This year has seen a continued increase in volunteers and therefore in the amount of work carried out on the railway. For the first time in a long while a number of major jobs have been carried out simultaneously, such as trackwork, carriage and wagon repairs and loco maintenance, even when trains are running.
A lot still remains to be done, and with a visit from the Railway Inspectorate now promised within the next couple of months, it is even more important that this level of activity continues.
Following the Railway Inspector’s visit we should know exactly what work is required to extend the line, or indeed to continue running the existing section, and will be able to plan accordingly. After all, it would still be nice to run trains into a platform at Willow vale Halt later this year. (Nigel Canning – Editor))
No.4 Asbestos – Having been at a virtual standstill for a number of months, work has now re-commenced in earnest on the firebox repairs and preparation for the major boiler examination of this loco. A number of new tubes are to be purchased and will be fitted to replace those leaking when the loco was taken out of service. Hopefully the loco will re-enter service before No.5’s boiler certificate expires in October.Sentinel pausing at Willow Vale – Nigel Canning
No.5 Sentinel – This loco has so far handled all of this year’s trains. Recently adjustments have been made to the camshaft driven valve gear with, eventually, improved running as a result. Various minor steam leaks still remain to be attended to.
No.2 Lion – The new boiler tubes for this loco have now been fitted and work is progressing towards its first hydraulic examination.
S100 – Work is still progressing with the machining of the hornguides of this loco.
No.11 Alfred Paget – This loco received a very nice paint job and superficial restoration for the Bescot Open Day and has been placed on display at Brownhills West station.
No.7 – Ruston – This loco is still in good running order.
No.9 Fowler – Investigation into the starting problems of this loco which had been thought to be due to a damaged starter ring, revealed that in fact a multi-plate clutch built into the starter motor had become fouled with oil and was slipping under load. This clutch was cleaned and re-tensioned giving perfect first time starting on this loco.
Carriage & Wagon News
Work has recently started on two of our historic coaches, the Midland four-wheel passenger brake, and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln Railway six-wheeler. Both have been in need of extensive renovation for some time, but now look set to receive it.
The Gloucester and Wickham trailer cars are still running coupled together to form the passenger train whilst the Wickham power car remains in use as the station buffet.
Permanent Way News
Brownhills West Loop – Nigel Canning
The new points at Brownhills West are now virtually complete along with their associated trap point set and lever frame. This means that we now have a complete run round loop for the first time in our railway’s history.
Weedkilling of the running line took place, rather belatedly, during May. Bad weather and financial restrictions having prevented this vital job being done earlier in the year. In addition, a number of worn sleepers have been renewed, and on particularly bad joint repaired. It is intended to grease the remaining fish plates on the line and re-pack any dipped joints in the next month or so.
The dramatic increase in members in recent months means that work continues even on event days when trains are running. In the near future the large steel gate at the shed yard entrance is to be moved down to the level crossing to complete the pair of gates there. A replacement for the shed yard has recently been donated in the form of a pair of wooden gates which when in position, will give slightly wider access for the large vehicles such as the coal merchant’s lorry.
The Museum will be open on Sunday, 5th June.11.00am– Entry from the rear of the heritage centre
124 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News April 1990
A telephoto view of a Sentinel hauled train passing the shed yard – Dave France
This winter’s mild weather seems to have promoted a lot of activity at Brownhills West station, and with much of the work being carried out by new members. In addition to the trackwork mentioned in ‘PW News’, a hell of a lot of effort has been put in n the platform and buildings to the extent that this very public face of our activities is on the verge of looking even better than it did in 1982 before the old platform was demolished. Work already carried out includes re-levelling of the Booking Office and fitting of an extended canopy, installing an old GPO phone box on the platform, laying a concrete path to the buffet coach and laying of grassed areas at the back of the platform. If only we could keep this level of progress up for the rest of the season!
No.4 Asbestos – This loco has now had all fittings removed and the tank lifted in readiness for its six-yearly boiler examination. A professional boilersmith has been contracted to carry out repairs around the foundation ring where the rivets have become wasted with consequent leakage past the inner wrapper. Work is also progressing on other minor repairs and adjustments and it is hoped that the loco will be back in service before Transport Scene.
No.5 Sentinel – This loco is still in working order, although drained down, having worked the Christmas and New Year trains. The recently re-routed ejector exhaust has proved to be a lot quieter, allowing the driver and fireman to chat politely across the cab when running. Only a few minor adjustments and a crank case oil change remain to be carried out before next season’s running.
No.2 Lion – Progress is still being made re-tubing the boiler and mounting of cab fittings.
S100 – Both crossheads have been separated from their piston rods, another job involving a great deal of heat and force. Preparations are also underway for the machining of the hornguides using a patent homemade machine which grinds as it sweeps as it cleans!
No.7 Ruston – This loco is still in good running order.
Fowler – This loco performs well once running, but due to a number of teeth missing from the starter ring is tricky to start when cold. The only recent minor failure was that of one of the vee belts which drives the air compressor. Looking on the positive side, the dynamo control box has now been rebuilt allowing the batteries to charge correctly.
Other locos – No work has been carried out on any other loco.
Carriage & Wagon News
A number of minor but important jobs have been carried out to the interior of the Gloucester and Wickham trailers which still remain coupled together. Hopefully the bodywork will be tidied up and repainted as soon as weather permits.
No other C & W work has been carried out.
Permanent Way News
Pete,Arthur & Steve ballast new track at Willow Vale – Dave France.
