Tag Archives: Lion

135 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – April 1991 Part 3 A new Tank for Lion – Ian Newbold

135 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News -April 1991 Part 3

A New Tank for Lion – Ian Newbold

When I bought this loco, I was aware that its saddle tank had seen better days, but I was naively optimistic despite over a decade of playing with other people’s locos. I should have known better! As the loco’s rebuild progressed, in the normal far from smooth manner, I started to investigate the tank more closely. Now some of the older hands at Chasewater were probably having a quiet snigger at this stage, and after a few days of shovelling debris out of the tank and hitting it with a hammer I realised I had quite a problem. This problem is known by a number of names, in Italian it is Fiat, in Japanese it is Datsun, in plain English – rust, and it has an iceberg-like quality – you only initially see the tip of the problem. At this point, I went away and started asking for advice. In reality, patching the tank was unlikely to solve the problem for more than a very short while, also, how do you weld to a lace petticoat-like structure? I think it would be a case of ‘chasing the dragon’. Anyway, I tried to keep all the options open in my mind, including a lorry-load of glass fibre and car body filler. If Flying Scotsman’s second tender could have six tons of concrete in the bottom to stop it leaking, I’m sure I could find a solution to Lion’s tank. Enquiries gave a guide commercial price of around £3,500 to £4,500 for a replacement saddle tank which to be honest was a little outside my price bracket, and as I didn’t want to upset the bank manager, it was find a cheaper option time. A feasibility study into the loading effects of side tanks proved that they were a contender which, while still pricey, were a fair bit cheaper than a saddle. Rubberised and other coatings for the inside of the original tank also came in for investigation. Whilst all this was going on, a chance question from an acquaintance at work started the ball rolling in a different direction. For the benefit of those who are unaware, I have the dubious fortune of working in the newspaper industry – not one of the world’s most stable jobs these days, and noted for its internal politics. Anyway, I was asked how the loco was coming on and I remarked ‘Fairly well except for the tank’. Later the same week a ‘piece’ appeared in the Birmingham Post about a chap who wanted a new saddle tank for his loco. The next day a gentleman named Peter Johnston, Director of the Coventry fabricating and plant installing firm of A.G.Brierly Ltd. contacted me at work, and after a phone chat he asked me if I could send a sketch with dimensions, and if he could handle the size he would do his best to help, provided I could wait until his workload was slack. That sketch was in the post to him later the same day. In the intervening time, I attempted to prise a copy of the loco’s drawings out of the NRM at York, however it seems that if you have a hairbrained scheme such as trying to re-create a mainline loco you can have the drawings, but to repair an existing industrial you have got no chance. Personally I think someone has got their priorities a bit wrong, why bother to keep these drawings if they cannot be used for what they were intended? Why not just have a nice bonfire? Anyway, about eighteen months later, last November, I received a phone call from Peter Johnston asking if the tank was ready to be taken away. It was, and about a week and a half later it was in Coventry. It was a few weeks later that my work roster allowed me to go and have a look at how things were progressing. What I saw came as a surprise, for I had been expecting the rotten section of the old tank to be renewed. What I was witnessing was the creation of a brand new faithful copy of the original made without drawings using modern construction techniques. A.G.Brierly Ltd. even went to the trouble of fitting false rivets to keep the appearance the same. My own feelings at the time were difficult to sum up simply, but elated gives a fair impression of them. Peter Johnston, it transpired, had been a coppersmith at Swindon Works and was undertaking this as a one-off project. Basically it was his donation to railway preservation. Also, having talked to him and to those associated with him, he is a very genuine person, a true gentleman. The new tank made its appearance at Chasewater the same day that the new coach arrived. I had attempted to ensure it arrived the day after, but a foul up over police escorts meant the coach arrived a day late – the best laid plans of mice and men and all that…. Needless to say that it proved to be a fairly exciting sort of day! As a public thank you, I managed to get the ‘Birmingham Post’ to do a follow-up ‘piece’ with a photograph of the new tank being fitted. I will admit to being a little apprehensive as the tank was lowered into position, as the fit between the front of the cab and a lip around the smokebox is rather snug. I needn’t have worried, to quote a friend of mine who watched the proceedings ‘it fitted like a glove’, an example of true craftsmanship. The gift of this new tank has helped ensure a reasonable future for ‘Lion’ as a working loco and I personally will always be indebted to Peter Johnston. I would also like to say thank you to all those at Chasewater who helped – especially Peter Aldridge for painting the inside of the tank – I believe his appearance afterwards was a sight to behold.

