Tag Archives: Alfred Paget

130 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Alfred Paget nearly got to Bescot – August 1990 – (Or the Not-so-Flying Scotsman) – P. Aldridge

130Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

Alfred Paget nearly got to Bescot – August 1990

(Or the Not-so-Flying Scotsman) – P. Aldridge

BR’s ‘Bescot Open Day’ took place on Sunday, 6th May.  BR had requested that they borrow our venerable Neilson ‘Alfred Paget’ for the event.  We replied ‘yes’ but only if they cosmetically restored the engine, insured it and provided the transport.

Photo: P.Aldridge

Ian Edwards then spent many hours repainting the loco and even applied ‘No.11’ to the tank sides and buffer beams, so that the old engine looked very fine.  Arrangements were made to move the loco on Good Friday – but were then cancelled (pity no-one thought to tell me!) and re-scheduled for 3rd May.  Various Society members told the BR representative that a lifting frame would be needed and that trying to lift the loco with slings under the frames would not be permitted for fear of damaging our loco.

‘Don’t worry’ they said ‘we are professionals.’

The day arrived, and the said ‘professionals’ brought a low loader and a crane, but no lifting frame! Predictably they were unable to lift the loco, and, after six hours of struggling, gave up!

Thanks are due to Ian Edwards for restoring the loco, even though it did not get to Bescot.  Thanks are also due to Messrs. Emery, Newbold and Organ, plus a hologram of myself (I wasn’t there as I was off work sick) for organising the shunting and supervising the ‘lift’ – or lack of it!

Photo: P.Aldridge

Further thanks are also due to BR who provided the low loader and the crane.  Perhaps next time the ‘professionals’ will listen to us ‘AMATEURS’ who do, after all , have some idea what we are talking about!

Despite this disappointment it wasn’t a total waste of time, for even though our Neilson did not get to the Open Day, our sales stand did, and Mr. Bull added £200 to our coffers in a very successful day’s sales.

108 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 4 Another true anecdote in the series of an excerpt from the Chasewater Fat Controller’s diary.

108 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 4

Another true anecdote in the series of an excerpt from the Chasewater Fat Controller’s diary.  Date line Sunday, 24th March, 1985.

It was about 2 o’clock on a relatively mild afternoon when four men and a dog set off from 21G Hednesford Road to replace stolen chairs from the loop.  The freshly greased bearings on the trolley ran easily on the falling gradients towards Norton, with Hairy Youths dog bounding along the four foot a couple of yards in front.

Once over the facing point, the going became much harder as the ever helpful Task Force (remember them?) had dug the ballast out between each sleeper so the dog was having to negotiate ten inch high hurdles, two foot six inches apart.  Finally with the leading axle of the trolley rapidly closing on his right ear he decided he had had enough and leapt over the rail to his right – a split second too late.  ‘Klunk, klunk, klunk – yelp, yelp, yelp’.  The fully laden trolley had run over his back leg leaving a six inch tear in his flesh.

Having bitten his owner and growled at everyone else in range the dog was loaded onto the trolley and sent back to Brownhills West Station where the ubiquitous Spitfire was waiting to take him home.

That evening, Nurse Gillian is reputed to have taken the dog to work and rebuilt him bionically – this dog now has a starting tractive effort of 17,000lbs in full gear at 85% boiler pressure and may be used to work passenger trains when we get a Light Railway Order.The cover photo shows CLR No.11, the Neilson now known as Alfred Paget, shunting near Brownhills West on a special steaming on Saturday, 17th April 1982 for the Industrial Railway Society.  Photo by Mike Wood.  Good timing as the Society was at Chasewater again only a few weeks ago (2011).

Steam Locomotives of a more Leisurely Era 0-4-2STs of the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway

Steam Locomotives of a more Leisurely Era

 0-4-2STs of the Cannock Chase & Wolverhampton Railway

Five engines built by Beyer Peacock between 1856 and 1872 for shunting at the Cannock Chase Collieries, Staffordshire.  They had remarkably long lives during which they remained practically unchanged.A view of three of the engines – McClean in the foreground, with Chawner and Anglesey in the background.  Whether the hot water being drawn off McClean is for washing purposes or for brewing tea cannot now be stated with any certainty!

