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205 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Autumn 1997– Part 1

205 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Autumn 1997– Part 1

Front Cover‘Blackcock’ at West Cannock

Editorial – Chris Chivers

As this year’s running season is coming to a close we have had the best season for passenger figures this year than in any other season since the Railway was reformed back in late 1985, passing the 1996 figure by the second weekend in September.  This has also shown in the increased activity in the buffet, and all praise due to Doreen Edwards and her stalwart helpers in the canteen who have increased the range and quality of food served to the general public and the on-site workers on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.  The apple cake has become a legend in its own time!  Also for this year the number of memberships has increased over last year’s record, and I would like to welcome all the new members who have joined us over the past few months.

During the summer the long awaited start on the extension has commenced, and after a look around the other week I was amazed at the amount of progress that has taken place in such a short space of time.  This indicates the strength that the Railway has gained in a few short years, with more volunteers willing to help us in all aspects of the Railway’s operation.  The track recovered from British Oxygen at Wolverhampton is already being put into place.  The number of workers on the P Way gang continues to grow so that at least a panel of track is being laid each week on the new extension, as well as work being carried out on laying a shunting spur from the shed road to facilitate the release of locomotives from the shed.  Considering that this is the running season, when normally the number of working members available for other projects other than running the normal service has always been a bit of a hit and miss affair, shows just how far the Chasewater Railway has come since the early days of the reborn Company.

B-Hiils West Yard in 1960sBrownhills West Compound in the 1960s

With membership matters in mind, as of the beginning of September the number of new members as well as members who have renewed, has passed last year’s total.  This is taking into consideration the members who are not required to renew until February 1998.  Memberships have raised just on the £1000 mark, surpassing last year’s total by over £100.  In the two years that I have been dealing with the newsletter and membership administration the circulation numbers of the magazine has gone from approximately 80 copies to 160 issues posted out.  This does not take into account the extra copies sold in the shop.  An increasing number of non-members are now asking when the next issue of the magazine will be out so that they can purchase a copy.  This brings me on to one other point; the magazine is totally reliant on you, the membership.  Without your input I cannot produce the magazine on a quarterly basis, either that or the magazine will have to be reduced in size.  The more articles I receive, the more varied the contents and therefore the better the read.  Please let me have any article which concerns the Railway, especially ongoing projects, either on- or off-site.

As the 1997 season is coming to a close thoughts will be turning to next year and what the future holds for the Railway.  With the new Labour Ministers’ controversial approval of the BNRR (M6 Toll) the Railway must be prepared for interesting times ahead.  In the light of very few concrete plans for the Railway by the planners, speculation can be the source of what could be a lot of wild rumours.  All we can do for the present time is to continue relaying the track through to Three’s Junction (Chasewater Heaths) and then press the Lichfield District Council for further extensions to our lease.  The bigger the Railway is, the harder it is for the Council to simply try and dismiss us, or think that we are irrelevant to their future plans for Chasewater.  Also, the better the facilities for the general public, the better our standing in the grand scheme of things.  Back in 1986 when I joined the Railway, the Company was coming out of a period of stagnation, Brownhills West looked like a scrapyard and the attitude of some of the ex members was little better.  Ten years on so much has changed for the better, we still have the odd setbacks but we continue to grow and push forward.  Some years ago we were offered some track but we did not have the wherewithal to exploit the offer, but now it is a totally different kettle of fish.  With this in mind, further sites are currently being investigated with a view to further track recovery.  If we are lucky it should give us sufficient track to finish the extension and possibly go even further towards Church Street.

Asbo Wedding Special

Finally, congratulations to Margaret and John Duffill on their marriage on August 8th, which provided us with our first ‘Wedding Special’ train on the evening of their wedding.

Loco Shed News

As the season has progressed our steam locomotives have started to show their age with small but niggling problems occurring from time to time.  The engine shed is in need of a few extra volunteers to help in essential repair work on the current locomotive department’s backlog of tasks.  Also in the wings is the imminent job of giving Asbestos a major overhaul that is required very ten years.  It will be some time before Alfred Paget will be ready for steaming, even though work continues on restoring the Neilson at a steady pace.  Eventually the perennial problem of funding will loom over the work.  Both Paul and Janet Whittaker and the rest of the Neilson team have been doing a great job of actively fund raising, and this will cover a large percentage of the funds needed to carry out the work.  Extra help will need to be funded by the Railway to help in completion of the restoration project.

5543 - Asbestos CLR Red

Steam Locomotives

No. 4 Asbestos – As the season has continued more of the steam days have been handed over to the Sentinel.  On several occasions Asbestos and Sentinel have been double-headed on revenue earning trains.  As winter approaches a decision will have to be made on what work has to be carried out on Asbestos.  Its 10-year certificate is due to expire at the start of the season next year, and some major work needs to be carried out to both the boiler, especially round the firebox, and to the motion.

No. 5 Sentinel – The sentinel has performed well on the number of occasions that it has been in service.  One or two minor problems are still causing headaches trying to track down the cause.  This includes a possible problem with the oil pressure which could be down to a possible obstruction in the pipe to the oil pressure gauge.  Also the fire grate could need replacing during the winter months.

