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115 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces, January 1988

Our latest picture of my personal favourite Cannock Chase Colliery Loco, Sharp Stewart No. 6, 2643/1876,  complete with ‘tender’.  Nothing to do with the post but I like it!

115 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

 From Chasewater News January 1988

 This Newsletter is issued with the annual membership renewal form.  If you do not renew your membership you will not receive the next magazine, due out in time for Easter.

The photographs included are those of Bagnall 0-4-0 ST 2648-1941 in various liveries.

Boardroom Notes

The Chasewater Light Railway Co. Ltd. AGM was held in the expected ten minutes.  The accounts for both the Company and the Society are being brought up to date and a Society AGM will be held shortly.

The Chasewater Light Railway & Museum Co. Annual Report is currently being compiled for distribution in early February, with the CLR & M Co. AGM being held at Brownhills West Station on Saturday 5th March at 2.30 pm.

Some progress has been made on the office/shop development though more work is still needed.

On the motorway front, the Public Enquiry is expected to begin in mid-April and will take about eight weeks to hear 1,500 objections to the scheme, 75% of which centre on the proposed development in the Chasewater area!

Anyone interested in joining the Board should contact the Company Secretary.

Membership Report

The renewal form for those whose membership is due on 28th February is enclosed with this Newsletter.  Please complete it NOW, not in two months time.  We need the membership money now to complete our Winter work programme.  Failure to renew will deprive you of the Easter edition of Chasewater News and the opportunity of helping on operating days.  All train crews, station staff and other helpers must be members for insurance purposes.

News from the Line

Trackwork – Work on the point connecting 2 & 3 roads is almost complete with 3 road re-connected to the rest of the railway whilst 2 road is at present being relaid.  It is hoped to construct the southern end of the run round at Brownhills West during the year – weather, manpower and materials permitting.

Engineering – Work is in hand to finish the equipment demanded by the Railway Inspector’s last report, namely Annetts Key locks on point lever frames, facing point locks and level crossing gates as well as several minor items.

Rolling Stock

It is hoped to restore and refurbish the Wickham trailer car so that it can be used to form a two coach train set for steam hauled services this season.  Extra help for this work would be most appreciated as would finance for the internal refurbishment and re-glazing required.  Use of the Wickham trailer with its ‘bar’ facilities will enable on train catering to be attempted and help increase our profit margins on operating days.

Extension of Services

The Railway inspectorate have given us provisional approval to extend services to the bottom of the causeway bank, now that this land is owned by Walsall Council, who are prepared to lease it to us, (i.e. the end of the former BR owned section of line) providing a license is obtained from British Rail.  (This license will enable us to extend services whilst a Light railway Order for the whole of the Railway is obtained).  The Railway Inspectorate is prepared to let us propel trains over this length of line initially, providing an extra coach is used to increase braking power, hence the urgency in getting the Wickham trailer ready for services.  However, run round facilities will have to be installed as a matter of some urgency.  Extension of services can only take place when the aforementioned license is granted (work on obtaining this is under way) and when the relevant track is brought up to standard as well as the necessary fencing and ancillary fittings.  Hopefully extended services can begin during the 1988 season provided the necessary work is done.

Extension of the running line will give us a chance of running services from somewhere to somewhere (Brownhills West to Norton East/Willow Vale Halt?) for the first time, as well as giving a decent length of line for our engines to show their paces.  It is hoped to build a platform at the ‘end of the line’, enabling passengers to walk up to the lakeside and view the increasing variety of wildfowl which reside upon the lake as well as enjoying the chance of using the north side of the lake which is grossly under-used and inaccessible at present.

Since 1971 (when diesel hauled services using Nos. 20 & 21 started) the CLR has patiently awaited the day when services could be extended – at last the opportunity is within our grasp – with your help it will happen this year!

Looking to the future, Walsall Council are planning to undertake a full survey of the causeway with regard to rebuilding it to a suitable width for railway and footpath and are concerned about the ‘massive erosion’ caused by wave action due to British Waterways Board keeping the lake level too high.

