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Tag Archives: HednesfordImage
95 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
21st Anniversary Edition – 2
Twenty one not out
Hednesford Depot (The wagons in the background are on the line to Cannock Wood pit, now a footpath. The building still stands, the sides bricked up and the doorway filled in. 2021)
The history of the Chasewater Light Railway goes back to a meeting called at the Station Hotel, Stafford on October 10th, 1959. This meeting led to the formation of the West Midlands District of the Railway Preservation Society, whose aim was to set up regional depots around the country where railway relics could be collected, restored and eventually returned to their native area.
1054 at Hednesford
The first West Midlands Division was set up at Hednesford, Staffs. in a siding belonging to Penkridge Engineering Limited, and was in fact the 3rd Standard Gauge Preservation Society.The first items of stock acquired were the Maryport and Carlisle and Great Eastern coaches from the National Coal Board, Rawnsley. The siding at Hednesford was partially covered and so in 1962 the ex London & North Western Railway coal tank 1054 was offered a home there. This engine later went to Penrhyn Castle, North Wales, and then to Dinting Railway centre, appearing at the ‘Rocket 150’ celebrations in 1980.
The West Midlands District decided in the early 1960s to find a suitable length of line on which to operate their growing collection of rolling stock.
The state of the track
In 1963 it was suggested that the remnants of the Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Railway around Chasewater would make a suitable length of line. At this time the area was desolate, and it wasn’t until 1967 that the Society actually moved to Chasewater, development of a Pleasure Park had made the line more attractive. By this time all the National Coal Board buildings and workshops had been demolished and all that was left was 600 yards of double track belonging to British Rail (ex Midland Railway) and 1½ miles of former Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Railway, plus a 300 yard spur which formerly led to Conduit Colliery, upon which a lease was taken.
The first task at Chasewater was to lay over 800 yards of track, partially along the former Midland Railway track bed and partly along new formation into the Pleasure Park. Much of this work was done by hand – even the first wagon was a luxury.
It wasn’t until late 1967 that motive power arrived in the shape of Pittsteel Hibberd No.1. Development at Chasewater was slow and laborious and it wasn’t until 1970 that all stock at Hednesford had been transferred to Chasewater and the Hednesford depot closed.
To return briefly to general aspects of Railway Preservation Society’s history, apart from Hednesford, depots had been set up at Quainton Road (London Railway Preservation Society and Falkirk (Scottish Railway Preservation Society). However the main movement of Railway Preservation was to either preserve solitary engines or complete branch lines and so the broader aspects of Railway Preservation Society policy evolved into a body known as the Association of Railway Preservation Societies, which is an advisory body which gives help, advice and information to many preservation groups and has over 200 member societies.
Returning to Chasewater, as already stated all stock was there by 1970 housed in a security compound and thought was given to giving regular steam-hauled train rides.
During 1968/9 and 1970 several open days had been held with either AB1223 (Colin McAndrew) or HL 2780 (Asbestos) in steam, and limited train rides were given. The formation of the Chasewater Light Railway Company in 1970 was necessary to enable trains to be run legally. In 1971 a regular service was given using Nos. 20 and 21 at either end of the Maryport & Carlisle coach whilst ‘Asbestos’ was under repair. Regular steam-hauled services began in September 1972 when ‘Asbestos’ was re-commissioned. For the rest of the 1972 season ‘Asbestos’ hauled a train comprising of the 1875 Maryport & Carlisle six-wheeler and the 1880s 16 ton Great Western brake van – as far as the bridge at the South end of the double track section where the embankment was burning. 1973 saw a start made on building a permanent platform at what is now Brownhills West and also saw the purchase, from British Rail, of E56301 (non-powered) driving trailer – ideal for observation and working push-pull.E56301 on her way
E56301 in through the farm gate at Chasewater
(Trailer car 56301 was the first diesel multiple unit car to enter preservation in 1969, originally being used at the Chasewater Railway)
The Society’s aims were to run a service along the whole two miles of railway as and when track was brought into usable condition. In 1974 British Rail ‘rediscovered’ that they owned what is now the central section of Chasewater Light Railway and banned any use of it, due to the burning of the embankment. This was a major blow as Society members were just ready to start work on this section. In 1975 British Rail allowed work to start on the burning embankment, which was completely dug out and replaced with non-combustible material and negotiations were opened for the purchase of this section. The purchase price was raised by 1978, actual purchase taking place in 1980.
