157 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
from Chasewater News Spring 1993 – Part 3
The Very Special Day
A salute to our PW gang – By Dave Borthwick
It began with Keith Day phoning round mid-week to prepare everyone for the last track bash of phase 1, planned for Sunday.
It was good to see all the regulars arrive, those same members who put themselves out most weekends to carry out hard, heavy work in both scorching sun and freezing drizzle. The train left for the railhead leaving behind me – Dave Borthwick (part-timer), Keith Day and Arthur Edwards to select a pair of 30 foot match conditioned bull-head rails from the shed area. Ian Buswell, JCB driver, with the help of Arthur slung the rail and transported it the long distance to the railhead. Part time PW dept members like myself have constantly moaned when arriving at the railhead what a bloody long walk it has become following the recent track relaying. Car transport is a must these days!
The JCB dropped the rail in the position it was needed and work continued as normal, selecting sleepers, chairs and keys. At around dinner time Ian suggested hunting, catching and roasting a wild boar (because the line is really at the northernmost part of our railway world, in the wilderness), but his net had a hope in it and his mo-ped wouldn’t start, so Jonathan Clegg popped down to Tescos for 2 lb. of middle-cut bacon. As we were unable to get enough heat from the mess van’s pot-bellied stove, a small fire was made from old sleepers and sacrificial bacon sandwiches were produced and consumed.
Towards mid-afternoon our goal was reached, with sleepers laid, chairs secured, rails in keys in, jacked and packed. The final moment had come. Some 18 months ago, Little Tony, as we called him then, had scrubbed up and painted gold a rail key. This was to be the ceremony, the fitting of the golden last key of the PW gang, track extension, phase 1.
Amongst those present at this ceremony were Elizabeth, or Beth as she is called, surrounded by – Arthur Edwards, the oldest member of the PW gang, Tony Wheeler, who came to us three years ago and began watching from the other side of the fence and now is the hardest working member on the railway, strimming, weeding and hedging most days mid-week, especially Wednesday and Friday nights with Arthur. Next, Keith Day who, despite family commitments and a rigorous working shift system at Bass Brewery, comes down and works on the railway’s greatest asset – the track. Tom Mitchell, who, like Keith, comes down to the CLR to simply use the Sunday working hours from 9.00am to 5.00pm to the full on track laying and repair. Ian Buswell, whose work with the JCB has put the PW dept schedule months ahead. Junior members Dave Gardener, Jonathan Clegg and Paul. Chris Chivers, whose help has been great, but recently limited due to other commitments. Left until last purposely, is Les Emery, a man who is obviously successful in every way, chooses to come down to work in an open field and spend his day weeding, shovelling, lifting sleepers and poking life into a group of lazy ignorant peasants – author included! Because of Les’s dogged determination he has forged a PW department which began with a trolley loaded with shovels and tools which had to be pushed manually, making frequent trips loaded with ash ballast. Nowadays a works train leaves Brownhills West at 9.00am consisting of a heated mess van, tool van and flat wagon, with JCB and dumper truck assistance following behind to work a full day, returning at 5.00pm.
The thing that has come across from this exercise is that if you can form a group to carry out a task, results can be achieved more quickly than by individuals mooching around the railway doing odd jobs. No-one other than Les and his lads organise their work schedules that is why work on projects take so long. No-one envies these lads ’down the line’ because of the sheer hard, heavy, dirty work, but it is my belief that track across the lake supporting a variety of locomotives pulling coaches full of tourists is the answer to our future. Please support our PW lads!