The Chasewater News magazine cover on No. 133 shows Lion with the new tank.

132 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News January 1991 Pssst – Wanna buy a steam loco? – Ian Newbold

132Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News January 1991

Pssst – Wanna buy a steam loco? – Ian Newbold

There I was sitting in the Holloway pub, Birmingham, enjoying a Thursday evening drink with a group of fellow gricers, better known as ’You lot Tours’ (where are you lot off to next?), when a wall known Chasewater member turned around and asked me if I wanted to buy a loco.  I will admit to being somewhat surprised, not that surprised that I was put off my beer mind you; it’s just that it’s not something that had ever crossed my mind, its being the sort of thing that someone else does.

Anyway, after a few weeks thinking about it and actually seeing the loco, which turned out to be ‘Lion’, I had a problem.  If I decided against it, I would probably regret it later on in life, and if I decided to buy it, I (and/or my bank manager) would also probably end up regretting it but for different reasons.  In this sort of heads you win, tails I lose situation, my parents were against me wasting my money on such a project but on the other hand, my girlfriend (now my wife) didn’t scream when I tentatively raised the subject, in fact she seemed quite relieved, having been wondering why I had been so pensive over the previous weeks.

So the decision was made, and after parting with my hard scrimped savings I became the owner of one slightly derelict Peckett.  My parents, still thinking I was mad, probably are not that far off the mark.

Writing about a loco which has had so many owners during its spell in preservation is something of a minefield, probably most other people know more about ‘Lion’ than I do, so I beg their indulgence for any ‘goof-ups’ which follow.

‘Lion’ was built by Peckett & Sons of Bristolas works number 1351 of Class E, completed  on 8th August, 1914.  It is an 0-4-0 saddle tank with 15 inch diameter by 21 inch stroke cylinders working at 160 lbs./sq. inch (originally 180 lbs./sq. inch as built) generating 16,810 lbs. tractive effort or 448 hp at 10 mph (as built with the higher boiler pressure).

‘Lion’ was supplied new to the Royal Arsenal Railway, Woolwich,London, where according to the very scant records now in existence at theArmyTransportMuseum,Beverly, the name ‘Lion’ originated.  From a very poor reproduction of a photograph taken at Woolwich it can be seen that it was here that the unusual shaped rear cab window originated.  The loco also carried a bell (steam operated?) and a water tank gauge on its left-hand side, just forward of the spectacle plate.

At this point I would like to digress slightly to talk about the railway systems of Woolwich.  In 1824 a primitive narrow gauge tramway system using horse or human propulsion was started, the various departments operating their own traffic.  It seems that the standard gauge first put in an appearance in 1870, initially as mixed gauge track.  A standard gauge connection from near Plumstead through a hole in the arsenal’s defensive wall was installed in 1876, initially worked by the SER.  The first standard gauge loco appeared in 1890 and from then until 1918 the standard gauge system of the RAR expanded to over 120 miles of track.  The early system of each department maintaining its own stock and organising its own traffic movements left something to be desired, and it fell to the Royal Engineers, initially responsible for track maintenance, to maintain and operate the system.  After the 10th Railway Company RE returned to Woolwich in 1885, it was arranged that the RAT should be used as a transport training centre, a function it fulfilled until the Woolwich instructional (later Longmoor Military) Railway took over these duties.  The RAR came under civilian control in 1921.

