Tag Archives: Mineral Railways

Chasewater Railway Museum and Other News

Chasewater Railway Museum and Other News

This coming weekend, March 19th & 20th, sees the first event of our 2011 calendar – the Spring Gala.  In spite of the sad absence of RSH Nechells No.4 from the running locos, there will still be plenty going on during both days.The Narrow Gauge will be getting a good workout along the perimeter fence on the far side of the Heritage Centre.M24006 Mk1 SK 2nd.  Came to Chasewater Railway from Shackerstone – formerly at West Somerset Railway

Inside the Heritage Centre there have been a couple of changes, the Mark 1 coach – M24006 has been brought in for assessment and the Fowler diesel loco has come in from the cold, with Bass No.5 on duty in the Brownhills West yard, and the Hunslet diesel 6678 will be at Chasewater Heaths.Fowler 0-4-0 Diesel loco 4100013/1948.   New to Garrington’s Ltd. of Bromsgrove, came to Chasewater 23-4-1994 (Pictured with DL7 by Nigel Canning)

The first train will leave Brownhills West at 10.15am, and the last at 16.00pm.  The first train from Chasewater Heaths back to Brownhills West will leave at 10.57am, and the last passenger train at 16.40pm.

Full details on the website – www.chasewaterrailway.orgAmong visitors to Chasewater later in the year will be the MG Car Club.A nice MGA parked on the platform last Sunday, March 13th.

For the latest news and explanation as to the happenings at Chasewater, the BBC paid a visit last week with John Craven talking about the work to the reservoir dam.  This will be shown in ‘Countryfile’ on BBC1 next Sunday, 20th March at 7.00pm (after you get home from the Gala!).

 

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90 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Nov 1978 – 3

90 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Nov 1978 – 3

Future Plans

Company News from the Joint Meeting

This meeting was called to enable the Board and the Committee to agree on the immediate and medium term goals for the railway and the respective roles of the Company and Society in achieving them.  The meeting was well attended, long and friendly and resulted in total agreement on all points.

It was decided to aim to operate the train services to the beginning of the causeway by 1980 and to open the line throughout its present length by March 1983.  This would mean rebuilding the causeway, erecting fences, major clearing of undergrowth and the obtaining of a Light Railway Order.  New platforms at the north end of the causeway and the far end of the line were also planned.  To cope with the increased traffic that the longer line would generate, it was agreed that in the five years up to 1983 a minimum of three locomotives would have to be put into and kept in working order and three additional revenue earning coaches would have to be acquired.  It was hoped that when the line was open as far as the causeway, i.e. by the beginning of 1980, two trains would be in operation on busy days and when the line was opened throughout, not less than two trains, each with two coaches, would be working each operating day.

It was also agreed that work should begin as soon as possible on the erection of buildings to house the working locomotives and wooden bodied coaches.  By 1981 detailed planning for the main museum complex should start with a view to beginning fund raising in the summer of 1982 and work on the buildings themselves in the winter of 1983.

It was unanimously agreed that the Society was to have sole responsibility for the acquisition, restoration and preservation of items of Railwayana and that the Company would hold all fixed assets such as track, buildings etc. and concern itself with the running of the railway and the raising of capital and income for the project.

Thus the Company will play a vital supporting role to the Society whose original aims – the acquisition, restoration, preservation and display of items of historical railway interest – now becomes the aim of what has come to be called the Chasewater Railway Project.  The Company is to raise the money for the attainment of that aim.  The Railway will be the principal show place for the Society’s locomotives and coaches.

The STEPS Project

Everything seemed splendid after the meeting and I was duly told off and to write something for Ian Patterson to publish so that the world might know where we were going.  Publication was set for September.

In August one John Selway, a Zebedee-like creature who telephones me from time to time to see if I am still awake, said ‘had I heard of STEPS and if not, why not?’