No.11 Alfred Paget – The work in restoring Alfred Paget is still moving ahead at a steady pace, even though on the face of it not a lot seems to have been done.  The rear spring hangers have been refurbished and replaced, and the valve rod on the one side which was badly worn has been welded back to its correct size.  The rod has been turned and the rear bush has been replaced and rebored to the correct diameter.  The raffle raised over £200 towards the restoration fund.

S100 – The axle boxes are now receiving attention to bring them to their correct positions in the frames.  New shims are being fitted and the brasses are due to be skimmed to make each side of the axle boxes parallel.  With the completion of this work, the wheel sets can be painted and brought back into their individual positions ready for re-joining to the frames.

5553 - Ruston Hornsby 408496-1957

Diesel Locomotives

DL7 – With DL7 still out of action, work has started on replacing some of the damaged fittings from the cab, especially the gauges which were broken by our local friendly hooligans.  This has involved replacing the broken glass of the faces and having them recalibrated and certificated.

Ruston Hornsby DM 48 – Most of the dismantling work has now taken place with the locomotive down to nothing but a chassis on wheels.  The hunt is still on for a replacement engine.  Andy Clegg |& Co. are restoring a number of the smaller fittings and fixtures off-site.

Fowler 422015 – This has continued running during the year, working the bulk of the yard shunting duties as well as works trains.  A new set of batteries will be needed for the winter period.

DMU – Once again since the last magazine, windows have had to be replaced due to the action of local vandals.  Work has started in replacing the damaged panels in 51370 as well as work on the interior.  51412 has been painted green on the Hednesford Road side as well as being partly lined out.  Ken Dyde’s diesel maintenance team has carried out further work.

Simplex No.21 – This has now been shunted into 3 road, awaiting the attention of the diesel fitters in getting the engine timing corrected, so that a test running of the engine can be carried out.  Once this has been carried out, work can continue on refurbishing the clutch and gearbox.

5514 - Neilson in Yard

126 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News August 1990

126Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News August 1990

Editorial

This year has seen a continued increase in volunteers and therefore in the amount of work carried out on the railway.  For the first time in a long while a number of major jobs have been carried out simultaneously, such as trackwork, carriage and wagon repairs and loco maintenance, even when trains are running.

A lot still remains to be done, and with a visit from the Railway Inspectorate now promised within the next couple of months, it is even more important that this level of activity continues.

Following the Railway Inspector’s visit we should know exactly what work is required to extend the line, or indeed to continue running the existing section, and will be able to plan accordingly.  After all, it would still be nice to run trains into a platform at Willow vale Halt later this year.  (Nigel Canning – Editor))

Locomotive News

No.4 Asbestos – Having been at a virtual standstill for a number of months, work has now re-commenced in earnest on the firebox repairs and preparation for the major boiler examination of this loco.  A number of new tubes are to be purchased and will be fitted to replace those leaking when the loco was taken out of service.  Hopefully the loco will re-enter service before No.5’s boiler certificate expires in October.Sentinel pausing at Willow Vale – Nigel Canning

No.5 Sentinel – This loco has so far handled all of this year’s trains.  Recently adjustments have been made to the camshaft driven valve gear with, eventually, improved running as a result.  Various minor steam leaks still remain to be attended to.

No.2 Lion – The new boiler tubes for this loco have now been fitted and work is progressing towards its first hydraulic examination.

S100 – Work is still progressing with the machining of the hornguides of this loco.

No.11 Alfred Paget – This loco received a very nice paint job and superficial restoration for the Bescot Open Day and has been placed on display at Brownhills West station.

No.7 – Ruston – This loco is still in good running order.

No.9 Fowler – Investigation into the starting problems of this loco which had been thought to be due to a damaged starter ring, revealed that in fact a multi-plate clutch built into the starter motor had become fouled with oil and was slipping under load.  This clutch was cleaned and re-tensioned giving perfect first time starting on this loco.

Carriage & Wagon News

Work has recently started on two of our historic coaches, the Midland four-wheel passenger brake, and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln Railway six-wheeler.  Both have been in need of extensive renovation for some time, but now look set to receive it.

The Gloucester and Wickham trailer cars are still running coupled together to form the passenger train whilst the Wickham power car remains in use as the station buffet.

Permanent Way News

Brownhills West Loop – Nigel Canning

The new points at Brownhills West are now virtually complete along with their associated trap point set and lever frame.  This means that we now have a complete run round loop for the first time in our railway’s history.

Weedkilling of the running line took place, rather belatedly, during May.  Bad weather and financial restrictions having prevented this vital job being done earlier in the year.  In addition, a number of worn sleepers have been renewed, and on particularly bad joint repaired.  It is intended to grease the remaining fish plates on the line and re-pack any dipped joints in the next month or so.

The dramatic increase in members in recent months means that work continues even on event days when trains are running.  In the near future the large steel gate at the shed yard entrance is to be moved down to the level crossing to complete the pair of gates there.  A replacement for the shed yard has recently been donated in the form of a pair of wooden gates which when in position, will give slightly wider access for the large vehicles such as the coal merchant’s lorry.

