Tag Archives: DMU

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway – Wirksworth to provide first railcar for the Bluebell Railway

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WIRKSWORTH TO PROVIDE FIRST RAILCAR FOR THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY

HISTORIC FIRST VISIT WILL USE DERBYSHIRE-RESTORED CARRIAGES599_lo

Wirksworth, 30 December 2013: The Bluebell Railway has hired a two-car Diesel Railcar from the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth, Derbyshire. The set will operate some winter weekend services on the Bluebell Railway between East Grinstead and Horsted Keynes whilst maintenance works take place on the line between Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park.

The arrival of these railcars will represent a first for the Bluebell railway as they will be the first ever to visit the line: Passenger services were withdrawn in 1958 and diesel railcars seldom ventured into Sussex.

The two carriages have been refurbished maintained and repainted by volunteers from the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway DMU Group.Over the past decade, this group of youthful volunteers has created a facility at Wirksworth dedicated to the restoration and operation of Diesel Railcars (also known as Multiple Units) ranging from the 1956-vintage railcar ‘Iris’ to a Cross-Country railcar restored in 2013 to concours standard from a bare body.

Mike Evans, head of motive power for the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway said “It is great that the hard work of our youthful DMU Group can be appreciated not only at home, but also on other important preserved railways such as the Bluebell.”

Passengers will be able to enjoy the Sussex scenery through the driver’s cab for the first time during January and February.1505_lo

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234 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Spring 2000 – Part 6

234 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Spring 2000 – Part 6

Diesel Dept. Notes

Fowler Works TrainDiesel 1Diesel 2Diesel 3No.21 and Brake Van at CW

204 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Summer 1997– Part 3 Railcars on the Chase Pt 3

204 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Summer 1997– Part 3

Railcars on the Chase Pt 3

DMUs in Preservation

Steve Organ

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A well-known carriage and loco haulier booked to move the Gloucester arrived at Chasewater to start loading 12 hours behind schedule.  A lovely, dry, sunny day had turned into a horrible evening.  There was torrential rain, high winds and a truly brassed off Charlie (the park ranger) who insisted that it was his duty to walk the lorry through the park; he had waited all day by the gate for the lorry, only for his directions and protestations to be ignored as, soaked to the skin, he tried in vain to stop the lorry driver from reversing into a road sign at the park entrance.  The road sign was beyond salvation, so was Charlie’s composure, so he went home, head down, fists clenched at his side, uttering the sort of oaths my mum would have flattened him for.  The youth assisting, who had been sitting on the tail of the lorry, steering the rear bogie, now crawled out of the ditch into which he had fallen when the pantechnicon juddered through the road sign.  Limping, and covered in what I thought (and he probably hoped) was mud, he offered much the same phrases as Charlie had, but with even greater vehemence.  The storm soon spread the mud on him into an even brown, with vertical fluorescent stripes, each with a little stream; quite a change from his suit’s earlier orange glow.  Worse was to come.  I travelled the lorry to the loading site.  The last 100 yards of the route involved crossing a grassy field.  Now I knew that a hard route existed under the grass, and I got out and walked in front of the lorry to the loading point.  No problem.  The lorry arrived at the ‘Farmer’s Crossing’ where we had loaded and unloaded stock since 1968.

The Gloucester, chocked and braked, sat adjacent, a dazzling reflection of the lorry’s lights in the sheets of storm water falling down its side, projecting water from the gutter spouts at the carriage end more vigorously than the stone boys in a Roman fountain, defying the thunder and lightning, seeming somehow determined to ignore everything and everyone.

It was 9.00pm.  The lorry driver and his mate were experienced men, and agreed that loading should wait until morning.  He insisted that he could load and move away without my assistance the following day, so I walked with him along the course of the hard road that lay beneath the green sward, showing him the sighting points.  I clearly remember, after warning him of the dangers he faced if he left the roadway, how he parted his long, soaked hair so that I could see him, smiled pityingly, and said ‘I’m a professional driver, son’.  With that, he turned back towards his lorry, where the youth was assisting him in trying to warm a sandwich on the cab heater.  Then I smiled, too.  I had already seen how this ‘professional’ responded to directions and advice.

