103 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Spring 1985 – 2

Three post in one – not a lot about locos but interesting ramblings about the Chasewater Railway at that time.

103 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Spring 1985 – 2

 Carriage & Wagon Notes

Following the AGM the ex GWR Toad brake van has been sold to Les Emery (owner of Barclay No.3).  As this is GWR 150th year it is perhaps worth pointing out that this vehicle was numbered fourth in the first batch of twelve GWR freight vehicles to be built with iron underframes and is thought to be the oldest surviving GWR vehicle.  Incidentally, its sale realises a 13,000% profit to the Society.

The AGM also agreed to the sale of the ex LNWR brake compartment (non-corridor coach known in the vernacular as ‘the paddy’.  This has been advertised for sale and hopefully a buyer can be found as it is neither use nor ornament in its present condition and funds/manpower are not available to rectify the situation.  The ex BSC hopper wagon is having its body removed and will be fitted with timber decking for use as a flat wagon.  This will enable the worst of the present flat wagons to be scrapped (as it had a smashed headstock amongst other diseases) along with the British Reinforced Concrete Ltd. drop sided wagon, which is beyond all hope of redemption.Great Eastern brake

All other wooden bodied stock is in appalling condition due to the ravages of open storage and vandalism.  One seriously wonders if they will be restorable if and when we have the money and manpower to do so.

The Wickham buffet car is in weekly use providing the Society’s main source of income over the winter months, whilst the Wickham trailer and Gloucester trailer await for signs of resumption of train services at which they will be repainted and brought into a fir state for passenger carrying duties.

Vandalism and Theft

Once again, the railway has fallen prey to the attention of juvenile vandals and scrap metal thieves.  As has already been mentioned, all locos kept outside the shed have had all none ferrous fittings removed after some pipework went missing, and locos to be stored outside after restoration will be fitted with vandal-proof shutters.

The ex MSL coach was removed of all its brass grab handles and door handles by a person or persons unknown, though these were later found in the Task Force workers mess van, from which one can draw one’s own conclusions.  Having suffered the above trouble and that mentioned in Mr. Bull’s ‘comment’, we have been of late suffering from thieves steeling cast iron chairs, track spikes, lengths of rail and even sleepers from the causeway and loop areas of the line.

As a result of vandalism and theft we have sold all surplus rail, wooden sleepers and chairs from the causeway as the majority of it was only fit for scrap whilst any decent materials have been secured in the vicinity of Brownhills West.

The theft of wooden sleepers has been halted following the issue of a circular to houses in Norton Canes asking for information.  No fewer than twelve households reported having bought ‘logs’ from a local resident.  These ‘logs’ were in fact sawn-up sleepers and the man in question was arrested whilst burning the evidence in his back garden, having received one of these circulars himself!

Help

A list has been drawn up of the work needed to be done before trains can run again.

The majority if the work calls for hard work and graft rather than fancy engineering skills.  Why don’t YOU give it a try one Sunday?  We don’t bite (well Ted might if provoked) and tea in the buffet car has improved of late.  Seriously though, the more people that help then the quicker we can re-open and form a sound financial platform from which we can begin to think of extending the line across the causeway and beyond.

Task Force

The last issue mentioned that the Task Force had returned with the intention of finishing all outstanding work by Christmas.  Well Christmas has been and gone and the situation is worse than even the Fat Controller can have imagined.  Following demolition of the platform the Task Force moved onto the causeway and dismantled the track there, and then – nothing!  That’s right, they just dismantled the track in situ rendering its recovery impossible except by Shank’s Pony.  Round the Festive Season word got out that Task Force had withdrawn from Chasewater an d were not coming back, not ever, never!

A variety of reasons were rumoured, the one holding most credence being that the head of the Task Force thought Chasewater was too far away (from his office one supposes).  We were not amused and a deputation of Chairman/Solicitor and General Manager were sent to County Hall to register a complaint in no uncertain terms.

Apart from the obvious air of destruction and the resultant lack of train services it is perhaps pertinent to mention that membership of the CLRS has dropped by 50% since the arrival of Task Force.

Catering

A recent plus in this department is the repair of the Baby Belling cooker thanks to Mick Webb, this will enable a wider range of foods to be made available than previously.

104 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Spring 1985 – 3

104 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Spring 1985 – 3

An excerpt from the Chasewater Fat Controller’s Diary – dateline Sunday 10th February, 1985

It must have been the coldest day of the winter when the GM brought his car to a stand behind mine in Pool Road.  Having tried to get through the drifts and failed, I had backed out onto the A5 slip road just as a silly wassock in a Sherpa van who, having watched me back out, took a run at the same drift and got stuck.  He was eventually towed out an hour later by the farmer’s tractor.