The first engine, McClean, was the 28th locomotive built by the newly formed firm of Beyer Peacock & Co., who have since constructed several thousand engines for use in this country and all parts of the world.  Alfred Paget followed in 1861, Chawner in 1864, Brown in 1867 and Anglesey in 1872.  Finally, after a lapse of no less than 74 years, when another locomotive was required, the ninety-year-old design was considered so satisfactory that a completely new engine almost identical with the originals was constructed in the Company’s own workshops at Chasetown in 1946, some parts being supplied by Beyer Peacock & Co.McClean

Brown was scrapped in 1926, but the others lasted until 1947 and the early 1950s, and the original McClean, which it had been hoped would be preserved, was not actually cut up until 1956, just a hundred years after having first seen the light of day.  It did not actually attain its centenary as a working locomotive, as it had been out of use for a few years previously, but it was the engine in this country which, up to then, most nearly achieved this distinction.Self-built Foggo

The 1946 locomotive, which received the name Foggo was still at work in the area until 1959.

Driving Wheels – 4’ 0”,  Cylinders – 14” x 20”A once-common wooden coal wagon from Cannock Chase.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 82 – March 1978 – 1

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 82 – March 1978

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 23 – Part 1

Editorial

The operating season is now a mere fortnight away as I write this Newsletter and despite a fair response to the appeals in the last Newsletter, the purchase of the line is still as precarious as ever.  To date we have raised £1,200, less than 25% of the total amount of £5,400 required.  It is quite clear that some drastic action will be required during the next six months in order to effect the purchase of the line, the favourite course of action amongst the ‘hard-core’ at Chasewater being the sale of the E1 locomotive ‘Cannock Wood’ for reasons already expanded upon in these pages and elsewhere.  Suffice to say it is time for those who care to stand up and be counted (many members already have) or accept the consequences.

(No, we haven’t!)

News from the line

Much activity during the winter has been centred upon putting in a new siding leading up to the platelayers’ cabin.  Access to this siding is controlled by a two lever ground frame which marks the start of interlocking on the railway.

It is intended to extend the siding up to the crossing at a later date and outline planning permission is available for construction of a building over the siding.

The present end of the siding has a railbuilt buffer stop – another first at Chasewater.

Work is now concentrated upon improvements to the two points leading into the compound and the installation of their associated control gear which will, in due course, be controlled by the platform lever frame after the running line has been slewed to clear the extension to the platform.

The extension to the platform will be built once the worst of the frosts are over.

The platform fence has been painted black, Midland style, and a box-van body is being acquired to be used as a waiting room and to provide some much needed shelter.

The bookstall now sports a new roof, by courtesy of Adrian Pearson, and it is actually waterproof!  The brothers Grimm have been noticed performing strange exercises which, apart from resulting in the bookstall being repainted in Midland Railway colours, are reputed to be in readiness for the ‘forthcoming influx’ (of visitors I presume!).

The rear compartment of the DMU coach has undergone refurbishing, which has included repainting the roof, seat frames and heating ducts, re-covering the seat backs and a thorough clean.  The rest of the coach is to receive similar treatment next winter.

(I don’t know if it’s just my reading of this section, but it gives me the impression of being much more optimistic than past articles.)

Locomotives.

Invicta – this is currently being prepared for the new season, its yearly boiler test not being due until July, when it is hoped to give it a final top coat of paint.

Alfred Paget & Invicta – Gricers’ Day 9-10-1977

Alfred Paget – currently being prepared for its annual boiler test and it should be back in service by May.

Asbestos – The hydraulic test will take place within the next few weeks, when a final decision will be taken as to whether the necessary firebox repairs can be afforded.  Hopefully the money will be forthcoming as ‘Alfred Paget’ is due for its six yearly hydraulic test next year.

Lion – Following a change of ownership, plans are being made to give this loco its six yearly major boiler test during the summer, with a view to steaming it at the tail end of the season.