A passenger service was operated on the standard gauge during the First World War and diesel traction started to appear in 1939.  The standard gauge railway extended outside the arsenal perimeter with a connection to the Royal Dockyard, which was used as a WD store, and extensive sidings on the Plumstead and Erith Marshes.  The traffic required the use of gun ‘sleighs’ of up to 170 tons, and up until 1946 two barges called ’GOG’ and ‘MAGOG’, which were fitted with railway tracks, were used to carry guns between Woolwich and Shoeburyness gun ranges.

The narrow gauge had mostly gone after a 1923 decision to limit its use solely to feeding certain magazines.  The last narrow gauge loco to be delivered was an articulated Hunslet diesel built in 1954.  The last narrow gauge loco left in 1959, and by late 1960 the narrow gauge had been abandoned, although the last of the stock was not disposed of until 1971.  The standard gauge line to the Royal Dockyard closed in 1949 and the last standard gauge diesel left in 1967.  Nothing now remains of the Royal Arsenal Railway, much of the area now being factory or housing estates.

‘Lion’ was sold from Woolwich in 1950, from which it may be deduced that it was probably rendered surplus by the closure of the link to the Royal Dockyard.  G>E>Simms (Machinery)Ltd. then sold the 36 year-old loco to the Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Company where it became their No.2.

The Wallsend Slipway Co. was formed in 1871 with works  situated on the north bank of the River Tyne, and was served by a branch from theNERa quarter mile east of Point pleasant Station.  The firm later became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swan Hunter Group.  In 1959 the loco was converted to burn light fuel oil, and in 1964/5 it was given a major overhaul after which it saw comparatively little use.  Railway traffic ceased at Wallsend in 1972 after which the loco came to Chasewater.

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.

89 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Nov 1978 – 2

89 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Nov 1978 – 2

From the 1978 AGM Report

The final item on the agenda was the consideration of an offer from the Midland Railway Trust based at Butterley for the purchase of our ex Midland Railway Royal Saloon Coach.  The history of the coach was briefly outlined.  The coach was on loan to Derby Corporation for a further 17 years and they had a 25 year option open to them after that.

The Trust have spent a considerable amount of money upon the coach so far and wish to finish the job properly but don’t feel able to unless the coach is their property.  They reckon they will have spent well in excess of £10,000 on the coach by the time it is complete.Inside the Royal Saloon

As the Chasewater Light Railway Society was in a difficult position – in effect our hands were tied – it was decided to let the coach go.  It was unlikely to come to Chasewater in the majority of our members’ lifetimes and, as in the case of the ‘E1’, if it had not been for the Railway Preservation Society then it would have gone to the scrap heap years ago, so at least some satisfaction could be derived from that.  The coach is to be exchanged for the following:-

1.    £600 in cash

2.    Equipment surplus to the Midland Railway Trust’s needs, such as crossing gates, signals, ancillary equipment, etc., but in demand at Chasewater – to the value of £1,000 plus

3.    The ex Walsall Gas Works Sentinel Locomotive (S9632/1957) plus spares, which will be in working order when it arrives at Chasewater, hopefully before Easter.Sentinel at Pleck Gas Works, Walsall, when nearly new.

The Hon. Sec’s. Report is reproduced below, being an apt summation of the present situation in which we find ourselves.

Hon.Sec’s Report 1977/1978

The twelve months since the last AGM have been very mixed with good news and setbacks at regular intervals.  1978 started very badly with the wanton vandalism of our ex Easingwold Railway coach.  The culprits who started the fire have not yet been apprehended and it seems suspicious to recall that the adjacent Go Kart Club has also been subject to two separate acts of arson in the last 10 months.

During the winter months other break-ins accrued to Society rolling stock resulting in the loss of several interesting relics.  However the local police force were eventually able to bring the two culprits to justice and the majority of the missing items returned.  Some £60 in value of relics was not recovered but as the Court awarded compensation to the Society we should eventually receive this money.

