Tag Archives: Walsall

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces – No.97

Chasewater Light Railway Society

1982-1985

Newsletter January 1983

News from the line

Loco Shed

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.

Asbestos

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.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No.95

95 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

21st Anniversary Edition – 2

Twenty one not out

Ian Patterson

Hednesford Depot (The wagons in the background are on the line to Cannock Wood pit, now a footpath. The building still stands, the sides bricked up and the doorway filled in. 2021)

The history of the Chasewater Light Railway goes back to a meeting called at the Station Hotel, Stafford on October 10th, 1959.  This meeting led to the formation of the West Midlands District of the Railway Preservation Society, whose aim was to set up regional depots around the country where railway relics could be collected, restored and eventually returned to their native area.

1054 at Hednesford

The first West Midlands Division was set up at Hednesford, Staffs. in a siding belonging to Penkridge Engineering Limited, and was in fact the 3rd Standard Gauge Preservation Society.The first items of stock acquired were the Maryport and Carlisle and Great Eastern coaches from the National Coal Board, Rawnsley.  The siding at Hednesford was partially covered and so in 1962 the ex London & North Western Railway coal tank 1054 was offered a home there.  This engine later went to Penrhyn Castle, North Wales, and then to Dinting Railway centre, appearing at the ‘Rocket 150’ celebrations in 1980.

The West Midlands District decided in the early 1960s to find a suitable length of line on which to operate their growing collection of rolling stock.

The state of the track

In 1963 it was suggested that the remnants of the Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Railway around Chasewater would make a suitable length of line.  At this time the area was desolate, and it wasn’t until 1967 that the Society actually moved to Chasewater, development of a Pleasure Park had made the line more attractive.  By this time all the National Coal Board buildings and workshops had been demolished and all that was left was 600 yards of double track belonging to British Rail (ex Midland Railway) and 1½ miles of former Cannock Chase and Wolverhampton Railway, plus a 300 yard spur which formerly led to Conduit Colliery, upon which a lease was taken.

Pittsteel No.1

The first task at Chasewater was to lay over 800 yards of track, partially along the former Midland Railway track bed and partly along new formation into the Pleasure Park.  Much of this work was done by hand – even the first wagon was a luxury. 

It wasn’t until late 1967 that motive power arrived in the shape of Pittsteel Hibberd No.1.  Development at Chasewater was slow and laborious and it wasn’t until 1970 that all stock at Hednesford had been transferred to Chasewater and the Hednesford depot closed.

To return briefly to general aspects of Railway Preservation Society’s history, apart from Hednesford, depots had been set up at Quainton Road (London Railway Preservation Society and Falkirk (Scottish Railway Preservation Society).  However the main movement of Railway Preservation was to either preserve solitary engines or complete branch lines and so the broader aspects of Railway Preservation Society policy evolved into a body known as the Association of Railway Preservation Societies, which is an advisory body which gives help, advice and information to many preservation groups and has over 200 member societies.

Returning to Chasewater, as already stated all stock was there by 1970 housed in a security compound and thought was given to giving regular steam-hauled train rides.

During 1968/9 and 1970 several open days had been held with either AB1223 (Colin McAndrew) or HL 2780 (Asbestos) in steam, and limited train rides were given.  The formation of the Chasewater Light Railway Company in 1970 was necessary to enable trains to be run legally.  In 1971 a regular service was given using Nos. 20 and 21 at either end of the Maryport & Carlisle coach whilst ‘Asbestos’ was under repair.  Regular steam-hauled services began in September 1972 when ‘Asbestos’ was re-commissioned.  For the rest of the 1972 season ‘Asbestos’ hauled a train comprising of the 1875 Maryport & Carlisle six-wheeler and the 1880s 16 ton Great Western brake van – as far as the bridge at the South end of the double track section where the embankment was burning.  1973 saw a start made on building a permanent platform at what is now Brownhills West and also saw the purchase, from British Rail, of E56301 (non-powered) driving trailer – ideal for observation and working push-pull.E56301 on her way

E56301 in through the farm gate at Chasewater

(Trailer car 56301 was the first diesel multiple unit car to enter preservation in 1969, originally being used at the Chasewater Railway)

The Society’s aims were to run a service along the whole two miles of railway as and when track was brought into usable condition.  In 1974 British Rail ‘rediscovered’ that they owned what is now the central section of Chasewater Light Railway and banned any use of it, due to the burning of the embankment.  This was a major blow as Society members were just ready to start work on this section.  In 1975 British Rail allowed work to start on the burning embankment, which was completely dug out and replaced with non-combustible material and negotiations were opened for the purchase of this section.  The purchase price was raised by 1978, actual purchase taking place in 1980.

In keeping with its aims, the Railway Preservation Society changed its name to the Chasewater Light Railway Society in 1977, owning most of the rolling stock and relics whilst Chasewater Light Railway Company is responsible for the legal implications of running trains, i.e. insurance, etc.

The Neilson with Gloucester E56301 working at Chasewater.

In 1979 a great step forward was taken with using a Government sponsored STEPS project for rebuilding the railway, especially the causeway across the lake, which had been much eroded by wash from power boats on the lake.  The work accomplished in 12 months would have taken Society working parties 3 to 4 years to accomplish and will allow regular steam-hauled services to run over the majority of the line in 1982, subject to the granting of a Light Railway Order and a satisfactory inspection by the Railway Inspectorate.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No.92

92 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces – Autumn 1979 1

From the Editorial.