Quite a lot of progress is being made in this area despite the pitiful number of people involved. At last a start has been made on completing the run-round loop at Brownhills West by installing the missing turnout from the end of the platform across to the buffers on No.2 road. This work will be completed mostly using parts already on site, although a few additional timbers will probably have to be bought. In order to ease the construction of the new loop at Norton, a complete turnout has been purchased from the Baddesley Colliery Railway, currently being demolished. In addition to this, a large number of fishplate bolts have also been acquired involving four or five members making repeated trips to the site to unbolt them from the sidings there.
Work has continued to progress on the extension of track through the site of the new Willow Vale Halt towards the causeway. This is now likely to be curtailed slightly during work on Brownhills West loop and on the Willow Vale platform.
Sentinel 59632 eases stock out of (21G) Hednesford Road shed yard. – Dave France
Luckily this winter the weather has again been very mild and so there was no problem with water supplies for the locos, or in attracting passengers. The running of Christmas and New Year trains went smoothly and was financially successful.
Father Christmas was in attendance on 17th December and distributed presents to the children from his grotto in the ‘blue van’. On 31st December the mince pie specials did good business attracting plenty of people to ride on the railway.
On 28th January there was an extra steaming when the ARPS visited us following their meeting in Birmingham. In addition to this there was a car rally in the park so again we had a very profitable day.
The 1990 season proper looks set to start on Easter Sunday, which being a little later this year, will give us valuable extra time to carry out maintenance and repairs.
Any member wishing to volunteer to work on the train or on the station should obtain a roster form from the Booking Office.
Looking back, this year has been quite successful for the Railway with relatively few problems to contend with and a number of major advances made. Train operation, although hectic for the staff involved, ran smoothly and every special event seemed to go well to the extent that our period of ‘survival’ of the last few years has begun to progress into a time of modest expansion.
As 1989 draws to a close and we all wait for Santa’s Special to arrive at Brownhills West, we can begin to plan next year’s work on the line. It is all very easy to draw up a long list of jobs, but short of ‘asking Anneka’, they wouldn’t get done.
Realistically, in addition to all the regular maintenance work, we could have a platform built at Willowvale Halt ready for Easter, carry on to complete the run round loop at Brownhills West and relay enough track past Willowvale to run a goods train up and down on Gricers Day. That would be an excellent season’s work, but it is only possible if people put the effort in. Locomotive News
Asbestos – Having worked the majority of this year’s trains, this loco is now due to be taken out of service for its six-yearly major boiler inspection. The work will involve the removal of the saddle tank and boiler lagging as well as all fittings. It is likely that a certain amount of repair work will be necessary around the firebox foundation ring and also renewal of a number of boiler tubes.
Sentinel – This engine finally re-entered service on Sunday 6th August when it took over from Asbestos to work he last two trains of the day. The recent introduction of two-coach trains meant that this little loco has to work really hard against the gradient on the return run to Brownhills West with the regulator wound wide open for most of the distance. The result of this is that coal consumption appears to have increased slightly over last year’s running, so that the bunker needs topping up towards the end of the day. To cure the problem it is planned to fit coal rails to the bunker to increase capacity to around 8cwt.
Lion – The good news is that the Boiler Inspector has done his preliminary examination and has given the go ahead for the loco to be re-tubed and prepared for its hydraulic test. Painting of both the frames and boiler shell has continued, along with work on new fittings and pipework needed before the engine can be steamed.
S100 – The frames of this loco are currently being jacked up in the back of the loco shed so that the wheels can be removed to allow machining of the horn guides.
DL7 – this remains our only working diesel and has continued to run well, although on the morning of the Bonfire Night steaming its contactors had to be quickly cleaned as the traction motor suddenly refused to ‘switch in’.
Fowler – At last the necessary information for the renewal of the blowing cylinder head gasket has been found and the repair work was carried out on Sunday 12th November. With train operations gradually expanding it is becoming more important that at least one of the two diesels be vacuum brake fitted so that it can be used to work passenger trains if required at short notice or on quiet non-steam days. Hopefully the work will be carried out shortly.
Other Locos – No work has been carried out on any other locos.
Carriage & Wagon News
The Gloucester & Wickham trailers have remained coupled together since June to form the operational passenger stock. The bodywork of the Gloucester is now looking positively tatty and will require repairs and a repaint before next season’s running. Again no work has been carried out on any rolling stock other than the three DMUs. Permanent Way News
A few dedicated men are still pushing on with the trackwork and as a result the old turnout which marked the start of the Norton loop has been completely removed and the line is gradually increasing in length towards the causeway. Progress on this work quite honestly is very slow, but when only three or four people on average seem to be prepared to help, and even the shorter rails which have to be moved weigh about a third of a ton, this is to be expected. Just to give the P. Way gang a break from trackwork and to provide variety in their work, the local toe-rags managed to cut every strand of wire between every fence post from the level crossing right down to the bridge. This had to be patched up again before trains could run on Gricers Day when everyone was already pushed to near the limit. Operating
August bank Holiday Monday marked the end of the two months of weekly running allowing a very welcome break for all the operating staff. Gricers Day saw both Asbestos and the Sentinel in steam, with the last two trains of the day being double-headed. Rumours that this was brought about by one case too many of a certain lager in the buffet car causing the gross train weight to exceed the maximum allowable Sentinel loading were untrue, but merely an example of the Midland Railway Company’s small engine policy in action! The Sentinel will now work the remaining trains of this year to allow Asbestos to be stripped for boiler examination.
No Chasewater News for the last twelve months and still no new Editor – but promises of better things to come!
