Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No.92

92 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1979 1

From the Editorial.

In common with many other railways, the Chasewater Light Railway has had a mixed season and if the success of the 1970s in the preservation world is to be sustained into the 1980s then two problems need solving and solving fast.  The first is the much publicised fuel crisis, caused in the main by the sharp increase in the price of crude oil (1979 or 2011 – some things don’t change much!).  This undoubtedly has, and will continue to do so, restricted the freedom of people to go out in leisure time as often as in recent years.  As the CLR is on the fringe of a large conurbation the problem should not be as great as on a good many of the standard gauge railways and perhaps we will gain an increase of visitors being close at hand.

The other problem is the ending of the Government sponsored job creation schemes, on which many railways have benefited over the past few years.  The sudden termination of paid 5 day week staff will surely hit routine maintenance on our longer brothers and will lead to the need for railway sponsored full-timers or greater numbers of regular volunteers.

Perhaps it is fair comment to say that at Chasewater the era of Government sponsored full-time staff is ending at the right time.  Throughout the year the number of volunteers has slowly dwindled, all too often comments being along the lines of ‘Oh, if I don’t turn up, STEPS will do it during the week.’  Well next year there won’t be any full-time staff so if a job is left undone by a volunteer then that’s the way it will remain.  There has also been a feeling of it not being ‘our’ railway with full-time staff, and the communal atmosphere of Sundays at Chasewater is one of the nicest things about the CLR.  Perhaps these factors and the end product of the STEPS scheme (i.e. a longer serviceable railway) will pull back the missing faces and some new ones as well, and with effort applied in the right directions our 21st year should be the most successful yet. Looking down ‘The Branch’ before clearing (towards the Norton East Road)

STEPS Report

The scheme Is scheduled to finish on the 31st December although a limited extension with a few workers may see work carry on into March 1980.

The only way to describe the work being done is to give a list of the jobs done so far.  Any comments about the scheme and the feeling of CLRS members is, in the final analysis, rendered somewhat superfluous by the sheer volume of hard physical graft that has gone on as well as the supply of materials for rebuilding the railway.  One thing is certain and that is that Society members have been saved from 3 to 4 years of hard, back-breaking work, and that alone is something to be thankful for.

The jobs that have been done are listed in no particular order. (This sentence was written long before Philip Schofield and ‘Dancing on Ice’ or any of the other singing and dancing shows were on the telly.  It was new then – it drives me crackers now!!)

1.    Packing and repair of main running line which has resulted in a smoother ride, especially in the DMU trailer.

2.    Finishing of point on south end of the loop – started by members last year.

3.    Shortening of loop and removal of the two points at the northern end of the loop.  In fact the whole of the loop has been lifted; the shortened loop awaits arrival of extra sleepers before it can be relaid.

4.    Lessening of gradient of bank up to causeway.

5.    Tipping on causeway and subsequent levelling.

6.    Relaying of causeway – at present the causeway is wide enough for the railway but further tipping is necessary to widen the formation to provide adequate footpath facilities.

7.    Digging out of top end of line – this has revealed the track to be in a very poor state and much work is needed to bring the track into a comparable state to the rest of the railway.

8.    Digging out of ‘Branch’ prior to reclaiming track materials.

9.    Moving of point and lengthening of ‘Elsley’s Siding’.  This was completed in three weeks during a lull in train services at the end of July and beginning of August.

10.           Building of compound and loading platform at ‘Elsley’s Siding’.  This is a great improvement and the addition of a box van body will make it very griddy, very Colonel Stephens.

11.           Relaying of level crossing, which is now much smoother.

12.           Fencing the line from Brownhills West to bottom of causeway bank with concrete posts and five strands of wire.Looking up the causeway bank after clearance.

The transformation upon the railway is somewhat devastating to the casual observer and if you haven’t seen the work done yet, then come on over – it’s YOUR taxes that have paid for it!

Looking Ahead

1980 should see consolidation of the work done under the auspices of the STEPS programme and promises to be every bit as exciting as 1979 has been.

The CLR Co. are planning to purchase a further passenger carrying coach as well as locomotive DL7, and making money available for any further capital expenditure needed.

Providing the purchase of the land and track (plus associated Light Railway Order) finally goes ahead then there is every confidence of services being extended to at least the north end of the causeway, with passengers being able to alight there and explore the previously out of reach NE shore of Chasewater.  This will enable fares to be increased to give more much needed revenue as well as being far more interesting than the present 800 yard shuttle to enthusiasts, public and volunteers alike.

Of course, hopefully more volunteers will turn up to help (or else the improvements won’t be realised to their full potential) or will they……?Ruston & Hornsby 458641-61 at Brownhills West (Later known as DL7)

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