In keeping with its aims, the Railway Preservation Society changed its name to the Chasewater Light Railway Society in 1977, owning most of the rolling stock and relics whilst Chasewater Light Railway Company is responsible for the legal implications of running trains, i.e. insurance, etc.
The Neilson with Gloucester E56301 working at Chasewater.
In 1979 a great step forward was taken with using a Government sponsored STEPS project for rebuilding the railway, especially the causeway across the lake, which had been much eroded by wash from power boats on the lake. The work accomplished in 12 months would have taken Society working parties 3 to 4 years to accomplish and will allow regular steam-hauled services to run over the majority of the line in 1982, subject to the granting of a Light Railway Order and a satisfactory inspection by the Railway Inspectorate.
Chasewater Railway Museum
Another new Acquisition
The Museum grapevine has been working well recently. Anthony Coulls of the National Railway Museum called Mark Sealey about a worksplate off a Cannock Chase Colliery locomotive, Alfred Paget on EBay. Mark passed the message on to Barry Bull, who signed up to EBay and eventually won the plate.
Following advice from Rob Cadman we came to the conclusion that the size of the Beyer Peacock worksplate on EBay and purporting to be off Alfred Paget didn’t quite measure up. A fraction smaller than details in the Buckle and Love worksplate book gave the game away that likely a copy of the original with if correct the usual shrinkage to be expected. We are grateful to Rob Cadman for his research and pointing this out. However with this in mind I enlisted Rob to help with a low bid, and can report success at £104 . It is certainly possible maybe even probable that the plate was copied from an original in the NCB Chasetown workshops in the 1950s at the time when the seller’s father was employed there.
Rob has collected the worksplate from Roy Fairbanks who lives at Shire Oak. His father Freddie Fairbanks was a loco fitter at Cannock Chase and as the pits closed he went to the Chasetown workshops. He died in 1984 and son has had it since, seems he expected it to realise £30 or so. Now Rob has it he’s coming round to the idea that it may be original. He’s now swayed to thinking it is.
It has now been decided that the Beyer Peacock 1861 worksplate is indeed an original off CCC Co loco Alfred Paget. A good few days all round.
The original ‘Alfred Paget’, an 0-4-2ST No.204/1861, was acquired new, scrapped by NCB at Chasetown circa 1952. ‘Paget’ was the family name of the Marquis of Anglesey, one of the major land-owners in the district, and Chasewater Railway has kept the name – now on a Neilson engine.
Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces No 49
From the Mercian of September 1969
Secretary’s Report – A.A.Chatfield Acting Hon. Secretary
Vandalism at Hednesford
It is my sorry duty to inform all members that as a result of a break-in by some unknown gang of juvenile delinquents the interior of the Royal Saloon – our most priceless vehicle – looks as if it has been under the axe of some demolition contractors. Irreplaceable panelling has been deliberately smashed in, interior door panels including glass mirrors stove in completely and a wanton trail of damage to the tune of at least £150 done to the interior. (A great deal of money some 40 years ago!).
The police have been to the depot but without some positive information they are unable to do very much at this stage. The depot at Hednesford is vulnerable seven days a week and until the stock is moved to Chasewater en bloc where it will be afforded more protection then we are going to suffer even more vandalism which will not only delay the restoration process, but increase our expenditure and, what is more important, lose us our most valued working members to whom these sorts of acts are extremely disheartening.
Then followed an appeal for £800 to move the bogie vehicles at least from Hednesford to Chasewater.
The acting Hon. Treasurer, Laurence Hodgkinson, repeated the appeal and stated that, if the work at Chasewater continued at its present rate, the compound would be ready for the stock from Hednesford by the Autumn.
Amongst the new members joining the Society – B.J.Bull Esq.
Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces No 50
The next three posts are sort of connected.
The first sets out the thinking behind the Railway Preservation Society,
The second takes a look into a possible future for the railway.
The third tries to give the reason why the second didn’t happen!