At long last, the fruits of the reorganisation of two years ago are beginning to show. The pace of progress at the Railway, both in administration and in physical terms, has reached a point where real new achievements are evident, as distinct from the earlier ‘marking time’. This can be seen wherever you look; at Brownhills West, the station and yard are at their tidiest ever – the stock in the yard is all visibly presentable – the booking office, station office and shop are all established and contribute to both the appearance and good-working of our business – the trackbed is commendably tidy, and at last growing in length – the Gloucester coach and the Wickham coach are both being refurbished, and we are looking forward to the inclusion of a bar car in trains later this year. Add to that the near completion of our run round loop’s refurbishment, the completion of the revised S & T arrangements, and a record turnover last year, and you can see that in the first complete commercial season of the new Company’s operation of the trains we’ve introduced, the Chasewater Light Railway has become a real hive of industry; projects are planned, materials are at hand, and to maintain the present impetus, we need your help!
Then followed the usual appeal for help on Saturdays, Sundays and train operating days.
Carriage & Wagon Notes
Gloucester DMU driving trailer (BR Class 100)
This vehicle was acquired in 1968 by the Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands) for operation on their Chasewater running line, and was the first of four of this type of vehicle to go for preservation, the other three being, one which resides at the Gwili Railway, and two at the Swanage preservation site, where two driving motor cars of this type are also kept.The Gloucester this year celebrates its 21st anniversary in preservation, it’s been at Chasewater for twice as long as it was in BR service, and the interior still had the same seat coverings as when it rolled out of the Gloucester C & W workshops in 1957. Sadly, these furnishings have inevitably become very worn, some torn and pierced by cigarette burns, and all suffering from old age. Unfortunately, it’s not been possible to obtain the same pattern maquette to replace the old; however, the entire vehicle is being reupholstered, hopefully in time for Easter. Also the floor is receiving attention, and new carpet fitted in the newly reinstated first-class section.
Externally, the vehicle quite recently received a repaint, including the roof, but some attention to the body is being undertaken as a preventative measure against the weather. The lavatory compartment is being used as a store, since the pan is broken and there seems little point in replacing it when the Wickham trailer, complete with a perfect working order loo will shortly be joining it in service fro two-car running in the summer.
Wickham Driving Motor Kitchen Car
This vehicle has been the subject of a winter overhaul internally. Starting in the dining saloon, the ceiling has been repainted, and a thorough cleaning given to al other surfaces. The kitchen area has been completely emptied of all loose items so that the whole interior could be thoroughly scrubbed down, disinfected, etc., and the only items that have been returned there are those which are absolutely essential for daily catering service. By doing this, a drastic reduction in the amount of items to be tidied and kept clean has been achieved, providing whoever works in there with a better environment. Less cluttered workspace, and a little more time to spend on the smaller number of items to be kept clean. This is in line with general Railway policy of making tasks essential to our statutory duties as simple as possible – the smaller the task, the more likely it is to be done, and properly.
A start has been made on the overhaul of the doors, which, being made of a soft wood framing, have become severely warped over the years.
Wickham Driving Trailer
At last! A policy decision backed with cash has been taken to restore this vehicle to operational use. Last year’s traffic levels clearly demanded extra capacity, and the receipts from the 1988 operation have left us with enough money to start to replace windows and seats, as well as to repaint the exterior, all of which are scheduled to commence between the Easter and Whitsun steamings.
Virtually no attention has been given to any other of the rolling stock, due to lack of manpower. This year will see a repeat of the 1987 operation of trying to prevent further deterioration in the historic vehicles, since the provision of much more extensive accommodation is now being actively pursued by the Company, which would allow us to spend time and money much more effectively than we can at present on these vehicles. However, the LNWR West Coast Joint Stock full brake (the ‘James’), which houses part of the small relic collection will certainly have attention to its roof soon – a simple task awaits anyone prepared to play with bituminous coatings – come along to the site suitably attired and ask for ‘Clippie’ and the materials will be provided! P.S. free tea is provided for workers on Saturdays!
THE BIG LEAK – OR, WHO PULLED THE PLUG OUT?
Regular visitors to Chasewater will have observed the dramatic drop in the level of the reservoir in the last few months. Railway members at first thought it was the water board’s response to our request for consideration of the condition of the causeway on which the railway crosses the lake, which had been adversely affected by the very high water level during 1987, in which year the causeway had actually been breached during a storm. (This sounds familiar – low reservoir, breached causeway but this time it was natural causes! For those who may not have been following the recent happenings at Chasewater, the lake has been virtually emptied and a culvert put through the causeway!) However, the British Waterways Board have said that they can only attribute this to a leak and to the very low level of rainfall for the last nine months. They have ‘no idea’ as to the reason for the scale of the water loss, but are ‘investigating’. Meanwhile, they have ceased to abstract water for the Wyrley and Essington Canal from Chasewater, and we have the benefit of being able to see the whole of the causeway embankment down to its base – and a very sobering site it is too! But at least we now have a much better idea of what we need as regards the type of materials to use in our planned repair of this essential link in our future enlarged railway.
Permanent Way Notes
Winter 1988 at last saw the completion of phase one of the Brownhills West station yard relaying. For several years, with the threat of the Birmingham North Orbital Road hanging over the station, we have simply patched up as necessary in the station yard. However, it’s been recognised for some time that if we were to stay at this location at all beyond 1988, we would need to completely relay the point leading to the sidings (No.2 point) and the centre road, since these had been laid in 1970 and largely untouched since. The completion of this task has been greeted by all with a sigh of relief since it demanded a lot of what we are short of – manpower. One really good thing to come out of it, apart of course from the comfort of the demonstration of concern for safety, is that the opportunity of revising the geometry of No.2 point was taken, and where we previously had a point taking up acres of land, with long leads (someone once said that it would make a good 70mph turnout if the sleepers weren’t so knackered and you could trust the brakes on loco No.21, we now have a much shorter point with sharper turnout and therefore a greater length of siding accommodation behind.At the other end of the line, work commenced in earnest in December on the extension towards the causeway. This work consists of removing both the running line and loop (which is to be relocated at the new station site at Norton East) and relaying the running line in plain track with the concrete sleepers we already have in hand. To this end, because of the great weight of the concrete sleepers, and because we have good hard standing access to the land immediately adjacent to the railway on this section, we are trying to find someone who will bring along and operate for a day, a HIAB truck, that is, a truck with a mechanical arm attached to it, to move the sleepers from the storage point near the level-crossing to the work-site – so if anyone out there can help, please get in touch.
