176 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News Christmas 1994 – Part 2
A Christmas Message from the Chairman
It is difficult to believe that we are about to enter the Christmas period yet again. The year has passed so quickly that it seems to have passed us by. Yet for the railway, such a short period has witnessed so many exciting developments.
Anyone visiting the railway for the first time would wonder what it’s all about and why we are all so enthusiastic. But for regular visitors and, more importantly, the intrepid band of volunteers who devote so much time to the welfare of the railway, the year has been full to overflowing.
This is not the time to review, in detail, the year’s events; the annual report is more appropriate for that. However, the extension to the line merits comment, because of its importance to the public’s perception of our operations and, perhaps more vitally, our credibility as a passenger-carrying railway.
We had hoped to have laid the track into Norton Lakeside Station and to have completed the construction of the station during 1994. That we did not achieve this ambition is of little importance; my colleagues will be familiar with my entreaty that “it is not a race”. We cannot afford to compromise on quality by cutting corners in the interests of speed. It is essential that the extension across the causeway, the station itself and the remainder of our line all meet the standards necessary to satisfy the Railway Inspectorate. We have much work to do to consolidate our current line before we invite HMRI to return to Chasewater.
Having said all that, Easter 1995 now seems a realistic target for the opening of Norton Lakeside Station. Pencil the Easter Weekend into your new diaries, and “watch this space” for further information.
1995 will also see an increase in momentum for the carriage shed fund. If the spirit of Christmas moves you to make a donation to this worthy cause, then please do not hesitate to see Chris Chivers or myself.
May I remind you of the ‘Santa Specials’ on 11th and 18th of December when we can all find an excuse (if we need one) to open up the seasonal festivities. Whether or not you are able to join us on one of these dates, may I take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
David Bathurst – Chairman
A view looking across the causeway back towards Brownhills West, just over a mile away. On the left can be seen the platform face for the new Norton Lakeside Station with the first length of track in place. A lot still remains to be done, but this could be a very popular place for photographers next year!
Synthetic Chemicals – Final Phase – by Arthur Edwards
It doesn’t seem like it, but this is the final part of the saga of retrieving the track from Synthetic Chemicals. After a call from our ‘Fat Controller’, Steve Organ, on Friday 15th October to establish whether I was available for the Saturday morning, about a dozen people gathered at Synthetic Chemicals to collect what track was left there.
Anyway, Mick had called for me at 8.30am and we had been there about an hour when Steve asked Mick and I to return to Chasewater to get the JCB ready for when the lorry arrived with said track. At about lunchtime the lorry duly arrived and Mick and I did our stuff unloading it. An hour or so later ‘Curly’ the driver went off to get another load. While he was away, Mick and I straightened up the rails and sleepers. I had to go at 5.30pm but I believe the rest of the crew stayed until about 8.00pm to complete the job.
After that Saturday all there was left at Synthetic Chemicals was a buffer-stop, some smallish lengths of rail and a few sleepers. After some hectic phone calls, Steve managed to get about six people on Saturday 22nd to go back and retrieve the last few remnants of track.
On the Sunday, with the help of the CS people, we actually laid the track through Norton Lakeside Station. Once agreement has been reached with the Railway Inspectorate, it is our intention to just keep laying track down until we run out of either sleepers or rail, or until we reach our next objective which is Chasetown. It is thought that we now have enough track to get us to the end of our lease, but hopefully we will have topped up our stocks before we get that far.
Whilst we continue to work on the track, the CS people have begun re-pointing the platform at Norton Lakeside Station, and preparing the top for the edging slabs.
The arrival of a loaned ‘dogfish’ hopper wagon will hopefully make the job of ballasting a lot easier, and there are even rumours of a rented track-tamping machine being used in the near future!
Kenneth Judkins – by Dave Ives
It is my sad duty to inform you that Ken Judkins (Ken the Steam to his close friends), passed away on September 27th 1994 at Anson House Rest Home. Ken was 91 last January, being born in Little Haywood in 1903. Ken lived a very colourful and busy life in various parts of the country. He moved to Stafford for the final few years of his life from Wimbourne Minster, Dorset, stating that he wanted his bones to rest in his native county, which has indeed now happened. His remains lie buried in Colwich Churchyard. He was Christened in Colwich Church and served as a chorister for a number of years.
Members will be aware of Ken’s long association with steam traction having started with Ralph Gee & Son, Wolseley Bridge, then on to Staffs County Council, Foden’s, Thomas Hill (Rotherham) Ltd. and Sentinel.
Ken was the author of two books “My Life in Steam” and “More of My Life in Steam”. The books are worth a read and give a fascinating story of the tough and skilful job of steam driving in the 1920s and 30s. Ken also served six years in the army RAOC in the war and was wounded in the lung whilst being evacuated from Dunkirk.
I suppose one can sum up by saying that this is the end of an era and that Ken is sorely missed by numerous friends, especially on the rally fields where he gave a lot of advice to scores of steam traction owners.
Alas! We shall no longer see him propping up the bar, staying overnight in one of our coach compartments, puffing his pipe on Brownhills West Station seat or in his brown slop coat and Foden hat on the footplate of the Sentinel.
More about Ken – Nigel Canning
“Ken the Steam” as he was known to his friends, spent the majority of his working life and the whole of his retirement closely involved with steam traction on both the road and railways. His experiences and expertise were sufficient to fill a book – or two, to be precise – both now sadly long since out of print.
Ken was never happier than when he was showing off just what steam power was capable of, and in his last two jobs, at Foden, and then at Thomas Hill (Sentinel) as Chief Demonstrator and Test Driver, that is exactly what he was paid for, selling those Companies’ products and fending off the advance of the motor lorry and diesel loco.
In his retirement Ken continued to take an interest in steam by helping the preservation movement where his enthusiasm backed up by a lifetime of experience was of invaluable assistance to many an amateur locoman or fitter.
At Chasewater his advice was of particular assistance in the operation of the Sentinel. On one occasion when one of the poppet valves on the engine was playing up, Ken was all set to ride down the line and back to observe the valve events and pinpoint the problem. It took a lot of doing to convince him that it was not the done thing to run a passenger train with an engineman in his late eighties hanging on the side of the loco, but we eventually succeeded, and as a result of his advice the valves were alter re-set to operate correctly.
Ken once admitted that he didn’t really like Sentinels as they were dirty things, but that just reflected his real love, the Foden, and his exploits with those machines are well-documented and will be remembered for a long time.