Mutual Improvement Classes

A series of classes are to be held during late February and March and all members wishing to take part in train operations in the coming season are urged to attend as only participants will be considered for future footplate and station duties.

The course will consist of the following subjects:

  1. First Aid
  2. General Safety
  3. Footplate Management
  4. Railway Operations at Chasewater

Although there is of necessity a certain amount of technical content, much of the course is based on common sense and is of a basic nature.

During the season further practical instruction will be given to any members new to the operating side of things.

Bagnall Linda in action – leaving Chasewater Heaths for Chasetown Church Street with Our late friend Mick Doman driving.

111 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces, from Chasewater News 1986/7

111 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

 From ‘Chasewater News’ Winter 1986/7Magazine cover – a drawing of CLR No.5, the ex Walsall Gas Works Sentinel, by Steve Bent.

Following the “Reorganisation Day” of 22nd November there are at present three bodies which together form the Chasewater Project.

1       – Chasewater Light Railway and Museum Company – The CLR&M Co is responsible for the day to day and long term policies of the Railway as well as being the body to which the supporters and sympathisers of the Railway join.

The Officers of CLR & M Co. are:

CHAIRMAN – Steve Organ

GENERAL MANAGER – Tony Sale

ENGINEERING Manager – Nigel Canning

OPERATING MANAGER – Les Emery

COMMERCIAL MANAGER – Barry Bull

MARKETING MANAGER – Ian Patterson

FINANCIAL MANAGER – Bob Curtis

NON-EXECUTIVE – Colin Marklew

COMPANY SECRETARY – Adrian Hall

2       – Chasewater Light Railway Company – The old Company will remain in existence until its assets, debts and liabilities are transferred to the new Company.

There are at present two directors:

COMPANY SECRETARY – Adrian Pearson

CLR & M Co. NOMINEE – Adrian Hall

3       – Chasewater Light Railway Society – The Society is remaining in existence until such time as the CLR & M Co. attains charitable status, in order to safeguard the rolling stock and relics as well as holding the leases.

At present the CLRS has the following members: L.Hodgkinson, D.Ives, T.Sale, B.Bull and I.Patterson (CLR & M Co. Nominee)

The above mentioned are also the Trustees of the Society.

 News from the Line

Loco Department

No.2 is awaiting its turn for overhaul, a change of ownership is rumoured.

No.3 Slow progress with the firebox repairs may result in the frames making way for the GM’s machine (S100) in the shed.

No.4 Asbestos has performed satisfactorily during the season and is due for attention to its side rod brasses and regulator valve during the winter months.

No.5 59632 has also performed well and gets better with every steaming.  The vacuum brake system works to the required standard, much to the relief of all concerned.

No.6 All that can be reported is that we have exchanged a spare set of side rods in our possession for some missing boiler fittings (stolen some years ago).

No.7 The Ruston has been used occasionally for shunting but happily the increased use of ‘real’ motive power has made the engine somewhat redundant.

Neilson, Alfred Paget and Barclay Invicta

No.8 Invicta may well return to service during 1987 following a full boiler examination, platework repairs and fitting of vacuum brakes.

No.10 The frames of S100 have descended from their lofty perch and are temporarily mobile.  Once installed in the shed the wheelsets will be re-removed for attention to the hornguides and following a probable orgy of machining and highly technical stuff, the motion and valve gear can be reassembled – sounds easy, but it could take years (and years!).

No.11 The ancient Neilson languishes outside the shed awaiting its turn for attention.  (it’s now got as far as the workshop!)

No.21 The ex Bass Worthington ‘pudding’ awaits its replacement engine.

Wickham DMU

Several windows have been replaced following a spate of vandalism and new rainwater gutters have been fabricated and fitted.

The presence of blue asbestos (the mineral not the engine!) has been noted by the Railway Inspectorate and it will have to be removed from all three DMU coaches in the not too distant future.

Trackwork

Following Gricers Day work was concentrated on relaying Nop.1 road back to the remnants of S100.

This was swiftly accomplished and as mentioned elsewhere the frames of S100 were removed.  Once the boiler of S100 is removed the Great Eastern Coach should be rendered mobile, last having moved in about 1973!