The 1988 season saw the greatest number of steaming days so far achieved by our group, and the forthcoming season will require even more loco availability than last. The loco department certainly did the Railway proud as there were no loco failures all season. Asbestos and the Sentinel were the stalwarts of the whole passenger service, tended in the greatest part by Colin Marklew and Nigel Canning respectively. Over the 1988/89 winter, they have been stripped down for boiler examinations and general servicing. Because of the need to completely dismantle the boiler of the Sentinel, work on this commenced soon after the October ‘Gricer’s Day’. This meant that we were totally reliant on Asbestos for the ‘Mince Pie Specials’, and there she was, gleaming in the sunlight on Tuesday the 27th December, in service on one of the nicest and busiest days of the year.The use of Asbestos at Christmas, however, meant that the loco department then needed to strip it down, have the boiler inspected, rectify any defects and re-assemble it by Easter, as the Sentinel will not be ready for a return to service before Whitsun. Will they do it? Come along at Easter and find out.
Work continues on S100, Lion and the little Barclay, and the race to be the first newly restored loco to run on the new extension in 1990. Looks likely to be either Lion or the little Barclay.
On the diesel front, both the Fowler and DL7 are available for services, and the loco dept. are looking towards vacuum fitting one of these (probably the Fowler) during the summer. The Wickham set has benefited from the attentions of the loco dept also, various refurbishments on the engine and transmission front are being undertaken to complement the C. & W. work on the bodies of these, and both engines have now recently been successfully ‘run-up’.
It is eleven years since I last prepared an edition of our Railway’s magazine. I do so now following our Publicity Director’s decision not to stand for re-election fro personal reasons. As Company Chairman, however, I intend to act purely as a commissioning editor, so as to avoid any accusation of bias in editorial policy. Rob Curtis has also decided to stand down, as he is about to start a new job and sadly no longer has the time to be as active on the Railway as in the past.
From the first AGM of the Chasewater Light Railway & Museum Company
The new Board for 1988/89 is composed thus:
Chairman – Steve Organ
Engineering Mgr – T.R.Sale
Operations Mgr – N.V.Canning
Commercial Mgr – B.J.Bull
Financial Mgr – L.J.Emery
Ex Officio – I.M.Newbold, A.C.R.Hall
In addition, the vacant posts of General Manager and Publicity Manager will be covered for the time being by Tony Sale and Steve Organ respectively. Further, Adrian Hall has offered to continue as Company Secretary.
The (lost) Causeway
Many of our members have in recent weeks expressed concern about the condition of the causeway which we hope to run passenger trains across to the far side of the lake eventually. The problem is that some years of neglect, and very high levels of water in Chasewater, coupled with long periods of high winds causing severe wave action to erode the sides of the causeway have combined to completely breach the causeway.Our Company is powerless to do any remedial work, since we at present have no ‘Lawful Interest’ in the causeway, i.e. we don’t lease it at the moment.
Representations have been made to the local authority, Walsall Council, and at a recent meeting of the local authority’s recreation and amenities committee, the Engineer’s Department of Walsall Council were invited to make a detailed study of the problems and to investigate ways of restoring the whole of the causeway to an overall width which would allow both a Railway and a footpath to cross it. Further, the Waterways Board have said that they will from now on abstract water from Chasewater before any of their BCN reservoirs, and also that this summer, the water level will be kept at a very low level. This would allow for remedial works to be carried out.
One further point is that a Consulting Civil Engineer has, at our Company’s request, and without charges, examined the causeway, and suggested a relatively low-coast solution to the problem, and as soon as we receive his report, the local authority would like a copy – so perhaps all is not lost. I hope to bring further news in the July edition of Chasewater News, but be assured that the Board are making as strong a representation as possible to Walsall Council about this vital link to Chasetown.Engineering Manager’s Report
Following a late start in 1987, we were able to run a train service for the first time since 1982, for which two locos, Asbestos and the Sentinel, and the Gloucester trailer coach were available. No failures or serious faults occurred, although it has become apparent in this first season of continuous brake operation that improvements to the system can be made by relatively simple alterations to the system. This work, along with annual maintenance, is now being carried out in readiness for the 1988 season, for which initially the same locos and coach will be used.
Work on four privately owned locos is currently being carried out on site, and their owners continue to put in a great deal of work on the Railway as well as their own locos. The most likely of these to be steamed first is No.2 ‘Lion’ probably followed by No.7 ‘Invicta’ or No.3 ‘Colin McAndrew’. Please feel free to come and see work in progress on these on any Sunday.
One priority job for the loco dept in 1988 must be the fitting of vacuum brake gear to one of the diesels to enable trains to be run on non-steaming days, and to provide cover in the event of a steam loco failure. The cost of fitting this equipment, about £250, would be easily covered by the train fares taken on the event of ‘opportunist’ train operations i.e. where lots of people are in the park and we are not scheduled to run trains.
Another project for 1988 is the repair and restoration of the Wickham Trailer car. This will allow us to run two-car trains for the first time, and doing so will allow us to generate extra income through the opening of a bar car, will give us extra braking power on trains, and will allow us the luxury of a spare coach in the event of a failure.
