulations to Andy and Jonathan Clegg and everyone else who has helped get it up and running.

Following the renovation and painting of the Hunslet loco and the manrider, Dave painted the loco and the lettering on the manrider and Jason did a first class job with the now blue manrider, the next item of rolling stock, another manrider, is undergoing repair and restoration.

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Chasewater Narrow Gauge Railway Video on youtube

The first of two videos of the Chasewater Narrow Gauge Railway is now on youtube.  The second should be on August 31st.

The first one includes clips from before it was open to the public, and the second one from the Fiftieth Anniversary Gala to 2011.

Chasewater Railway’s Tri-Rail shop – latest projects.

The Tri-Rail shop at Chasewater Railway’s Brownhills West Station has announced the latest projects for its support. 

 

 

Poster by oakparkrunner

All profits made in this shop go towards three major projects – hence Tri-Rail, this time, Asbestos, the Narrow Gauge Railway and the Model Railway.

South Staffs Railway – Hammerwich Railway Station Post

 The South Staffordshire Railway Group have come up with the excellent idea of marking former railway stations on the line with an information post.  Let’s hope that the Hammerwich post is just the first  in the district.

Hammerwich Railway Post

Posted by ROB on August 25, 2011 at 10:35 AM, and reproduced here with kind permission of the South Staffs Rail Group.

There is a link on the blogroll to their excellent site – well recommended.

On Monday 21st August 2011, South Staffs Rail Group installed a small post to remember the once busy railway station in Hammerwich.

There was northing to say it was once a busy local station on the South Staffordshire Line, only an old footbridge and railway track. “We hope people visiting the area all just out for a walk, will stumble upon the railway station and realise how important the line once was for the local heritage of Hammerwich.

South Staffs Rail would like to thank  Hammerwich Parish Council and the local Landowner for their vast interest and support to this small project.

129– Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News August 1990 – More Sid Browne Memories by Peter Aldridge

129Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News August 1990

More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

Pines Express

More recollections from a local railwayman, Sid Browne.

The name ‘Pines Express’ will always be associated with the Somerset and Dorset Railway, but it is often forgotten that the famous train ran through some rather less picturesque parts of the world, for instance, Walsall!

 Jubilee class locomotive 45687 arriving at Walsall Station with Pines Express 1958 Jack-Haddock

One overcast August day, Sid Browne stood at Walsall Station.  He was to relieve the guard on the northbound ‘Pines’ and take it as far asDerby.  Usually this was a cushy job, but today was to be very different.  For a start, the train was late.

The train arrived ten minutes late.

‘Injectors playin’ up’ called the fireman as the engine, a Black 5, rumbled past.  ‘Be lucky to reach Ryecroft at this rate’ he moaned as the engine once again disappeared in a cloud of steam.  Sid got on, and the train departed.  Sid saw that the train was almost empty and that the loco’s injectors were now working.  Everything seemed OK.  Just after Ryecroft shed, however, the injectors failed again and the train was coaxed into Aldridge.

‘Damn thing’ cursed the driver, ‘It just got past Ryecroft and then packed up’.

‘Hang on’ said Sid, ‘I’ve got an idea’ and he walked over to the ‘4F’ that was sitting in the Brownhills branch siding.  A few moments later Sid walked across to the signal box ‘It’s all sorted out’ he called.  The Black 5 duly came off the train and the 4F coupled on.

‘Quicker than getting an engine from Ryecroft’ said Sid, and the train set off once more.

The train arrived at Castle Bromwich Junction, half-an-hour late.

The signalman called out from his box.  ‘You’ve had it mate!  I’ve got no gaps onto the Derby line for hours’.

The handful of passengers complained, and the fireman from the 4F also had a gripe.  ‘My shift should have finished ten minutes ago’ he complained.

After a while, the steward from the dining car came along.

‘As we’ll be here till Christmas, why don’t you have a bite to eat?  I’ve got all this food left and no passengers to eat the stuff.’

Reluctantly Sid left his cheeses sandwiches and somehow managed to force himself to eat the soup, roast lamb (with a choice of vegetables) and even the apple pie and cream.  Double portions of everything, of course.  (Railwaymen were often prepared to make such sacrifices in the course of their work!)

So engrossed was Sid in this work that he quite failed to notice the 4F as it trundled past, heading for Bescot.  Some time later, looking at empty plates, and congratulating himself on a job well done, Sid felt the train start to move.  Looking out of the window he was surprised to see that not only were the signals still against them, but they had no loco on the train.  Sid ran to the brake end and screwed the handbrake on.  The train stopped, inches from the trap point protecting the main line.  Obviously the vacuum brakes had gradually leaked off after the engine had uncoupled.  The signalman returned to the train.