Following the visit of Major Olver of the Railway Inspectorate on 3rd December work has centered on the installation of a catch point on Elsley’s siding which has been relaid.  The catch point is necessary to stop any stock rolling onto the main line when passenger trains are being operated.

Wooden Bodied Stock

Steve Organ has started the unenviable task of restoring the wooden bodied coaches, or at least making them weatherproof and presentable.

He is aiming to have the three six-wheelers and the four-wheel MR passenger brake fit for running demonstration trains (i.e. non-passenger carrying) by Gricers Day on 11-10-1987.

Needless to say all offers of help will be most welcome as the success of this laudable project rests on ADDITIONAL help coming forward.

So far the ex Maryport & Carlisle coach is nearly in the initial stage of acceptability whilst Mr. X (I can’t remember his name) is having a go on returning the ex MR four-wheeler to its pre MSC scheme condition.

Being highly optimistic, Organic Steve hopes to fit in a renovation of the brake end of the ex LNWR coach as a picture gallery (a what!!!!?)The afternoon ‘Paddy’ on the Hednesford to Cannock Wood line during the late 1950s.  The loco is the 1866 built Lilleshall 0-6-0ST ‘Rawnsley’ and the coach is the ex LNWR non-corridor composite now awaiting restoration at Chasewater.

 431 Hudswell Group Notes

The fund is approaching the half-way mark towards the purchase of the locomotive, so by this time next year the locomotive should be in the ownership of the group.

The recent visit of the Railway Inspectorate has provided the Group with a major setback as the boiler lagging of the locomotive must be professionally removed before restoration can begin, at a cast of well in excess of £500.

 Progress Report on ‘E1’ No.9 ‘Cannock Wood’The ex London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E1 No.110 ‘Burgundy’ seen coasting down te Cannock Wood branch in its later form as Cannock & Rugeley Colliery’s No.9 ‘Cannock Wood’

We have received the following report about the restoration of the E1, which members of long-standing will recall was sold to the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore in 1978.

“Work has progressed well……well sort of.  Things have not come apart as they should and caused some anxious moments for crane drivers and merriment for those on the ground.

The first part to come off this project was the right-hand intermediate axle box oiling pot, since then many other parts have been removed, cleaned, repaired, painted in works grey (we have a lot of grey) and given an I.D. disc.  This is then entered in a log book recording what the part is, where it comes from and what it does, sometimes accompanied by a small drawing to help relocation when we fling the engine back together!

The front sand boxes took a great deal of effort to part them from the frames due to two hundredweight of one hundred-year-old wet sand which corroded all the metal bits together.  These are well on the way to being rebuilt.

The brake rigging has caused some problem with the steam brake being rusted up solid, a badly pitted cylinder bore, the main shaft bent considerably and pull rod equalizer rods bent.

The side tanks came off using the Dubs crane tank and the ‘lift and move quickly backwards’ method, with much screeching and tearing of metal (must remember to burn off ALL the bolts next time!).

The cab roof came off with much reluctance, and when lowered on the ground it collapsed in a heap of rust.  As normal the bunker came off with difficulty leaving the bottom of the rear sand boxes still attached by rust, twisted and torn, to the frames.

Boiler work is coming along slowly with half the tubes out, pulled by the digger.  Some of the tubes are nearly new with no scale on, but a thin layer of rust.  The cab roof is to be repaired, whilst drawings are being prepared for the new side tanks.  The bunker will be remade on site by us in the near future.  The boiler has been de-lagged at a cost of £800 and should be lifted to enable the wheels to be removed and a start made on the waggly bits underneath.

Further news gleaned from the pages of Steam Railway (Jan 1987) reveals that restoration will cost in excess of £25,000 and may include a new firebox.

The loco will be finished in Southern Railway black livery as E110 and will be in as near to original condition as is practicable.

The unique Rawnsley chimney and the nameplates, etc. are to be returned to Chasewater in due course.”