The coach is in basically sound condition, but requires seven new windows, and the doors require stripping and re-building.
On 7th March, I formally applied to British Railways Board for License to operate passenger trains over the section of line from Willowvale Bridge to the Causeway.
The application to BR followed the purchase of the land from BR by Walsall Council, which was completed in November last. Our Company’s predecessors bought the track on the land some years ago, but the Council slowed down the procedure of buying the land when our group ran out of steam in the early eighties, and only revived when our New Company breathed new life into the Chasewater Railway Project in October 1986.
Because we bought the track, BR gave us permission some years ago to maintain the formation of this section of line, so we very recently carried out work on the bridge, so that if BR give us the license we need, we can very rapidly move on to the section: I would feel we should be running trains along this stretch within 9 months of possession, to maintain the impetus of development of the line. Steve Organ
Work in this area has been concentrated in the last year on maintenance and simplification of the trackwork, incorporation of the Railway Inspectorates requirements, such as the installation of trap points, Annets locks, fencing, etc. Whilst this work may seem tiresome, it is part and parcel of the business of running a railway and allows us to operate in confidence and in SAFETY. We are fortunate in the field of trackwork to have over the last year, gained a member, Chris Chivers, with experience and enthusiasm for p-way work (when he’s not setting things on fire).
We have also to thank Mr.J.L.Townsend, M.I.C.E., who has recently undertaken an inspection of Willowvale Bridge, and provided a formal report and detailed specifications for remedial work to it, work which is likely to be largely complete by the time you read this.
In view of the progress made in the last year, we are now making detailed plans for the future.
Featured photo: Kerr, Stuart Works No 3063 D249 Willy 0-4-0WT Pic – RMWebb
Chasewater Comment – This issue’s comment is not the usual message of doom and despondency and may help prove that all the recent effort has been worthwhile. (This page was ok but it soon went back to the old story – we’ve not got any money!)
From the Boardroom Notes – Most of the hassle is being caused by the motorway mentioned in the last notes, of which more later. Many problems are being caused because the railway’s records are scattered among the directors, especially the accounting records which really do need to be housed centrally. To this end the office at Brownhills West was planned, agreed and the basic structure provided, but despite the plea for funds in the last magazine, none have been forthcoming. The situation is now becoming very grave, as it will soon be impossible to meet the statutory requirements for administration of the business. The company has no money available for capital expenditure before Easter, nor to cover commercial stock and publicity for next season. This is largely due to our inability to make more money from operations, hence the need for the above expenditure. (Seems like a vicious circle – after being in similar circumstances for some time before this point, the people running the railway must have been very enthusiastic to keep carrying on!).
The AGM in March will see all of the present Board standing down and in some cases seeking re-election. Anyone interested in taking part in the management of the railway should contact the Secretary as soon as possible. Essential requirements are enthusiasm and commitment. (As Mr. Punch once said: “That’s the way to do it!”).
The Chairman and Secretary have been engaged in a considerable amount of planning, lobbying and briefings connected with the development of the Railway now that the motorway route has been published. The Company is objecting to the destruction of Anglesey Basin by the Burntwood by-pass and its link road. Development of the rest of the line should be unaffected but long leases are unavailable at present. Negotiations will however continue and preparatory research is now being undertaken for the Light Railway Order. The Board has produced a report on the options available. The basic proposals include continued development of works and storage facilities adjacent to the present shed and location of land for visitor facilities and a museum next to a re-sited Brownhills West Station. It is this latter point which is causing problems as the Council seems to be unwilling to commit to anything at the present time.
By the time you read the next boardroom notes our surveyors and solicitors will be playing a much more active role in ensuring the future of the railway, with special reference to the reinstatement of lost facilities and opportunities at Brownhills West.
News from the Line
Permanent Way Department – Following a couple of derailments, the points next to the water column controlling 2 & 3 roads have been completely dismantled and rebuilt in a shorter configuration. Work is expected to be completed well before Christmas and as a result, 3 road should be around 60 feet longer. After completion of this work a start may be made on the much awaited run round loop at Brownhills West.
There are still a number of jobs outstanding to satisfy the Railway Inspector, notably provision of level crossing gates, facing point locks and Annets Key lever frames. It is hoped that this work, along with the usual repairing of fences and packing track, will be completed this winter. All volunteers will be most welcome!
Carriage & Wagon Department
Gloucester Trailer (E56301) – This vehicle has run its first year on passenger trains with the vacuum brakes in use. The roof and bodywork have been repaired and a number of batteries have been replaced.
Wickham Power Car – This vehicle has again been in use as a stationary buffet car earning vital income. Replacement guttering has been completed and the roof repainted. A number of damaged batteries have been replaced. Attention is now required to repair its warped doors, and to repair and repaint the body and re-decorate the interior.
Wickham Trailer – This vehicle is still relatively derelict with a large number of broken windows. It has, however had its replacement guttering completed, roof repainted and a number of windows are now available to replace those stolen or damaged.
LNW Milk Van – ‘James’ has had a couple of body panels renewed following attempted break-ins and has also had mains lighting and a burglar alarm fitted. It is hoped that the ‘motorway move’ will allow it to be re-connected to the rest of the railway.
MR Passenger Brake – This for wheeler has been repainted inside and out and has been in use on steam days as an extra exhibition coach.
GW Brake Van – This van has been beautifully restored internally and now only requires ‘finishing off’ and attention to the running gear.
M&C, MSL, & LNW Brake End – All of these vehicles have received a certain amount of ‘preventive renovation’ and look quite presentable from a distance.
Hopper Wagon – This wagon has had the hopper completely removed and is to be fitted with sleeper decking for use as a flat wagon.
