187 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News Autumn & Winter 1995 – Part 4
Did you ever wonder where the track came from?
Here a couple of examples….
British Oxygen Company, Wolverhampton – Rob Duffill
Anyone who travels from Birmingham to Wolverhampton by train should look out to the left shortly before Wolverhampton station. There is still in use for steel traffic, the old canal interchange sidings and included is the canal/rail interchange building which is still standing. Until fairly recently also coming out of the site were several other sidings which have been lifted by BR. I noticed, while I had a brief view from a slowly passing train, that the line continued past the fence into the undergrowth and the British Oxygen Works at Wolverhampton. I mentioned it to David Bathurst who agreed to contact their Works manager to inquire if it was available. Fortunately David was able to get me an appointment to view the site. I duly turned up a few days later and was courteously received by the Works manager himself.
The track had been out of use for three to four years but had only been relayed in the 1970s to cope with heavy wagons and BR diesels. The track still in situ was from their boundary with BR into the works, a total of approximately 160 yards and a set of points, all in excellent condition. Unfortunately there was also approximately 300 yards of double siding set in concrete which it would be virtually impossible to remove. After describing Chasewater and our long term aims and also our lack of cash, I very nearly fell through the floor when I was told ‘you can have it if you want it’. It was as simple as that!
We’ve tried various approaches to acquire more track over the years and the simple direct approach seems to work best. If you ask for what you want you can only be told ‘no’, or you get it!
Hopefully we can lift and transport it in the autumn, after the running season, sorry lads more work for you to dismantle it, transport it and rebuild it again at Chasewater. I was also given a tour of their site, which was very interesting, for example, they used to supply many large Black Country factories using their own trunk pipe lines which went quite a distance from their production site. With the closure of so many factories the system was slowly cut back and finally taken out of use, hence the lack of rail traffic.
The Railway has more friends out there than it often thinks, we ought to ask for help more often with practical problems. Dorman’s springs to mind as an example of help.
Many thanks to British Oxygen and I hope that the reinstatement of the track will prove a boost to our running line.
Chasewater and Four Ashes – David Bathurst
It is probably unnecessary to describe in much detail the connection between the Railway and Four Ashes, Staffordshire. Suffice it to say that through the good offices of our colleague, Jim Bates, the Railway inherited the redundant track from Synthetic Chemicals – who offered a wonderful measure of co-operation in relation to its removal.
What is less certain, however, is whether many Chasewater members even knew of the existence of this modest industrial railway network before the track donation was made.
I rather suspect that even fewer members actually visited the network, but I am able to record, with some satisfaction, that I participated in a visit organised by the Branch Line Society on 17th February, 1981.
At that time, the site was owned by Croda Chemicals, who provided every facility to the BLS to travel (as is customary) over every last available inch of line, utilizing the famous fireless 0-4-0. I cannot recall in detail the precise arrangements of the visit, but I have managed to locate a series of slides which I took on the occasion. Unfortunately, some of them will not reproduce satisfactorily for The Chasewater News, but I hope that the Hon Editor (What’s with the Honorary, David?????) (I wondered about that too!!! cws) will be able to make something of the remainder.
What is evident from the slides is that the track was certainly maintained in good condition, and really it was quite a neat little layout. Others will be able to provide details of the Fireless locomotive whose small cab was hard pressed to accommodate the size (both in numbers and in girth) of the BLS party.
Once again the Editor has done his best with the print-from-slides; I shall be offering them to Jim Bates as a reminder of times gone by.