Tag Archives: Gartsherrie

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 43.1 – Neilson on its way – most of it!

A not very satisfactory day

By G. Wildish

June 16th 1968, we were on our way to collect the Neilson locomotive – ‘we’ being Mary Grisdale and myself, Gerald Wildish.  The 4.00am train landed us in Glasgow shortly before 8.00am and after breakfast we arrived at Gartsherrie at 8.30.  Since our last visit, the works had been completely taken over by the scrap merchants, T.W.Ward, and this was the beginning of our trouble.

Reporting at the works – the manager said ‘Oh yes, the engine is there – go up and I will join you later.’  I went to the shed and was disgusted.  Some scrap thieves had removed all the brass clack and water valves.  The coupling and connecting rods had also been removed and cut up by oxy-acetylene equipment and were lying in pieces around the engine.  I returned to the manager and told him the story, ‘Oh yes, that happened yesterday, the police have been told’ – but why hadn’t he mentioned it to me earlier!

There was one locomotive with its motions still intact – No.3, and the manager agreed that we should tale these rods.  The next job was to remove them, they were stuck fast!  Mary traced some welders nearby with some cutting equipment and I gave them a back-hander to remove these for me – it took two and a half hours to get these pieces off satisfactorily. (It is highly probable that these men were the culprits from the day before).

Meanwhile the other problem was to remove the locomotive.  The line which we were to use for the removal – which it had been promised would be left for us – had been taken up!  At 9.00am the Wrekin Haulage people arrived and I took the driver on a tour of the lines and eventually we found one road-level stretch of line, but this was a mile and a quarter away.  The problem was to get the loco there.  The diesel loco of T.W.Ward was also in trouble and was unlikely to work.  However, I prevailed on two men to start and operate the diesel, but the brakes failed.  We agreed that I should operate the Neilson as a brake.  At 11 o’clock we succeeded in getting the Neilson to the low loader.  Two hours later we had got the coupling rods off the other Neilson and taken over to the low loader by a dumper truck.On her way!

Just before 4 o’clock the Neilson was loaded, but on arrival at the works entrance, the driver estimated that he could not get out!  Half-an-hour later, with the police controlling the traffic, the lorry nosed its way out and we set off for home.

Despite all our efforts, we are still two water and clack valves and injectors short.  New piping will be required to connect them with the loco and screws holding them to the boiler will have to be renewed as these have been mutilated by the acetylene equipment.  However, we have the loco – I pray that No.3’s rods fit.  Now that Millom Haematite Iron Ore Co. is to close down, we may be able to obtain spares from their Neilson, I sincerely hope so – I have written to them in anticipation.

Steaming at Chasewater

That is the end of Gerald Wildish’s article, but just to conclude – the Neilson locomotive took a while before it was used at Chasewater but was steamed successfully from 1975 till 1982.  After some years in storage and in the Heritage Centre it has now been moved into the workshop ready for renovation work, probably after the Hudswell Clarke S100 has been completed.In the Heritage Centre workshop

PS from Barry Bull – steamed September or October 1982 for her 100th birthday together with McLaren traction engine ‘Little Wonder’, also 100 years old, owned by the late John Mayes.Picture from http://www.steamscenes.org

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Bits & Pieces – More about Neilson

This is the third of four articles about the Neilson loco, the first was in another post – about collecting the funds for the 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 Laurence 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, Laurence 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 Laurence 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