Visit of the Railway Inspectorate 3-12-1986

Briefly they require some extra work on the track to that previously expected, but this should not present any problems.  The use of push-pull operations was agreed until such time as the motorway outcome was known.  However, a bell system between loco and coach must be installed and in the near future locos intended for passenger duties must be fitted with vacuum activated steam brake valves.

Apart from this, the major difficulty is the presence of blue asbestos as mentioned elsewhere.

Provided we comply with the Inspectorate’s requirements, a further inspection in the spring should leave us free to recommence regular steam hauled passenger trains.

The Future

The project engineer for the motorway has been to the railway and vaguely indicated as to where the new road may cross the railway.  Detailed plans are to be drawn up by the Departments consultants and will be put on public exhibition during the autumn.  Prior to this there is rumoured to be a public meeting in Burntwood Baths during April (What’s wrong with the lake at Chasewater?!).

Unless the railway can get a firm idea of how and where it can expand then the good work and impetus gained during 1986 will be lost.  To this end, a short list of possible alternative sites has been drawn up to be further investigated if it becomes apparent that we are ‘flogging a dead horse’ by remaining at Chasewater.

110 Chasewater Railway Bits and Pieces, from ‘Chasewater News’, September 1986

110 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces

 From ‘Chasewater News’ September 1986

 For once it is possible to report good news!  Following the visit of Mr. Abbott of the Railway Inspectorate on 17th August we have been given permission to recommence steam hauled passenger services, subject to certain tasks being carried out, hopefully in time for Gricers Day on 12th October.  A further satisfactory inspection next spring should enable a full season of trains to be operated, the first since 1982.

 News from the line

Loco Dept.

Asbestos – Robin Stewart-Smith

No.4 Asbestos has been steamed half-a-dozen times so far this year and following trouble with a leaky blow-down valve (now successfully cured) the major problem is still the regulator which continues to insist on blowing through when closed!  Further investigations will no doubt reveal the cause of the trouble during the winter months when it is hoped that the outside motion will also receive attention to cure various knocks and bangs.

N0.5 Sentinel No.59632 has also been steamed on several occasions and following each steaming various adjustments, modifications and improvements are made by its owner.

Both Nos. 4 and 5 are now fitted with vacuum brakes, a necessary modification for running passenger trains.

No.7 the Ruston diesel has received a repaint and now sports a green livery which the owner claims is similar to BR Brunswick Green.  It looks very smart anyway.

No.10 S100 – continued progress is being made with getting components ready for re-wheeling the loco and as the “head of steel” gets ever nearer (it has lain isolated from the rest of the railway since 1983) it should take to the rails again before the year is out.

Carriage & Wagon Dept.

The buffet section of the Wickham sees extensive use, providing us with our main source of income.  Various improvements to the plumbing have been made and both coaches have been fitted with new rainwater gutters which will enable the much needed repaint to take place in the not too distant future.

The Maryport & Carlisle Coach has seen ‘Clippie’ steadily working to get this coach into a reasonable state of repair before it gets beyond redemption.  The coach is now in a uniform green undercoat and looks much more presentable.

Civil Engineering

Brownhills West Station June 1978

By the time the Task Force had completed the platform there was little over a month left to get the railway ready for receiving visitors during the Transport Extravaganza.  The platform had to be surfaced with a 6” layer of black ash and coping stones had to be laid alongside the museum coach.  The major work however, was to fashion a new track bed and lay track along the platform and then raise it over 9”.  A vast quantity of black ash was purchased and packed under the track in order to get the track level in the platform.  This work was completed in the nick of time so as to get the Wickham buffet in the platform for the Transport Extravaganza.  After that weekend work concentrated on regarding the line from the platform down towards the point for Elsley’s siding (more black ash!), and No.1 point was rebuilt.  Once this was completed the line was treated with weedkiller and fences were repaired and installed where necessary.  Nigel Canning is in the process of constructing a set of level-crossing gates to be installed at the road access to the loco shed and also at the level-crossing to the north of the loco shed.  Recent weeks have seen work proceeding on relaying No.1 road in order to remove S199 and the GER brake coach so that the Wickham buffet can be moved clear of train movements on operating days.  A fair amount of cosmetic work has been carried out around the platform, most noticeably a large pond known as ‘Lake Clippie’ after its constructor which has played host to several frogs, toads, a solitary newt and a steam powered model boat!

