Tag Archives: The Colonel

Chasewater Railway Museum News – Our Latest Donation – From Brownhills!

Chasewater Railway Museum News

 Our Latest Donation – From Brownhills!

 While the museum was open for the Industrial Railway Society meeting and AGM, we received a visit from Douglas Birch MBE from Brownhills.  He offered, and we were proud to accept, an old leg vice, believed to have been used at the loco shed at Harrison’s Old Yard in the mid-nineteenth century.  I shall reproduce the full information that Doug provided.Barry Bull (Museum Curator) with Doug Birch and the leg vice.

 William Harrison’s, Brownhills Common.

By Douglas Birch MBE

‘Harrison’s Old Yard’ was situated on Wyrley Common near to the Shant Bridge over the former LNWR mineral line on the A5 at Brownhills West.

The yard consisted of Workshops, Admin. Offices, Loco Shed, Sawmill and Cottages servicing the adjacent Cathedral Colliery and a number of other small pits in the locality.

A crane hire company now occupies some of the original buildings.  When the Wyrley Grove Colliery was sunk in 1870 all operations and plant was moved to the new site where a much bigger complex was built, which in part eventually served two other new collieries in the Harrison Group – Wyrley No.3 (The Sinking) and Mid-Cannock, including extensive wagon repair shops, sawmill and a new loco shed with space for four engines.

My grandfather, Arthur John Birch, was Head Engine fitter around the turn of the century both at the Old Yard and at Wyrley Grove.  He was succeeded by his son Oliver, my uncle, in the early 1920s.  Oliver held the position until his death in the early 1960s.  His son Arthur John in turn succeeded him until the closure of the Grove in 1963.

I too spent all my working life in the coal industry as a Mechanical Engineer.  The first eighteen years in the Grove Pit fitting shop.  My final twenty years in the industry was as a Safety and Training Officer at Cannock Central Workshops.

The leg vice I am offering to your museum may be of interest because it is considered to be a family heirloom and has passed down from my grandfather to my father, and then to me.  I have had it in my workshop since 1953 and it was in my father’s workshop (he was a carpenter) for a similar period before that.  The historical interest is that we have always understood that the vice originated from the loco shed at Harrison’s Old Yard via my grandfather which makes it very old indeed and worthy of preservation.  It would be an awful shame if the vice went for scrap after surviving for so long.

 William Harrison’s Steam Locomotives

Cathedral Pit

‘Emlyn’                 0-6-0ST scrapped 1920

‘Black Prince’       0-6-0ST scrapped 1909

‘Agincourt’            0-6-0ST scrapped 1906

‘Success’              0-6-0ST scrapped 1913  (Purchased 1869)

‘Warrior’                0-6-0ST scrapped 1933

Grove Pit

‘No.3                     0-6-0ST Purchased new 1895 Peckett    To NCB‘The Colonel’        0-6-0ST Purchased new 1914  Hudswell Clarke  To NCB

Loco Driver – Harry Jones

Steam Crane Driver – Jack Jones  (This crane was manufactured in France and reputedly saw military service during the 1914 – 1918 war.

Loco Fireman – Charles Dalton.Many Thanks, Doug.

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94 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 21st Anniversary Edition – 1

94 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

21st Anniversary Edition – 1

News from the Line

Loco Department

As a follow-on from the previous post, there is another comprehensive report on the locos, so I thought that I would reproduce it to check on the progress on the engines.

No.2 ‘The Colonel’

This loco finally entered service on Gricers’ Day, 12th October, after several test steamings.  Many repairs were carried out to the tank before it was refitted.  The loco appears to be very powerful and is mechanically superb and will come into its own when services are eventually extended.  The external finish however leaves a lot to be desired and it is hoped that the owners will rectify this in the near future.

No.4 ‘Asbestos’

Since the last report a vast amount of work has been carried out on this loco.  The boiler returned from Park Holland Ltd. in February after having the necessary fire box repairs.  Following this little work was done on the loco due to work on other engines but after mechanical problems with the ex MD and HB crane the wheels were despatched to the SVR wheel lathe at Bridgnorth and were back at Chasewater in October.  Their return signalled renewed vigour upon the loco and the wheels were stripped to the bare metal and given five coats of paint before the axle boxes were refitted.  The first weekend of 1981 saw the frames back on the wheels making the loco mobile again after eighteen months of elevation.  Following this the inside motion has been refitted and retubing of the boiler has started.  Hopefully the boiler will be hydraulically tested during the spring and refitted to the frames.  Although no firm date can be given, ‘Asbestos’ should return to steam this year.