Following meaningful discussions in the General Manager’s car including how many tools have gone missing during the Task Force Scheme? And who did we know with a Range Rover? We departed for Lichfield Road.

The bearded one was just about to leave, so with two pairs of socks and a spade each, the three of us returned to Chasewater in his large ‘four-coupled’ vehicle.  This time we tried the dirt track off White Horse Road which turned out to be relatively clear and it wasn’t until we were opposite the main gate that we met a snow drift.

“Come on Les, up onto the grass, round the left of that tree, and we’re in” the driver was advised.  Seconds later we had slid into a deep ditch which had been completely hidden by the snow.  The situation was desperate as with only one wheel of each axle in contact with the ground, the chassis resting on the ground and the diff. lock frozen, escape seemed impossible.

Les was left in charge of the wreckage while Brian and myself set out for the loco shed through driving wind and drifts up to four feet deep.  As luck would have it the compound gate and the shed door were clear so we could get inside and gather the necessary rescue equipment.  One large block and tackle, crow bar, key hammer, peckett cylinder wrapper and rope.  By this time the gorilla had landed his spitfire in Hednesford Road and assisted with pulling the ‘peckett sledge’ back towards the gate.  Upon passing Brownhills West Station we were intercepted by the Bull who, having arrived by cattle wagon saw the effort being expended and concluded we must be up to no good and so joined in.

After much struggling the crow bar was hammered into the ground and the block and tackle run between it and the vehicle’s towing ball.  Finally, with a large crowd of onlookers assisting, the vehicle was half winched, half lifted, onto solid ground.

Needless to say we all left the way we had come to search for Les’s 3½”/5” gauge garden railway and a cup of tea.  But at least we had ‘maintained the presence’ at Chasewater for another Sunday.          Nigel Canning

105 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 1

105 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 1

Chasewater Comment – Ian Patterson (aka the Hairy Youth)

Scanning through the draft for this magazine I came to the conclusion that things must be improving as there seems to be a lot happening and even more to look forward to as indeed there is.  However, this illusion is rapidly shattered by a visit to Chasewater where a visitor asked me “is this railway derelict? – I came here expecting to ride behind a steam engine” a tour of the engine shed and a chat with the Sunday regulars changed this person’s view but there must be many more who don’t enquire and merely see what they see – not a pretty sight.  For all intents and purposes the railway is derelict and a hell of a lot of hard work will be needed to run trains again.  With the present day work force there is two to three years work to be done before a passenger train can run again and apart from this, a large amount of money will be needed to pay the legal fees, etc. necessary to gain the all important Light Railway Order.  This brings me to another point and that is the apparent lack of progress on the administrative side of the re-opening process.  Moves are afoot to get things moving and it is to be hoped that the membership will vote on certain resolutions at the forthcoming AGM with the aim of getting the Railway re-opened as quickly as possible, rather than letting personal prejudices cloud their vision.

Provided that West Midlands County Council do rebuild the platform and provided that Walsall District Council do provide us with the necessary leases and Light Railway Order then perhaps next year we can attract more visitors who will be able to believe that real progress is being made, and help dispel the working members’ fears that trains may never run again.  Whilst this uncertainty hangs over the railway’s head the wooden bodied rolling stock is disintegrating before our eyes, doesn’t anyone care?

I hope members will visit the railway on Gricers’ Day (13th October) and see for themselves what needs to be done – perhaps it will inspire you to come and give a hand or perhaps it will finally convince you that your membership is a waste of time and that the Society will finally collapse after all.  The choice is yours – if thirty working members turned up every weekend from now until next Easter then one could confidently say that services could re-open next May – think about it, your apathy could be the final nail in the Railway’s Coffin.

Now from a rather pessimistic outlook with a touch of optimism towards the end to some really sad news:

Obituary

It is with great regret that we have to report the death of Charles Ives, Society Vice President and former President and benefactor for many years.  Ill-health has for some time forced Charles to take a back seat in Society matters but his influence in the formative years of the Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands District) can never be undervalued.Charles provided the Society with its original home on siding space at his Hednesford engineering establishment.  For ten years the Society had free use of the siding including an overall roof to assist early members in their restoration work.

His presence at Committee Meetings was always welcome with his sense of wit and countless anecdotes and sayings.  In his own way Charles was one of the pioneers of the preservation movement although perhaps a name that might not readily spring to mind.  A true character he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  Our condolences go to his widow.  B. Bull

Anyone who has followed this blog cannot fail to recognise the contribution of Charles Ives to the RPS West Midlands District and ultimately the Chasewater Light Railway Society. CWS

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