Museum Notes

Little to report other than the acquisition of several official postcards including a particularly rare example of a folded GWR card depicting King George V published in 1928 and valued at recent auctions at up to £60 – yes £60 for one card and one which we obtained as part of a collection costing just £25.

Mike Wood has generously donated various photographs of Cannock Chase Colliery locos which will eventually be displayed, and a friend of the Society, Robert Cadman, has given us a couple of local colliery lamp checks.

Reorganisation News – Adrian Hall

The appeal in the last Newsletter for candidates for management positions in the new company generated a very poor response.  There are still a couple of key positions without any likely contenders and anyone interested should get in touch with me as soon as possible.

Negotiations are still proceeding very slowly with the Charity Commissioners and in view of the need to be on a firm footing for negotiations over the motorway we have decided to incorporate a new Company as quickly as possible.

The necessary documents will probably be with the Registrar of Companies by the time you read this and it is hoped that the Certificate of Incorporation will be issued by mid-October, allowing the inaugural General Meeting to take place in late November/early December, probably concurrent with the Society AGM.

The Future

Negotiations with the Department of Transport have begun with regard to any compensation that we will get when the Northern Relief Road (M6 Toll) is built through Chasewater.  It is clear that the current terminus facilities will have to be moved north to a position at least adjacent to the shed (it is likely that the shed will not have to be demolished).  A planning proposal asking for outline planning permission to construct new terminal facilities is at present being drawn up, but is likely to be rejected as no development will be permitted along the line of a new road until the road is built.  This could well make our position at Chasewater untenable and to this end several alternative sites are being investigated.  It is hoped that the executive committee will have reached a firm preference which can be put forward at the AGM in November, along with the feasible alternatives.

431 Hudswell Group

The fund is ticking over quietly, giving the Society a monthly injection of cash.  By the end of the year the fund should be approaching half-way in raising the purchase price of the locomotive.  A few shares are still available.

Locomotive Stock List

In response to several requests here is a summary of locomotives on the CLR as at 1st September, 1986.  A full guide/stockbook will be produced when sufficient funds are available.  The next issue of Chasewater News will include a list of coaches, wagons and other rolling stock.

107 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 3

107 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1985 – 3

Restoration of the Sentinel – One man’s battle against adversity

The Sentinel at Walsall Gas Works the day it was delivered brand new in 1958 – photo Mike Wood.

In 1981, as part of the exchange deal for the Royal Saloon, the railway acquired ‘in working order’ a 100h.p. Sentinel shunting loco.  This was duly steamed and trundled up and down with three or four wagons whilst waiting for the promised boiler certificates.  These eventually arrived but consisted of a boiler maintenance card, a Hydraulic certificate for somebody’s crane and a steam test certificate for 9632 which was later rejected by our Boiler Inspector as ‘not worth the paper it was written on’ because no hydraulic or visual examination had been carried out.

The only solution to the problem was to drop the firebox and start again from scratch.  It was this action which revealed a long list of both major and minor faults which all required rectification.  Luckily the boiler shell and firebox were in good condition but the superheater had holes in it and the spark arrestor box and chimneys were rotten enough to require replacement.  Eventually, following inspection, the boiler was re-assembled and passed its 413psi hydraulic test. Since then the rest of the loco has been gradually rebuilt, and as during last winter we had serious problems with thefts and vandalism, the opportunity was taken to fit lockable sliding yobo-proof screens to the cab along with wire reinforced glass and bars over the windows.

The Sentinel shuffling past the loco shed at Chasewater during a test steaming shortly after arrival from Butterley, after which it was dismantled for overhaul – photo Sid Mills.

During 1984 the loco was test steamed twice revealing more minor problems.  The steam brake would not release properly because the valve body had been machined badly out of true; the engine blow through drain valve would not work because its pipe was blocked with twelve inches of solidified sludge; even the injector water valve could not be operated properly from the cab.  However, following each steaming of the loco, more faults are corrected or improvements made.