 

 

120 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News December 1989

120Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News December 1989

From the Editorial

Looking back, this year has been quite successful for the Railway with relatively few problems to contend with and a number of major advances made.  Train operation, although hectic for the staff involved, ran smoothly and every special event seemed to go well to the extent that our period of ‘survival’ of the last few years has begun to progress into a time of modest expansion.

As 1989 draws to a close and we all wait for Santa’s Special to arrive at Brownhills West, we can begin to plan next year’s work on the line.  It is all very easy to draw up a long list of jobs, but short of ‘asking Anneka’, they wouldn’t get done.

Realistically, in addition to all the regular maintenance work, we could have a platform built at Willowvale Halt ready for Easter, carry on to complete the run round loop at Brownhills West and relay enough track past Willowvale to run a goods train up and down on Gricers Day.  That would be an excellent season’s work, but it is only possible if people put the effort in. Locomotive News

Asbestos – Having worked the majority of this year’s trains, this loco is now due to be taken out of service for its six-yearly major boiler inspection.  The work will involve the removal of the saddle tank and boiler lagging as well as all fittings.  It is likely that a certain amount of repair work will be necessary around the firebox foundation ring and also renewal of a number of boiler tubes.

Sentinel – This engine finally re-entered service on Sunday 6th August when it took over from Asbestos to work he last two trains of the day.  The recent introduction of two-coach trains meant that this little loco has to work really hard against the gradient on the return run to Brownhills West with the regulator wound wide open for most of the distance.  The result of this is that coal consumption appears to have increased slightly over last year’s running, so that the bunker needs topping up towards the end of the day.  To cure the problem it is planned to fit coal rails to the bunker to increase capacity to around 8cwt.

Lion – The good news is that the Boiler Inspector has done his preliminary examination and has given the go ahead for the loco to be re-tubed and prepared for its hydraulic test.  Painting of both the frames and boiler shell has continued, along with work on new fittings and pipework needed before the engine can be steamed.

S100 – The frames of this loco are currently being jacked up in the back of the loco shed so that the wheels can be removed to allow machining of the horn guides.

DL7 – this remains our only working diesel and has continued to run well, although on the morning of the Bonfire Night steaming its contactors had to be quickly cleaned as the traction motor suddenly refused to ‘switch in’.

Fowler – At last the necessary information for the renewal of the blowing cylinder head gasket has been found and the repair work was carried out on Sunday 12th November.  With train operations gradually expanding it is becoming more important that at least one of the two diesels be vacuum brake fitted so that it can be used to work passenger trains if required at short notice or on quiet non-steam days.  Hopefully the work will be carried out shortly.

Other Locos – No work has been carried out on any other locos.

 Carriage & Wagon News

The Gloucester & Wickham trailers have remained coupled together since June to form the operational passenger stock.  The bodywork of the Gloucester is now looking positively tatty and will require repairs and a repaint before next season’s running.  Again no work has been carried out on any rolling stock other than the three DMUs. Permanent Way News

A few dedicated men are still pushing on with the trackwork and as a result the old turnout which marked the start of the Norton loop has been completely removed and the line is gradually increasing in length towards the causeway.  Progress on this work quite honestly is very slow, but when only three or four people on average seem to be prepared to help, and even the shorter rails which have to be moved weigh about a third of a ton, this is to be expected.  Just to give the P. Way gang a break from trackwork and to provide variety in their work, the local toe-rags managed to cut every strand of wire between every fence post from the level crossing right down to the bridge.  This had to be patched up again before trains could run on Gricers Day when everyone was already pushed to near the limit. Operating

August bank Holiday Monday marked the end of the two months of weekly running allowing a very welcome break for all the operating staff.  Gricers Day saw both Asbestos and the Sentinel in steam, with the last two trains of the day being double-headed.  Rumours that this was brought about by one case too many of a certain lager in the buffet car causing the gross train weight to exceed the maximum allowable Sentinel loading were untrue, but merely an example of the Midland Railway Company’s small engine policy in action!   The Sentinel will now work the remaining trains of this year to allow Asbestos to be stripped for boiler examination.

New arrival in 1961

119 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News Autumn 1989

119 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News Autumn 1989

From the Editorial

This magazine sees another change of Editor as I (Nigel Canning) volunteered to take some of the load off Steve Organ.  We both spend a lot of time at Chasewater so we have up to date material for the magazine, but perhaps the problem is recognising it.  A number of members and visitors who had not been to Chasewater for a while have expressed amazement at the recent improvements and are obviously delighted, whilst those of us who work there every week tend to have on our minds want we haven’t done yet rather than what we have.  As you read the various sections of this magazine you will see the usual excuse for jobs not being completed, ‘lack of manpower’, however, if you look back through previous magazines the problem has subtly changed, hopefully for the better.

It used to be:  ‘Insufficient manpower to rebuild the railway to allow train operation’.

Then:  ‘Insufficient manpower to run trains more often’.

Now:  ‘Insufficient manpower to open the bar every week’.

Next perhaps:  ‘Insufficient manpower to sell tickets at Willowvale Halt’.

All of this shows that we must be making progress and makes me wonder what we will have insufficient manpower for in, say, ten years time???