‘Your driver was fed up’ he explained ‘and as we’re having an engine off Saltley, they said they’d go.  They said they’d told you all about it.’

‘Well’ said Sid ‘we’re well and truly in it now.  The train’s fouling the crossover.  The Saltley engine will have to go round the triangle and come up behind.  Then he can pull us back clear of the crossover, run round, and get on the front.’

‘Can’t do that’ exclaimed the signalman, ‘I’ve got trains queuing for miles as it is.  I’ll have to get your 4F back.’

The signalman hurried across to the box and got on the phone to get the 4F sent back.

The replacement engine arrived from Saltley, but could not get onto the train as it was blocking the points.  The train was now nearly three hours late.

‘Disgraceful’ complained the passengers.

Eventually the 4F returned.  The loco crew were not amused!

An ordinary locomotive celebrated by its unique number, seen at Stockport View SE,LMS 4F 0-6-0 No. 44444 is shunting just south of Stockport (Edgeley) station, which was on the main ex-London & North Western line from Manchester (London Road) to Crewe, also Macclesfield and Stoke-on-Trent, also Buxton. No other British Rail locomotive had a number with five identical digits.

Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0 Ben Brooksbank – geograph.org.uk

‘We got to Ryecroft and then we were told to come back here,’ the driver moaned.  I’d almost thought I’d get home tonight!’ he grumbled.

The 4F dragged the train back clear of the crossover and the Saltley engine coupled onto the front.  The 4F returned from whence it came, and the ‘Pines’ got under way once more.

The ‘Pines’ finally made it to Derby, three hours late, and Sid got off.  He had missed his booked working back toWalsalland was faced with a long wait for another train.

As luck would have it, he just happened to have a cheese sandwich to keep him going till he got home to his dinner!


128 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces, From Chasewater News April 1990 More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

128 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News April 1990

More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

Sid Browne worked on the railways for nearly fifty years and had many anecdotes recalling his long experience.  Here is another tale, as remembered by his grandson.

After working at Brownhills for some time, Sid was promoted and transferred toMonument Lane in Birmingham.  This presented quite a problem, as Sid still lived in Brownhills.  Sid had to travel by push bile toNew Streeteach morning, and back again at night.

One winter’s morning, with the roads covered in snow and a force eight gale blowing, Sid set off for work.  Unfortunately, he arrived just four minutes late.  He hurried down onto the platform to catch the train toMonument Lane, confident that the Inspector would have held the train long enough for Sid to catch it.

The platform, however, was empty except for the Inspector, Mr. Smith.

“You’re late!” he shouted “And you’ve just lost a day’s pay”

Very angry, Sid returned home.

The following spring, Sid was guard on an evening train from Coventry to New Street.  The train arrived at Stechford, and there, on the platform was Inspector Smith.  As the train was the last one of the day, Smith wanted to catch a lift back toMonument Lane, where he could ‘book off’ for the night.  Smith climbed into the brake end of the train.

“And where do you think you’re going?” asked Sid.

“Back toMonument Lane” replied Mr. Smith.

“Not on this train you’re not”

“But it’s the last train”

“That’s right, but some of us have got long memories, now get off!”

“Right!” said Mr. Smith “I’ll go and ride on the engine with the driver!”

“Oh no you won’t” said the fireman, who had come back down the train to see what the delay was.  “If you even touch that engine I’ll unhook it and go ‘light engine’ toMonument Lane.”

Absolutely furious, Inspector Smith was left standing on the station with a long walk ahead of him.

Photo – An old Midland Railway Class ‘2F’ 0-6-0 nears the end of the line on the three mile long branch from Monument Lane to Harborne, Birmingham, in July, 1961. –Birmingham Post

There are two morals to this tale:

  1. It pays to have friends in high places.
  2. Don’t get mad, get even.

Working atMonument Lane did have its benefits.  In particular, excursions could prove very lucrative, as being invariably overcrowded, children had to sit on parent’s laps all the way.  Sid made sure that the doors on one coach were locked as it arrived atNew Street.  Once the rest of the train was full, Sid auctioned off the remaining seats to the highest bidder, earning more than a week’s pay.

Moral:  A fool and his money are soon parted.

Crime does not pay, unless you avoid being caught!

Bashers, Gadgets and Mourners – the life and times of the LNWR Coal Tanks

Bashers, Gadgets and Mourners

the life and times of the LNWR Coal Tanks

A new book written by Peter W. Skellon about the 0-6-2 tank locomotives, known as Coal Tanks, and particularly about No.1054, which started life in preservation in a temporary home at the Railway Preservation Society, West Midlands branch at Hednesford, Staffs.  This was, of course, the forerunner of today’s Chasewater Light Railway and Museum.