Two faults which need to be checked at the next steaming are the boiler feed pump which so far has refused to work, and the engine oil pump which has to be primed with oil before it will pump pressure.  Hopefully the recently installed stainless steel balls in the non-return valve matrix may have cured the oil pump problem.

At the present time the loco is being re-assembled after its second visual boiler inspection and painted BR black for the Open Day in October.  Hopefully, three years after it arrived it can at last be seen running in public.

The Chasewater Fat Controller – Nigel Canning.At the time of writing – May 2011 the Sentinel is coming to the end of its latest overhaul.

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

99 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Late 1983

99 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Late 1983

Editorial: Several things have happened, but little has changed.

Several significant things have happened at Chasewater since the last magazine was printed and these will be detailed in the next few pages.

Little has changed because we are still short of manpower and cash, of these two shortages surely the lack of manpower must be the more inexcusable.  On one Sunday this summer there were only two members at Chasewater and I make no apology for the fact that we spent the day working in the shed whilst the public looked through the locked gates of Brownhills West Station.  Fifty per cent of those people must have thought that it was a railway scrapyard and the other fifty per cent, who knew better, probably thought that we had closed down for good!

If we are very lucky, sometime next year, we may have a railway which is once again fit to run passenger trains on and probably a couple of locos and coaches in useable condition, but will we have the people to run them?

Nigel Canning – Operating Superintendent

 Locomotives

Asbestos – The six missing firebox stays have been riveted into place and the boiler will shortly be hydraulically tested.  If this is successful the loco can be reassembled, steam tested and the newly installed vacuum brake equipment tested.

Sentinel heading past the old rear of the loco shed in 1992

 Sentinel – The Boiler Inspector will carry out a visual examination on the boiler and superheater of this loco when Asbestos is hydraulically tested.  Work will then continue until completed.  A trial will have to be carried out to see if this loco is capable of successfully operating passenger trains before any though is given to fitting vacuum brake equipment.

 S-100 – Tony has been making use of the summer weather to paint various parts of this loco whilst trying in vain to find somewhere to have its wheels turned.

 DL7 – This loco continues in fairly regular use and is to be repainted with a bogus BR ‘D’ number.  However, one or two points should be remembered:

  • If it is to be used on passenger trains again it will have to be vacuum brake fitted.
  • The brake and starting air tanks will, under new regulations, shortly to be introduced, require to be insured and regularly tested.

 Small Peckett – Albright & Wilson, the Company from whom this loco is on loan, have recently offered to help pay for a replacement saddle tank.  The tank has been measured and drawn so that quotes can be sought for both a complete assembled tank and for a rolled plates do-it-ourselves kit.

28 Presentation plaque Peckett 917 Unknown R5.B1.S3

 No.21 – This loco is still operational if tow-started and has been used on occasion to move items of stock into sidings to pass DL7 in the absence of a run round loop.  A complete engine rebuild is probably necessary to enable it to be started from the battery.

Carriages & WagonsWickham Class 109 at Llangollen Station. Photographed during the Llangollen Railcar Gala weekend, 16-17 July 2005.  

Wickham Motor car 50416 – Throughout the summer this vehicle has been in use as a station buffet.  A considerable amount of work has been carried out including enlargement of the kitchen hatch, removal of one of the internal bulkheads and screwing down of tables.  A start has now been made on completely replacing the guttering so that the coach can be repainted before next year.

Wickham Trailer 56171 – Progress has also been made with this vehicle with the fitting of seats from a Cravens DMU and the removal of rain guttering.

Gloucester Trailer 56301 – No work has been carried out on this vehicle although it will require a repaint and clean up before re-entering service.

http://postalheritage.org.uk/collections/museum/transport/mailbyrail

TPO 30244 – Following the offer from Tyseley Museum this vehicle was sold for £1,000 and left Chasewater on September 8th.  It is reputed to have twisted one of its bogie frames when one corner broke through the floorboards due to being stood on uneven ground during loading.

