Monthly Archives: February 2014

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway – Driver Retires after Twenty Years


Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth.

Driver Retires after Twenty Years

A train driver has retired after driving on the Matlock to Nottingham Branch line for twenty years.

Local train driver David Bevington visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway to take the controls of heritage railcar ‘Iris’ as part of a retirement gift organised by Phil Helme, Driver Manager at East Midlands Trains.

David started his railway career as a guard before realising a boyhood dream of becoming a train driver. He is a keen enthusiast of both steam and diesel locomotives and has always wanted to take the controls of a heritage train. The visit fuelled David’s passion for a bygone era and he has decided that much of his new found spare time will be spent as a volunteer on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.

Driver retiring Retired Driver David takes the controls

  About the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway:

Wyvern Rail plc has worked with the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Association to reopen the Duffield to Wirksworth railway in the heart of Derbyshire.

The line passes through the beautiful Ecclesbourne Valley to the award winning and beautifully restored town of Wirksworth, nestling in the foothills of the Peak District.

The line is a time capsule, with its intermediate stations largely intact and the layout at Wirksworth virtually unchanged since the days of steam.

There are 9 miles of single-track railway, which meet the Midland Main Line at Duffield Junction near Derby. There are five station sites, two level crossings, a yard with extensive sidings and a mineral branch to the old Middlepeak quarry at Wirksworth.

Services run at weekends between March and October and midweek throughout the summer and are timed to connect with Derwent Valley Line services between Nottingham, Derby and Matlock operated by East Midlands Trains.

Canal News – Lock 74 Middlewich, Trent & Mersey Canal

Canal News

Lock 74 Middlewich, Trent & Mersey Canal


23 Feb 2014   10:00 – 16:00


Brooks Lane Middlewich CW10 9PJ On street parking available next to the lock

 Join us to find out how we’re keeping this lock in good working order.

 4476Lock 74 Middlewich, Trent & Mersey Canal

 4477 Lock 74 no boatLock 74 Middlewich, Trent & Mersey Canal

 4478Lock 74 Middlewich, Trent & Mersey Canal

We’re draining a section of the Trent & Mersey Canal to allow us to refurbish a section of the Lock Flight at Middlewich. While it’s empty we’re giving you a rare chance to walk along the bottom of the canal and find out what it takes to keep everything in working order.

We need to repair a quoin (the slot in the lock chamber wall where the gates fit), which started to fail during the summer months. We’ll also carry out a range of masonry repairs. At the two neighbouring locks we’ll refit a bumper board and carry out the excavation and replacement of a failed culvert (enclosed drain under the canal).

This free event is one of many open days taking place around the country and promises to be a fun and informative day out for the whole family.

Everyone’s welcome and there’s no need to book in advance. Please make sure that you’re wearing suitable footwear for trudging about in the bottom of a lock. Please note last entry is at 3.15pm.

Cannock Chase Mining Historical Society News


Founded 2002


The first talk of this year will take place  Wednesday 26th March 2014 at 3.00 p.m at our usual venue the Museum of Cannock Chase.

The talk will be by  Alan Hill and is entitled the “Panama Canal”

The second talk will be on Wednesday 21st May 2014 at 3.00pm. Again at our usual venue the Museum of Cannock Chase.

The talk will be on “South Staffs Water” and will be given by David Moore.

All our talks are open to the general public so make an effort to attend and bring a friend.Museum of Cannock Chase

Hednesford Miner

Please see and note, the following has now been confirmed:

Hednesford Mining Memorial Phase III

Dedication Service

Saturday 26th April 2014 – 2pm

Lichfield News – FREE! Friday night Futsal taster session

Lichfield News


FREE! Friday night Futsal taster session

Published on Tuesday, 18th February 2014

Young people from across Burntwood are invited to try out five-a-side football at Erasmus Darwin Academy on Friday 28 February, from 8.30pm to 10pm.

Lichfield District Council is offering a free Futsal taster session to 14 to 18 year olds who live or go to school across the Burntwood area.

Futsal is a growing craze in which football is played with a smaller, heavier ball indoors with two teams of five.

The taster session will be followed by a Futsal tournament that will run on Friday nights over four-weeks this spring.