Locomotive News

Asbestos – This engine has worked all of this year’s trains so far with only various minor leaks having needed attention.  The recent introduction of two coach trains has proved to be no problem at all for it, with only apparent minimal increase in coal consumption.

Sentinel – Getting this loco through the various stages of a major (five yearly) boiler examination has proved to be a long drawn out business, however it is now ready for its steam test and should be back in traffic by the time you read this magazine.   In addition to the statutory inspection work, an extra water level gauge has been fitted to the boiler, also a new, larger ashpan ready for working the new Norton Expresses.

Lion – Much enthusiastic work has continued on this engine, mainly getting the boiler ready for its initial major examination.  In addition to this, various new boiler fittings have been procured and machined, further vacuum brake pipework added and more paint applied to the frames.  Hopefully the loco will enter service during 1990.

S100 – Work has concentrated on splitting, cleaning and re-assembling the springs of this loco, a job involving a lot of heat and brute force.

DL7 – This loco has again run well, performing all the shunting and works train movements.  The only minor failure was that of a bearing in the small battery charging dynamo which was repaired fairly easily.  Following a bout of vandalism by local tow-rags the loco has been repainted in ‘Rail Blue’ complete with yellow and black striped ends to cover the graffiti.

Fowler – This has remained ‘standby diesel’ due to a blowing cylinder head gasket.  Attempts at finding the necessary details required for the repair, type of head gasket, torques and torquing sequence, etc. gave been somewhat protracted due to the engine manufacturer’s inability to provide the information even when the block number was quoted.  This loco is also in the process of being repainted, but in Longmoor Military style of blue with the motion and other details picked out in red.

Other Locos – Little or no work has been carried out on any other loco since the last magazine.Carriage & Wagon News

The big news is that the Wickham trailer entered service on Saturday 17th June coupled to the Gloucester to form the first regular two-coach train.  The following day there was another first when the bar was opened and refreshments were served on the moving train.  Although a certain amount of finishing off work is still required to the interior, the coach has run every week since its inaugural day and has been a great success.  A finishing touch currently underway is a pub sign ‘The Wickham Bar’ being painted on the large unglazed body panel at the gangway end of the vehicle.  A precedent for this was the Southern Region ‘Tavern Cars’ which ran for a while in the fifties in ‘ blood & Custard’ livery with brickwork and a pub sign painted at one end.  Other than the three DMUs, no work has been carried out on rolling stock due to lack of manpower.Permanent Way News

One problem with running trains every Sunday is that it doesn’t leave enough people to do much in the was of trackwork.  However, the track we are currently running on is in reasonable condition and, by our standards, is remarkably free of weeds.  In view of the above situation, all efforts will be concentrated later in the year, starting around September, on a number of projects.  These will be; packing rough bits of the existing line, repairing the fencing again, completing the run round loop at Brownhills West, building a platform at Willowvale and then extending the line towards the causeway.  Any volunteers for this work will receive a warm welcome and a choice of shovels!

Operating

So far this year operating the railway has been even more hectic than usual for a number of reasons.  A lot more trains have been scheduled, running every Sunday in July and August, which is another ‘first’ for the railway.  In addition to this, steam trains were run on Monday July 3rd, two school specials, and the first ever Birthday Party Special, all of which were very successful and will hopefully be repeated regularly.  The recent addition of two-coach trains in itself has been no problem, but when the bar is in use at least one extra person is needed to staff it.  For the obvious security reasons the day’s work involves loading every item of stock onto the train and unloading every remaining item at the end of the day.  As a result, so far this year the bar has been open only on special days when staff have been available.  A similar problem has of course existed for a long time with the Wickham buffet car with all stock having to be transported to and from safe storage.  As usual any volunteers will receive a warm welcome and a choice of whatever the apparatus for this work might be!

 

117 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News Spring 1989

117ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News Spring 1989

Topham & Austerity No.7 by Mike Wood.

 From the Editorial

No Chasewater News for the last twelve months and still no new Editor – but promises of better things to come!

At long last, the fruits of the reorganisation of two years ago are beginning to show.  The pace of progress at the Railway, both in administration and in physical terms, has reached a point where real new achievements are evident, as distinct from the earlier ‘marking time’.  This can be seen wherever you look; at Brownhills West, the station and yard are at their tidiest ever – the stock in the yard is all visibly presentable – the booking office, station office and shop are all established and contribute to both the appearance and good-working of our business – the trackbed is commendably tidy, and at last growing in length – the Gloucester coach and the Wickham coach are both being refurbished, and we are looking forward to the inclusion of a bar car in trains later this year.  Add to that the near completion of our run round loop’s refurbishment, the completion of the revised S & T arrangements, and a record turnover last year, and you can see that in the first complete commercial season of the new Company’s operation of the trains we’ve introduced, the Chasewater Light Railway has become a real hive of industry; projects are planned, materials are at hand, and to maintain the present impetus, we need your help!

Then followed the usual appeal for help on Saturdays, Sundays and train operating days.