DMU Ad

The following morning.  10.00am. Snug in bed, with the first cup of tea of the day.  The telephone rings.  It is, of course, the haulier.  ‘What do you think you’re playing at, sending our driver through a swamp?’  ‘Is there a problem?’ I enquire, spilling tea on the cat as I tried to suppress a chortle.

‘Our wagon’s up to its axles in s**t with a carriage loaded on it, we sent another tractor unit to pull them out – that’s gone in the same and stuck too, this is going to cost you a lot of money to recover them from your site’,

I explained the events of the night before, and described the driver’s smugness.  The caller must have recognised the driver’s style, for no further action was taken for damages.  The lorry was stuck for two days before recovery was achieved, and when removed, having sunk deeper into the bog whilst awaiting recovery, left behind a length of canal 100 feet long and 9 feet wide,  The Gloucester went away with muddy tyres…..

At BNFL, Eric Bond and his men successfully has asbestos stripped from the Gloucester, and restored the interior, a remarkable achievement in a very short time.  Sadly the BNFL scheme became beset by beaurocracy and was eventually closed down.  Sheridan Payne and the national Railcar Museum are the present custodians of the Gloucester (1997).

Next to go was the Wickham set.

The Llangollen Railway boasts a large collection of DMUs, with a support group led by Evan Green-Hughes.  Dave Whittle, a Chasewater director at the time (he now organises our two huge vintage rallies) became the broker in a deal in which Evan and his supporters became the owners of the Wickham set, with the condition that it remained at Chasewater until suitable replacement stock was obtained.

Wickham set gift

At this time, the causeway rebuilding project at the north end of the lake was gathering pace.  One of my ambitions in that project was to shave enough off the plant hire budget to pay for some of the rolling stock replacement, and in the end, sufficient was saved to pay for two vehicles, together with movement costs.  Since this money came from an outside source, effectively brought in by providing the daily management of the causeway project in my capacity as General Manager, the cash – and the carriages – were a major side benefit of that scheme.

By 1990, BR were making mass cuts in what had by now become the Heritage fleet.  Some Class 117 units were being used to transport workers in the Channel Tunnel, and these were amongst the first to become redundant, since Tyseley had needed to hang on to the asbestos-free units in their fleet until very late because of delayed deliveries of the new electrical units for the Birmingham area.  In the event, a huge clearout of redundant rolling stock led to the issue of a 200 vehicle-long tender list which offered all that we could hope or wish for.  The day that dropped through the letterbox was the day I bought my first bottle of Pro-Plus caffeine tablets, to try and extend my daily period of consciousness.

The problems now were that the carriages were all over Britain, only four weeks were available to view them, the causeway project was still, after two years, demanding my daily supervision, and no-one else was available to inspect the cars on the weekdays BR were willing to take us round.

Inside Back Cover Wagons

201 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Spring 1997– Part 2

201 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Spring 1997– Part 2

Railcars on the Chase – Part 2

DMUs in Preservation – Steve Organ

DMU carriages had come into preservation at Chasewater rather by accident.  The need to carry our visitors over the line was driven by the need to collect revenue for our more general preservation aims, and the opportunity to buy the first ‘Gloucester’ trailer driver car, and later the ‘Wickham’ two car set, were seen by the then management committee as providing Capital stock; low maintenance, light, high capacity carriages which could take the place of the fragile vintage carriages which were deteriorating badly and in need of a more thorough restoration than had previously been given.

In 1986, the present, newly formed Trust, surveyed and assessed the capital stock, and found lots of blue asbestos in the roof and side skins.  It was also clear that the bodies of these vehicles were deteriorating badly, thus raising the spectre of exposing the deadly material.  A clear and serious legal, Health and Safety, and financial liability loomed.  That was the day I bought my first bottle of Gaviscon!

A ‘lowest cost’ solution to the potential problem was sought.  Estimated of around £15,000 were given for the removal of the asbestos, and after the removal, we would have been faced with the huge task of completely rebuilding the interiors which would have been destroyed during stripping.  Time for reflection, then.

Only a few volunteers were at work at Chasewater at this time.  The Society had been forced, because of track defects, to stop running trains in 1982, at the same time that a huge debt had been accrued whilst a STEPS scheme had worked on the Railway, and the morale of the group was very poor.  The present Company had only recently been formed to amalgamate the old Society and Company into a single Charitable Trust, and whilst volunteer numbers were on the increase, carriage rebuilds were financially and physically beyond our reach.  Other preservationists had expressed interest in our DMU cars as worthy of preservation in their own right; we saw this as a possible means of disposing of our liabilities, and so we started to consider our future requirements for stock.

