Tag Archives: Gloucester DMU

195 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Autumn 1996 – Part 3

195 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Autumn 1996 – Part 3

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Railcars on the Chase

27 Years of DMU Preservation

Steve Organ

The first ‘Modernisation Plan’ Diesel Multiple Unit vehicle to go into preservation was Gloucester Carriage & Wagon 1957 built Driving Trailer Composite (DTC) No.SC56301, which came to Chasewater from the Scottish region of British Railways at Easter 1969.  The vehicle was one of a fleet formed into two car sets which worked in Scotland and in East Anglia, as well as in the West Midlands.  The purchase was by the Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands District), as we then were, who had taken a lease on the line and trackbed at Chasewater which had formerly carried coal traffic.

The Park was being developed at the time by the local authorities keen to reclaim the spoil heaped, ruined landscape that had recently ceased production.  A preserved railway was welcomed, and so much traffic was being carried in very old and fragile stock we had inherited from the Colliery at Rawnsley, that a more modern vehicle was needed to take the load, relieving the historic stock.  The Gloucester, which seated 12 passengers in first class, and 54 in second was 57 feet 6 inches long and weighed only 25 tons.

Immediately on arrival at Chasewater, still in its recently acquired Rail Blue livery, with small yellow warning panel and 2-digit route indicator below the cab front window, the car was adapted with the buzzer circuit carried through the lighting circuit jumper and through to the locomotive which had a buzzer fitted to enable the vehicle to be used for push-pull working, with the Guard (or Coach Driver) signalling from the coach cab to the Loco Driver to stop, start, etc. by buzzer code.  Permission was received from the Railway Inspectorate to operate in this fashion despite there being no through vacuum brake, thanks to the simple communication system, the excellent look-out position for the Guard, his access to a handbrake and the line’s ‘U’ shaped gradient profile at both ends!

The DMU was a great success, and we no longer worried about the underframe of the train snapping!  The windows, large and almost continuous around the vehicle, together with the light green flecked Formica finish, and seating in vertically striped red and grey (second class) and blue and gold (first class), made for a very welcoming appearance, and the Chasewater system of working push-pull with DMU cars in conjunction with a steam or diesel locomotive was established.

The paytrain concept was adopted by BR in the sixties, and at Chasewater we often steamed on an unscheduled Sunday if the weather was fine (we only advertised trains every fortnight at this time), and used an ex Birmingham Corporation Transport Ultimatic ticket machine when the guard had to collect fares because no staff had been rostered for the station.  Often in the summer of 1974 with trains running over the then 300 yards of track and with only five minutes to collect up to 90 fares, I felt as though my thumb was dropping off by the end of the day operating that machine.

1974 saw the Gloucester painted into maroon, with a light grey roof.  A gold and white bodyside line was added below the windows in 1976.  1979 saw the front route indicator panel plated over, and a further coat of maroon paint applied.

In 1979, the Board identified two needs which could be satisfied with the purchase of a further two vehicles, firstly to use one as a ‘Railway environment’ buffet, and the other for use as a bar car, to be attached to the passenger train on busy or festival days.  A two-car Wickham-built set, recently used as a General Manager’s Inspection Saloon was identified and purchased for £1500 plus VAT and transported by rail from Leeds to Wolverhampton steel terminal, then by road to Chasewater.

The Wickham two-car set had been converted into an inspection saloon car for the General Manager, British Railways Eastern Division, in the mid-sixties.

The diving motor brake second (DMBS) was No.E50416, 57 feet long and weighed 27 tons 6 cwt.  Stripped of its original interior, a kitchen had been fitted in place of the original Guard’s compartment, and the Guard’s vestibule end windows had been plated over.  A corridor ran from the gangway around the kitchen.  The engines (two 150 HP BUT Leylands), transmission and general mechanical condition were fairly good.