The Special Temporary Employment Programme is a creation of the present Government under which they will pay the wages of men hired under approved schemes to do work of value to the community which would not otherwise be done.  A grant towards materials would also be payable.  The Severn Valley, Festiniog and Midland Railway Trust have all benefited from the programme.

Frantic discussions were held with the Manpower Services Commission who operate the programme.  They seemed very keen to have us.  After much discussion and some reservation the Board decided to apply for a STEPS scheme.  The principal reservation concerned the quality of the overall supervision.  This was overcome by the Manpower Services Commission agreeing to allow us to appoint our own nominee as the site engineer – to be paid by them – provided he became unemployed first.  The gentleman concerned will have handed his notice in by the time you read this.

To cut a long story short, the scheme was applied for and approved for 52 weeks starting on the 2nd January 1979.  The Company will be employing up to 30 men to work on the railway.  The total wage bill, all paid by the Government, is £79,000, and in addition we shall receive a £5,250 grant towards the material cost of this work.  The scheme involves the reopening of the line throughout, including the rebuilding of the causeway and the erection of fences and platforms, by March 1980 – three whole years ahead of the rather optimistic date agreed at the joint meeting in July.Photo from D. Bathurst’s collection – 1978

To cope with the administrative problems which the scheme will create, we have acquired a site office – a mobile portacabin kindly loaned free of charge for the duration of the project by Cox’s Plant Hire of Brownhills and a telephone has been installed.

Of course, although one major problem is now solved – the re-opening of the line – another is created.  To provide the additional capacity necessary to cope with the increased traffic that the longer line should produce – and thus make more money for the project – we have got to have three locomotives in steam and three more revenue earning vehicles.  The original date for this was 1983, at the earliest.  Obviously it would be wrong to say that we must have them when the line opens throughout in 1980.  However, it is equally obvious that we cannot realise the railway’s full potential without them and so the sooner we can get them the better.

When the line is paid for in 1979, some £1,200 – £1,500 will be left in the development fund.  Before we can operate the line at maximum efficiency and put up the two buildings mentioned above, at least another £10,000 will be needed.  It can and will be raised.  One way in which I hope to raise money is by running a development fund lottery for the next few years.  This will be quite unlike the old weekly tote.  It will be on a much bigger scale and will take place about three times a year.  Tickets will be sold principally to members of the public visiting the railway rather than by Society members to their friends.  Properly managed such lotteries should raise between £1,000 and £2,000 per annum.  I shall however need help with the sales of tickets and I shall be pleased to hear from anyone who would be willing to sell lottery tickets at Chasewater at the following times: the first operating Bank Holiday of the season, Sunday and Monday plus the next operating Sunday afternoon: Transport Scene Saturday and Sunday and the next operating Sunday afternoon: the Saturday and Sunday of the Model Railway Exhibition and Gricers’ Day.  How about you?

The FutureThis was the Causeway in 1992 – from D. Bathurst’s Collection

What of the future?  Apart from the obvious delights of having two miles to operate over as opposed to 700 yards, much work must be done.  The Board will soon be considering the future of the Norton branch: the nature of the STEPS programme to follow the present one: the possible extension of the railway to the north and or south:  the museum and workshop buildings and, perennially, the raising of money.

All these are continuing evidence of the new sense of professionalism which has brought so much progress in less than two years.  We are all determined however, that this professionalism, which we must maintain, will not stop the railway being fun.  As Keith Sargeant said to me recently – we must never forget that CLR is our train set.  Quite true – but there is no doubt that the longer the line and the more bits and pieces on it, the more fun a train set is.

It is the Company’s job to provide the longer line and those extra bits and pieces.

John MacmillanLooking towards Chasewater Heaths from Lakeside – lots of work to do. Photo – D.Bathurst’s Collection 1992
Some thoughts about the future from 1969.
Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 51 and 52

Some Early Lines – Leadhills and Wanlockhead Light Railway

While browsing through the ‘Mercian’ magazine of September 1969 I came across this article about the Leadhills & Wanlockhead Light Railway under the heading of ‘Forgotten Byways’.  It seemed to be a good candidate for posting, and having reproduced it I thought that I would check its whereabouts on Google.  That was a surprise – although the line had closed to passengers in 1938, in 1983 a Society was formed to operate a narrow gauge railway on the old trackbed – so here is the story to date, including photographs from their website, which is well worth a visit!