The new Trust had started afresh, renewing the aspirations of the earlier Society to operate considerably further with public trains than had previously been achieved.  This was to give a better chance for the locos to work, to give a longer ride to the people who paid for our projects, and to have a ‘real’ railway – with more than one station!  We also decided that we wanted to operate every Sunday from Easter to October, and that meant that we would need to provide a back up for the steam locos in case of failure or maintenance needs, so as to provide a reliable service.  Standardisation of components would clearly be an advantage, but traditional-looking stock would enhance the appearance of the Railway.  These were some of the factors which influenced our assessments of stock requirements, and gradually a consensus of opinion was achieved.

In the 1954 modernisation plan, BR had chosen to replace many traditional multi-compartment suburban and long distance steam hauled rolling stock with two types of self-propelled diesel trains; local and suburban services would have 64’ long cars with doors to every seating bay, and would therefore look from the outside much the same as carriages which had run since the 188s, albeit much longer (and therefore cheaper to maintain) than their ancestors.  Longer distance (cross country) trains would have only two or three doors to a car side, and be built variously on 57’ or 63’ 5” underframes.

In the mid 1980s, British Rail were disposing of DMU stock which had been refurbished in the mid-seventies.  The attraction of good condition, complete and relatively easy to maintain rolling stock was obvious.  For some reason, the idea of buying Mk 1 carriages was greeted by a majority of our group with derision – low capacity, poor external view compared to DMU cars, and the fact that ‘everybody’s got them; were the main objections.

Chasewater had first received the Gloucester car in 1973, it having worked in East Anglia for only 16 years since new in 1957 – the lines on which it had operated having mostly been axed.  The Wickham two car unit arrived next – one of six units built as a sample batch for assessment for the modernisation plan, but withdrawn early as non-standard, The BR Board not having proceeded to put the design into mass production.  A feature of the cross country cars was the BR Mk1 carriage style ventilating lights above each window.  Whilst essential for air circulation, these proved to be a pain in the neck to renew when vandalised.

The units available for ex BR sale in 1987 were mostly built with lots of blue asbestos, and required stripping or inspection (at a similar cost and with lots of internal damage) paid for by the purchaser prior to release from BR.  Our plans were channelled partly by this factor into looking at the cars BR planned to keep longest – the class 117 suburban and the class 108 longer distance units, most of which had been built without blue asbestos.  The 117 units were the most traditional looking, and would be available in the greatest quantity – meaning they would be quite likely to fetch only their scrap value when sold.

So what to pursue? By 1988, Mk 1s were fetching £4000, whereas rumour had it that £1200 would buy a DMU car.

Policy was finally agreed at Chasewater.  Class 117 cars were the favourite option.  We would attempt to buy two centre cars – one with lavatories and one without, so that we could operate through carriage trains without a cab at either end once loco run round facilities were established at either end of our projected running line.  A driving car would be needed to maintain the present push-pull operation, since Major Olver had spoken so favourably about the full observation available for the person in charge of a propelled train from a proper cab.  Finally, a ‘power twin’ – two car unit, one car with guard’s van and one without – would be sought to operate as required, i.e. mid-week for school parties, to cover for steam loco maintenance, (once a month) and to provide cover for failures.  The push-pull car would become a mobile spares bank for the power twin set, and one car could, when spares eventually ran out, be cannibalised to provide spares for the other four cars.