Work involved entails lifting the saddle tank, stripping of boiler cladding and lagging to expose the boiler, repairs to the saddle tank and overhaul and refitting of all boiler and cab fittings.  Mechanically the loco is sound.  The loc is to be renamed ‘Colonel’ using the nameplate off the now scrapped Hudswell Clarke loco, latterly at Granville Colliery, as a pattern. 

05406 The Colonel 0-6-0ST HC 1073-1914  at Granville 12-6-1964

The name is doubly appropriate as ‘Lion’ started its working life at Woolwich Arsenal, whilst the name ‘Colonel’ conjures up visions of Colonel Holman F. Stephens the godfather of light railways, and who would probably be highly delighted at the current set up at Chasewater.

Long standing members will recall that the loco was originally purchased minus safety valves.  Happily the recent sale of loco spares held at Chasewater was of particular value, as a pair of Ross pop safety valves were obtained suitable for the loco.

It is considerably less than pleasing to report that on the afternoon of Monday 23rd January someone broke into the compound and deliberately set fire to the brake end of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln coach.  There can be no doubt that this was a deliberate malicious action and if it wasn’t for a sharp-eyed resident of Hednesford Road then every wooden bodied vehicle in the compound would have been razed to the ground.

The damage is estimated to coast at least £1,000 to repair.  Allied to this fire, has been the theft of several items from the museum coach on three separate occasions.  It is interesting to note that all three break-ins occurred during the school holidays.  Two vacuum gauges, lettered MSL, were not recovered from the wreckage of the coach, though it is of small comfort that they were, in fact, BR gauges with false lettering.

The nature of the break-ins suggest that the person(s) responsible were familiar with the way things are run at Chasewater and the nature of the stolen items suggests that they knew what they were after and knew where to get it from.

The Police have been informed, but as it was the 270th crime reported in Brownhills in the first five weeks of the year, it is unlikely that they will have any success.

Changing the subject, it is indeed pleasing to report the acquisition of two more locomotives for use at Chasewater.

More about these next time!

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 74 – Feb 1977

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 74 – Feb 1977

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 18 – Part 1

From the Editorial

Recent activity at Chasewater has mainly centered on general maintenance, including some considerable tidying up of the entrance to the compound.  Footings for a lever frame have been dug at the present end of the platform and we now await some good weather to mix the necessary concrete.  The flat wagon on which the petrol crane sits has been re-timbered and strengthened and the crane itself has had some much needed maintenance.  On the locomotive side, work has been centred on the Neilson ‘Alfred Paget’ which has been re-assembled after its boiler test.  The coupling rods are at present dismantled to enable the crosshead slippers to be replaced with a spare pair which have been re-metalled.  It is hoped this will cure some of the knocks emanating from the front end of this engine.

Neilson in 1978

Extracts from the report of the visit of Major Olver of the Railway Inspectorate to Chasewater on 22-7-1976.

1.    Major Olver stated that he was quite satisfied with the present mode of passenger operation at Chasewater.  He asked that a facing point lock be fitted at the end of the main running line.

2.    When the tipping within the park has stopped, a concrete raft with the rails set into it should be installed at the road crossing.

3.    There is a major problem of trespass in the region of the causeway which is used as a public right of way.  This problem must be looked into in detail before the Society even thinks of running trains along this section of line.

4.    The arrangements for repair and restoration of locos are perfectly satisfactory.

5.    In reference to the need for a Light Railway Order, Major Olver explained that the section of line owned by British Railways was a statutory railway and therefore a Light Railway Order was needed to transfer its ownership.  He went on to say that common sense indicated that any Light Railway Order obtained should be made to apply to the whole of the Railway.  The Railway Inspectorate and Railway Administration side of the department will be happy to advise on the question of the Light Railway Order at the appropriate time.  Major Olver suggested that the most satisfactory solution may lie in the precedent set by the West Somerset Railway, which would be for Walsall Metropolitan Council to obtain the LRO and to incorporate it into the leasing arrangements.

6.    Training for drivers – the present arrangements were far from ideal as the Society relies on its own resources to train drivers.  Major Olver stated that drivers should be passed out by an independently qualified supervisor from either British Railways or the National Coal Board.  Major Olver explained that in the case of an accident there should be no room to question the basic abilities of the loco driver to drive the locomotive efficiently.  At the present time this was not proven.  Editor’s Note – This was the only point on which we were criticised and steps to rectify this are underway.