 Carriage & Wagon Notes

Gloucester DMU driving trailer (BR Class 100)

This vehicle was acquired in 1968 by the Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands) for operation on their Chasewater running line, and was the first of four of this type of vehicle to go for preservation, the other three being, one which resides at the Gwili Railway, and two at the Swanage preservation site, where two driving motor cars of this type are also kept.The Gloucester this year celebrates its 21st anniversary in preservation, it’s been at Chasewater for twice as long as it was in BR service, and the interior still had the same seat coverings as when it rolled out of the Gloucester C & W workshops in 1957.  Sadly, these furnishings have inevitably become very worn, some torn and pierced by cigarette burns, and all suffering from old age.  Unfortunately, it’s not been possible to obtain the same pattern maquette to replace the old; however, the entire vehicle is being reupholstered, hopefully in time for Easter.  Also the floor is receiving attention, and new carpet fitted in the newly reinstated first-class section.

Externally, the vehicle quite recently received a repaint, including the roof, but some attention to the body is being undertaken as a preventative measure against the weather.  The lavatory compartment is being used as a store, since the pan is broken and there seems little point in replacing it when the Wickham trailer, complete with a perfect working order loo will shortly be joining it in service fro two-car running in the summer.

Wickham Driving Motor Kitchen Car

This vehicle has been the subject of a winter overhaul internally.  Starting in the dining saloon, the ceiling has been repainted, and a thorough cleaning given to al other surfaces.  The kitchen area has been completely emptied of all loose items so that the whole interior could be thoroughly scrubbed down, disinfected, etc., and the only items that have been returned there are those which are absolutely essential for daily catering service.  By doing this, a drastic reduction in the amount of items to be tidied and kept clean has been achieved, providing whoever works in there with a better environment. Less cluttered workspace, and a little more time to spend on the smaller number of items to be kept clean.  This is in line with general Railway policy of making tasks essential to our statutory duties as simple as possible – the smaller the task, the more likely it is to be done, and properly.

A start has been made on the overhaul of the doors, which, being made of a soft wood framing, have become severely warped over the years.

Wickham Driving Trailer

At last!  A policy decision backed with cash has been taken to restore this vehicle to operational use.  Last year’s traffic levels clearly demanded extra capacity, and the receipts from the 1988 operation have left us with enough money to start to replace windows and seats, as well as to repaint the exterior, all of which are scheduled to commence between the Easter and Whitsun steamings.

The Rest

Virtually no attention has been given to any other of the rolling stock, due to lack of manpower.  This year will see a repeat of the 1987 operation of trying to prevent further deterioration in the historic vehicles, since the provision of much more extensive accommodation is now being actively pursued by the Company, which would allow us to spend time and money much more effectively than we can at present on these vehicles.  However, the LNWR West Coast Joint Stock full brake (the ‘James’), which houses part of the small  relic collection will certainly have attention to its roof soon – a simple task awaits anyone prepared to play with bituminous coatings – come along to the site suitably attired and ask for ‘Clippie’ and the materials will be provided!  P.S. free tea is provided for workers on Saturdays!

 THE BIG LEAK – OR, WHO PULLED THE PLUG OUT?

Regular visitors to Chasewater will have observed the dramatic drop in the level of the reservoir in the last few months.  Railway members at first thought it was the water board’s response to our request for consideration of the condition of the causeway on which the railway crosses the lake, which had been adversely affected by the very high water level during 1987, in which year the causeway had actually been breached during a storm.  (This sounds familiar – low reservoir, breached causeway but this time it was natural causes!  For those who may not have been following the recent happenings at Chasewater, the lake has been virtually emptied and a culvert put through the causeway!)  However, the British Waterways Board have said that they can only attribute this to a leak and to the very low level of rainfall for the last nine months.  They have ‘no idea’ as to the reason for the scale of the water loss, but are ‘investigating’.  Meanwhile, they have ceased to abstract water for the Wyrley and Essington Canal from Chasewater, and we have the benefit of being able to see the whole of the causeway embankment down to its base – and a very sobering site it is too!  But at least we now have a much better idea of what we need as regards the type of materials to use in our planned repair of this essential link in our future enlarged railway.

Permanent Way Notes

Winter 1988 at last saw the completion of phase one of the Brownhills West station yard relaying.  For several years, with the threat of the Birmingham North Orbital Road hanging over the station, we have simply patched up as necessary in the station yard.  However, it’s been recognised for some time that if we were to stay at this location at all beyond 1988, we would need to completely relay the point leading to the sidings (No.2 point) and the centre road, since these had been laid in 1970 and largely untouched since.  The completion of this task has been greeted by all with a sigh of relief since it demanded a lot of what we are short of – manpower.  One really good thing to come out of it, apart of course from the comfort of the demonstration of concern for safety, is that the opportunity of revising the geometry of No.2 point was taken, and where we previously had a point taking up acres of land, with long leads (someone once said that it would make a good 70mph turnout if the sleepers weren’t so knackered and you could trust the brakes on loco No.21, we now have a much shorter point with sharper turnout and therefore a greater length of siding accommodation behind.At the other end of the line, work commenced in earnest in December on the extension towards the causeway.  This work consists of removing both the running line and loop (which is to be relocated at the new station site at Norton East) and relaying the running line in plain track with the concrete sleepers we already have in hand.  To this end, because of the great weight of the concrete sleepers, and because we have good hard standing access to the land immediately adjacent to the railway on this section, we are trying to find someone who will bring along and operate for a day, a HIAB truck, that is, a truck with a mechanical arm attached to it, to move the sleepers from the storage point near the level-crossing to the work-site – so if anyone out there can help, please get in touch.