Forgotten Byways

Leadhills and Wanlockhead Light Railway

In October 1901 the first 5¾ mile section of the above line was opened from Elvanfoot on the Caledonian main line to the mining community at Leadhills.  The track, which was single line followed the lie of the surrounding country with several places crossing the existing highway on the level.  Leadhills is one of the highest inhabited places in this part of Scotland and in some places gradients as steep as 1 in 40 were common.  There were no platforms provided at the stopping places nor was the line fenced in for considerable distances. S. McFarlane

There were two bridges on the branch and an eight arch concrete viaduct over the Rispin Cleuch, and in places there were some severe curves on the branch.  The second section on to Wanlockhead was opened in 1903.

Motive power and rolling stock was provided by the Caledonian Company in the shape of a diminutive Drummond 0-4-4T locomotive fitted with cow-catchers, and an assortment of four and six wheeled carriages which were adapted with three continuous footboards and extended handrails for the convenience of passengers boarding and alighting at rail level.  A fairly modest service of over three passenger trains each way per day was instituted and for a while the volume of traffic both passenger and goods was sufficient to make a small profit.  However, like similar isolated branch lines the coming of the car and motorbus spelt doom and it was not long before these competitors were felt.  Attempts were made to rejuvenate the branch but it soon succumbed to closure in 1938.A. Ireland

The Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway Society was formed in 1983 to construct and operate a 2ft gauge tourist railway between two villages on the old standard gauge trackbed. Track laying commenced in 1986 with the station at Leadhills being built from scratch. A limited service began in 1988 over a 1/4 mile of track and has been improving steadily ever since, it has now reached the border with Lanarkshire and Dumfries & Galloway, negotiations are at present under way to extend the track into Wanlockhead and build a station complete with run round loop, with the acquisition of more locomotives and coaches the shed at Leadhills is becoming quite full. A Hudswell Clark 68hp ex. mines locomotive was recently restored at Anniesland College of Further Education in Glasgow as part of a training scheme and will be brought into service soon.

Clyde and Passenger Train, departing Leadhills,  summer 2004 (Photograph A. Ireland)

For further information visit: http://www.leadhillsrailway.co.uk

If you should be on holiday in the area it’s the

Teddy Bears’ Picnic Weekend 31st July, 1st August 2010

See their website for details.

Pic by Elliot Simpson.

Chasewater Railway Museum Dec 1965 Bits & Pieces 32

Taken from the Mercian, December 1965 Vol.4 No.6

Editorial

As you will notice, this issue of ‘Mercian’ is shorter than we have recently been used to.  This is due to the indisposition of the Editor, Malcolm Willis, who has entered hospital.  I am sure all members will wish Malcolm a speedy recovery, and hope that he may soon return to the most valuable work which he does fro the Society.

Malcolm Willis returned to the Society, but not to the Editorship of the ‘Mercian’, taking on the role as Membership Secretary.  He did an excellent job of expanding the Magazine and would surely be missed.

This is the last edition of Mercian this year, a year which has been very rewarding for the Society.  We have realised one of our major schemes, the purchase of our branch line at Chasewater.  Work has been going on there for some months, and track-laying has gone on steadily.  Early next year we hope to have a permanent building erected, and several locomotives delivered.  If work is to go ahead as planned in the New Year, more assistance will be needed, and I appeal to all members who can help in any way to visit the Hednesford depot or the Chasewater branch any Sunday, when you will be made very welcome.

From the Chairman’s Report  –  A. Holden.No.9 Cannock Wood – Stroudley E1 – J.Powell

Once again we are almost at the end of another eventful year for the Society with the prospect for 1966 even brighter.