News on the purchase of the line

The executive committee heard that the Council couldn’t purchase the land and track until the 15th July.  There appear to be two present options:

1.    The Council buy the loopline and we repay £1,400 rent for ten years.

2.    We buy and pay a nominal rent to the Council.

Much discussion is at present taking place amongst members on this question and further suggestions are welcomed by contacting the Hon.Sec.

The Stroudley E1 Restoration Fund

E1 at Cannock Wood

This body is the result of the meeting held at Chasewater on 22nd January.  Only nine people turned up to this meeting, perhaps indicating the level of interest for this project within the Society.

The first aim of the Society is to raise enough money to purchase the E1 from the Society, a figure in excess of £3,000.  There are now four Societies at least, interested in buying the E1 if the RPS has to sell it.

£155.50 has so far been raised and local press coverage has been good but due to the lack of local interest the appeal must go national.  Offers of help, monetary or otherwise, should be sent to Mr. Albert Haywood.

 

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 72 – Dec 1976

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 72 – Dec 1976

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News – Part 1

From the ‘Editorial’

Less than 24 hours ago, I was standing in the compound with a group of members, discussing the lack of recent Society literature, when jokingly I suggested I could piece together a newsletter.  Well here I am trying to write one.

Sincere apologies are due for the non-arrival of ‘Chasewater Express’ No.3, due to printing problems, etc.  Hopefully the next edition will revert to the magazine format, which has produced some favourable comments. (Sorry folks – it didn’t!).

Much activity has taken place at Chasewater during the long dry summer and the short wet autumn.  No less than three engines have been seen in steam at Chasewater this year, a record for the Society.  It is estimated that over 8,000 people visited us, so there is every confidence of getting into five figures in 1977.  ‘Alfred Paget’ the Neilson 0-4-0ST handled the bulk of the season’s traffic faultlessly (well almost!),

Alfred Paget and Invicta

whilst ‘Asbestos’ was steamed on a couple of occasions, but succumbed to rotten tubes in August and so was taken out of service pending the annual boiler inspection.

The big news however has been the completion of the overhaul of ‘Invicta’ the Barclay 0-4-0ST and its use in service pulling the vintage train on a couple of occasions at the end of the season.  Already it has proved to be quite powerful, despite its somewhat diminutive size.  Many thanks are due to Mike Wood for the purchase of this engine.

The boiler inspector has visited the site and passed ‘Alfred Paget’ and ‘Invicta’ for use next year, subject to steam tests.  Unfortunately ‘Asbestos’ is due for a major test entailing the removal of tank and lagging, so it may not steam next year, for the first time in five years. 

Paget with Asbestos

It is hoped that work will start on the Peckett 0-4-0ST ‘Lion’ in the New Year, so there is plenty of work for anyone interested in loco repairs – don’t be shy, come and volunteer to strengthen our loco fleet.

Both ‘Invicta’ and ‘Paget’ are to be repainted prior to next season.  The little Barclay, ‘Lion’ and the Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST have been repainted this summer, considerably improving the ‘scrap-yard’ image of the compound.  The planned repaint of ‘Asbestos’ will also be done, made easier by the need to dismantle it.

The other major scene of activity has been the current terminus of the line where the burning embankment has been dug out and refilled with non-combustible material.  The track here has been slewed across to avoid placing stress on the edge of the embankment.  Further relaying has taken place using concrete sleepers, extending the line by 50 yards or so.  Many thanks to Colin Vincent for the loan of his bulldozer.

Further relaying has ceased pending purchase of the loopline from British Railways.  It seems that the purchase will have to be completed without financial aid from the Council in view of the current economic and political climate (sound familiar!).  To this end several interested bodies have offered substantial sums of money for the ‘E1’ locomotive ‘Cannock Wood’. A subject of much heated discussion at the moment. (See separate letter. In the next post – cws). The selling of E1 can only be done as a last resort, if all other means fail.  Any sensible suggestions regarding fund-raising, etc. should be forwarded to the Hon. Sec.

