Chasewater Railway Museum
Bits and Pieces 52
Thirty Years Plus Ten
Much as I enjoyed reading about Chasewater Railway in thirty years time, it never stood a realistic chance of happening.
After the cessation of coal traffic in the 1960s the line over the causeway was abandoned and the causeway itself fell into disrepair. The track was lifted and passenger traffic suspended for a number of years. The main part of the 30-years-on idea had also gone missing in the intervening years – the line from the proposed Norton Junction to Norton Crossing. The track which ran below the dam for the Swag pool was lifted and presumably sold for scrap. The idea of a railway with a main line and a short branch disappeared.
It was not until 1985 that regular steamings began again, but in the intervening three steam-less years, membership had dropped by some 50 per cent. The Society deemed it necessary to prune its stock as it was realised that without an injection of cash, the whole affair might fold. The L&NWR Travelling Post Office went to Tyseley, a small “Planet” diesel went to Brian Roberts’ Tollerton Farm Railway, while individual members purchased two steam locos and one diesel loco in order that they could remain safely at Chasewater.
IN 1993 a successful scheme to restore the causeway was started. About 120,000 tons of fill material were imported to the site. This work was completed in 1994 and Lakeside Station was reopened in December. From 1985 till the reopening of Lakeside trains only ran push-pull from the old station to the Willow Vale Bridge.
Since 1995 a great deal of work has been done, firstly to extend the line to Chasewater Heaths and Chasetown. Next came the new Brownhills West station and yard, to replace the old station and compound, now buried beneath the M6 Toll. The engine shed was refurbished and another station opened at Chasewater Heaths – finally, so far, the Heritage Centre was built to hold the heritage stock and Museum.
The 30-years-on idea was not to be, it would have been fun in my opinion, and at that time, as stated in Post No.50, the rolling stock was owned by the railway – no steaming fees to be paid. Of the stock mentioned in Post 51, the E1 left, never having steamed at Chasewater. The Hudswell Clarke also has never steamed here – but it is still with us, although not owned by the railway. The Peckett went too, although we now have another one. The Royal Saloon and Travelling Post office have also gone.