189 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News – Spring 1996 – Part 2
From the Board Room – David Bathurst – Chairman
Norton Lakeside Station Opening
After a couple of false dawns, the Railway has at last achieved its most significant ambition. We now have two ‘proper’ stations.
We can now advertise our operations on an entirely different basis, way beyond that of a mere leisure railway. Furthermore, in taxation terms, we are now recognised as a passenger railway. Our passengers can now be offered the additional option of convenience travel to the NorthShore, where vehicle cannot (or at least should not) interrupt their peaceful enjoyment of the area.
It was heart-stirring to see so many friends and guests at Brownhills West for the official opening ceremony on Saturday 16th December 1995. What was equally gratifying was the sight of ‘Asbestos’ at the front of the train, after a period of remedial works. Well done indeed to the volunteers who ensured that this locomotive was ready in time. The ‘Norton Collier’ headboard, manufactured specially for the occasion, added to the significance of the day.
With the train virtually full, departure was just after the advertised time of 11.00am, with Nigel Canning and Les Emery specially rostered together on the footplate for the event.
A leisurely rate down the line afforded some of our less regular supporters and guests the first view of the substantial works which have been necessary to reinstate the Causeway. Entrance into Norton Lakeside Station was accompanied by the sound of exploding detonators. The modest facilities of the new station belie both the cost and effort which has gone into providing this three coach platform. Despite the intensely cold and windy conditions (to which our members have become accustomed over many months), the Chairman of Lichfield District Council, Councillor John Walker, carried out a short opening ceremony before the photographers were let loose. To enable the photographers travelling on the train to capture the occasion, the train made a second ceremonial entrance across the Causeway into the new station. Some of the resulting pictures duly found their way into the local press.
Following the return journey, the Railway’s working members and official guests, including a number of Lichfield DC Members, enjoyed a buffet lunch, during which further formalities were completed. The return journey saw Councillor John Walker at the controls of ‘Asbestos’, although this fact was kept from his Council colleagues who may have preferred to find other transport back home!
Councillor Walker clearly enjoyed the day, and his letter to me after the event is reproduced for the information of members. To ensure that members do not start wondering whether they have failed to notice a new electrification scheme, it should be mentioned that Councillor Walker’s previous footplate experience involved a diesel-electric, rather than an outright electric locomotive!
To mark the occasion, the Railway commissioned special brass tickets which are capable of adaptation as key fobs. Previous editions of ‘Chasewater News’ have included articles on the causeway and construction of Norton Lakeside Station, and this article does not set out to repeat the story. Nor would it be appropriate to single out any individual members in respect of work undertaken either on the construction work or the official opening arrangements.
The events of 16th December 1995 are a testimony to all the Railway’s working members, whether they be regular or occasional visitors. The achievements celebrated on that important day demonstrate just what can be done by our membership and serve as an incentive for the further expansion of the Railway.
To everyone concerned: Congratulations and Well Done.
Councillor Walker’s Letter
Dear CLR members,
Can I convey my congratulations to all Chasewater Railway members for the excellent morning of 16th December 1995 on the occasion of the official opening of the new station at Norton Lakeside. Despite the bitterly cold weather Sandra and I enjoyed it tremendously and it was a particular highlight for me to undertake the return journey on the footplate. It brought back memories for me when in 1982 I drove an electric express train from Derby to Sheffield but you can’t beat steam, can you?
Here’s hoping that your organisation will go from strength to strength and that we as a Council will have co-operation now and in the future. Please convey my best wishes to all those at Chasewater and here’s wishing you all the best in 1996.
Cllr. John Walker
Chairman of Council
Lichfield District Council
Lichfield District Council Plan
Members will recall from a previous edition of ‘Chasewater News’ that the Railway has objected to the Lichfield District Local Plan, insofar as – unlike the Walsall MBC Unitary Development Plan – it makes no reference to the Railway in context of ChasewaterPark.
The Railway was represented by the General Manager and myself (Steve Organ and David Bathurst) at the Public Local Enquiry on Thursday 25th January 1996, during which we sought to justify our objection during a session lasting some two and a quarter hours. The District Plan is fundamentally concerned with land use issues and we shall see, in due course, whether the Inspector is persuaded that the extent of our operations within ChasewaterPark is sufficient to merit an individual reference in the approved District Plan.
The Lichfield DC representative confirmed that he recognised that the Railway ‘had a place’ on the North Shore (thereby dispelling doubts previously expressed regarding our track relaying to the extent of our lease) and that the Council fully accepted that the Railway enjoys planning permission for its operations on the North Shore. The Council’s argument, based on their view of planning law, was that the Railway’s future development should be controlled by planning advice, and that a separate reference to the Railway in the District Plan is accordingly unnecessary. We do not agree; we are seeking a far more positive commitment from the Council, hence our objection.
Working Members’ Meeting
A further working members’ meeting was held at the Pear Tree public house on Wednesday 10th January 1996, with an encouraging number of working members present. Again, members had the opportunity of raising any matters of interest. Perhaps the item which attracted most discussion was concerned with locomotive restoration, particularly as ‘Asbestos’ loses its boiler certificate during 1996.
In addition to formal meetings, there was a general view that more social events should be held locally, including slide-shows, talks, etc.
Some of our members have a massive bank of photographic and other materials which might be shared with other members ‘over a pint’.
Great British Passenger Timetable
Members who have access to the Great Britain (All Lines) Passenger Timetable will be aware of the section on Private Railways. Although this section includes information on the ‘First Division’ private railways it appears to me that the publishers might be sympathetic to include Chasewater Railway, particularly in view of the opening of Norton Lakeside Station.
I am delighted to be able to report that following appropriate negotiations, Railtrack have agreed to include a short entry in the June 1996 Timetable – and thereafter in future editions. I don’t know how many purchasers actually read and absorb the section on Private Railways, but two things are certain; our status as a passenger railway has been acknowledged by Railtrack, and our existence will come to the notice of an extremely large and diverse number of readers.
P Way News – Arthur Edwards
The start of the New Year has seen some of the regular winter jobs being taken in hand. With several of the Sundays in January being a total washout due to the terrible weather, trying to dig ground frozen solid in winds with a wind-chill factor of minus (i.e. brass monkey weather) is no fun at all. The shed compound has been receiving some attention in the form of a tidy up, with special attention being paid to clearing the overgrowing vegetation from the fence behind the platform. The cab of 917 was moved farther back and all the rubbish, old rotten timber and some split sleepers were burnt. During the tidy up several parts from S100 came to light under the ferns and debris, and also as part of the clearance all loose scrap has been gathered together and a reliable scrap merchant has been asked to collect it. One of the activities which Tom and myself also got round to doing was to tidy up the loose sleepers lying around, which is not an easy job at this time of year. Wet sleepers are at least double the weight of dry ones.
The double-decker bus which has been on site for a while has now been taken to pastures new, so giving us more ground space so that we can ready the site for the future installation of new sidings. The provision of extra space for stock is now becoming as increasing problem as the activities of the Railway continue to grow.
The usual battle with the fence cutters will be joined in earnest within the next few weeks in the run up to the start of the running season. Parts of the hedge planted last year by the Forest of Mercia group are starting to grow, and with a bit of time should start acting as a deterrent to the local idiots who think it is a good idea to chop down fences.
The P. Way gang meet every Sunday at Brownhills West Station from 10.ooam onward. Come and join us!!