Other progress has been seen with regard to re-fencing of the compound following two break-ins, when £40 worth of relics were stolen from the museum vehicle.  The police have the addresses of the probable culprits so the items may be recovered.

Major Olver of the Railway Inspectorate visited the line and was reasonably satisfied with the current state of affairs – the full report will appear in the next magazine.  It is to be hoped that the Chasewater Light Railway Company will finance the repainting of the DMU coach, so that it can match the current excellence of the two six-wheelers.

The Model Railway Exhibition held in September was another financial success, though the level of help, especially of the Friday night, was poor.  Many thanks to Andrew Louch, the organiser and to Mr. and Mrs. Duffill for the refreshments.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 70

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 70

From the ‘Chasewater Express’ April 1976

A poem which follows on from the previous postThe Neilson without nameplates and Asbestos

Neilson  – complete with Alfred Paget nameplates

One of the ‘Puddings’

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 69

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 69

More from the ‘Chasewater Express’ January 1976

Editorial

The Editor wishes to state that he is in no way responsible for the ensuing passages, which emanate from the pen of a Black Country ex- butcher who nowadays works (?) for the only railway company in the country which is known to have in its stocklist a few hundred Brush 4s, a couple of dozen class 87 locos, etc.  Spelling and grammatical errors are his, not mine.

The Restoration of a Rusty Beast

Or

The Gospel According to Keith Sargeant

One particularly wet and generally normal Chasewater morning whilst shovelling (rubbish!) out of one very rusty coal bunker, I thought ‘will this thing ever go again?’ ‘’Course it will’ cried D.Luker, as he walked by for the tenth time that morning.

Well, it does go now and I will attempt to show how it was done.

In the winter of 1973/74, the boiler was stripped down and cleared of all the rotten lagging upon it, the firebox was cleared out in the space of one Sunday, the smokebox, however, was a completely different matter.  A very crude but effective spark arrester was cut out, never to be replaced; the next four hours (was!) were spent devoted to the removal of the blastpipe which was only held in with two taper cotters.  Evidence of neglect was showing through, on removal of the blastpipe a cup of tea was summoned and obtained.  ‘I’m not working on that thing in the rain any more’ Derek grunted through a sort of mist that arises off Chasewater tea.

The next weekend was devoted to building a ‘Tent’ upon the loco and fitting electric lights up to work on the loco in the dark.  Once it was completed, three weeks were devoted to clearing off the front tube plate.  To our horror, Derek’s clearing off of this revealed that the tube plate was less than half its original thickness for most of the lower 3” and non-existent at the flange with the barrel.  The smokebox bottom, which is formed of an extension of the boiler barrel, was also gone without trace.  A very awesome sight that left us wondering if the knuckles we had lost were lost in vain.

Work was suspended while Derek went cap-in-hand to the man with the money to ask for £300 which the Society had not got.  The remarkable thing was, they gave it to him.  He then got in touch with a bloke what mends boilers and after lengthy discussions with our boiler inspector and the boiler mender it was decided that the boiler was in such a good state that it was worth spending money on expensive repairs to it.  The contractor’s job was to replace 13 1” rivets and build up the smokebox tube plate to its original thickness and build up the corners of the firebox likewise.  This work was carried out in the space of three days, and restoration by Society members then re-commenced.

During the repairs, 10 flue tubes were replaced – bloody good ones they were too.  All boiler fittings were overhauled and replaced.  The regulator valve was taken home by Derek to Stafford where his neighbours were worried at the sound of him grinding ‘IT’ on the hearth rug.

The boiler was hydraulically tested and passed with flying colours.

Now with the boiler out of the way, the mechanics were looked at – ‘Boy, what a mess!’

4 tattered main bearings, 2 seized pistons, no side rods brassed, 2 valve spindles worn like egg-timers, and a partridge in a pear tree – PEAR TREE! Oh yes Boyo, we spent a few hours in there sampling the delicious tremblings, Boyo!

Work was suspended from the summer of ’74 to the winter of 74/75 fro work to be done on ‘Asbestos’, and also we built a workshop containing several mechanical works of art enabling Derek and Brian to while away the winter months machining the main bearings.  When they were done and fitted, the loco was lowered back on its wheels, the boiler was lagged and the tank was found to have more holes in it than a hairnet!  Six weeks were taken filling these in – we found the rest when it was on the loco!!