The driving trailer composite, No.E56171, was 57 feet long and weighed 20 tons 10 cwt.  Again, this vehicle was internally stripped for its inspection role, and was altered thus:  one of the two toilets was removed and replaced with shelves: two huge seats, each 3’ 6” wide were installed next to the toilet, adjacent to a vacuum stand pipe, emergency brake handle and vacuum gauge.  A single compartment installed and folding steps complete with vacuum pipe release trips (to prevent the train from moving whilst the steps were down) installed below the passenger doors.  Both vehicles had had the passenger doorways nearest the front of the vehicles removed and plated over.

Both vehicles had aluminium bodies over angle-iron frames and were in good condition, however the gutters leaked and the gutter strip was eventually replaced – steel gutters fitted against aluminium bodysides need only water to start electrolytic transmission, resulting in bodyside holes against the gutter.  (This was a problem we would encounter again later with the 1994 acquisitions).  The doors were however a problem, with only a short production run, softwood frames with an aluminium skin were fitted, rather than the more normal single cast alloy that are on so many DMUs, so warping and rot were a constant problem.

At the time of the Wickhams’ arrival, the Company was suffering certain problems.  The Society, which was the group founder, had formed a company in the early seventies for the purpose of administering the public services provided by the group, a YOPS (Youth Opportunities Programme) scheme was in progress, and the two parts of the group failed to see eye to eye, the result being ultimately that the volunteer-led Society failed to co-operate with the ‘employees’ of the Company.  The track fell into rack and ruin and Society morale dissolved, members feeling squeezed out by the ‘Company’.  Of course, in reality the two needed to co-exist.

The planned use of E56171 as a second train vehicle was not proceeded with, although a rudimentary bar, built in the Officers’ compartment, did see several static days of service in 1981, and after a few excursions with E50516, as a DMU was laid up.  E56171 was however opened as a static buffet in 1981, parked against a sleeper-built platform.

1982 saw the Railway close down.  The condition of the track was awful and volunteers had disappeared, also a huge debt had been run up by the YOPS scheme.  The platform at Brownhills West was declared unsafe and demolished under the Company’s auspices, only to be found to be almost indestructible (but too late, the track had been removed and the ground excavated).  The group’s only income for the next three years was from the static buffet car E50416 and very little of significance occurred on site.

1985 saw a new start for the Railway.  A new Company was designed, and only a week after incorporation was registered as a Charity.  The aim was to incorporate the assets and accumulated debts of the old Company and Society, safeguarding the vintage stock and line, and to address the debt, so that things could start moving away from the moribund state.  With the track re-laid in concrete sleepers and a few of the old volunteers in harness, trains operated again for the first time in three years in October 1985.

The Gloucester car was repainted – yes – maroon again! And the now very worn maquette was replaced by yours truly in his first stab at upholstery.  A straw and green cloth was used in the Second class and a deep purple in the First.  Care was taken to retain and renovate all the other original fittings, wall covers, etc.

For the 1986 season both Wickham cars were repainted into – you guessed it – maroon to match the Gloucester.  The buffet car remained static, but the now derelict E56171 was re-worked, starting with the replacement of19 windows which had been smashed during its three years of abandonment.  A new large bar was built, and original pattern ‘curly back’ seats arranged around tables.  An open lounge area was created using seats from BR Mk ll carriages and the Officers’ compartment was fitted with First class seating from a Mk l carriage.  Whitsun 1986 saw the car in service with the Gloucester on the now 400 yard shunt.

One special problem had arisen during the carriage repairs; a mechanical and structural survey had shown them all to be very contaminated with blue asbestos in the body side and roofs.  A solution to the inevitable eventual stripping cost, at that time estimated at around £15,000, meant that something would have to be done!

From ‘Letters to the Editor’ Winter 1996 Chasewater News

While browsing through the next magazine to see if there was a part two to Steve Organ’s article (there is!) I came across this letter from our Museum Curator, Barry Bull.  I decided to include it here to save any long-standing members commenting on any errors.

Dear Sir,

Having just received and read the Autumn 1996 Chasewater News I would like to add a little background detail and correct a few inaccuracies in Steve Organ’s article ‘Railcars on the Chase – 27 Years of DMU Preservation’.