A great deal of work has been done at Chasewater and at Hednesford by our gallant band of stalwarts who give their time each weekend to further our aims and ambitions.  Lots more work has still to be done and many more workers are needed to help carry the burden.

The Society is deeply indebted to one of our members, namely Dr. Plummer, for his generosity in purchasing and cost of transporting a locomotive to Chasewater.

Any Society which is to survive in these days of rising costs must have a healthy Bank Balance, and I strongly urge all members to participate in all money-raising efforts which are organised to help the Society to stay solvent.

We are fortunate in having many friends who are sympathetic to our cause, even if they are not members, who give willingly in so many ways, such as refreshments or prizes for various events, helping at Open Days and last, but not least, rummage for our annual event which Mr. Wooding organises each year.

Chasewater Light Railway Report  –  D.A.Ives.  Hon. Sec.

Good progress was made during the golden month of October.  Work has slowed down during the winter months.  However, a few real stalwart members have continued to lift and relay track in spite of cold and wet conditions.  Work parties are being conducted on Saturday afternoons, weather permitting.  Track-laying must continue during these winter months if the full length is to be completed by April.  The Chasewater party consists of approx. 12 regular members, who are now resigned to the fact that the job will have to be completed by them and them alone.Chasewater 1966 – Laurence Hodgkinson

Stop Press!!!  A strong steel door has been fitted to the platelayers hut at Chasewater, where we intend to store all our track-laying tools.

Treasurer’s Report  –  F.J.Harvey.

I would like to begin my report by thanking all those members who have renewed their membership subscriptions since the last issue of Mercian.  There are still quite a lot of lapsed members, however.  This is the time of year for giving, so please help the Society by sending your subscriptions as soon as possible.

The loan which was needed to buy the Midland Railway Royal Saloon has now been completely repaid.  We shall now be able to give more attention to clearing the outstanding debt on the Stroudley E1 as outlined in the last issue.

So far we have received no offers of financial help towards the transportation of the Peckett 0-4-0ST from Warrington.  As I have pointed out before, this is a matter of extreme urgency.  Unless we have some support, we shall be throwing away a working locomotive.  Please see what you can do  to help.  Any donation, no matter how small, will be most welcome.

Still not enough working members or money – but they kept going!

Armbands

London & North Western Railway Armband

The later years of the 19th century saw increasing standardization on the railways, not least in the armbands worn by three types of railway worker – pilotmen, flagmen and lookout men.  The one worn by pilotmen was issued by the signal department and was made of red cloth with white stitched letters, and was secured by leather or elastic straps.

The armbands for flagmen and lookout men were made of enamelled steel plate, cut into an oval and shaped to fit the arm.  A pair of slots was cut into the plate, through which a pair of leather straps, with buckles, was attached.  Issued by the permanent way department, these enamel armbands were finished in white with red lettering.

A pilotman was a signal department employee whose job was to ride on the locomotive acting as a kind of human staff or token if the signalling on a single line failed, or if there was an accident or obstruction which closed one of the lines of a double track.  No train could proceed without him in such an emergency, so that the possibility of a head-on collision was avoided.

The lookout man was quite simply that.  His job was to keep a sharp lookout when a permanent way gang was working on the track, and to give a warning for it to stand clear as soon as he saw an approaching train.

The flagman was another permanent way ganger, who used green, yellow or red flags to communicate with signalmen or other permanent way staff who were out of audible range.All three posts were – and still are – crucial to the safety of both passengers and railway employees, and armbands were issued to emphasize this fact and to avoid misunderstandings.  A modern variety, coloured pale blue with white letters, was used on British Rail.

London, Midland & Scottish Railway Armband.

RSH Worksplate

Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Worksplate

RSH 7695/1951

This Worksplate is from the Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd. Loco 7695/1951.  Ex works 20-12-1951.  0-6-0ST 18” x 24” outside cylinders.  4’ 0”  driving wheels.