Councillor Andrew Smith, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure & Parks, said: “This taster session is a great way for local teens to try out the sport for free to see if they want to take part in the four-week tournament.”

The Futsal tournament will take place at Erasmus Darwin Academy on Friday nights from 9pm to 10pm on 7, 14 and 28 March and 4 April 2014. It is also for local 14 to 18 year olds and is free to take part.

To find out more, visit or call 01543 308835.

The Futsal taster session and tournament is organised by Lichfield District Council’s Sports Development team and is supported by Lichfield District Safer Community Partnership, Staffordshire Youth and Community Services, and Staffordshire FA.

 Sports DevelopmentGetin2itType1_copy

More on Sports – development

What the sports development team do…

Lichfield District Council’s Sports Development team provides coaching and promotes opportunities in a number of sports and physical activities. Coaches are employed to deliver activity programmes in sports including, athletics, basketball, cricket, football, gymnastics, rugby, swimming and tennis. This includes activities in schools, local sports clubs and community facilities, including Burntwood Leisure Centre.

The Sports Development team also provides coaching programmes for young people during the school holidays.

The team is a source of information on sports-related issues in the district; you may be new to the area and want to join a local cricket club, you may be a qualified coach and want to work in the community, you may want to find a football coaching course for your 6 year old child or you might be thinking about setting up your own class in aikido. If it’s a question of sport, please contact us.

Some Early Lines – The Spa Valley Railway

Some Early Lines

The Spa Valley RailwayDiesel haulage from Eridge

Diesel haulage from Eridge

A group had chartered this train on the Spa Valley Railway for the day, but invited members of the public to join them for a reasonable fee for a day rover ticket. It was “topped and tailed” by two diesel locomotives. Here, 33063 is at the rear of the train as it leaves Eridge; 37153 was hauling. © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Spa Valley Railway (SVR) is a standard gauge heritage railway that runs from Tunbridge Wells West railway station in Tunbridge Wells to High Rocks, Groombridge, and Eridge, where it links with the Oxted Line. En route it crosses the Kent and East Sussex border, a distance of 5 miles (8 km), along the former Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line / Cuckoo Line. The railway headquarters is at Tunbridge Wells West railway station.


The railway was engineered by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway’s (LB&SCR) Chief Engineer Frederick Banister, as part of the East Grinstead, Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells Railway (EGGTWR), itself an extension to the Three Bridges to East Grinstead Railway which had been completed in 1855.

The EGGTWR was part of a regional race between the LB&SCR and the SER, and a specific race to access the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells:

“ The LBSC was becoming concerned at threatened incursions by the [SER] on its territory. So a battle was on. Tunbridge Wells was first reached from East Grinstead in 1866 via Groombridge. Two years later, with the South Eastern Railway (SER) looking towards Lewes, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway countered with a line from Groombridge to Uckfield. ”

The LB&SCR opened Tunbridge Wells West in 1866 as the eastern terminus of the EGGTWR; there was also an extension to Tunbridge Wells Central. From Tunbridge Wells West there were direct services to the South Coast at Brighton and Eastbourne and to London Victoria. The Victoria services ran via Groombridge and Ashurst. As a sign outside the station proudly proclaimed, “New Route to London: Shortest, Quickest and Most Direct. Frequent Express Trains.”

Eridge Station platformsEridge station platforms

This is a shared station. The left hand track here is under the control of the private Spa Valley Railway. The right hand track is owned by Network Rail and served by Southern Railway trains in both directions on the Uckfield branch. SVR has its own part-time booking office on the platform; Southern’s booking office is on the footbridge.  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The Spa Valley Railway (SVR) has its origins in a charitable society formed on 13 September 1985, to purchase and reopen the Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge line. Named the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society (TWERPS), it began a long struggle to reopen the line. The campaign received a setback in the late 1980s when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council gave planning permission for the construction of a large Sainsburys supermarket complex on the site of the derelict goods yard of Tunbridge Wells West. While the 1891 locomotive shed and station building were protected as listed buildings, the remaining area of the site was obliterated, including the goods shed and signal boxes. However, planning permission was subject to the condition that the developer pay for construction of a new station platform and restoration of the engine shed.