Locomotive Notes

The 1988 season saw the greatest number of steaming days so far achieved by our group, and the forthcoming season will require even more loco availability than last.  The loco department certainly did the Railway proud as there were no loco failures all season.  Asbestos and the Sentinel were the stalwarts of the whole passenger service, tended in the greatest part by Colin Marklew and Nigel Canning respectively.  Over the 1988/89 winter, they have been stripped down for boiler examinations and general servicing.  Because of the need to completely dismantle the boiler of the Sentinel,   work on this commenced soon after the October ‘Gricer’s Day’. This meant that we were totally reliant on Asbestos for the ‘Mince Pie Specials’, and there she was, gleaming in the sunlight on Tuesday the 27th December, in service on one of the nicest and busiest days of the year.The use of Asbestos at Christmas, however, meant that the loco department then needed to strip it down, have the boiler inspected, rectify any defects and re-assemble it by Easter, as the Sentinel will not be ready for a return to service before Whitsun.  Will they do it? Come along at Easter and find out.

Work continues on S100, Lion and the little Barclay, and the race to be the first newly restored loco to run on the new extension in 1990.  Looks likely to be either Lion or the little Barclay.

On the diesel front, both the Fowler and DL7 are available for services, and the loco dept. are looking towards vacuum fitting one of these (probably the Fowler) during the summer.
The Wickham set has benefited from the attentions of the loco dept also, various refurbishments on the engine and transmission front are being undertaken to complement the C. & W. work on the bodies of these, and both engines have now recently been successfully ‘run-up’.

116 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News January 1988

116ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces

 From Chasewater News January 1988

 From the Editorial

It is eleven years since I last prepared an edition of our Railway’s magazine.  I do so now following our Publicity Director’s decision not to stand for re-election fro personal reasons.  As Company Chairman, however, I intend to act purely as a commissioning editor, so as to avoid any accusation of bias in editorial policy. Rob Curtis has also decided to stand down, as he is about to start a new job and sadly no longer has the time to be as active on the Railway as in the past.

 From the first AGM of the Chasewater Light Railway & Museum Company

The new Board for 1988/89 is composed thus:

Chairman – Steve Organ

Engineering Mgr – T.R.Sale

Operations Mgr – N.V.Canning

Commercial Mgr – B.J.Bull

Financial Mgr – L.J.Emery

Ex Officio – I.M.Newbold, A.C.R.Hall

In addition, the vacant posts of General Manager and Publicity Manager will be covered for the time being by Tony Sale and Steve Organ respectively.  Further, Adrian Hall has offered to continue as Company Secretary.

 The (lost) Causeway

Many of our members have in recent weeks expressed concern about the condition of the causeway which we hope to run passenger trains across to the far side of the lake eventually.  The problem is that some years of neglect, and very high levels of water in Chasewater, coupled with long periods of high winds causing severe wave action to erode the sides of the causeway have combined to completely breach the causeway.Our Company is powerless to do any remedial work, since we at present have no ‘Lawful Interest’ in the causeway, i.e. we don’t lease it at the moment.

Representations have been made to the local authority, Walsall Council, and at a recent meeting of the local authority’s recreation and amenities committee, the Engineer’s Department of Walsall Council were invited to make a detailed study of the problems and to investigate ways of restoring the whole of the causeway to an overall width which would allow both a Railway and a footpath to cross it.  Further, the Waterways Board have said that they will from now on abstract water from Chasewater before any of their BCN reservoirs, and also that this summer, the water level will be kept at a very low level.  This would allow for remedial works to be carried out.

One further point is that a Consulting Civil Engineer has, at our Company’s request, and without charges, examined the causeway, and suggested a relatively low-coast solution to the problem, and as soon as we receive his report, the local authority would like a copy – so perhaps all is not lost.  I hope to bring further news in the July edition of Chasewater News, but be assured that the Board are making as strong a representation as possible to Walsall Council about this vital link to Chasetown.Engineering Manager’s Report

Following a late start in 1987, we were able to run a train service for the first time since 1982, for which two locos, Asbestos and the Sentinel, and the Gloucester trailer coach were available.  No failures or serious faults occurred, although it has become apparent in this first season of continuous brake operation that improvements to the system can be made by relatively simple alterations to the system.  This work, along with annual maintenance, is now being carried out in readiness for the 1988 season, for which initially the same locos and coach will be used.

Work on four privately owned locos is currently being carried out on site, and their owners continue to put in a great deal of work on the Railway as well as their own locos.  The most likely of these to be steamed first is No.2 ‘Lion’ probably followed by No.7 ‘Invicta’ or No.3 ‘Colin McAndrew’.  Please feel free to come and see work in progress on these on any Sunday.