New arrivals during the year were the privately owned Hudswell Clarke side tank S100 which, following a complete overhaul which is expected to take another three years, should prove an ideal loco for working the extended services; the local chemical manufacturers Albright & Wilson Ltd. have placed on loan their 12” cylindered Peckett 0-4-0ST and it seems from help received from the Company so far that we might expect further assistance in the future.  The loco requires a major hydraulic exam, tank repairs and fitting of a steam brake before it sees regular use.  The final arrival was the five ton capacity Smiths of Rodley diesel crane from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, Birkenhead – an outright purchase by the Society for £432.

The Committee has given serious thought to the provision of covered accommodation at Chasewater and it is especially pleasing to record the purchase for nominal sums of two agricultural type buildings.  The first, the smaller of the two, has already been dismantled and brought to Chasewater; the other has yet to be removed from site.  We must now await the go-ahead for erection of these structures from Walsall Metropolitan Council.

Restoration work to locos and coaches has been fairly limited this year due perhaps in the main to the fact that various engineering projects and fund-raising activities have taken precedence.  However firebox repairs were carried out on the Neilson before entry into service again and routine maintenance carried out on this loco and ‘Invicta’.  ‘Lion’ to be renamed ‘The Colonel’ has had a start made on preparing for a major hydraulic exam, and S100 has seen reasonable progress in dismantling and de-tubing.  ‘Asbestos’ too is to be de-tubed and when this task is completed the boiler is to go away to Park Holland, who will raise the foundation ring a few inches to get round the problem of badly wasted corners and rivets in the firebox.  By far the largest expenditure on locos this year was the £460 spent purchasing 104 new tubes for ‘Asbestos’.

Several of our goods vehicles received coats of paint and roof attention to the box vans was performed during the summer.

The platform wall was extended during Spring Bank Holiday and with the recent Committee decision to extend the compound fence to include the platform, the platform can be set up to resemble an operating station at all times.  Another engineering project completed was the interlocking and signalling of the two compound points enabling train movements to take place in complete safety.

The news from British Rail that we could gain access to the loop with works trains from April 18h and full purchase likely by the end of July meant that a decision on the sale of the ‘E1’ had to be made.  Consideration was only given to previous enquiries and the Lord Fisher Loco Group based at Cranmore agreed to meet our minimum purchase price of £5,000.  The loco left Chasewater last Monday and restoration will commence this winter under cover in extensive workshops at Cranmore – the name and number plates and also the Rawnsley chimney are being retained by us.

Purchase of the loop has proved slower than expected and a lapse of a few more months now seems likely; however we now have the money immediately available when asked for.

Train services continued to operate on timetabled dates and takings were high on fine days; however wet or cold days affected the average takings.

The first Steam Spares Sale ever held by a Preservation Group went reasonably well considering lack of helpers, and a second such event is being held on ‘Gricers’ Day’ October 8th.

Our second Transport Scene was well supported by exhibitors but not by the public, again inclement weather did not help.  Let us hope that next year’s event is blessed with sunshine!

This year’s Model Railway Exhibition was also poorly supported by the public – an increase in takings at this event over the years has probably made us too casual as the standard of the Exhibition has definitely fallen over the last three or four years – perhaps a change of venue is called for?Chasewater Model Railway

The Chasewater Light Railway Company is currently negotiating for a grant under the Government STEPS Scheme to enable the rest of the railway to be brought into service.

ATV cameras were in attendance on the 15th September filming sequences using ‘Alfred Paget’ and goods stock for a programme to be shown in the ‘This England’ series early next year.

In closing, thanks go to all our members for their continued support, with special thanks to those who have contributed physical  and/or behind the scenes work throughout the year, readers of the Newsletter will doubtless have seen the same names recur on various projects so there is obviously scope for many more members to assist in whatever way they feel able.

B.J.Bull

 

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

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 82 – March 1978

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 23 – Part 1

Editorial

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

(No, we haven’t!)

News from the line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Locomotives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about these next time!