For anyone interested in purchasing a copy, the address and details are given above.

 No.1054 at Hednesford in the early 1960s

 

 

127 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News January 1991

127Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News January 1991

Editorial – Nigel Canning

At the end of this, another, year we have made further modest progress on our railway.  As yet, the proposed platform at Willow Vale has not been built, but only because a pre-fabricated concrete one, well worth waiting for, has been acquired and awaits removal to Chasewater.

The fact that we have run for the whole year with only one steam loco is in some ways a disappointment, but on the other hand it does show that our engineering standards are as good as anyone’s with no failures having occurred.

With the main line steadily being extended towards the causeway, carriage and wagon restoration proceeding at a pace not seen at Chasewater for many years, and the station site and line in general becoming tidier and more businesslike by the week, 1991 could be the year when we do finally expand and prosper.

Locomotive News

No.4 Asbestos – Progress on this loco is still very slow and as a result it is likely to be well into next year before it steams again.  The boiler and firebox are slowly being cleaned for inspection and following removal of the firebox lagging, which left a lot of mess, the motion has been thoroughly cleaned.Photo: N.Canning

No.5 Sentinel – This is still the line’s only working steam loco and as such will work all the Christmas and New Year trains.  It was painted in camouflage as WD 79632 for the military weekend in September and is now in red undercoat prior to being repainted in its original gasworks red livery.

A number of outstanding minor repairs have recently been carried out, including fitment of a new blower pipe and firing chute, re-machining of a leaking clack shut off valve, and rectification of an engine oil pressure problem followed by an engine oil change.  The loco will shortly be fitted with a new fire grate to replace the rapidly disintegrating one currently held in place with a piece of angle iron secured to the sander pipe by fencing wire.

No.2 Lion – This loco is currently being fitted with sliding cab shutters and is likely to be hydraulic tested at the same time as Asbestos.  The saddle tank has been sent away for repair by contractors and should return shortly in pristine condition.

S100 – The major work being carried out on this loco is still the construction of a machine for grinding the hornguides, which posed more problems than had originally been anticipated.

No.7  Ruston – This loco is still in good running order although there was a minor mishap in July.  After its having stood unused for a number of weeks, the engine bent a pushrod during start-up.  Further investigation revealed that one of the fuel elements in the injection pump was also seized.  Repairs were affected fairly quickly and the engine appears to start more easily than it has for a long while.

No.9 Fowler – This loco is now running reliably and sharing shunting duties with No.7

Smith Rodley 5 ton crane – This vehicle has received a lot of attention recently in preparation for forthcoming work on the track.  The bodywork is being repaired with new windows and a complete repaint.  Work is also being carried out to repair the wooden floor and fit a guard around the open gearing in the cab.

 Permanent Way News

A prefabricated concrete platform has been acquired from the Severn Valley Railway and will shortly be brought to Chasewater.  This is obviously ideal for Willow Vale Halt and will be far superior to the sleeper built affair originally proposed.

Work has continued on extension of the track past Willow Vale in addition to maintenance of the existing running line.  The increased number of working members mentioned in the last magazine seems to have been more than maintained to the extent that we are handling the 45ft and 60ft rails with relative ease.  Unfortunately the overhead power lines which pass over this section of line preclude the use of the crane for quite a distance either side.

Carriage & Wagon News

Activities in this department have continued to increase so that there are currently a number of historic coaches and even wagons being worked on, as follows:

Midland four wheel passenger brake – Following extensive research, this vehicle is being restored to its original Midland Railway condition.  This has so far involved the removal of various post-MR additions, such as the internal partition, door and a bench seat.  Part of the roof is being rebuilt and various bad body panels renewed.

Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln six wheel coach – Restoration of this vehicle has continued with renewal of broken windows and repair or replacement of damaged body panels.

Great Eastern six wheel passenger brake – Restoration of this long-abandoned vehicle has also recently commenced, initially with the stove, but also body panels and windows.  Hopefully the boiler from S100 which has blocked its movement for a number of years will soon be removed to the shed yard allowing the Great Eastern to be moved again.

Ex Cammel Laird hopper wagon – Having been little used since the hopper body was removed for scrap a number of years ago, this wagon has now been completely decked over with chequer plate to form a very sound flat wagon.  Minor repairs have also been carried out to the brake linkage and the whole thing painted in Tri0ang Big-Big Train bright blue.

Wooden five plank wagons – Both of the two examples of this type of wooden framed, wooden bodied wagons at Chasewater have badly deteriorated over the years.  At last a start has been made on one of these to renew all the rotten timbers in the floor and sides.