One priority job for the loco dept in 1988 must be the fitting of vacuum brake gear to one of the diesels to enable trains to be run on non-steaming days, and to provide cover in the event of a steam loco failure.  The cost of fitting this equipment, about £250, would be easily covered by the train fares taken on the event of ‘opportunist’ train operations i.e. where lots of people are in the park and we are not scheduled to run trains.

Another project for 1988 is the repair and restoration of the Wickham Trailer car.  This will allow us to run two-car trains for the first time, and doing so will allow us to generate extra income through the opening of a bar car, will give us extra braking power on trains, and will allow us the luxury of a spare coach in the event of a failure.

The coach is in basically sound condition, but requires seven new windows, and the doors require stripping and re-building.

Extension News

On 7th March, I formally applied to British Railways Board for License to operate passenger trains over the section of line from Willowvale Bridge to the Causeway.

The application to BR followed the purchase of the land from BR by Walsall Council, which was completed in November last.  Our Company’s predecessors bought the track on the land some years ago, but the Council slowed down the procedure of buying the land when our group ran out of steam in the early eighties, and only revived when our New Company breathed new life into the Chasewater Railway Project in October 1986.

Because we bought the track, BR gave us permission some years ago to maintain the formation of this section of line, so we very recently carried out work on the bridge, so that if BR give us the license we need, we can very rapidly move on to the section: I would feel we should be running trains along this stretch within 9 months of possession, to maintain the impetus of development of the line.  Steve Organ

 Civil Engineering

Work in this area has been concentrated in the last year on maintenance and simplification of the trackwork, incorporation of the Railway Inspectorates requirements, such as the installation of trap points, Annets locks, fencing, etc.  Whilst this work may seem tiresome, it is part and parcel of the business of running a railway and allows us to operate in confidence and in SAFETY.  (This next bit hurts!!) We are fortunate in the field of trackwork to have over the last year, gained a member, Chris Chivers, with experience and enthusiasm for p-way work (when he’s not setting things on fire).  (We’ve not managed to get rid of him yet!!).

We have also to thank Mr.J.L.Townsend, M.I.C.E., who has recently undertaken an inspection of Willowvale Bridge, and provided a formal report and detailed specifications for remedial work to it, work which is likely to be largely complete by the time you read this.

In view of the progress made in the last year, we are now making detailed plans for the future.

114 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News Winter 1987

114Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

 From Chasewater News Winter 1987

Chasewater Comment – This issue’s comment is not the usual message of doom and despondency and may help prove that all the recent effort has been worthwhile. (This page was ok but it soon went back to the old story – we’ve not got any money!)

From the Boardroom Notes – Most of the hassle is being caused by the motorway mentioned in the last notes, of which more later.  Many problems are being caused because the railway’s records are scattered among the directors, especially the accounting records which really do need to be housed centrally.  To this end the office at Brownhills West was planned, agreed and the basic structure provided, but despite the plea for funds in the last magazine, none have been forthcoming.  The situation is now becoming very grave, as it will soon be impossible to meet the statutory requirements for administration of the business.  The company has no money available for capital expenditure before Easter, nor to cover commercial stock and publicity for next season.  This is largely due to our inability to make more money from operations, hence the need for the above expenditure. (Seems like a vicious circle – after being in similar circumstances for some time before this point, the people running the railway must have been very enthusiastic to keep carrying on!).

The AGM in March will see all of the present Board standing down and in some cases seeking re-election.  Anyone interested in taking part in the management of the railway should contact the Secretary as soon as possible.  Essential requirements are enthusiasm and commitment. (As Mr. Punch once said: “That’s the way to do it!”).

The Chairman and Secretary have been engaged in a considerable amount of planning, lobbying and briefings connected with the development of the Railway now that the motorway route has been published.  The Company is objecting to the destruction of Anglesey Basin by the Burntwood by-pass and its link road.  Development of the rest of the line should be unaffected but long leases are unavailable at present.  Negotiations will however continue and preparatory research is now being undertaken for the Light Railway Order.  The Board has produced a report on the options available.  The basic proposals include continued development of works and storage facilities adjacent to the present shed and location of land for visitor facilities and a museum next to a re-sited Brownhills West Station.  It is this latter point which is causing problems as the Council seems to be unwilling to commit to anything at the present time.

By the time you read the next boardroom notes our surveyors and solicitors will be playing a much more active role in ensuring the future of the railway, with special reference to the reinstatement of lost facilities and opportunities at Brownhills West.

News from the Line

Permanent Way Department – Following a couple of derailments, the points next to the water column controlling 2 & 3 roads have been completely dismantled and rebuilt in a shorter configuration.  Work is expected to be completed well before Christmas and as a result, 3 road should be around 60 feet longer.  After completion of this work a start may be made on the much awaited run round loop at Brownhills West.

There are still a number of jobs outstanding to satisfy the Railway Inspector, notably provision of level crossing gates, facing point locks and Annets Key lever frames.  It is hoped that this work, along with the usual repairing of fences and packing track, will be completed this winter.  All volunteers will be most welcome!

Carriage & Wagon Department

Gloucester Trailer (E56301) – This vehicle has run its first year on passenger trains with the vacuum brakes in use.  The roof and bodywork have been repaired and a number of batteries have been replaced.