I’m afraid that Steve has exaggerated by some 4 years here as the Gloucester trailer E56301 did not arrive at Chasewater until May 1973.  As the E prefix indicates it came from the Eastern Region and not, as Steve suggested, from Scotland.  The vehicle was on open tender from BR and lay at March, Cambridgeshire.  We had been looking for a suitable vehicle to relieve the use of the Maryport and Carlisle six wheeler and the 16 ton GWR Brake van on passenger services, and needed something suitable for push-pull use, the Gloucester, as Steve mentioned was just right.  Our bid of £330 with our proviso that this included removal at BR’s cost to our nominated place for transfer to road transport (Long Street, Walsall) was accepted.

However, before the Gloucester trailer arrived at Chasewater, we could have disposed of it!  The North Yorkshire Moors Railway had acquired off the same BR tender list two Gloucester power cars and just one trailer.  As you can imagine they were probably a trifle peeved at having lost a trailer and we were duly contacted with a request to forego our new acquisition.  Our response was to give the NYMR a short time to provide and transport to Chasewater at their cost a similar suitable vehicle with an amount of cash to be paid to us for our ‘inconvenience’.  We received no response and the Gloucester duly arrived at Chasewater with its road journey from Walsall featured on the local independent TV News, thanks to Paul Mason who apparently drank in the same pub as Bob Warman.  At least one RPS member who knocked a day off work to help in the operation was spotted on TV and got into a bit of bother at work the day after.

It wasn’t until 1977 that the Gloucester was repainted maroon, with the work being done by outside contractors, just in time for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebration when we ran in conjunction with a local Brownhills West street party and we squeezed in 108 passengers on one run.  It was around that time when Adrian Pearson took the photograph of the Neilson together with the Gloucester which John James had 5.000 postcards printed at a cost of just 2.8 pence each.  John stood the cost of these cards himself as the Society couldn’t afford the bill.  I wonder how many are still left to sell?  (Enough. Ed.)  (All gone now, given to young visitors as a memento and much appreciated.  CWS).

The Wickhams were inspected as lying at Stourton, Leeds and I must admit to being keen on them as soon as I saw them there.  The purchase price I seem to recall was £1,000 for the power car and £750 for the trailer – plus I suppose VAT.  The deal was concluded by Derek Cartwright then working on the YOPS programme at Chasewater.

Finally may I congratulate you on the quality of the Chasewater News these days including the photographic reproductions.

Barry Bull

                                                      In through the farm gate                                                                                (Transport photos from Laurence Hodgkinson’s Collection)

145 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – From Chasewater News Spring 1992 – Part 1

145 – Chasewater RailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces – From Chasewater News Spring 1992 – Part 1

Editorial Nigel Canning

A lot of progress has been made over the winter months at Chasewater to the extent that it is now very difficult to keep the news sections of the magazine updated before it is printed.  This is because there now seem to be a lot more people than ever before working regularly on our railway, and the effect of this is beginning to show.  The track extension is proceeding at a very impressive pace, and we are on the verge of having three steam locos available for running trains, and a choice of passenger and goods rolling stock in gradually improving condition.

Anyone wishing to help in any department on the railway will be most welcome at Chasewater this summer – if in doubt, please ask for details at the booking office.

Locomotive News

No.4 Asbestos – This loco finally passed its hydraulic test in March, and is now being re-assembled ready for steam testing.  A repaint is also being carried out so that the loco will re-enter service in green livery later in the year.

No.5 Sentinel – This loco has passed its annual visual boiler examination and was back in service on 11th April to work a special train for the Industrial Railway Society.  Trouble was again experienced with rust from the inside of the superheater coil being drawn up through the regulator box and blocking the steam supply to the Weir pump, steam brake and blower.  It is hoped that this will not become a regular occurrence otherwise our train service may suffer badly.

