138 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News Autumn 1991 – Part 1
Editorial – Nigel Canning
This summer has seen a number of achievements on our railway. The station and its facilities have been improved, the track is gradually being extended towards the causeway and the existing running line maintained to the best of our ability. One big problem, however, still hangs over the line – the proposed motorway. The latest news is that it will be a toll road, and for various reasons may not now be completed until 1997. If we had a tiny percentage of the money already spent just planning and re-planning the motorway we could probably complete our railway and finance it for the next fifty years!
No.4 Asbestos – Work on this loco has continued with the fitting of twenty four boiler tubes to replace those leaking when the loco was taken out of service. The steam manifold in the cab has now been re-machined and a new main shut off valve fitted. It is now likely that the hydraulic test will be carried out in the next couple of months.
No.5 Sentinel – This loco has worked all the passenger trains so far this year without major incident. The recent closure of Lea Hall Colliery brought about a brief change of fuel on the railway, and 9632 seemed to be much happier running on the replacement Littleton coal, however with the arrival of our two new mineral wagons and their unexpected contents the loco is again running on Lea Hall coal. One consequence of a Sentinel powered railway is that the water column has fallen into disuse and has not even been filled this year as the loco will run all day on its 500 gallon thankful with perhaps a little topping up from the hosepipe.
No.2 Lion – Four new mud doors have been made and fitted to the firebox, but the loco still awaits a set of washout plugs before it can be hydraulically tested. Already two sets have been specially made and found to be wrong to the dimensions specified. A third set is now being made!
S100 – Work is still progressing on the building of a machine to re-grind the hornguides of this loco.
DL7 – Upon attempting to start the engine after its having stood out of use for a few weeks yet another valve jammed, bending its pushrod. This time the damage appears more serious, requiring the removal of one of the cylinder heads to allow a repair to be effected. As a consequence the loco has been out of service throughout the summer.
Fowler – This loco has remained in regular use for shunting and for works train duties without problem, although it seems to have developed a loud hiss from the exhaust outlet, the reason for which has yet to be established.
Smith Rodley Crane – The crane has remained out of use lately although some work has been carried out in preparation for the fitting of safety guards over the exposed gearing in the cab.
Permanent Way News
As usual a lot of hard work has been put in on track maintenance and relaying. Work on the extension has been restricted to the monthly ‘track bashes’, but even so we are now getting very close to the houses at Norton. The May ‘track bash’ was boosted by help from the 1st Burntwood Scouts, although since then the holiday season has reduced numbers quite dramatically (to four on the August ‘bash’.Flier included with the magazine!
On other weekends effort has been concentrated on the existing running line. Various sections have been re-packed and aligned, as a result of which the ride is much smoother than it has been.
The whole of the running line as far as Willow Vale has been weed killed by hand using watering cans, a mammoth task by any standards, and now looks very tidy indeed. In July a large area of weeds was dug out from the end of the line by a party of pupils from Brownhills Comprehensive School, making a great improvement. Even the bridge handrails have been renewed, this time using toe-rag proof bullhead rail and point rodding.
The concrete platform for Willow Vale was scheduled to arrive in July, but due to the SVR’s crane driver being ill, has been delayed for a while. Hopefully we can still get it delivered to Chasewater before the start of the dark evenings.
Carriage & Wagon News
It looks as if work will shortly begin on building a small carriage shed to allow restoration of wooden stack to continue in bad weather. It is intended that this ’temporary building’ will be erected against the buffer stops on No.1 road using steelwork and sheeting which has been in storage in the loco shed yard since last year. Work will commence with the painting of the metalwork and clearing of the proposed site.
Midland four-wheel Passenger Brake – A number of wooden panels have been removed for repair and to give access to the framework beneath. Because of this, the vehicle has remained partially sheeted over.
Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln six-wheel coach – This vehicle has also received attention to its wooden panelling.
Great Eastern six-wheel Passenger Brake – This is yet another vehicle which has had body panels repaired, and this time painted in blue temporarily in order to keep out the weather.
Maryport & Carlisle six-wheel coach – This vehicle has been completely sheeted over and no further restoration has been carried out.
Wickham 2-Car DMU E56171 & E50416 – These two vehicles are still separated as the trailer is still; running as part of the passenger train. With the new station buffet now open for business, and the Derby centre car soon to take over on the passenger train, they will shortly be re-united so that their restoration to a working DMU can begin.
Gloucester Trailer E56301 – This vehicle has remained in service on the passenger train without problem, although the bodywork is now somewhat tatty to say the least.
Derby Centre car W59444 – This vehicle has not yet entered service but will do so shortly as soon as the Guard/Driver buzzer system has been modified. Up until now a separate wiring harness has been added to each coach for this purpose, but to simplify things, a special jumper cable has now been made so that coaches can connect via their own cabling, and to the loco via the new jumper lead. Once the Wickham is taken out of service, a new bar will be needed, possibly the ‘Derby Bar’.