Supplied new to Whitburn Colliery

To Boldon Colliery 7/58

To Whitburn Colliery 2/59

To Boldon Colliery 2/61

To Whitburn Colliery 5/62

To Boldon Colliery 11/62

To Whitburn Colliery 12/62

To Boldon Colliery 5/63

To Whitburn Colliery 4/65

Scrapped 3/70

Fitted with Westinghouse Air Brakes, saw use on South Shields, Marsden and Whitburn Colliery ‘Paddy Trains’.

Wagon Builders’ Plates

Cambrian Wagon Works Builder’s Plate

The cast-iron plates fixed to goods wagons can give a wealth of information and detail about the origins and use of a particular vehicle.

Wagons were either built in the workshops of the pre-Grouping railway companies or by outside carriage and wagon builders.  In either case, a plate would indicate the railway company and the wagon number.  A separate builder’s plate would be found only if built by an independent manufacturer.

Many wagons, especially in the days of privately owned fleets of coal trucks, were built not by the railway companies but by private wagon builders.  In some cases the builder’s plate would have a distinctive shape so that it could be recognized easily even if rendered illegible by grime.

R.Y. Pickering of Wishaw used a lozenge shape and the Standard Wagon Co. of Reddish and Heywood used a bell-shaped plate.  The Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. used an elongated capita; G – which gave the plate a fish shape – and the Central Wagon Co. of Wigan had a downward pointing crescent.  These were unusual; most makers used oval plates, some with fancy lettering and scrollwork on and around the plate.  The company’s initial letter often formed a feature of the design.

The larger main line railways generally had their own wagon works which met most of their requirements, and not all of them affixed separate builder’s plates.  Among those which did were the GER at Stratford Works, and the NBR at Cowlairs.

The Big Four railways settled on a standard design based on the final Midland pattern, which was shaped like a letter D with the flat side at the top.  The LNER plate carried the most detail with the wagon number, capacity in tons, builder and date built.  British Railways continued with this style, using the LNER plate as the final design.Ince Waggon & Ironworks plate with the double G spelling.

Wagon Plates

Midland Railway Wagon  Plate

Railways first came into being not to carry passengers, but to convey freight, especially mineral traffic like coal.  In the early days, when few lines were interconnected, the variety of goods wagon did not matter, but as railways expanded and through trains became common, it was essential to have wagons whose buffers, brakes, couplings and so on all matched up.

The Railway Clearing House (RCH) the body which liaised between the railways, looked into the problem early on and issued standards to all railway companies, wagon builders and private wagon owners.

LMS Wagon  Plate

The wagon carrying this plate was registered by the North British Railway Company and allowed to run on main lines.

The main line railways adopted these standards fairly quickly, but the private owners, especially collieries and coal merchants, were reluctant to comply, and damage and derilaments became common due to their wagons either lacking proper buffers and brakes or being poorly maintained.

In the 1880s, however, it became a legal requirement for all privately owned wagons to be registered by the railway company to whose sidings their owners were connected, and only those that reached the Clearing House standard were allowed to run on main lines.

Each wagon so passed had two plates, one on either side of the main frame, advising its date of manufacture, its registration number and its carrying capacity.   In 1907, the RCH designed a new star-shaped plate for tank wagons.

Many of the ordinary registration plates come with their lugs broken off, but these can easily be repaired usingfibreglass filler.  The normal colour seems to have been black with white lettering, and red with white letters for tank wagons.

However, some privately owned wagons were painted in quite garish colours, and it seems likely that their plates were similarly treated.  Nearly all plates were made of cast-iron, but examples in brass or lead alloy are occasionally seen.London & North Western Railway Wagon Registration Plate

Bridge Numberplates

London & North Western Railway Company Bridge Numberplate

Bridge Numberplates

Most railway signs were meant for the public and carried a variety of warnings such as ‘Beware of the Trains’,  ‘Shut the gate’ and ‘Do not cross beyond this point’.

