Chasewater Ralway Museum – Coming Soon –
Moving the Goods – Oct 12/13 2019
More than a third of a mile of track, including 3 points and 2 buffer stops, have been donated to the West Midlands based Chasewater Railway.
The gift has been donated by Synthetic Chemicals of Four Ashes Works, Staffs.
The track was dismantled by Chasewater members over two weekends with the cost of lifting, together with labour, borne by Synthetic Chemicals, while transport was supplied by Chasewater.
This is the largest donation of its kind that Chasewater has received and is mostly due to the efforts of Jim Bates, and employee of Synthetic Chemicals and a long-standing member of the standard gauge metals railway. He found that the sidings were to be dismantled, approached his works manager on behalf of Chasewater and together with officials from the railway, obtained the track.
The majority of the track, which had been refurbished in 1989 but never used, was moved in 60ft panels on May 21, although not officially handed over till May 27.
The panels were transported to the causeway and lifted off by a crane supplied free of charge after a request from the Railway’s general manager Steve Organ, by Midland Safe Loads Ltd, Brownhills.
Although not all the track is on site at present from Four Ashes, the amount delivered, with the track from Redditch Railway Society, is enough to lay the line through to Norton Lakeside.
David Bathurst, Chairman of Chasewater Railway, said “We are overwhelmed by the quality and the length of track donated to the railway and also the cost of lifting it, for which we are very grateful. We also know that this is not the first time that Synthetic Chemicals have made such a donation to a railway. They presented their 0-4-0F Barclay built in 1944. to the Telford Steam Trust in 1992, but I would also like to thank Jim Bates for the effort he has put in…….Jim fixed it for us.”
Rail contractor Centrac, Tarmac’s track renewal company, came to the rescue when it heard that Chasewater Railway at Burntwood, Staffordshire, was struggling to extend its line due to a shortage of sleepers.
Birmingham-based Centrac offered to supply 600 sleepers from its main recycling depot at Northampton.
The Donated sleepers mean that Chasewater Railway’s volunteer workforce can extend its line to a planned new station near the proposed Burntwood by-pass entrance to the Chasewater Country Park.
The line currently serves the Brownhills West end of the park, carrying passengers around Chasewater Lake – and across the lake on a recently rebuilt causeway – to a station opened 18 months ago in the Norton wildfowl reserve.
The track represents the only remaining mineral line from the vast Cannock Chase coalfield network, and runs small tank locomotives retrieved from industrial locations, including a steam shunting engine from Pleck gasworks, providing scenic leisure trips for passengers.
Chasewater Railway general manager Steve Organ welcomed the donation of the sleepers saying “We are absolutely delighted with Centrac’s generous help – quite simply we could not have achieved so much without them. This shows the value of recycling materials.”
Lorne Gray, who is in charge of Centrac’s recycling operations, commented: “The particular type of sleeper we have donated would normally be stripped down to the bare components. The baseplates and fixings would be sold off by the tonne to scrap merchants and the sleepers sold for use in heavy industry and agriculture.
“The fact that they will now be used for their intended purpose, albeit on a reduced specification basis, is very satisfying.”
The Duke of Gloucester was in his element as he took control of ‘Asbestos’ – Chasewater Railway’s flagship steam locomotive.
With a blast on the whistle the Duke shifted the regulator and the steam engine edged forward.
For the next ten minutes the Duke indulged one of his greatest passions – steam trains – oblivious to the wired-up security agent positioned half-way along the section of track.
The royal visit to Chasewater Railway was the third stop on the Duke of Gloucester’s tour of the area last Thursday (4-11-2004).
Accompanying the Duke in the engine’s cab were Driver Mark Sealey and Fireman Steve Williams.
Steve said ” He knew exactly where all the controls were, we didn’t really have to help him. I think he would have liked to have gone a bit further down the track.”
Mark added “We talked about the engine and where it had come from and he asked us about the length of the track.”
The Duke also toured the newly constructed Heritage Centre where restoration work on Chasewater’s collection of railway carriages takes place.
And while in the Centre he unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visit.
Restoration engineers Jim Twigge and Don Mitchell chatted with the Duke.
“He is the kind of person you can speak with easily,” said Jim.
Don added ” We knew he was a train enthusiast and former architect.
Architecture and railways are his two passions.”
Before leaving, the Duke took an impromptu trip on a modern engine – the Parry People Mover – and the clockwork coordination of the event suddenly seemed at risk!
Station Master Eric Balaam remarked ” The Duke said it is nice to see people restoring the carriages for future generations to appreciate.”
As the bespectacled Duke in dark grey suit and beige overcoat climbed into his Jaguar, Chasewater Railway’s general manager Steve Organ reflected on the Royal visit.
“I think it has gone really well with this our first Royal visit.
This is a very significant milestone, giving credibility to the railway and enabling members to take a pride in it.”
Some recent additions at Chasewater Railway, are 3 Wickham Trolleys on display in the Heritage Centre at Brownhills West Station. The Wickham Trolley was a Railway Engineering personnel carrier used on track inspection duties.
Also at Chasewater is the Wickham No 6878, which was used by the ministry of supply at Longmoor Camp, and also used in the film The Great St Trinians Train Robbery.