Chasewater Railway Museum
Bits and Pieces 55
The follow-on to the previous post.
Everything out of Hednesford
From the Mercian August 1970
They said it couldn’t be done – but it was!!! Done by sheer hard slogging and the aid of a clapped out tractor.
Little did I think that the Cadbury van and the two open wagons at Hednesford would not be moved by road and that what I jokingly referred to last time would in fact become a reality. It was!! Six – yes six – of us spent two nights digging the sunken track and point out of a couple of feet of hard mud and rubble so that we could hand-shunt the wagons off the siding and onto the main section where we could couple them up to the passenger stock for removal by rail.
Deadline was Thursday evening so we had only three nights to organise the job. It took the whole of Tuesday and part of Wednesday to dig the track out and we managed to move one of the wagons along to the point ready for transhipment. However it stuck fast and all our efforts failed to make any impression on it. This did not auger well for the other wagon and the van and we were almost on the point of giving it up as a bad job.
Then we spotted the tractor and after making a few quick calls we discovered that it belonged to the President, albeit he thought it was out of action with some parts missing. A quick tickle up by the Treasurer soon proved him wrong and all was set. We found a length of hawser and soon had the first wagon over the point. Our troubles were solved you might think but unfortunately they were not. There was no rail beyond the point and the wagon had to be towed onto the semi-hard ground of the yard. The point (stub type) would not budge so the next problem was how to line up the wheels for the correct road. This we did by towing the wagon back onto the point and then jacking up one end clear of the rail. The jack was then knocked away sideways so as to throw the wheel flanges onto the right side of the line. After much trial and error we managed the first one and it was coupled up to the passenger stock. The second wagon followed similarly and by this time it was getting dusk. We held a council of war and decided that unless the van was moved then it would have to remain at Hednesford for ever. Out came the hurricane lamps and we trundled the van down to the points. By this time there was quite a groove in the yard surface and the van soon found the level. We jacked her up and with some pushing and heaving and a tug from the tractor we managed to move her into the right line where she joined the rest of the stock at about 10.30pm.
How stupid – possibly this is your first thought – can some members be? But let me say right here and now that if it wasn’t for such stalwarts and in particular those six who struggled so gamely to do a very important job, the Society would be highly successful resting on the laurels and efforts of its armchair and featherbed members.
Those three vehicles are now at Chasewater thanks to the six, but had it been left to our non-regulars then they would have rotted away at Hednesford. Members should be thankful that we have a solid core of stalwarts who do care about the future and who will do something about it.
Stirring it up am I – you’re damn right I am. Where were YOU when we ran our most successful steam weekend to date? I refer to the 27th/28th June when we were operating a small service and an exhibition as part of the Aldridge/Brownhills Festival of Sport.
I understand from the Social Organiser that he sent 10/- worth (50p) of Draw tickets and appeals for help on the days of the Festival to all members living within a 20 – 25 mile radius of the site in an effort to boost the funds. Needless to say the response – altogether not unexpected – was NIL. A few members did manage to sell some tickets and the surprising fact was that most of these were members whose subs were due, and not paid-up members – to me a disgusting state of affairs.
We have about 120 members scattered about the country and I am fully aware that it is not possible for all of you to attend on site due to distance away. We have certain members who regularly donate £5 – £50 when we need to raise money urgently, we have a member who purchased one of our locos for us. I am not getting at these members or the faithful band that turn out regularly each weekend.
I am getting at the shower – there is no other word for them – who think we can run on their subs alone. Like other Societies I think that we can manage without this type of member even if we only have 20 members who care enough to pull their weight when we need them to.
Reverting to the weekend, the weather marred the Saturday operations, however it was all systems go on the Sunday when, had we had about another 20 members available we could have made a very fat profit form the Draw from ticket touting among the crowd which packed the Park.
I have said it many times before and I will say it again, we MUST have more help when we run these steam weekends. The next Open Day will be Sunday August 30th. Make a note of it NOW!
We need quite a few hands between now and then for track repairs, stock repairs and restoration and a host of other jobs too numerous to mention. Every Sunday afternoon from 2.00pm whatever the weather we can find plenty to do, so may we see you on site fully prepared to do a little hard work.
It is a pity that every time I prepare this report all I seem to do is belay a large number of members who are close enough to the site to be able to make at least two or three visits a month.