No.2 Lion – Progress on this loco has continued slowly, but following the recent delivery of the last of the long awaited new washout plugs the hydraulic test can now be carried out.  All of the copper pipe needed to replace that stolen a number of years ago has now been acquired and will shortly be bent and fitted.

S100 – The first of six pairs of axlebox hornguides have now been re-ground to a highly accurate mirror-like finish.  Work on the other five pairs is continuing.

Fowler – This loco has remained in service as our only working diesel, carrying out all shunting and works train duties.

DL7 – This loco has remained out of service with its engine partially stripped awaiting refurbishment of the cylinder heads.

No.21 Diesel – This loco has now been moved into the shed where work has continued on its restoration.  One major problem appears to be the radiator matrix which has rotted through and will require replacement.

Smith Rodley Crane – This was recently used to remove the saddle tank from Asbestos but has otherwise remained idle.

The E1 – B.J.Bull

E1  0-6-0T 110 leaves Mendip Vale for Cranmore  4/6/95. – John Chalcroft

When the former LBSCR loco was sold to three members of the East Somerset Railway and left Chasewater in 1978 for pastures new at Cranmore, it was agreed that we should receive regular updates on its restoration.

Following extensive (and expensive) repairs to just about every component part, the loco first steamed at Cranmore in July 1990.  This was a steam test minus tanks and a resultant fusible plug leak saw the fire dropped in order to affect repairs and try again another day.  Subsequent steam tests have found out other irritating problems – leaking pipework, regulator blowing past and so on.

The latest position gleaned from a phone conversation with the East Somerset Railway’s Barry Buckfield on 31st December, 1991 is that both tanks have been fitted, as has lagging and cladding, however a troublesome fusible plug has to be replaced, and valve setting is still to be carried out.  Sometime during 1992 the E1 will move under its own power for the first time in twenty nine years.

At one time it had been intended to restore the loco as British Railways 32110 in black livery which, of course, it never carried as it was sold by the Southern Railway to the Cannock and Rugeley Colliery Company in 1926.  The loco, it has now been decided, will be restored to traffic in Stroudley’s improved  engine green, although it will not carry the name ‘Burgundy’ associated with it during most of its LBSCR days.E1 Brian Rands1996

Once remaining work has been completed and running-in trials have taken place, the hundred and fifteen year-old will join that rare group of working centenarians in railway preservation.

Sisters, Sisters – P.Aldridge

While much of our collection at Chasewater is unique, some locomotives and carriages are similar to others preserved elsewhere.  Readers may be interested to know what is happening to these vehicles, and so here is a brief résumé –S100’s sister is at the Yorkshire Dales (sorry, Embsay Steam) Railway, and has sat derelict for many years, but during 1991 work started.  The loco, ‘140’, has been stripped down to its individual components, and with a large work force and plenty of money, progress is quite rapid.  New tanks, bunker and cab have now been built and the horn guides are being ground to something like the proper shape.  It is quite likely that ‘140’ will run again in 1994.H C 140 Embsay Charles Adams

Also at the YDR is ‘Annie’, a Peckett identical to our No.917.  This loco was in a very similar condition to ours, with a rotten tank and problems with the smokebox tubeplate.  Once again, this engine is likely to run in the next two years but it is difficult to see what use such a small engine would be at Embsay.  Perhaps we could borrow it!‘Annie’ Peckett 0-4-0ST – Pic, Simon Gott

Our long-suffering Gloucester DMU trailer is rapidly becoming an endangered species, as the West Somerset Railway have given up with its sister and sent it for scrap.  When DMUs were first preserved in the late sixties many enthusiasts complained, arguing that such vehicles were too commonplace to warrant preservation.  Now enthusiasts are complaining that the lines are disposing of these coaches.  (Being cynical, I expect they are the self-same people!)  It certainly proves that, as the old saying goes, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!Gloucester DMU and Cravens DMU in early morning sun at Bishops Lydeard, West Somerset Railway, on 21 April 1987 – Photo by Stephen Edge