One of the ex Holly Bank Colliery 5-plank wagons has been repainted in a livery reminiscent of Stroudley’s improved engine green.
All other Vehicles – No work carried out.
No.1 – no work done, needs painting and superficially renovating.
No.2 – ‘Lion’ is still progressing under its new ownership, having had its chimney cap repaired, paint stripped and re-applied, and the boiler prepared for inspection.
No.3 – ‘Colin McAndrew’ work is still progressing on boiler repairs.
No.4 – ‘Asbestos’ has run well after a late start this season. It will require minor work on valve gear, boiler and regulator ready for next season.
No.5 – ‘Sentinel’ 59632 has completed its first full season of passenger work and on 11th October was griced in the traditional manner by a man with a long mac and notebook from the field opposite the shed.
Sentinel – December 1989
No.6 – The Albright & Wilson Peckett has had the cab and boiler removed to allow work on re-plating the bottom of the smokebox to proceed.
No.7 – The Ruston is still operational with no problems.
No.8 – ‘Invicta’ has been prepared for boiler testing and has had part of the driver’s side cab cut away for re-plating.
No.10 – ‘S100’ Work has progressed on steam chest fastenings, frames and spring hangers.
No.11 – ‘Alfred Paget’ remains out of use although it was recently repainted.
No.12 – The Fowler, following its recent arrival, remains out of use pending replacement or repair of its batteries.
No.15 – The Hudswell remains out of use with no work having been carried out.
No.21 – The Bass pudding remains out of use with the engine removed. Some work has been carried out on de-rusting and painting the bodywork.
Chasewater Events 1987
Our first full operating season since 1982 saw four special events organised by the Chasewater Light Railway and Museum Company.
The first event was held on 26th April when, in addition to a Norton Motor Cycle Rally, we held a Railwayana Fayre. The event was a reasonable financial success with eighty plus Nortons in attendance plus around a dozen sales stands. Nigel Canning’s Sentinel performed admirably on trains, as indeed it has all season.
Sunday 21st June, a somewhat overcast day saw both ‘Asbestos’ and the Sentinel in steam on the occasion of our first Model Engineers Day. Attendance both of the public and, perhaps even more disappointing, of exhibits was low. Thanks go to John Rickers for bringing along six of the thirteen visiting exhibits. John has been a good supporter of or rallies for several years now and his models are of a very high standard. However, the star of the show was Roy Prime’s Sentinel steam wagon, built to ¾ scale, attending only its second rally.
One new event of which we had high hopes was the military weekend held in conjunction with the West Midland World War 2 Re-enactment Group. Approximately twenty military vehicles attended the show, which was held over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday 25th & 26th July. Apart from the mock battle held at 3.30pm on the Sunday ( unfortunately just as rain began to fall), highlights were an attack on Asbestos-hauled train and a 1943 Bren Gun carrier giving rides. The Sentinel also saw use during the weekend. Thanks in particular to Peter Bick, Chairman of the re-enactment Group. The show was a moderate success and hopefully we can make various improvements for a similar event in July 1988.
Our biggest and best event was the annual end of season Transport Rally held on 11th October. Two hundred and fifty exhibits were on display, including a 1904 Marshall traction engine. It was nice to see the former West Bromwich Corporation Dennis ‘E’, now 59 years old and coming to its first rally since a major engine re-build. A good selection of vintage and classic cars was well backed by 20 odd military vehicles, and a handful of commercials, more than in recent years, and a good display of motor-cycles and stationary engines. Thanks in particular on this day go to Angela and Jill fro their work assisting Rob Duffill in the buffet coach. Also special thanks to Ralph and Vera Amos for manning the sales stand at our major events this year.
From the Archives
Again this section features something of local interest.The Ennals Toy Fair handbill dates back to approximately 1935 – not only are the prices a revelation but just look at the various departure points, out of 38, only 12 remained open in 1987. (Probably still fewer in 2011).
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Mention should be made here that Brian Hames has been forced to resign as General Manager due to McGregor’s decision to redeploy him at Point of Ayr, following the closure of West Cannock No.5. (Mr. McGregor was the Chairman of the National Coal Board at the time!). Grateful thanks are due to young Brian for services rendered and his successor is Tony Sale (formerly Assistant GM) and the new Assistant GM is Nigel Canning.
I’ve tried to remember the numbering system of the locos but failed – miserably. I have to keep going back through the mags to find them – enough is enough I say!!
The Hibberd diesel is still for sale at a very reasonable price.
Barclay 1223 – all the superstructure of the loco in undercoat, attention has reverted to the boiler and firebox. The front tube plate is being built up with weld whilst the eighteen stays that were unsuccessfully inserted in the firebox, as mentioned in the last issue, are in the process of being removed in an attempt to straighten the buckled walls of the inner firebox. The man says ‘this is in fact, proving quite easy’
The boiler inspector has been and wants a 9” square piece of the outer firebox to be cut out to investigate the extent of a small crack which has been welded over during a previous overhaul.
Brighter news about Asbestos, rapidly coming to the end of her prolonged overhaul with a return to steam being a matter of weeks rather than months away.
The new GM has been hard at work reassembling the boiler backhead fittings, all attached with new studs, whilst the Fat Controller has been making various bits and pieces which have needed replacement. The outside motion is being reassembled to find someone a job to keep him off the streets. During one of the Hairy Youths infrequent visits various pieces of the machine believed to be lost were rediscovered whilst several pieces believed to be ‘in the shed’ were not, so replacements will have to be made.
The Boiler inspector has been and performed an ultra-sonic test to his satisfaction and is returning for a steam test prior to Gricers’ day.
