139 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News Autumn 1991 – Part 2
How it was, how it is and the 1st Burntwood Scouts
Initially we started the track attack around Jan/Feb 1990, but an accumulation of other, more pressing jobs needed our attention. As a result, it was decided to leave the planned track extension until a later date, which was more or less twelve months later.
How it was.
After laying 50 odd concrete sleepers between two of us, just Pete and I, we came to the conclusion that the rails were out of true, that is, they were not in uniform lengths.
We concluded that it would take more than two of us to correct this problem so we decided to leave it until later in the year, and, as stated earlier, other jobs required more urgent attention.
Meanwhile, it had been decided that the various departments of our railway required better leadership, and as a result, Les Emery became our Permanent Way foreman.
Firstly, I suppose he felt like any other p-way ganger would, that trundling down 1,000 or so yards of track to nowhere specific causes enthusiasm to wane a little. Secondly, he seems the kind of bloke who has the uncanny knack of proving the need for his actions, and if a job should crop up, would rather do it first than answer for it later. Now the p-way gang get even the most tedious jobs done, whether it is weedkilling, tightening fishplate bolts, or even cutting back the grass banks or trees. Using a shovel and sweat (unless some kind soul out there has got an old JCB to lend us?) quite a lot has already been achieved.How it is.
Things are coming on nicely thank you. Since starting the ‘track attack’ in February, Les came up with a brilliant idea for moving 60 foot lengths of rail with only about three blokes, by the use of three small rollers onto which the rail can be jacked and then pushed along.
Our gallant leader believes that we could be at the bottom of the causeway bank by the end of October, others reckon spring 1993, and that id laying the track, ballasting and having it passed by the Railway Inspectorate.
Ur long term ambition is to relay the track as far as Anglesey Wharf, which is close to the bad canal bridge in Wharf Lane. Mind you, that’s a long way off yet, but the way things are going, could be in the next ten years or so.
Our main concern will shortly be the causeway bank which has got to be braced and backfilled as the water has eroded the banks on either side. The ‘spiky bridge’ also needs repair; I wonder if it will still be called the ‘spiky bridge’ once it is repaired? We are fortunate to have no underbridges on this railway, just the two overbridges.
It is hoped to use the existing platform built years ago by the Manpower Services Scheme on the other side of the causeway. This would be the end of our extended run until further rail and sleepers could be obtained.
Our track attacks take place once a month, with minor maintenance jobs done in between. With our line getting ever longer, weedkilling by watering can is tending to become an all day job. A big tank with a spray pipe at one end could be a solution to the problem.After the toe rags smashed the Willow Vale bridge handrails off completely, Dave, Keith and Paul fabricated new handrails using old bullhead rail so that should, I pray, be that job done.
I should mention the great help we had from the Burntwood Scouts during the May track attack – it was much appreciated – cheers.
The 1st Burntwood Scouts and the May Track Bash
1st Burntwood scouts were one of the largest scout groups in the Lichfield District. They had just under 200 members ranging from 7 year old Beavers through to 20 year old young men and women in the Venture section.
Whilst many of the activities have changed over the years, to meet the challenges of today’s society, one activity which is still central to scouting is that of helping others. This can take many forms, but one in particular is that of becoming involved in the local environment.
When Dave Whittle mentioned that the Chasewater Light Railway hold regular sessions to clear and extend the running line, the Jupiter Troop of scouts thought that this would not only be a worthwhile environmental project to become involved in, but might also be good fun.
As it turned out the boys who came along all thoroughly enjoyed themselves, put a bit of work in as well, and went home both tired and wanting to return. Now that we have made the contact, we will be bringing parties of scouts along to help out in any way that we can.
1st Burntwood Scouts.The scouts pose with the CLR track gang in front of the works train at the end of the May ‘track bash’.
137 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News April 1991 – Part 5
More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge
Whilst industriously playing cards one morning in the1960s at Bescot, Sid was summoned to the foreman’s office.
‘Sid’ said the foreman, ‘There’s a special test train waiting at Wolverhampton. They haven’t got a guard, so I’m sending you along.’Gateway to the high level railway station
This building is described thus on a blue plaque erected by the Wolverhampton Civic Society:
“The Queen’s Building. Gateway to the High Level Railway station. Erected 1849. Edward Banks, Architect.”
It is located a short walk away from the mainline station. The bus station is located beside it. © Copyright Ruth Sharville and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Sure enough a taxi arrived and took Sid to Wolverhampton High Level. The special train consisted of four brand new electric locomotives, two at each end of a test coach. It all looked very impressive. Alas, no-one had a key to open the doors on the coach, so Sid, a petite sixteen and a half stone, had to force his way in through the corridor connection. The key was hanging up in a corner of the coach.
Eventually everyone got on board. The driver of the electric loco was told ‘You’ve got a clear path through to Stafford. Go as fast as you can from here and don’t stop no matter what we do with the brakes until we get to Stafford.
‘Hello!’ thought Sid ‘This should be fun.’
The train started off and rapidly picked up speed. ‘Just a minute! called one of the inspectors, ‘The handbrake’s still on the coach!’
‘So take it off then’ chimed another inspector.
‘Could be tricky,’ said Sid ‘It’s external; there’s no way of getting at it from in here.’
The inspector applied the vacuum brake, but to no avail, the driver was carrying out hid instructions to the letter.
What a sight it must have been, four gleaming electric locos, pantographs sparking and flashing, with the tyres of the test vehicle flashing and sparking as well. As it turned out, the driver did not get the clear run he had been promised, and the train stopped near Penkridge. The inspectors hurriedly released the handbrake and climbed back onto the train. The signals changed and the driver set off once more.
‘THUMP THUMP THUMP’ went the coach wheels, which had huge flats on their tyres. The train accelerated up to Ninety miles an hour. ‘THUBITY THUBITY THUBITY’ the coach shook and vibrated. Things fell of shelves and out of cupboards. This was unbearable.
At long last the train arrived at Stafford. ‘Everything OK?’ asked the driver as he climbed down from his electric. The test crew, plus Sid, were ashen faced and feeling far from well.
‘No, not really,’ replied the inspector, and was promptly sick!The first ‘Peak’ Diesel leaving Stafford on an Up express View NW, towards Crewe etc. on the WCML. By 1960 many WCML expresses had been handed over to Diesel haulage: here No. D1 ‘Scafell Pike’, the first BR/Sulzer ‘Peak’ 2,300hp Type 4 1-Co-Co-1 (later Class 44 No. 44.001), pulls the 08.30 Carlisle – Euston out of Stafford station. © Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.