The loco was re-mated with the tank and the (Barkeus? Sorry, can’t decipher – Editor) nicely patched up and painted a delicate shade of black and red.  Now we had what looked almost like a steam loco, it was then decided to borrow the lubricator off of the Hudswell-Clarke.  This is where Brian Hames came into his own.  His short, Coal Board figure was just the ticket for getting round the little bits of engine that get in the way when you are laying lubrication pipes all over the place.  After that was done a steam test was made, the boiler steamed well and the injectors worked like two humming birds.  After eight months derelict and 18 months stripped down, only one leak in sight – and a very tiny one from a blown joint at that!

Now the moving parts.  As she stood they listed two seized pistons and valves, two weighbar shaft bearings (ready for a gallop) and one very rusty steam brake valve, complete with bent brake gear (a relic from Bruno days).  Something tells me I have (Sorry about this next bit of indecipherable script – Ed.) Wol’t fhat Bit a £ove –

After re-metalling the four main bearings and weighbar shaft brasses we set to putting it together again, first the pistons and valves, the valves took a lot of buggering about with and a great deal of patience on Derek’s part.  The siderods took about twelve weeks to fit as we had to make all the brasses from a similar but younger loco.

When Alfred Paget (as we had decided to call it) was back together again and had been made to look respectable with the aid of two gallons of black paint, we steamed it – what a day!!

06.30 we lit the fire and raised steam Lewis fashion (slowly – Ed).  By 11.00 we had got 50 lbs of steam, and it would not budge – what had we forgotten to do, I thought?  ‘Give it a nudge’ said a very dirty and unhygienic NCB Brian.  So we did.  Chuff, chuff, wheeze she went, like a ‘Super D’ with not a bit of trouble.  The brakes didn’t work  for a few weeks until they were worn in – but now we have one beautifully repaired Neilson 0-4-0ST loco of 1882 vintage and it was in steam for the 150th Anniversary to boot!

No mention yet has been made of the carriage and wagon tapping fraternity who are a body of MEN?? Who delight in making life difficult for us engine bashers.  Still, as I haven’t mentioned them before, I won’t bother now!!

Jotted by the most photographed driver at Cheesewater and published by the Keith Sargeant Appreciation Society.1975 Open Day – He’s in the middle! Andrew Louch on the right, with Brian Hames on the left.  Thanks Bob.

Summary of dimensions

Neilson standard 14” design

Weight: 28tons

Overall length: 23’ 7”

Height: 10’ 10”

Boiler Pressure: 120 lbs/sq.in.

Tractive Effort: 8885 lbs.

Cylinders (Outside) 14” x 20”

Chasewater Railway Museum – Bits & Pieces – More about Neilson

More about the Neilson Loco

A Trip to Gartsherrie

From 1968 Mercian Vol.1 No.3

By Trevor Cousens

On Friday, 16th February at 6.00pm a small party consisting of Lawrence Hodgkinson, Mike Lewis and myself, departed from Chasewater in Mike’s 30 cwt. Van en route for Gartsherrie, near Glasgow.  The purpose of this trip was to purchase spare parts from the three Neilson locomotives remaining at Bairds and Scottish Steel Ltd.

A stop was made in Derby to pick up Steve Allsop, then we cut across to the M6 motorway.  The speed of Mike’s van was limited by a governor to 45 mph so the going was slow.

It was quite a relief when a stop was made at a service area for refreshment.  We made full use of the transport drivers eating facilities – in our overalls we did not really have much choice.  Back on the motorway we continued our journey northward.  I retired to the back of the van to try to sleep.  After rolling my sleeping bag out amongst several hundredweights of tools, bars, rucksacks and other bric-a-brac I tried persistently to sleep.  The noise of the engine and the tyres on the road, coupled with a sharp drop in the temperature precluded this.  I heard someone groan ‘snow’ from up front.  This is what we had dreaded.  A climb up Shap with eight inches of snow on the ground!!  After this, sleep was impossible.  I lay on my back and watched icicles form on the van roof.  About 3.30am on the Saturday morning the van halted.  After many gear changes, reverses and sliding of doors up front there was silence for a moment.  When I looked out we were parked on a small snow-covered country lane; fir trees on one side, a railway above us and the moon shining across snow-covered fields.  They had had enough for the evening, and Steve, Lawrence and Mike came aft for sleeping bags, blankets, camp beds and other items necessary for comfort!!  While the three sorted themselves out I got out with a camera and had a prowl around.  I found that we had parked practically under the West Coast main line at Beattock.