On Sentinel, the Fat Controller has busied himself making good various faults found during the January steam test, and has also painted the beast in an attractive black undercoat after much rust treatment and filling. A coat of gloss black is to be applied before Gricers’ day. The Boiler Inspector has been and carried out an ultra-sonic test and having been satisfied he will return for a steam test shortly. He has also decreed that the boiler needs to be split every five years, not every 14 months as previously feared.
The Controller has carried out his threat of giving the beast a pseudo British Railways identity and has constructed a jolly fine smokebox number plate No.59632.
As yet nobody has had the heart to tell him that vertical boilered Sentinels don’t have smoke boxes!Work on Peckett 917 proceeds as other commitments allow. The new cabside and the rest of the cab have received several coats of paint whilst the component parts of the new bunker await fitting. Several men have been seen struggling to excavate layers of fire brick out of the smokebox in order to expose the front tube plate to the eyes of the Boiler Inspector. Not a wise move as the tube plate appears to be somewhat bulged. Following further descaling work the Boiler Inspector will return to pass sentence.
The GM has made his first major decision which is that S100 is to be moved into the shed as soon as possible – a sign perhaps of old age creeping up on him? To speed this process up the loco will be re-wheeled as an 0-4-0 i.e. only two axles will be re-fitted out of doors, the third one will be done under cover. The owner is at present wrestling with the task of fitting and securing the new main bearings into the axle boxes.
The Other Gentleman made a start on removing the tubes from the Neilson as a mid-summer madness wager that if they were all gone by the end of July then a certain bearded person would purchase a new set! It is now the end of August and many tubes remain to be removed as those concerned are busy on ‘Asbestos’………Will the offer still hold……. Will the ancient Neilson steam again? ………………Who knows? …………Watch this space!Late note; yes the offer does still hold!
Coaching Stock News
In between making cups of tea, Mr. Bull and his crew have been busy repainting and varnishing the interiors of both the Wickham cars in preparation for Gricers’ Day. As ever, more help is needed as several panes of glass need replacing and seats and tables need to be secured to the floor, however, the work done so far is a definite improvement.
Still not happy bunnies! Nuff said!
Working on the precept that no news is good news it would seem that the Company is doing just fine.
Well informed sources indicate that the overdraft has virtually disappeared (along with several of the Directors!) but shouldn’t there be an AGM (or three) due?
An unusual piece to end with…
Steam Hauled Sunday Dinner
As an experiment a steam hauled ‘Sunday Dinner’ train will be run on Sunday, 17th November.
In conjunction with the Rob Duffill Catering Corps a steam hauled train will depart from Brownhills West and at the current end of the line a roast chicken dinner will be served in the Wickham Buffet aka ‘The Norton Nasher’. This is open to members only and is a trial run to see if such a service will be feasible when public services resume.
Would-be guinea pigs should contact Barry Bull as places are strictly limited to twenty. Remember only working members can travel on CLR trains until the Light Railway Order is granted
N.B. It is expected that all participants will be prepared to spend the rest of the afternoon working so come prepared!
Now that we have a new numbering system, it goes into operation. I shall use the numbers but not ask you to refer to the previous post – I’ve got the numbers and locos on the page in front of me – you haven’t!
No. 3 Barclay 1223 Since a change of ownership last October the engine has been completely dismantled above the frames, and the boiler and firebox have been examined by the Boiler Inspector. Members of long standing may recall that this loco’s boiler was virtually condemned some 15 years ago and has stood idle ever since. We must now be in a more enlightened age as, apart from replacement of some 18 firebox stays and welding a small patch on the firebox side and renewal of several smokebox tubeplate rivets, the Boiler Inspector is quite happy for the boiler to be returned to steam. Much of the platework of the loco has been replaced with new – I.E cab, bunkers, footplating and a new smokebox has been fabricated.
A new set of boiler tubes has arrived and those responsible for the loco hope to see it in steam in early 1985 – they must be confident as they’re looking for another loco!
No. 4 Asbestos Following a successful hydraulic test the boiler has at last been reunited with the frames, for the first time in six years. Despite the misguided belief that interest (work) would speed up following refitting of the boiler – this has not yet happened, putting a 1984 steaming in considerable doubt at the time of writing (mid-July)
Despite this, slow progress is being made by one man (without dog!) in assembling a useable set of cladding sheets from the mangy set of originals. Also the cab fittings have been overhauled off-site.
No. 5 Sentinel Since the last report the boiler has passed its visual test and following reassembly was hydraulically tested. On testing the superheater several holes were found, the only remedy being replacement. Without too much difficulty a firm was found who could manufacture a new one and this was duly ordered and delivered – at considerable expense to the owner!
The boiler duly passed its hydraulic test as did the new superheater. Reassembly is well under way with many components being replaced at the same time.
The owner expects to steam the loco later this year and run trials with it to ascertain its suitability for passenger work before considering fitting vacuum brakes.
No. 6 Peckett 917 Slow progress has been made on this loco, recent work being confined to stripping and painting the cab and removal of fire bricks out of the smokebox to reveal a somewhat wasted tube plate. Work should speed up when ‘Asbestos’ (wot – no number?!) is finished.
No.10 Hudswell Clarke 1822 (S 100) First the bad news – during the winter we suffered a spate of break-ins which resulted in the loss of the main bearing brasses as well as a complete set of new ones. Now the good news – the wheelsets have been sent to Bridgnorth for tyre and journal turning and have returned ready for refitting, the axle boxes which will shortly be sporting new main bearings which are being supplied at a good competitive rate.
Whilst this was going on, the owner overhauled the lathe and miller in the loco shed and is now using them to true the horn faces on the axle boxes.
All being well, the frames should be reunited with the wheels before the end of the year, enabling further reassembly to take place under cover.