From the Editorial of the November/December 1969 Mercian
Food for Thought
It has often been said that the first ten years of marriage are the most difficult and if this is any yardstick then our first ten years have been one continuous struggle. Members may ask the question ‘Why?’ when they can see all around us other schemes, which are as little as two years old, flourishing with membership in the thousands. Here we are in our eleventh year and what have we got to show for it? May I try to explain a very subtle difference between our Society and other schemes which flourish around us and leave us completely in the shade?
We are a preservation Society first and foremost, we are not interested in ‘playing trains’ on some unwanted British Railways branch which can be snapped up for anything from £200 to £400,000 in order to be re-opened as a tourist attraction with weekend traffic to satisfy the ‘locals’. Our first aim is to preserve, what we do with the items after that depends a great deal upon what they are. Our range is therefore very extensive, running from a button to a carriage or locomotive, and to this end our record at the moment is pretty formidable.
We do not rely, as do many of our competitors, on other people loaning us locos or rolling stock with which to operate, we have paid for all our relics the hard way – THEY ARE OURS.
You might then ask ‘but if we are a preservation group only, why are we hoping to run trains at Chasewater?’ This can be answered quite simply. We are restoring, within the confines laid down by the Local Authority, a stretch of track which formed part of the old Midland Railway branch line from Brownhills, and by restoring I mean every sleeper, chair, nut, bolt and rail completely from scratch, in other words, preserving something which is part of the local railway history.
Obviously it would be a complete waste of time if after doing this we let the track become derelict again, and so primarily for the benefit of our members and also for the enjoyment of the visiting public, we hope that we shall be able to put some of our assets to workup and down the short stretch of line which has been relaid.
We have started from scratch, from the ballast upwards, that is where our difference lies from the other preservation groups around us who are enjoying more success.
It seems that every enthusiast will interest himself in a scheme if he can be an engine driver, but when it comes down to relaying track, restoring locos and carriages or doing the other thousand and one back-breaking menial jobs that have to be done he just does not want to know.
Who is going to be the loser in the long run? I do not think it will be our Society because we have so much in preservation experience from the bottom to the top to offer and yet still have a long way to go.
‘We have never had it as good’ if I may alter a well known saying. (For those who remember Harold MacMillan – Prime Minister 1957/1963).
Other schemes may fade away when the novelty wears off or when setbacks arise but we have had more than our fair share of setbacks over the past ten years and we have learned to take them on the chin and what is more, to come back fighting again as full of spirit as ever.
Pockets may be very deep when it comes to paying out hard cash and this may be very good for the enthusiast’s conscience, but when you ask yourself honestly – ‘am I really preserving?’ – is the answer always YES. I often wonder. After ten years as a Society may we all hope that the next decade will see the realisation of the efforts which have been put into the Society by a list too long to mention.
Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 48 Mercian July 1969, plus a few photos from 2009
From the Mercian of July 1969
Following a disagreement the Committee published a special message announcing the resignation of the Hon. Secretary, Hon. Treasurer and Vice-Chairman.
The acting Hon. Sec. A.A.Chatfield put together a report at short notice, stating that the usual progress is being slowly maintained, but more hands were still needed.
Mike Lewis had been packing the track near the compound and helped to alleviate the flooding problem. Steve Allsopp and Brian Hames have completed the overhaul of No.21 and have given her a spanking new coat of paint.
Derek Luker has been working on the steam locos with his small band of helpers and ‘Asbestos’ is now ready for a hydraulic test. New tubes are on order for the other locos and it is hoped to deal with them as soon as labour becomes available.
A limited amount of maintenance has been started inside the Royal Saloon thanks to Richard Middle and Arthur Chatfield, again a couple more members here would help out, particularly while the weather holds good.
Two of the younger members whose names escape me at present have been putting a coat of protective paint on the E1, again a much needed job well done.
From time to time we get requests from various bodies and individuals to help in storing rolling stock and in particular steam locomotives.
I feel that in the interests of all concerned it would be a sensible idea to say that while we have every sympathy and will try to advise such bodies and individuals, we cannot offer any hope of storage space either at Chasewater or Hednesford. Our present commitments with our own existing stock preclude us from offering help. I would ask all who read this to realise the difficult position that we are in with regard to this matter, for it is better to put you in the picture than to disappoint you later.
Make no mistake about it however, for as soon as we are able I am sure that we shall assist all we can.