 Six-Wheeled Coaches – One new end has been fitted to the M & C Coach and replacement luggage rack netting is being fitted to the MS & L.

 Loco Shed

The only work carried out in this building during the summer has been the painting of ‘Asbestos’.  A three phase cable has been obtained so that during the winter the workshop can be wired up and used.

 Taskforce & Trackwork

During the summer all of the plain track from Brownhills West to Norton East has been relayed with concrete sleepers and work has started on installing a new siding between the station and the shed.  Run round loops at both ends still remain to be installed plus level crossing gates and fencing.

Brownhills West station platform has remained half demolished throughout the summer awaiting funds for rebuilding.  A grant of £15,000 due in September never materialised and we await a possible grant of £5,000 to be applied for in November.

Some form of sleeper built platform may also be constructed at Norton East if funds and manpower permit.

At the present state of progress it will be touch and go whether the railway will be running next year.

Vandalism

Since the last magazine was published the following instances of vandalism have occurred:

1.    Half drum of steam oil drained onto floor.

2.    Two large coach windows smashed.

3.    Three small coach windows smashed.

4.    Paint poured into Gloucester trailer heater fuel tank.

5.    Fence cut at least once a week.

 Museum Notes

The arrival of the LNWR 50 foot passenger brake in its own platform in time for Easter has given a much easier access to the vehicle for old and young alike.

Various item have been acquired this year, some have come by way of donation – others have actually cost money although usually as part of a deal where other items have been acquired to offset the cost.

Relics, mainly paperwork previously kept in the TPO had to be removed in some haste following the decision to sell the vehicle to the Birmingham Railway Museum.  Much of what had been kept in the TPO had suffered from the damp conditions that had prevailed in that vehicle for many years following problems with the roof.  Most of the old GWR drawings obtained by Mike Lewis many years ago were still in a reasonable condition but some of the larger ledgers and books were virtually no more than mould and were consigned to the bonfire.

Despite what has been happening to the station area (demolition and not much else!) things have ticked over quite nicely in the museum.  Obviously fewer visitors without steaming but with more time to listen to comments from visitors it makes one realise how much importance our collection of small relics is to the Railway.  Whatever 1984 brings you can be assured that the museum will be open whatever happens outside.

Chasewater Railway – one for the older members

 

Photo by Val Daft

A photo for the older members, and maybe a history lesson for the younger ones.

Do you recognise the building in the photograph?

It is, or was, the Queens Arms in Hednesford, now, in 2021, undergoing considerable changes.

Notice the houses where the car park used to be.

After a hard day’s work at the Railway Preservation Society’s Hednesford Headquarters, members would retire to the Queens Arms for a swift ‘alf and to get the result of the Weekly Tote – a major source of income at the time.

It was the first of a number of pubs used by members, there was the Pear Tree, now demolished, off the Brownhills Road, and when I first started in 2002, the Prince of Wales on the A5 was frequented.

1054 at Hednesford
TPO at Hednesford
As it was – photo by Mick Malpass

Chasewater Railway’s 2021 Coal Train Day.

Just a few video clips and stills from a short visit to this excellent event.

98 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Summer 1983

98 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces Summer 1983

 Editorial – Chasewater in Crisis

On behalf of the Society I must apologise for the long gap between this and the last magazine due to a long list of reasons.  There has just not been either the time or the money to expend on such a publication.

At present our membership wavers around the 100 mark, of which around 10% manage to visit regularly.  It seems unfortunate that each week we rely on the same members attending to the Railway’s needs, without the active support of the other 90%.  It is little wonder that the veterans are fast becoming despondent with the work load being foisted on them.

Unless there is a significant change in the attitude of our membership, one of two things will happen:  either the Railway stock will have to be drastically pruned to the minimum required to run a service, or we shut the doors and sell the lot.

I beg more of you to attend, if only on an occasional basis.  It always seems strange to me how many of you can attend the AGM and that’s the last we see of you for twelve months.

Tony Sale – Assistant General Manager.