Wickham Power Car – This vehicle has again been in use as a stationary buffet car earning vital income.  Replacement guttering has been completed and the roof repainted.  A number of damaged batteries have been replaced.  Attention is now required to repair its warped doors, and to repair and repaint the body and re-decorate the interior.

Wickham Trailer – This vehicle is still relatively derelict with a large number of broken windows.  It has, however had its replacement guttering completed, roof repainted and a number of windows are now available to replace those stolen or damaged.

LNW Milk Van – ‘James’ has had a couple of body panels renewed following attempted break-ins and has also had mains lighting and a burglar alarm fitted.  It is hoped that the ‘motorway move’ will allow it to be re-connected to the rest of the railway.

MR Passenger Brake – This for wheeler has been repainted inside and out and has been in use on steam days as an extra exhibition coach.

GW Brake Van – This van has been beautifully restored internally and now only requires ‘finishing off’ and attention to the running gear.

M&C, MSL, & LNW Brake End – All of these vehicles have received a certain amount of ‘preventive renovation’ and look quite presentable from a distance.

Hopper Wagon – This wagon has had the hopper completely removed and is to be fitted with sleeper decking for use as a flat wagon.

One of the ex Holly Bank Colliery 5-plank wagons has been repainted in a livery reminiscent of Stroudley’s improved engine green.

All other Vehicles – No work carried out.

Loco Department

No.1 – no work done, needs painting and superficially renovating.

No.2 – ‘Lion’ is still progressing under its new ownership, having had its chimney cap repaired, paint stripped and re-applied, and the boiler prepared for inspection.

No.3 – ‘Colin McAndrew’ work is still progressing on boiler repairs.

No.4 – ‘Asbestos’ has run well after a late start this season.  It will require minor work on valve gear, boiler and regulator ready for next season.

No.5 – ‘Sentinel’ 59632 has completed its first full season of passenger work and on 11th October was griced in the traditional manner by a man with a long mac and notebook from the field opposite the shed.

No.6 – The Albright & Wilson Peckett has had the cab and boiler removed to allow work on re-plating the bottom of the smokebox to proceed.

No.7 – The Ruston is still operational with no problems.

No.8 – ‘Invicta’ has been prepared for boiler testing and has had part of the driver’s side cab cut away for re-plating.

No.10 – ‘S100’ Work has progressed on steam chest fastenings, frames and spring hangers.

No.11 – ‘Alfred Paget’ remains out of use although it was recently repainted.

No.12 – The Fowler, following its recent arrival, remains out of use pending replacement or repair of its batteries.

No.15 – The Hudswell remains out of use with no work having been carried out.

No.21 – The Bass pudding remains out of use with the engine removed.  Some work has been carried out on de-rusting and painting the bodywork.

Chasewater Events 1987

Our first full operating season since 1982 saw four special events organised by the Chasewater Light Railway and Museum Company.

The first event was held on 26th April when, in addition to a Norton Motor Cycle Rally, we held a Railwayana Fayre.  The event was a reasonable financial success with eighty plus Nortons in attendance plus around a dozen sales stands.  Nigel Canning’s Sentinel performed admirably on trains, as indeed it has all season.

Sunday 21st June, a somewhat overcast day saw both ‘Asbestos’ and the Sentinel in steam on the occasion of our first Model Engineers Day.  Attendance both of the public and, perhaps even more disappointing, of exhibits was low.  Thanks go to John Rickers for bringing along six of the thirteen visiting exhibits.  John has been a good supporter of or rallies for several years now and his models are of a very high standard.  However, the star of the show was Roy Prime’s Sentinel steam wagon, built to ¾ scale, attending only its second rally.

One new event of which we had high hopes was the military weekend held in conjunction with the West Midland World War 2 Re-enactment Group.  Approximately twenty military vehicles attended the show, which was held over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday 25th & 26th July.  Apart from the mock battle held at 3.30pm on the Sunday ( unfortunately just as rain began to fall), highlights were an attack on Asbestos-hauled train and a 1943 Bren Gun carrier giving rides.  The Sentinel also saw use during the weekend.  Thanks in particular to Peter Bick, Chairman of the re-enactment Group.  The show was a moderate success and hopefully we can make various improvements for a similar event in July 1988.

Our biggest and best event was the annual end of season Transport Rally held on 11th October.  Two hundred and fifty exhibits were on display, including a 1904 Marshall traction engine.  It was nice to see the former West Bromwich Corporation Dennis ‘E’, now 59 years old and coming to its first rally since a major engine re-build.  A good selection of vintage and classic cars was well backed by 20 odd military vehicles, and a handful of commercials, more than in recent years, and a good display of motor-cycles and stationary engines.  Thanks in particular on this day go to Angela and Jill fro their work assisting Rob Duffill in the buffet coach.  Also special thanks to Ralph and Vera Amos for manning the sales stand at our major events this year.

From the Archives

Again this section features something of local interest.The Ennals Toy Fair handbill dates back to approximately 1935 – not only are the prices a revelation but just look at the various departure points, out of 38, only 12 remained open in 1987.  (Probably still fewer in 2011).