Following a request from the Honourable Secretary to reintroduce a system of credits for work done, here goes…….
Barclay 1223 – Les, Gorilla and friends. New cab and bunkers – Comex Workshop, Walsall. New Smokebox – Angle Ring Co. Ltd. New boiler tubes – Charlie from Embsay via Newmans Tubes Ltd., Wednesbury.
Asbestos Boiler – Tony and Brian. Cladding – HY. Cab fittings – PCK
Sentinel – Mr. K9
Peckett 917 Les and kids, young Pete and the Wossacks.
Hudswell Clarke S100 Axle brasses – Wednesbury Foundry Training School. Lathe and Miller – Mr. Sale. Wheel Turning – Severn Valley Railway.
Loco Numbers HY.
Black Paint (Someone has been working on the principle that if it’s stationary and rusty – paint it black!) Assorted young kids and men with beards!
The new siding mentioned in the last magazine was subsequently found to be unnecessary and consequently was not built.
The Task Force then turned their attention to putting the southern point in for the Brownhills West run round, however, following a survey of the line by West Midlands County Council Surveyor’s Department, further work was suspended until the proposed track plans and gradient profiles were approved by the Railway Inspectorate. As a result, Brownhills West still looks as though a bomb has hit it, though in recent weeks some Task Force workers have returned and started slowly demolishing what remains of the platform in preparation for its long awaited rebuild. Despite this apparent lack of progress we have been assured that all the work – reconstruction of platform, drainage of Brownhills West, run round loops at Brownhills West and Stadium Halt (?), fencing of the line and associated crossing gates will be finished by Christmas (one presumes 1984!)
If this is so then services can be resumed following inspection by HM Railway Inspectorate.
During the lull in Task Force activities a hastily formed track gang relaid the point leading to the loco shed some 45 feet nearer to Brownhills West to give a longer siding and also ease the alignment which was somewhat tight. This was achieved within a matter of two months, much credit going to Mr. K9, a man with a beard and a (semi) tame Gorilla who performed Herculean feats of strength (some may call it stupidity) in moving large pieces of point and many concrete sleepers in preparation for Sunday working parties.
Chasewater Light Railway Company Notes
Since the end of the YOP Scheme the Company has slowly sorted out its finances to such a degree that it knows to whom it owes what amounts of money. The two creditors are:
1. The Overdraft Facility taken out at Barclays Bank.
2. Money overspent on the YPO Scheme and owed to the Manpower Services Commission.
To ease matters the Society took stock of its assets and was able to identify several items which were not imperative to keep the CLR project a viable proposition. To this end it was agreed in a series of General Meetings to dispose of:
1. Andrew Barclay Saddle Tank 1223
2. Sentinel Loco 9632
3. LNWR TPO coach
4. LNWR brake coach (Paddy Coach).
Of these items, the first three have been sold with only the TPO going off-site, whilst a deal to sell the ‘Paddy’ has fallen through, though hopefully a new purchaser can be found. Despite the resulting influx of money, the Company still has a sizeable overdraft to pay off, which will hinder any future plans for expansion until it is eradicated. At present the Company has only three forms of income:
1. Donations from the Society
2. Sale of Shares
3. Sale of Shares in DL7
The only notable acquisition of late has been a wooden shield presented by the LMS to Trent Valley Station following three successive victories in the station gardens competition, 1924 – 1926
The Society is approaching its 25th Anniversary which will be celebrated at the Society AGM on 13th October and at a Bus Rally and Railwayana Fair at Chasewater on the following day (October 14th) 11.00 – 4.30, admission free.
Throughout its 25 years the Society’s membership has fluctuated around the 100 mark whilst its aims have switched from creating a static museum to an operating railway. Despite the lack of passenger trains during the last two seasons the Society membership has held its own and so far this year over 15 new members have been enrolled. To these people we say thank you for having faith in the Chasewater Project. Inside this magazine you will find a membership form and we are appealing for every member to enrol a new member to give us enough people to operate trains next season (as we are led to believe that we will be in a position to do so).
Members may have read elsewhere about plans to spend up to 14 million pounds on Chasewater Park and the Society/Company have drawn up plans to expand the Railway, should this scheme come to fruition. All this is dependent on us having enough manpower to run services on a regular basis so it is up to the present membership to either come forward and operate the services or to find new members to do the same. Members may also have read of a scheme to build a new motorway which may or may not pass through the park. If it does come through the park then we are wasting our time.
News from the line
Loco Department – It has for sometime been felt that there ought to be a numbering system for locos at Chasewater in order to give a proper Light Railway image.
A start was made some years ago when ‘Invicta’ emerged from a repaint sporting a painted No.8 (it was then the eighth steam engine on site) on the front buffer beam and brass plates (GWR style) on the cab sides.
The following system has been devised and will be put into practice as engines are repainted, although the GWR style plates on ‘Invicta’ will not be featured on other locos as brass plates with the loco number and the legend ‘Chasewater Light Railway’ have been designed. Some locos will also bear fictitious 21G shed plates as the Operating Superintendent reckons 21G would have been the shed code for Brownhills West (Hednesford Road) had it existed in BR days.
Hibberd Diesel 1 First loco to arrive
Peckett 1351 2 No. 2 at Wallsend Slipway
Barclay 1223 3
Sentinel 9632 5 May be painted black as BR 59632
Peckett 917 6
R & H Diesel 7 No.7 at Whitwell Colliery
Hudswell Clarke 1822 10
Alfred Paget 11 No.11 at Gartsherrie
Hudswell Clarke 431 15
Ex bass Diesel 21
L & Y Petrol 1
It seems strange to have two No.1s when starting a new system, even if they didn’t stay much longer!