In front of us Brush type 4s pounded up to Beattock Summit, assisted by English Electric type 4s, 2s, and 1s on the night mail trains and sleepers.  One could not help thinking that there was something missing not seeing the flicker from the firebox silhouetting the fireman as he shovelled rapidly on a ‘Duchess’ at full pelt up the bank.

The others had comfortably settled down by now in the back of the van.  I chose the driver’s seat as I was sure that it could be no more uncomfortable than trying to lie down again.  With last reminders to wake up at 6.45 am to be in Glasgow for 8.30 am, we dozed off to sleep, a sleep punctuated by the clatter of trains over the bridge above and the wail of diesel horns as bankers attached and detached from the trains – we couldn’t have picked a quieter spot!!

At 7.00 am Lawrence and Steve spent 20 minutes trying to wake Mike, who seemed to be the only one who had really slept, despite the noise (still, he is a railwayman).  We slowly began to thaw out when we were back on the main road to  Glasgow, and the sun came out, picking out the snow-covered hills in a fiery pink light,

Arriving in Glasgow at 9.30 am we met the fifth member of our party – Gerald Wildish – who had travelled up on the overnight train from Darlington to Glasgow without any heating.

Neilson at Gartsherrie

After a meal we arrived at Bairds and Scottish Steel’s works about 11.00 am, where we weighed in and were directed to the loco shed.  We mat a Scottish RPS representative who was also buying spares for their Neilson.  After having a look at our Neilson tucked away in the workshops inside this gigantic, desolate steelworks, we proceeded to the engine sheds where we worked in pitch darkness with the odd brilliant ray of sunshine punching a dazzling beam across the shed, and with snow dripping from the smoke vents onto our heads.  We dismantled the spares from the three scrap Neilsons and filled Mike’s van with spare parts.  An amusing interlude was enacted when Gerald held tea-cups under the water crane to be washed out while I pulled the cord, drowning both the cups and Gerald in several hundred gallons of water.

The load was examined by Bairds and we were weighed out – 10 cwt. Of spares aboard.  We then proceeded to the coal mines at Gartshore where we saw the Scottish RPS Neilson and an Andrew Barclay still simmering next to a red hot brazier which we stood around for 15 minutes to warm ourselves before returning to Glasgow, to a hotel and a well-earned drink.  The hotel we had chosen to stay at was unfortunately a rather expensive one.  I think they were rather shocked to see four really scruffy individuals – black all over with soot and dirt and in need of shaves.  We were ushered up the back lift to two attic type rooms – but they had hot water and beds!!

The Saturday evening was spent feeding and drinking and we bade farewell to Gerald who was lodging in another part of Glasgow, prior to his departure back to Darlington.  We all turned in, forgetting to put forward the alarm clocks and so missing breakfast by one hour!!  Room service rang us at 10.00 am Sunday, and we cajoled the waitress to find us four late breakfasts.  At 11.00am we made a start back towards Chasewater, after buying all the Sunday newspapers.  We stopped for diesel at Lockerbie and continued south, the sun was beginning to thaw the snow and a thick mist was rising.  Suddenly out of the mist our way was blocked by two policemen!!  They directed us to the side, and asked why we carried no ‘C’ licence.  They asked to see the load.  When we opened the door what a sight must have met their eyes, with piping strewn diagonally across the floor of the van, a 20 ton lifting jack, and many other items, including a kettle boiling on a primus for tea!!  After lengthy explanations, the showing of membership cards, driving licenses, etc., we finally convinced them that we were law-abiding, but we could not help thinking of Gerald on his way home with the receipt in his pocket!

