Chasewater Railway Museum Newsletter July 2020 – 2 Pages
Pete Waterman’s Visit, 2004.
Nothing to report as far as the Museum is concerned again this month, so I have raided the archives, courtesy of David Bathurst’s collection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Trip to Gartsherrie
From 1968 Mercian Vol.1 No.3
By Trevor Cousens
On Friday, 16th February at 6.00pm a small party consisting of Lawrence Hodgkinson, Mike Lewis and myself, departed from Chasewater in Mike’s 30 cwt. Van en route for Gartsherrie, near Glasgow. The purpose of this trip was to purchase spare parts from the three Neilson locomotives remaining at Bairds and Scottish Steel Ltd.
A stop was made in Derby to pick up Steve Allsop, then we cut across to the M6 motorway. The speed of Mike’s van was limited by a governor to 45 mph so the going was slow.
It was quite a relief when a stop was made at a service area for refreshment. We made full use of the transport drivers eating facilities – in our overalls we did not really have much choice. Back on the motorway we continued our journey northward. I retired to the back of the van to try to sleep. After rolling my sleeping bag out amongst several hundredweights of tools, bars, rucksacks and other bric-a-brac I tried persistently to sleep. The noise of the engine and the tyres on the road, coupled with a sharp drop in the temperature precluded this. I heard someone groan ‘snow’ from up front. This is what we had dreaded. A climb up Shap with eight inches of snow on the ground!! After this, sleep was impossible. I lay on my back and watched icicles form on the van roof. About 3.30am on the Saturday morning the van halted. After many gear changes, reverses and sliding of doors up front there was silence for a moment. When I looked out we were parked on a small snow-covered country lane; fir trees on one side, a railway above us and the moon shining across snow-covered fields. They had had enough for the evening, and Steve, Lawrence and Mike came aft for sleeping bags, blankets, camp beds and other items necessary for comfort!! While the three sorted themselves out I got out with a camera and had a prowl around. I found that we had parked practically under the West Coast main line at Beattock.
In front of us Brush type 4s pounded up to Beattock Summit, assisted by English Electric type 4s, 2s, and 1s on the night mail trains and sleepers. One could not help thinking that there was something missing not seeing the flicker from the firebox silhouetting the fireman as he shovelled rapidly on a ‘Duchess’ at full pelt up the bank.
The others had comfortably settled down by now in the back of the van. I chose the driver’s seat as I was sure that it could be no more uncomfortable than trying to lie down again. With last reminders to wake up at 6.45 am to be in Glasgow for 8.30 am, we dozed off to sleep, a sleep punctuated by the clatter of trains over the bridge above and the wail of diesel horns as bankers attached and detached from the trains – we couldn’t have picked a quieter spot!!
At 7.00 am Lawrence and Steve spent 20 minutes trying to wake Mike, who seemed to be the only one who had really slept, despite the noise (still, he is a railwayman). We slowly began to thaw out when we were back on the main road to Glasgow, and the sun came out, picking out the snow-covered hills in a fiery pink light,
Arriving in Glasgow at 9.30 am we met the fifth member of our party – Gerald Wildish – who had travelled up on the overnight train from Darlington to Glasgow without any heating.
Neilson at Gartsherrie
After a meal we arrived at Bairds and Scottish Steel’s works about 11.00 am, where we weighed in and were directed to the loco shed. We mat a Scottish RPS representative who was also buying spares for their Neilson. After having a look at our Neilson tucked away in the workshops inside this gigantic, desolate steelworks, we proceeded to the engine sheds where we worked in pitch darkness with the odd brilliant ray of sunshine punching a dazzling beam across the shed, and with snow dripping from the smoke vents onto our heads. We dismantled the spares from the three scrap Neilsons and filled Mike’s van with spare parts. An amusing interlude was enacted when Gerald held tea-cups under the water crane to be washed out while I pulled the cord, drowning both the cups and Gerald in several hundred gallons of water.
The load was examined by Bairds and we were weighed out – 10 cwt. Of spares aboard. We then proceeded to the coal mines at Gartshore where we saw the Scottish RPS Neilson and an Andrew Barclay still simmering next to a red hot brazier which we stood around for 15 minutes to warm ourselves before returning to Glasgow, to a hotel and a well-earned drink. The hotel we had chosen to stay at was unfortunately a rather expensive one. I think they were rather shocked to see four really scruffy individuals – black all over with soot and dirt and in need of shaves. We were ushered up the back lift to two attic type rooms – but they had hot water and beds!!
The Saturday evening was spent feeding and drinking and we bade farewell to Gerald who was lodging in another part of Glasgow, prior to his departure back to Darlington. We all turned in, forgetting to put forward the alarm clocks and so missing breakfast by one hour!! Room service rang us at 10.00 am Sunday, and we cajoled the waitress to find us four late breakfasts. At 11.00am we made a start back towards Chasewater, after buying all the Sunday newspapers. We stopped for diesel at Lockerbie and continued south, the sun was beginning to thaw the snow and a thick mist was rising. Suddenly out of the mist our way was blocked by two policemen!! They directed us to the side, and asked why we carried no ‘C’ licence. They asked to see the load. When we opened the door what a sight must have met their eyes, with piping strewn diagonally across the floor of the van, a 20 ton lifting jack, and many other items, including a kettle boiling on a primus for tea!! After lengthy explanations, the showing of membership cards, driving licenses, etc., we finally convinced them that we were law-abiding, but we could not help thinking of Gerald on his way home with the receipt in his pocket!
Arriving at Hixon at 8.00 pm Sunday evening, we unloaded the spares and drove over to Hednesford for a sandwich and a drink in the ‘Queens Arms’. The rest of the RPS crew from Chasewater and Hednesford were there, and the tales of the week-end working parties were exchanged. Mike’s van had changed colour from dark green to white as a result of the salt spray.