Chasewater Light Railway Society
Newsletter January 1983
News from the line
The loco shed is now completed and the engineering department has taken up occupation. At present the shed houses the Sentinel 4wVBT, MSLR 6-wheeled coach and Asbestos.
The shed was built with the aid of a Manpower Services Commission Youth Opportunities Programme under the direction of Derek Cartwright. Unfortunately the scheme overspent by a sum well into four figures. Whilst a small sum was inevitable on the end of the final scheme, the size of the present liability has to be met by the Company is of particular concern to the Directors.
West Midlands County Council Task Force
The Directors have chosen this as a means of achieving further developments at Chasewater, in the light of experience with the loco shed. A special thanks goes to John Selway for getting the scheme off the ground.
The scheme is exclusively devoted to improving trackwork and associated facilities to a standard acceptable to the Railway Inspectorate. This will entail the relaying of the track on the entire length of the line and the construction of a run round loop at Brownhills West Station. A material grant of £10,000 is available which has been earmarked for the purchase of rail and concrete sleepers. Labour is provided by WMCC, who are also responsible for day to day administration.
Work on this scheme will shortly begin in earnest, with progress dependant on the weather conditions during the coming months. This work will commence before the 1983 running season and it is likely that the running season will not start at Easter.
This loco will operate the first passenger train in 1983, after its prolonged overhaul is completed. The loco will emerge in a new blue livery and will be fitted with vacuum brake equipment, which is a necessary feature of all future working locos.
Society members are currently working on the loco which is the first priority, ahead of the striping for boiler examination of the Sentinel.
That is the end of the Jan 1983 Newsletter, and considering the piece which follows, mainly taken from the history of Chasewater Railway, they really didn’t know what was coming! There were no passenger trains from October 1982 until Spring 1985. And, just as a matter of interest, ‘Asbestos’ in blue wasn’t a success either!
The Society had been proud to be represented at the Stockton & Darlington 150th celebrations in 1975 by the restored Maryport & Carlisle coach, but by 1982 things were not going too well at Chasewater. Vandalism and theft were rife, especially during the time when a Manpower Service Commission programme had been engaged on construction work for a new engine shed and some track work.
The Railway effectively closed in October 1982 when a miserable wet Saturday saw just two fare-paying passengers carried on the last train of the day. Although no trains were to be run for the foreseeable future, it was decided to soldier on behind the scenes as a Society. However, further problems occurred during a West Midlands County Council Task Force Scheme the following year when, after construction of a bay platform to accommodate the museum coach, the remainder of the platform was demolished by the Task Force – who then failed to return to rebuild and extend the platform as promised, for nearly 18 months.
It was not until 1985 that regular steamings began again, but in the intervening three steam-less years, membership had dropped by some 50 per cent. The Society deemed it necessary to prune its stock as it was realised that without an injection of cash, the whole affair might fold. The L&NWR Travelling Post Office went to Tyseley; a small “Planet” diesel went to Brian Roberts’ Tollerton Farm Railway, while individual members purchased two steam locos and one diesel loco in order that they could remain safely at Chasewater.
Working membership fell to single figures, but that small band succeeded in rescuing this early standard gauge preservation scheme from the brink of extinction. Subsequently, as described later, a new company was formed in 1985 – the Chasewater Light Railway and Museum Company – and achieved status as a Registered Charity.