Arriving at Hixon at 8.00 pm Sunday evening, we unloaded the spares and drove over to Hednesford for a sandwich and a drink in the ‘Queens Arms’.  The rest of the RPS crew from Chasewater and Hednesford were there, and the tales of the week-end working parties were exchanged.  Mike’s van had changed colour from dark green to white as a result of the salt spray.

So ended a 700 mile excursion to salvage parts which we hope will be used to help keep our 85 year-old Neilson running.  If so, then it will have been worth while.At Chasewater – August 1969

A Bits & Pieces article from Mercian Vol.1 No.3 1968

Taken from the Mercian Vol.1 No.3 an article by Gerald Wildish about our Neilson Locomotive.Shown here carrying the ‘Alfred Paget’ Nameplate

Neilson & Son Ltd., No.2937 of 1882

Bairds & Scottish Steel  Ltd.’s No.11

Delving back through the records of Bairds & Scottish Steel Ltd., one comes across several interesting details about the locomotive which we hope will be at Chasewater before the summer is out.  Some of this information which has come into my hands is included in this article.

No.11 was the fifth locomotive built by Neilson’s for Bairds, two of which were six-coupled.  She was the second 14-inch four-coupled built for Bairds. (The first, No.13 – built in 1876 passed to the NCB in 1948 and will eventually find a home at Falkirk).  Supplied new to Bairds in 1882, she cost £1,275.  Engines built to this design cost Bairds between £925 and £1,300, the cheapest being the last, the second, No.3 delivered in 1889.

My own personal records of No.11 go back no further than 1889, but in May 1900 a new firebox and tubes were fitted.  The next major repairs were in 1911 when a further new firebox and tubes were fitted.  A minor overhaul took place when a new right-hand coal bunker was supplied and the tank replaced.

After 1916 the records became scant until 1934 when greater detail is once again recorded.  In January 1936 another semi-major overhaul took place: new plates were provided for the boiler and a new brake assembly was fitted.  A year later the firebox was patched and all mountings ‘done-up’.  In July 1938 she was stopped again for general repairs and in November was fitted with a new firebox, repairs continuing until March, 1939.

In 1941, 4 new tyres were fitted, new brasses being added at the same time during a heavy general repair.  She returned to the works in June 1943 when the boiler and firebox were condemned, but was back at work with new boiler and firebox, a patched tank and new brake cylinder block and shaft in less than six weeks.  It shows what work can be carried out quickly during war time. (Due to the pressure of keeping engines at work, No.1 – the ex GERJ 15 class was sent to Cowlairs for overhaul.)  A further new firebox was fitted in August, 1945 during another heavy overhaul.

New tyres were fitted in the general overhaul of 1947, but the next interesting occurrence came in the heavy overhaul of 1949, after fitting new tubes, a further new firebox was fitted and the boiler removed for hydraulic testing.  However, when being removed for testing, the rope broke damaging the boiler, which had then to be lifted into the shed and rebuilt on the frames for testing again.  Eventually the boiler was hydraulically tested to 200 lbs. and steam to 135lbs.

Fireboxes seemed to wear out very quickly on the Neilsons for the 1950 firebox fractured in 1954 and was presumably replaced although the records do not state this.  General repairs followed in 1958 and 1963, when the boiler was announced to be satisfactory and in June 1967, just before the works closed.

When the works closed in July, apart from being the second oldest working locomotive in the British Isles, No.11 was the last to be repaired at the Gartsherrie Works.  She is in excellent mechanical order and when inspected by the engineers in February of this year (1968), it was pronounced that she would be the best of the RPS stock in this direction.  She lacks paint – I have no record of her being painted after 1950 – and remains in the post-war black.  She was never repainted dark blue as were many of her contemporaries at Gartsherrie.  We hope, funds permitting, to move her to Chasewater at the end of May or early June.  We have enough money to complete the purchase but we are still short of removal funds by several pounds.

Summary of dimensions:

Weight: 28 tons, Boiler Pressure: 120lbs. per sq.in.

Overall Length: 23ft 7ins.  Tractive Effort: 8885lbs.  Height: 10ft 10ins.Line drawing of the Neilson also by Gerald Wildish