In 1996 the North Downs Steam Railway relocated from Dartford, where it was experiencing vandalism problems, and merged with TWERPS. It transferred its assets and helped establish a base in the former LB&SCR locomotive shed. Also in 1996, the group acquired the line as far as Birchden Junction. Alongside the loco shed a new platform was built, from where services began running to Cold Bath Bridge (about 0.75 mile away) in December 1996. Services were extended to Groombridge in August 1997 and to Birchden Junction in 2005.

In 2007, SVR marked the tenth anniversary of the opening of the line by transforming Groombridge into a busy interchange station, with trains arriving or departing every 15 minutes. The funds raised from this event went towards the “Return to Eridge” appeal to raise £500,000 for the extension to the Uckfield main line at Eridge. The heritage railway finally re-opened the line to Eridge on 25 March 2011Groombridge StationGroombridge station

A view from Station Road bridge  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The SVR provides a way of getting to other local tourist attractions, such as Groombridge Place, High Rocks and the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. On 25 March 2011 the SVR extended passenger services to Eridge, where there is a footbridge interchange with Southern services on the London Bridge to Uckfield line.

The railway holds a number of special event days, including A Day Out with Thomas weekends, Santa Specials, and both steam and heritage diesel weekends.05190 Topham 0-6-0ST Bagnall 2193-1922 West Cannock

Bagnall 2193/1922 – Under assessment at Spa Valley Railway.

Pictured at work at West Cannock Colliery.  Chasewater Railway Museum Collection.

Hednesford Signal Box News Progress Updates LATEST NEWS – 12 February 2014

Hednesford Signal Box News

Progress Updates

LATEST NEWS – 12 February 2014

05374 Hednesford No.1 Signal BoxHednesford No.1 Signal Box in busy days with West Cannock Colliery Sidings behind it. – Pic Chasewater Railway Museum Collection.

SIGNAL BOX Network Rail have advised that the relocation of the signal box will take place this coming Sunday 16th Feb. (Strong winds permitting)

The lifting operation will take place from approximateley 7am when the box will be lifted from its brick base and over the railway lines onto a trailer located at the rear of the new supermarket development. After securing the signal box to the trailer and derigging the crane both vehicles will then drive along Victoria Street and Rugeley Road to enter the car park adjacent to the tennis courts.

The crane will reverse down to the pavilion followed by the trailer and after setting up the crane the signal box will be lifted over the pavilion into its new location. The offloading should start around midday dependant on progress of the first part of the operation.

The Rugeley Road car park will be closed most of the Sunday until the relocation has been completed and the crane and lorry have left site.

Any further changes will be advised

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era – 1922 –‘Pacifics’ North Eastern Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era

1922 –‘Pacifics’

North Eastern RailwayNo. 2400, as first built, running trials from King' Crosss

No. 2400, as first built, running trials from King’ Cross

This was Sir Vincent Raven’s last design for the NER, and the first engine, No. 2400, came out only just before the grouping.

No. 2401 followed early in 1923, and three more, Nos. 2402-4, were built in 1924.  These differed from the first two in having outside bearings to the trailing wheels.  All were subsequently named after cities, No. 2400 ‘City of Newcastle’, etc.  Like the Atlantics which preceded them, the three cylinders were all in line and drove the front coupled axle.  The very long boilers resulted in the engines being nicknamed ‘Skittle Alleys’.

The engines were never very brilliant in performance, more might have been made of them, but they were eclipsed from the start by the superiority of Gresley’s contemporary Great Northern engines, so that they never really had very much chance.  Owing to the grouping there was no real need for two different varieties of ‘Pacific’ for the LNER main lines, and Gresley’s own design was the obvious choice from the start.

No. 2404 was fitted with a Gresley boiler in 1929, and in 1934 the engines were provided with 8-wheeled tenders.  All were taken out of service in 1936 and 1937.

Driving wheels – 6’ 8”,  Cylinders (3) – 19”x  26”,  Pressure – 200 lb.,  Weight 97 tons

Canal News – Protect yourself and your boat from the floods, and Rugeley Work Party

Canal News

Protect yourself and your boat from the floods

Flooding on the Oxford CanalFlooding on the Oxford Canal

If you’re a boat owner you’ll want to make sure that your boat isn’t damaged, and you stay safe, during the horrendous weather we’re experiencing. To help you, we’ve put together a short guide to help you battle the wet weather.