DMU Coaching stock – The Gloucester and Wickham trailer cars have remained coupled together as our passenger train throughout the season.  The left hand side of the Gloucester, which for some reason always seems to be more susceptible to body rot than the other, has received a few more patch repairs and a repaint.

The Wickham power car has remained in use as the station buffet.  However, when the new portacabin is opened for business, this coach could re-enter passenger service, steam hauled, or even under its own power.

New Acquisition – One of our members has just purchased from BR via Tyseley diesel depot, a DMU centre car.  Full details are not yet available, although it is No.59444, asbestos-free, in excellent condition and until very recently running on BR.  Further details, and hopefully an article, will appear in the next magazine.  This of course makes possible some very interesting train formations and raises the question ‘will we shortly be needing longer platforms?’

General News From The Line

A large portacabin has been acquired and will be put next to the booking office, and when fitted out will become the station buffet.  Mains power will be provided from the newly rewired site supply and it is rumoured that running water will also be plumbed in.

Photo: N.Canning

Work has continued on tidying up the station area by clearing away the assorted rubbish which continually seems to appear from nowhere.  Grass is now being encouraged to grow in the area in the middle of the run round loop to form a rough lawn and kept trimmed with a strimmer.  The stationary engine displaced by the new buffet is likely to be permanently mounted in the middle of the loop, and possibly made operational by a buried pipe to a compressed air or steam supply from one of the locos.

Sewer pipes have been run from the portacabins and portaloo out into the culvert in the park.  Most of the trench digging was done by a rented (cheaply!) JCB but a lot of work had to be finished off by hand.  This involved around a dozen or so people and is another example of what can be achieved by our steadily expanding volunteer workforce.

Stop Press

Following a problem with the release of the portacabin mentioned above from its current owners, a further two smaller portacabins have been acquired and arrived on site on December 1st.  Due to various problems, these units took two days to unload from the lorry and a further three Sundays to winch them through the fence and into position.  There are plans afoot to make one of the cabins into a mess room for members, and the other into a washroom with showers, lockers, etc.

 

126 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News August 1990

126Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News August 1990

Editorial

This year has seen a continued increase in volunteers and therefore in the amount of work carried out on the railway.  For the first time in a long while a number of major jobs have been carried out simultaneously, such as trackwork, carriage and wagon repairs and loco maintenance, even when trains are running.

A lot still remains to be done, and with a visit from the Railway Inspectorate now promised within the next couple of months, it is even more important that this level of activity continues.

Following the Railway Inspector’s visit we should know exactly what work is required to extend the line, or indeed to continue running the existing section, and will be able to plan accordingly.  After all, it would still be nice to run trains into a platform at Willow vale Halt later this year.  (Nigel Canning – Editor))

Locomotive News

No.4 Asbestos – Having been at a virtual standstill for a number of months, work has now re-commenced in earnest on the firebox repairs and preparation for the major boiler examination of this loco.  A number of new tubes are to be purchased and will be fitted to replace those leaking when the loco was taken out of service.  Hopefully the loco will re-enter service before No.5’s boiler certificate expires in October.Sentinel pausing at Willow Vale – Nigel Canning

No.5 Sentinel – This loco has so far handled all of this year’s trains.  Recently adjustments have been made to the camshaft driven valve gear with, eventually, improved running as a result.  Various minor steam leaks still remain to be attended to.

No.2 Lion – The new boiler tubes for this loco have now been fitted and work is progressing towards its first hydraulic examination.

S100 – Work is still progressing with the machining of the hornguides of this loco.

No.11 Alfred Paget – This loco received a very nice paint job and superficial restoration for the Bescot Open Day and has been placed on display at Brownhills West station.

No.7 – Ruston – This loco is still in good running order.

No.9 Fowler – Investigation into the starting problems of this loco which had been thought to be due to a damaged starter ring, revealed that in fact a multi-plate clutch built into the starter motor had become fouled with oil and was slipping under load.  This clutch was cleaned and re-tensioned giving perfect first time starting on this loco.

Carriage & Wagon News

Work has recently started on two of our historic coaches, the Midland four-wheel passenger brake, and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln Railway six-wheeler.  Both have been in need of extensive renovation for some time, but now look set to receive it.

The Gloucester and Wickham trailer cars are still running coupled together to form the passenger train whilst the Wickham power car remains in use as the station buffet.

Permanent Way News

Brownhills West Loop – Nigel Canning

The new points at Brownhills West are now virtually complete along with their associated trap point set and lever frame.  This means that we now have a complete run round loop for the first time in our railway’s history.