No.7 (DL7)

The big Ruston has run trouble free most of the time and has earned its corn by performing several ‘master shunts’ over the last twelve months.  A rather garish ‘Bull inspired’ livery has been applied and has been met with the usual mixed CLR reaction to such creations.

No.8 ‘Invicta’From Railway Forum, 1975

After another trouble free year the loco is in store until the new season starts at Easter.  Unfortunately the six-yearly hydraulic test is due at the end of June, immediately after ‘Transport Scene’ 1981 which will be its last appearance for a while.  The hydraulic teat will be carried out during the winter of 1981/82 and hopefully no problems should ensue.

S100

The dawning of a new decade saw the re-emergence of one Mr. T.R.Sale Esq. which has resulted in dramatic changes – i.e. the loco is completely strewn to the four winds!  The boiler was jacked up out of the frames and then lifted onto a flat wagon and finally deposited on a pile of sleepers next to the Great Eastern mess van.  The boiler inspector has been and shaken his head at three corners of the firebox and given instructions as to what must be done and where, which basically involves building up of wasted plate work and a dozen or so new rivets.  Following removal of the boiler the chassis has been dismantled and the wheels removed which are to follow in the step (?) of ‘Asbestos’ and spend a day or so on the Bridgnorth lathe.  Most of 1981 will be spent cleaning frames, etc. which should keep one or two people out of harm’s way!

No.12 ‘Sentinel’1992 D.Bathurst Collection

This is the first time that any progress can be reported on this loco which is the ex Walsall Gas Works Sentinel loco No. 9632 of 1957.  The loco is still at Butterley on the Midland Railway Project Group’s line but following various excuses and delays the boiler has been re-tubed, successfully hydraulically tested and refitted to the frames and at the time of writing new pipework is being fabricated.  Current thoughts seem to indicate that the loco will finally arrive at Chasewater in June or July.  For newer members it should be explained that the loco (in working order) forms part of the exchange deal for the ex Midland Railway Royal Saloon Coach which was agreed upon back in 1978.

No.20

This loco has been loaned to the Bass Brewery museum at Burton-upon-Trent for an initial period of ten years.  The main reason for this is that the engine is in need of a drastic rebuild and as the sister engine No.21 is in full working order (and newly painted) neither the time nor the money will be available to repair it in the foreseeable future.

Photo from British Locomotive Preservation – 1969

No.21

This loco is, as already stated, in full working order and was repainted by the Brothers Grimm to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Society.

91 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces June 1979 1

91 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces June 1979 1

News from the Line

The close season has seen a tremendous amount of work done, though with the start of the STEPS programme on 2nd January this is not altogether surprising.  By the middle of March there were twenty one men in employment on the railway, their basic task being to rebuild it!   Our thanks go to Derek Cartwright for giving up his job at British Rail, Derby to oversee the project.  Due to the severe winter the STEPS workers have done a variety of smaller tasks including repainting the interiors of the Great Eastern and Midland passenger brake vans and completing the refurbishing of the DMU trailer coach.  Their greatest impact so far is to be seen on the loopline where one line has been dug out and weeded.  Great activity can also be seen in the vicinity of the causeway which has slowly been washed away over the last few years.  The track has now been dug out in preparation for lifting and a start has been made on tipping some of the estimated 8,000 tons of hardcore needed to rebuild the causeway.  Other tasks completed include extending the compound fencing around the station area and digging out and re-aligning the level crossing.

Whilst the STEPS programme has been busy there has been no let up on the volunteer’s workload, despite the inclement weather.

Since the last Newsletter there have been two new additions to stock.  A three plank dropsied wagon has been donated by British Reinforced Concrete Limited of Stafford, and the Chasewater Light Railway Company has purchased a Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 diesel electric locomotive No. 458641/61 (which is, incidentally, the most modern item of rolling stock on the line) which will be ideal for pulling works trains and deputising for a failed steam loco if required.  In both cases transport was provided by John Moores Limited of Hixon.