Wagons – Details of the two new steel-bodied mineral wagons are given in a later post. The two GWR brake vans have remained in use as mess and tool vans on the works train. No work has been carried out on any other vehicle.
General News From The Line
Bric-a-Brac Stall – This now well established feature of Brownhills West Station continues to make a large contribution to the upkeep of our railway, typically £50 or £60 over a Bank Holiday weekend. Many thanks to Jan Forrest for the donation of books for the stall.
Station Buffet – The new station buffet is now open for business and requires only minor work such as the fitting of steel roller shutters over the windows to complete the structure. Named the ’Shunters’ Cabin’, this establishment is also making money and is a fantastic improvement over the previous arrangement. Mains water and electricity, and a staff toilet, are among the facilities not previously available in the old Wickham buffet.
Portaloos – The ‘Ladies’ and ‘Gents’ have also opened for business. This feature of the station will no doubt be appreciated by the public, and stands as a tribute to Walsall Council’s total disinterest in facilities at Chasewater. The building has been painted in maroon and cream with strategically positioned flower beds to hide the wheels.
136 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News April 1991 – Part 4 More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge
136 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces
From Chasewater News April 1991 – Part 4
More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge
During the 1960s many long cherished traditions on the railways were swept away. The scrapping of steam and the closure of many branch lines are well known, but in fact almost every aspect of railway life was changed. For many decades the railwaymen had worked to their own hierarchy, whereby the most senior guards got the best pay, and generally easier jobs. Then the tide of change began to sweep in.
As a goods senior guard at Bescot, Sid was among the more senior of the staff and had become used to the ‘plum jobs’. One of these was the Bescot to Sheffield goods train as this involved maximum pay for minimum effort. One morning, however, a new policy was introduced.
The foreman introduced a slightly scruffy looking young man to Sid.
‘This is Norman’ he said, ‘He’ll be taking over some of the Sheffields, so can you show him the road and make sure he’s OK?’
Sid was far from pleased. The youth was a new recruit and had what we would call today an attitude problem. Sid was determined to show him just who was the boss. Once all their duties were done, Sid and Norman climbed into the brake van. The driver of the Sheffield bound train also knew what was at stake, and intended that this new youth should be put in his place.
To Norman’s surprise, Sid lay stretched out on the bench in the brake van and apparently dozed off. Norman did not know that in this position Sid had a good view of the train through the ducket in the side of the van. Through half closed eyes Sid watched the loco until its cylinder drain cocks opened prior to the train moving off. Sid yawned and appeared to wake up. ‘It’s about time we were off’ he said nonchalantly. ‘How do you know?’ began the youth, but before any explanation was given the van jolted forwards. They were off. ‘It’s a sort of sixth sense you get’ said Sid mysteriously. Sid pretended to doze off once more while all the time looking carefully through the ducket.
After a few minutes Sid stirred again. ‘I reckon the peg’ll be against us at Brownhills’ he said.
‘Why do you say that?’ said Norman.
‘Just a feeling’ explained Sid, not, of course, admitting that he could see the approaching signals. Sure enough, the train slowed and Sid laconically pulled the hand brake on.
At every junction, station or landmark along the way Sid would mystify his unwanted pupil, pretending to be asleep until his mysterious sixth sense popped up/
‘Smell that?’ said Sid ‘That’s the hops at Marston’s Brewery. It’s a totally different smell to the hops at Bass brewery. If you’re going to work this line at night you’ll have to tell the difference or you’ll not know what part of Burton you’re in.’
Young Norman’s self-confidence was beginning to crack. Did you really have to be a beer expert to become a railway guard?
Just outside Sheffield Sid drove his point home.
‘Ah!’ he said ‘Roast mutton’. Poor Norman was mystified.
‘What day is it?’ asked Sid.
‘Err… Thursday’ replied Norman.
‘Then we must be at Millhouse, you see the Victoria pub serves roast mutton on Mondays and Thursdays. The pub’s right next to the railway, so you can’t miss the smell. The trouble is, the Railway Hotel at Heeley also serves mutton, but on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, so you need to remember what day of the week it is and who serves what on what day of the week, otherwise if it is foggy, you might not know where you are. Is that all quite clear?’
Norman just did not know what to think. Not only did you need to be psychic and a beer expert, you had to be familiar with all the pub menus on either side of the railway and a walking almanac.
Needles to say, Norman soon left the railway and the ‘Sheffields’ remained in the hands of the senior men a while longer.
(Actually, those railwaymen who knew Sid would probably say that he DID know the pub menus on the line from Bescot to Sheffield!)
Experience at Chasewater proves the answer to this question to be a resounding ‘YES!’
Please note: While these stories are as they were told to Sid’s grandson, and have not been knowingly embellished, the author cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy! If they are not true, they ought to be!