What a change it will be when the day arrives that I can report that the turnout on working parties each week has been 30 members and that they have now completely relaid the trackwork, the three coaches are fully restored and operational, three steam locos are available and a service will be operated each weekend.
There is no reason why this should not be so if members will rid themselves of their apathy.
Hon Sec. A.A.Chatfield
Now a follow-up from the General Manager’s stock news
Apart from the usual lack of manpower things have been happening on site this past three or four weeks in preparation for the Festival Weekend and other events.
In the last issue I summarised the various jobs to be done and this met with a fair response so I will repeat it again this month.
I am pleased to report that she is now fully operational and was successfully steamed on June 20th on the occasion of the visit paid by the L.C.G.B Under the able hands of Mike Lewis she was again performing for the Festival Weekend and proved quite an attraction.
The boiler inspector’s report has now been received and he has condemned her boiler. This means we shall have to either order a new one, which at this stage is financially out of the question, or we may be able to buy a reasonable second-hand one from one of three or four of the same class which are known to be still operational. To help defray the cost we propose to sell the old boiler as scrap. In the meantime the loco will be put back together as a static exhibit.
Work will now be put in hand to strip this loco down for a boiler inspection. We understand that the boiler is in good condition and that we should be able to get the loco operational by next summer providing we have enough man-power to work on her. Mike Lewis will again be dealing with the job and he will need some assistance. Any offers?
Hudswell and Lance
These will be kept oiled and painted until after the work on the Neilson has been done. Again, any offers?
I am pleased to report that this is now safely at Chasewater having been delivered on June 26th. It is unlikely that she will run in the foreseeable future as a new boiler will be needed if reports which we have are correct. Work will therefore be confined to a thorough repaint and general restoration as a static exhibit. This should keep a couple of members fully occupied for the next few months, so may I have some volunteers?
This is still out of commission, have we any members who are knowledgeable enough to work on her, please?
These are both running now and are in need of a repaint. I hope to make one or the other available fro this purpose during the next month or so. It should not take too long to refurbish the paintwork on both of them and if any members would like to help then please contact the Secretary on site. He will be supervising this part of the work.
Through the efforts of Arthur Chatfield who did the bulk of the restoration work on this loco, it was just about ready for display at Messrs. Dorman’s Ltd. exhibition in Stafford from June 22nd to July 4th. I am grateful to him, for the hard work he put in on this project and for the assistance that he received from the Chairman. The loco proved to be quite an attraction at Dorman’s and I am sure we may receive some benefit from the resulting publicity.
Other Rolling Stock
Apart from the stock already on site you will have read in this issue that the two open wagons and the Cadbury van have now been delivered to Chasewater. These have also bee joined by the Maryport & Carlisle coach and the LNWR Brake bogie van. The ‘Paddy’ coach and the TPO coach are due in the very near future and also the GER six-wheeler. This will only leave the Royal Saloon, and the Committee have agreed in principle, subject to various safeguards, that this vehicle should be placed on loan to the Midland Railway Project Group at Derby. Should the Group decline then arrangements will be made to transfer it to Chasewater.
From this you will note that all our assets will be at one site and there is a lot of work to be done on them. John Elsley has already offered to repair the roof on the Maryport & Carlisle and to do other jobs on it so that it may be available for the Bank Holiday weekend. A start has been made by Bob Ives and Phil Dunning on repainting one of the open wagons. There is plenty of other work to do particularly reproofing jobs and if John Elsley can have two more members to assist him he is prepared to tackle the GWR Brake, the LNWR Brake and the SECR Brake roofs, so that they may be watertight before the winter sets in.
Another top priority will be the laying of the other siding in the compound so that all the stock may be put under lock and key. It is imperative that this work should be completed as quickly as possible and as many hands as possible will be needed. I should like to see this job done before the middle of August and if we can get a real good turnout we should be able to meet this deadline. Is it too much to ask, in spite of the holiday period?
Well that’s about the size of it. There is plenty to do and enough to keep 50 members fully occupied between now and the end of the year. We can find plenty of tools and materials to do these jobs – what we also need are the hands to do them!
You have read what six members can achieve when pushed hard, please try and think what 30 regulars could do at a more leisurely pace if I could persuade them to turn up on site each Sunday afternoon for the next two or three months.
Won’t you give it a try?
A. Holden, General Manager, Chasewater Site.