Tyseley depot became familiar with the Chasewater group over the following years.  The first car purchased was Trailer Composite (TC) No. 59444 built in 1954 at Derby, one of ten built as lot No. 30448.  The car had been stored spare at Tyseley for six months after major overhaul, not having gone onto a set because the 4 and 3 car sets were being reduced to 3 and 2 car formations by the time of its return from Doncaster.  This was being done to allow sets to accelerate better in view of the fact that deliveries of sprinter sets were running late and the older sets often had to substitute for the unbuilt sprinters, in accelerated schedules.  The ‘power twin’ two car suburban sets, with a combined 600 HP to move their 72 tons were widely referred to as ‘Mark 1 Sprinters’.  My last ride on such a set was in winter 1996, on the Clapham Junction to Willesden run, with its severe gradients and sharp curves – and a stunt pilot in the cockpit!  I was astonished at the performance of the set, and at the confidence of the driver – approaching Willesden up a very steep hill, on a sharp bend, two diamonds and other switches at the top, on the curve, with 50 mph on the clock and a temporary ‘10’ marker board alongside.  ‘Silly stunt’ I commented to a gricer alongside me.  That was the day I bought my first bottle of Grecian 2000.  Back to 59444.  What a superb buy!  Just one problem – the Trust still had no money, and there sitting at Tyseley was exactly what we needed for our first acquisition, complete with new batteries, new floor, new seat coverings, heaters still in warranty…..  and so Les Emery, at the time a Director, purchased the vehicle and brought it to Chasewater, had it painted Carmine and Cream, and ran it with the Wickham Trailer car.  Les sought partners, and the coach is now in shared ownership, still in superb fettle.

With 59444 in service, further 117 sales thought imminent, and siding space at a premium, we let it be known that  the Wickham set and the Gloucester were up for grabs.  British Nuclear Fuels near Preston were in the market for a carriage at the time.  Eric Bond, a PR Officer there, was leading a preservation group on the internal works system, and saw a role for the Gloucester as a mobile classroom, as part of a PR educational package.  The BNFL group hoped to carry out asbestos stripping on an in-house basis, made a donation to Chasewater, and took the Gloucester away – although not without incident.  But that’s another story!!!

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 61 – May 1973

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces No.61

RPS Newsletter No.2 – May 1973

Since the last newsletter (March) we have been pleased to see a few members turn up at Chasewater as a result of the appeal for more support.  We would like to see a few more however.  There is an interesting variety of jobs, i.e. trackwork, platform building, locomotive and carriage restoration, installation of signals and signalling equipment. (Sounds familiar!!)

There was a successful Easter Weekend Steaming in spite of awful weather, and a thank you to the members who stayed overnight to light up, and those who operated the service in such vile weather.

DMU Trailer UnitPic – Laurence Hodgkinson

This vehicle has now arrived at Walsall from March, Cambs. And is now awaiting collection and transportation by low-loader from Walsall to Chasewater.  This should prove a spectacular operation (albeit a costly one). We deserve to get maximum publicity from this enterprise.  As most members will realise, this carriage has been purchased to give maximum seating capacity for the summer season’s running, also to replace our vintage Maryport & Carlisle coach now in service.  The M & C now needs some restoration work, new panelling and a complete repaint.Pic – Laurence Hodgkinson – Top of Pleck Road, Walsall

Stop Press – 3rd May!!

This vehicle is now safely in the compound at Chasewater, after a hectic day by a small party of members and being filmed going through the streets of Walsall by ‘ATV Today’

Pic – Laurence Hodgkinson Coming through the farm gate at Chasewater.

NER 8 Ton Box Van

Due to the efforts of our Hon. Sec. Barry Bull, the Society has acquired the last wooden bodied Box Van used by Messrs. Cadbury of Bournville.  Messrs. Cadbury have very kindly donated the vehicle to the Society, arrangements have now been made for collection of this vehicle on May 5th.  Our grateful thanks to both Messrs. Cadbury for donating this vehicle and to Barry for negotiating the deal.

Ellie the Dobermann and Hednesford in the snow.

Hednesford in the snow

and other bits

This way to the town centre!

As you may know, our Dobermann Ellie has had a problem with the tendons in her leg, and even now, some four months after her operation, she still has trouble walking.  She has a metal plate in her leg which we think may be affected by deep snow, and the snow we had was certainly deep enough.  The last few days I have been giving her a ball to carry – she obviously can’t chase it, – and just doing that seems to have bucked her up no end, she seems much happier when she’s out – she doesn’t like just walking on her lead.  So I decided, snow or no snow, she desperately needs the exercise and – ball in mouth – off we went.  She enjoyed every minute.

The leg that looks bent isn’t the bad one – it’s the angle of the photo!!

While I had my camera handy, I thought I’d pop down to the railway and see if there were any trains about – got the one due in Hednesford from Birmingham at about 8.50am

Passing under the bridge in Stafford Lane before entering the station.