‘The Colonel’Work proceeds apace on the restoration of this loco which should see service before the end of the summer.  The boiler inspector has given the go-ahead for conversion to coal-firing and so all the oil-firing equipment, including the hideous fuel tank of the cab roof, has been removed.  Other work done on the loco includes removal of the tank, removal of boiler cladding and lagging, replacement of the dumb buffers by proper Peckett style buffers (these were taken off AB 1223 which has since been fitted with ‘Barclay’ style buffers off Hibberd diesel No.1, construction of a coal bunker on the rear of the cab, descaling of boiler and preparation for its hydraulic test.  Removal of all the paint off the saddle tank reveals that it is not as rotten as first feared and thus the anticipated repairs will not be as expensive as first feared.

Inspired by this, the owner has ordered a set of name and number plates, the loco becoming No.2 ‘The Colonel’.

Engineering Department

The end of 1978 saw the closing of the ‘gap’ between the present running line and the loopline.  This enabled us to get a train up to the causeway and a start was made on filling up the holes which had undermined the trackbed.  This was incredibly tedious work, unloading 8 ton wagons by hand, and thankfully this work is now in the hands of the STEPS workers.  Following this we turned our attention to the station area and it was found that last year’s extension to the platform was slowly slipping away due to inadequate drainage.  To this end, a series of trenches have been dug to drain the area, including the overflow from the water tower.  The associated pipework now drains directly into the lake.  With this problem overcome, work can be completed on the platform including the provision of lighting, and facing the platform walls with red bricks.

The brothers Grimm have been busy converting the box van body into a refreshment room cum waiting room which will enable hot food to be served due to the provision of electricity in the van body and the neighbouring office (yet another trench!)  The other project done this winter has been to install mercury-vapour lighting in the compound area which will enable the various lamp posts in the compound to be installed on the platform.  One other task has been to hire a JCB and driver to dig a drainage ditch alongside the loopline to prevent the ballast being washed away.

Train Operations

Passenger figures for the 1978 season show a 25% increase on those for 1977.  Due to the modest fare increase implemented, receipts were double those for 1977.  During the coming season trains will operate on the second and fourth Sundays of each month, starting at Easter.

One benefit already gained off the STEPS programme is the Cox’s Portakabin which has been set up as an office and contains all the Society’s files and information accrued over the past 20 years.  The office is also on the phone, and will be used as an information centre on operating days.

Chasewater Railway Visitors

50 YEARS ON

One of the founder members back in 1959 was Godfrey Hucker’s Aunt, Mrs Florence Watson, one of the earliest museum helpers.

Along with her young daughter, Mary.Mrs Watson & Mary, spent many hours helping to restore various items, putting their handicraft skills to the test.Mary went on to take a music degree at Goldsmiths University, and subsequently moved to Hull to further her career. Sadly Mrs Watson passed away in 1985.

On Wednesday, 9th February, Mary and her friend Steve (another railway buff), now living in Rhyl, made a visit to Brownhills West Station to see how things have changed since the early 1960’sAfter a guided tour of the complete site, given by Godfrey & Mavis, time was spent in the Museum. There with Barry Bull & John Tisdale, old times were discussed, and memories rekindled, whilst looking at old photos, press cuttings, magazines, and artefacts.

A very pleasant 2 hours were spent during their visit and in the words of Arnold Swartzeneger “We’ll be back” they said as they vowed to return on a running day, probably the March Gala weekend and many more.Godfrey’s  Grandfather,  Grandmother and Uncle Bill with ‘The Colonel’ at the Grove pit, Brownhills.

The Colonel Worksplate – Museum Addition

One of the latest acquisitions of the Museum is the worksplate from Hudswell Clarke loco 1073/1914 0-6-0ST  ‘The Colonel’.2009_09220002 Ordered by Houghton Main Colliery Co.Ltd., Yorkshire on William Harrison’s behalf, the Colonel was probably delivered new to Brownhills.

The loco was named after Colonel Harrison, Chairman of Harrison’s Grove Colliery.  He was also Chairman of Cannock & Rugeley Colliery.

After a spell at Area Central Workshops – May 1960 to June 1961, went back to Grove then to Coppice Colliery at Heath Hayes for a few months in 1963 before transfer to Granville Colliery in November 1963.

All we need now is to re-unite the worksplate with the nameplate.05406 The Colonel 0-6-0ST HC 1073-1914  at Granville 12-6-1964Pictured at Granville Colliery, 12-6-1964