While many of these points are common sense we think it’s important to share the information as not every boat owner has years of experience under their belt. If you’re a boat owner with an extra tip to share please email us at

• Don’t use a centre rope as a main mooring rope. Bow and stern strings should take the strain (ideally set with springs) and use the centre rope as a failsafe emergency rope.

• Check your mooring lines regularly (and don’t use taut lines)

• If you’re not able to check on your boat regularly ask friends in the area to take a look when they can.

• If water levels are forecast to rise and you think you’re going to be stranded for a while then make sure your loo is empty and that you have enough fuel and food

• Use double pins in your upstream mooring point

• Do not travel on red boards (you won’t be insured)

• Insert a vertical (scaffold) pole, forward and aft, between the boat and towpath to stop beaching on towpath when the water recedes if your boat has drifted during flooding.

• Don’t forget to move your car to higher ground if parked close to mooring

• Don’t forget to top up on fuel for your tender outboard motor – please store all petrol safely and not inside your boat!

• Keep checking the Environment Agency river levels and flood warnings website and be prepared to take action, quickly, if required

• Check on vulnerable neighbours

• Don’t forget to stock up on essential medication if required

• Put dogs in kennels, if required, as walkies maybe become impossible!

Although you might float in a boat and think that there’s not much to worry about, follow the link below and read just how bad it can get. With more rain forecast for the coming days, please take heed of the advice on this page!

• Evesham in Flood

Work Party at Leathermill Lane, Rugeley


Leathermill Lane
WS15 2HN

 22 Feb 2014  9:30 am – 1:00 pm

Come and join the IWA Lichfield Branch for a work party at Rugeley.

Bridge 66, Trent & Mersey CanalBridge 66, Trent & Mersey Canal

Bridge 66 carries Leathermill Lane over the canal.  © Copyright Stephen McKay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Come along and help with painting and re-badging the Canal & River Trust signs along the towpath plus general clearance, maintenance and litter picking.  Meet at Leathermill Lane, Rugeley, Staffs. WS15 2HN by the canal noticeboards on the towpath.

Come along and make new friends.

Hot drinks, cake and all equipment provided, no experience needed, but wear stout boots and old clothes.

Weather permitting!

Further information from Margaret Beardsmore on 07581 794111 or email

Lichfield and the Museum of Cannock Chase News

Lichfield and the Museum of Cannock Chase  News

Lichfield Baths

Love your pool with 2 for 1 offer this Valentine’s weekend!

Friary Grange Leisure Centre is encouraging everyone to fall back in love with their local swimming pool this February.

Following the £500,000 makeover of its changing rooms and front entrance, Friary Grange Leisure Centre is launching a ‘Love Your Pool’ campaign to highlight how much its 25-metre swimming pool has to offer.

To start the ball rolling, the Lichfield leisure centre is offering a discount on swimming. It will run from Friday 14 February to Sunday 16 February, and will allow two people into the pool for the price of one at public swimming sessions.

Councillor Andy Smith, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks, said: “We’re keen to showcase the recent improvements to Friary Grange Leisure Centre and to get even more people swimming. This is why we’re launching the ‘Love Your Pool’ campaign, which encourages people to rediscover what the swimming pool timetable has to offer. So, whether you’re coming to the pool to have fun with friends, are learning to swim, or want to keep fit, we have a session for you.”

For the swimming pool timetable, to find out about signing up for swimming lessons, or how to book a pool party, visit

The 2 for 1 on public swims is available at the below times:

  • Friday 14 February 2014: 6pm to 9pm
  • Saturday 15 February 2014: 11am to 1.30pm
  • Sunday 16 February 2014: 8am to 1.30pm

About the makeover project

The Friary Grange Leisure Centre makeover included a new front entrance and reception, refurbished swimming pool changing rooms, and improvements to the layout to make the pool and centre more accessible to people with disabilities.

The project was funded by Sport England, Aiming High, Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and section 106 contributions.

Next week at the Museum of Cannock Chase, Hednesford:

Museum of Cannock Chase

265 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Spring 2003 Part 4 – Ryan & Narrow Gauge

265 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Spring 2003

 Part 4 – Ryan & Narrow GaugeRyan & Narrow Gauge 1Ryan & Narrow Gauge 2Smashing - ArthurWidows' Outing