Locomotives

Asbestos – This engine has now been in the process of restoration for about five years, due mainly to shortage of manpower.  The frames and wheels have been re-assembled, the boiler tubed and the tank and cab are being repainted.  Now we have to complete the boiler repairs and drop it into the frames and one day we may have a working engine.

Invicta – This engine is now in store pending the fitting of vacuum brake gear and the overhaul of the main bearing brasses.  Work is hoped to commence on completion of Asbestos.

Sentinel taking water at our old HQ

Sentinel – The boiler was split to reveal the inner firebox for the boiler inspector but work has now been shelved in order to concentrate work on Asbestos.Ruston & Hornsby DL7 entering the old Brownhills West Station

DL7 – The mainstay of our shunting force has performed reasonably well over the last two years and it holds the distinction of being our only regularly working engine.  This diesel locomotive is subject to an appeal to maintain its presence at Chasewater, which you may or may not like to subscribe to.

S100 – If I didn’t have to assist running the Railway I might find more time to devote to this rather large jigsaw puzzle, but despite all, progress is still being made, weather permitting, you would be amazed how much one person can achieve by himself, so if someone would like to assist, twice as much could be accomplished.

All other locomotives are stored unserviceable for the foreseeable future, including the Neilson, which requires new tubes.  It can only be hoped that decay can be kept to a minimum to ensure resurrection in years to come.

Carriages and Wagons

Here I hoped to bring glad tidings, but unfortunately the only news is that the MSLR carriage is still in the shed and has been largely untouched due to the fact that there are no carpenters in our midst.  The only other news is that a few more doors have dropped off the Maryport & Carlisle coach and the rest are generally suffering from many years of neglect.

The other snippet is that the Midland Crane had to be dismantled in order to stop it falling apart over the rails.What about it lads – who still cares?

Another late snippet is that someone wants to buy the TPO.  Your Committee is in favour and I myself fully support them, but the choice is yours, so make it known fast, it will be no good grumbling after it has left.

Catering

As many of you know, much of the money needed to support the Railway is generated in the form of sales of soft drinks and chocolates.  Recently the Wickham DMU was acquired in order to branch out further into the prepared food department, all we need is one interested member prepared to buy, prepare and sell.  If anyone would come to volunteer we would be only too happy to assist in any way, as well as supplying a warehouse card which could also be used for their own benefit.

Shed News

The new loco shed has certainly proved to be one of the most important developments at Chasewater.  Not only does it supply ideal conditions for thorough restoration, it also allows work to continue after dark.  Although this building has been with us for over a year there are still improvements to be made, i.e. fitting of three phase electric cables within the building and also fitting of a compressed air circuit.  Once the former has been completed, all our machinery can be powered and the shed can be said to be fully operational.Taken from DL7, approaching the loco shed from the same direction as we do now – obviously before the changes!

Task Force Notes

A new task force was supplied together with finance and a new Manager, to commence work on the track layout.  After last season the Railway lost its powers of running the line until such times as the whole of the permanent way was relaid in order to comply with the Railway Inspectorate’s standards.

In short, the platform front has been demolished to supply the necessary clearance, (rebuilding is now underway) and a run round loop is being built in the vicinity of the compound.  Next the line will be lifted and replaced with better quality materials down to the old exchange sidings where another run round loop will be constructed.  Upon completion a further visit by the Railway Inspectorate will then be made, and hopefully we shall run again.  I can only say that I hope all goes well for the Task Force and both luck and weather is on their sides.

 On behalf of the Company I have been asked by our Chairman to include the following appeal.

Save DL7 for Chasewater

The Company needs money to service a large overdraft and whilst the Railway is not running, little money is being repaid and understandably the Bank Manager is a little distressed.

 If you would like to give some money to this appeal, you will be helping DL7 because if the Company is declared bankrupt, DL7 will certainly be seized as an asset.  If the engine belongs to the membership it is safe along with the rest of the Society’s collection from the grips of the Liquidators

If you cannot afford a share, buy one together with some friends – you may buy as many as you like.

Shares are available in multiples of £10.00.