Weedkilling of the running line took place, rather belatedly, during May.  Bad weather and financial restrictions having prevented this vital job being done earlier in the year.  In addition, a number of worn sleepers have been renewed, and on particularly bad joint repaired.  It is intended to grease the remaining fish plates on the line and re-pack any dipped joints in the next month or so.

The dramatic increase in members in recent months means that work continues even on event days when trains are running.  In the near future the large steel gate at the shed yard entrance is to be moved down to the level crossing to complete the pair of gates there.  A replacement for the shed yard has recently been donated in the form of a pair of wooden gates which when in position, will give slightly wider access for the large vehicles such as the coal merchant’s lorry.

 

 

125 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – From Chasewater News April 1990

125Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News April 1990

Midland Railway – Brownhills Branch – B. Bull

Copy of what may have been a locally commercially available postcard depicting a MR Johnson design 3F 0-6-0 of the type introduced in 1885 and rebuilt by Fowler from 1916 with Belpaire boiler.

Looking back through various back numbers of ‘Mercian’, ‘Chasewater News’ and ‘Railway Focus’ it becomes apparent that little has been published to inform members of the history of this branch, part of which trackbed provides us with the base for our own Chasewater Light Railway operations.  An even more glaring omission is that we have not made available for publication the few interesting photographs in the museum collection.

 On July 1st, 1879 the Midland Railway had opened a line from Castle Bromwich to Walsall with intermediate stations at Penns, Sutton Coldfield, Sutton Park, Streetly and Aldridge.  Whilst this line was being constructed, a branch from Aldridge to Walsall Wood was authorised on July 13th, 1876, with further extension to the western shores of Norton Pool being authorised on August 6th, 1880 to give an end-on connection with the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway, just south of the causeway.

The contractors for this 3¾ mile branch were H.Lovatt & Co.Ltd.  I am unable, however, to discover any details of the contractor’s locomotives which would undoubtedly been used on this project.

On April 1st, 1882 the branch opened as far as Brownhills West for goods only, with the connection to the CC & WR being opened on November 1st, 1882.

Just north of the A5 road there was a short lived spur to the Coppice Colliery, Wilkin, owned by J.Owen Ltd.  (Later the Coppice Colliery Company.  This spur closed when the colliery was shut in 1894.

Passenger services commenced to the newly opened stations at Walsall Wood and Brownhills Midland on July 1st, 1884, but colliery traffic continued to be the mainstay of the branch.

Brownhills Midland was over half a mile out of town just north of the A452 Chester Road, whereas the LNWR station on the South Staffs Walsall line was handily situated at the end of High Street so it was no surprise when the LMS withdrew the passenger service on March 31st, 1930, Brownhills Midland being demolished soon afterwards.One amazing survivor is a wooden ‘finger’ which used to point the way to the platforms.  This piece owes its continued existence to the gentleman who fortuitously purchased from the site a pile of wood to build himself a garden shed, the finger surviving long enough to find its way by means of a donation to the RPS collection.  However, I digress slightly, goods traffic continued on the branch until the closure of former Cannock Chase Colliery pits by the National Coal Board in the late 1950s, the line being lifted between Aldridge and Brownhills West in 1960, with the CC & WR remnants left around the northern shores, mainly going by 1963.  Last day of passenger services at Brownhills Midland.  A Johnson 3F, No.3277, with two coaches of compartment stock including a clerestory probably dating from the period 1897 to 1916.  The porter seems to be holding up a closure notice or something similar perhaps.

What was left owed its continued existence to the NCB Area Workshops which was then just rail connected to the former LNWR Norton Branch via a circuitous route through the closed Conduit Colliery yard reached by a spur just south of the causeway.  A small amount of the original Midland Railway metals had been left as a headshunt, this being part of the former exchange sidings with the CC & WR and it was some nine years after the Railway Preservation Society came to Chasewater before British Railways ‘rediscovered’ the sidings left for NCB use in 1960 when the rest of the branch had been lifted.  By then of course the Society had extended their track into the park so the still BR owned piece fell in the middle of the Chasewater Light Railway.  How this problem was surmounted will be the subject of a future article, as it is a story in itself.Standard MR platform lamps on hexagonal posts are in evidence, but the sawn paled fence seen in the postcard view has been replaced with the sawn diagonal variety by the time these photos were taken.

The photographs

These form part of the Museum’s collection of local photographs, some of which will be made available to the Editor to feature in future issues of Chasewater News.  With 1990 being some 60 years since Brownhills Midland closed its doors to passengers, it is especially pleasing to be able to provide photos of the last day of services, March 31st, 1930.