A sign with a different purpose was to be found on the majority of bridges throughout the railway system.  These bridge numberplates had nothing to do with the public, being purely for the railways’ own operational purposes.

They have become very popular with enthusiasts, often being put to use as house numbers.  Almost every company used them, a major exception being the Great Western Railway.  Most plates were made of cast iron, though in the case of the South East and Chatham Railway, they were made of stamped, pressed steel.  The plates were located on the left-hand side of bridge piers – one at each end – facing the trains.Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway Bridgeplate.

Some of the cast-iron plates from pre-grouping days are still in place, the largest number being found along the route once worked by the London & Birmingham Railway.

Plates are often oval, though within this broad category there are plenty of variations of size and shape.  The type used by the London & North Eastern railway, for example, is less elongated than its LMS equivalent.

Among the most attractive and sought-after plates are those of the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway (CKPR) in Cumberland.  This small company had 135 bridges in its system, with just a single plate on each bridge.  The plates, which faced Cockermouth and were numbered from that end of the line, feature an attractive lettering-face reading ‘CK & P Railway’ round their border.

Only 20 or so of the CKPR’s plates are known to have survived.  But it is not just their good looks or scarcity value that have led them to be so sought after by collectors.  They are also the only plates to feature the word ‘Railway’ in full. Their popularity has made them expensive, and even if you were able to find one,  it would cost in the region of four figures.

Some railways produced bridge numberplates showing only the numbers.  In the case of the Great Eastern, the plates were a lozenge shape and came in two sizes – the more elongated one being for siting by the roadside.West Riding & Grimsby Railway Bridgeplate No.24

Hednesford Railways 1

The view in 2009, looking towards Rugeley from Hednesford Station bridge.As it was in the late 1950s, a very busy railway location, with pits sending coal into the sidings from all directions.

Looking forward and to the left, the line leads to West Cannock Colliery No.5 and to the right, to Cannock & Rugeley Collieries at Cannock Wood and the Valley Pit.

From the rear, coal comes in from West Cannock Collierys Nos. 1, 3 and 4 – situated in the  Pye Green Valley.

The picture shows the site of West Cannock No.1 and No.4 Plants circa 1920s, it looks north east towards the top end of Green Heath Road.  No.4 Plant is just above the top of the chimney and steam can be seen coming from its winder stack.  The brickworks is the furthest building centre/right at the base of the mound.  A fourth shaft to the north of the brickworks has been covered by the mound.  The picture shows the enormity of the West Cannock Company’s operation in the middle of Pye Green Valley.

From here, the railway ran down to Hednesford Station via a bridge under the road by the ‘Bridge’ public house.  It then went through the left-hand arch (looking towards Rugeley) and into the sidings.With the closure of West Cannock Collieries 1-4, lines to the left found little usage.  The old station building, imposingly symetrical on the overbridge, castle-like dominated the access to the platforms.  One of  Bescot’s 0-8-0s, 49373, sorted out the empties to transfer to the collieries.

On the other side of the bridge, the sidings opened out into the marshalling yard.William Stanier designed 2-cylinder 2-6-4T no.2579, built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow in 1936 and withdrawn in June 1962, runs in with a Rugeley Trent Valley to Walsall local passenger.  The station was demolished after the passenger service was withdrawn in January 1965 and the sidings were removed following the closure of almost all local collieries in the 1970s.  The signal box (formerly No.1), seen behind the water tower remains in operation. No.2 signal box closed on January 14th 1973 and No.3 from 18th December 1977.  Passenger services were reinstated from Walsall to Hednesford in 1989, using newly built platforms.  The service was later extended to Rugeley and Stafford, although, by 2009, it terminated at Rugeley Trent Valley.This is a cold view of West Cannock No.5, which continued producing coal until 1982.  The locomotive in the photo is Bagnall 0-6-0ST  ‘Topham’ 2193/1922.