In common with many other railways, the Chasewater Light Railway has had a mixed season and if the success of the 1970s in the preservation world is to be sustained into the 1980s then two problems need solving and solving fast.  The first is the much publicised fuel crisis, caused in the main by the sharp increase in the price of crude oil (1979 or 2011 – some things don’t change much!).  This undoubtedly has, and will continue to do so, restricted the freedom of people to go out in leisure time as often as in recent years.  As the CLR is on the fringe of a large conurbation the problem should not be as great as on a good many of the standard gauge railways and perhaps we will gain an increase of visitors being close at hand.

The other problem is the ending of the Government sponsored job creation schemes, on which many railways have benefited over the past few years.  The sudden termination of paid 5 day week staff will surely hit routine maintenance on our longer brothers and will lead to the need for railway sponsored full-timers or greater numbers of regular volunteers.

Perhaps it is fair comment to say that at Chasewater the era of Government sponsored full-time staff is ending at the right time.  Throughout the year the number of volunteers has slowly dwindled, all too often comments being along the lines of ‘Oh, if I don’t turn up, STEPS will do it during the week.’  Well next year there won’t be any full-time staff so if a job is left undone by a volunteer then that’s the way it will remain.  There has also been a feeling of it not being ‘our’ railway with full-time staff, and the communal atmosphere of Sundays at Chasewater is one of the nicest things about the CLR.  Perhaps these factors and the end product of the STEPS scheme (i.e. a longer serviceable railway) will pull back the missing faces and some new ones as well, and with effort applied in the right directions our 21st year should be the most successful yet. Looking down ‘The Branch’ before clearing (towards the Norton East Road)

STEPS Report

The scheme Is scheduled to finish on the 31st December although a limited extension with a few workers may see work carry on into March 1980.

The only way to describe the work being done is to give a list of the jobs done so far.  Any comments about the scheme and the feeling of CLRS members is, in the final analysis, rendered somewhat superfluous by the sheer volume of hard physical graft that has gone on as well as the supply of materials for rebuilding the railway.  One thing is certain and that is that Society members have been saved from 3 to 4 years of hard, back-breaking work, and that alone is something to be thankful for.

The jobs that have been done are listed in no particular order. (This sentence was written long before Philip Schofield and ‘Dancing on Ice’ or any of the other singing and dancing shows were on the telly.  It was new then – it drives me crackers now!!)

1.    Packing and repair of main running line which has resulted in a smoother ride, especially in the DMU trailer.

2.    Finishing of point on south end of the loop – started by members last year.

3.    Shortening of loop and removal of the two points at the northern end of the loop.  In fact the whole of the loop has been lifted; the shortened loop awaits arrival of extra sleepers before it can be relaid.

4.    Lessening of gradient of bank up to causeway.

5.    Tipping on causeway and subsequent levelling.

6.    Relaying of causeway – at present the causeway is wide enough for the railway but further tipping is necessary to widen the formation to provide adequate footpath facilities.

7.    Digging out of top end of line – this has revealed the track to be in a very poor state and much work is needed to bring the track into a comparable state to the rest of the railway.

8.    Digging out of ‘Branch’ prior to reclaiming track materials.

9.    Moving of point and lengthening of ‘Elsley’s Siding’.  This was completed in three weeks during a lull in train services at the end of July and beginning of August.

10.           Building of compound and loading platform at ‘Elsley’s Siding’.  This is a great improvement and the addition of a box van body will make it very griddy, very Colonel Stephens.

11.           Relaying of level crossing, which is now much smoother.

12.           Fencing the line from Brownhills West to bottom of causeway bank with concrete posts and five strands of wire.Looking up the causeway bank after clearance.

The transformation upon the railway is somewhat devastating to the casual observer and if you haven’t seen the work done yet, then come on over – it’s YOUR taxes that have paid for it!

Looking Ahead

1980 should see consolidation of the work done under the auspices of the STEPS programme and promises to be every bit as exciting as 1979 has been.

The CLR Co. are planning to purchase a further passenger carrying coach as well as locomotive DL7, and making money available for any further capital expenditure needed.

Providing the purchase of the land and track (plus associated Light Railway Order) finally goes ahead then there is every confidence of services being extended to at least the north end of the causeway, with passengers being able to alight there and explore the previously out of reach NE shore of Chasewater.  This will enable fares to be increased to give more much needed revenue as well as being far more interesting than the present 800 yard shuttle to enthusiasts, public and volunteers alike.

Of course, hopefully more volunteers will turn up to help (or else the improvements won’t be realised to their full potential) or will they……?Ruston & Hornsby 458641-61 at Brownhills West (Later known as DL7)

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No.88

Peckett No 917

88 Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

Chasewater News No.25 – November 1978 – 1

Editorial

This Newsletter is somewhat late but is somewhat lengthy, reflecting the great progress being made these days at Chasewater.  Unfortunately to progress one has to be somewhat ruthless and differences of opinion result in some people opting out of active roles and it is extremely unfortunate that several people have resigned this year as the railway is, after all, primarily a leisure activity (though I’m beginning to wonder!) but that’s life, I suppose.

However, the end of 1978 finds the Society in perhaps its strongest position ever, especially with regard to finance.  The money for the line is at present in the building society, earning interest, as the sale of the land and track to Walsall Council has been held up by technicalities, again, purchase not being likely until the New Year.

1979 promises to be a year of great strides forward, especially with the STEPS scheme and the realisation of re-opening the railway, if all goes to plan.

The Committee and the Board are all firmly convinced that the Chasewater Light Railway has got great potential and the past two years, and the resultant changes, have been essential to enable that potential to be tapped.  There is now a greater degree of professionalism about the railway which is essential as the railway expands – you cannot ’play trains’ on two miles of standard gauge railway.  Despite all these changes the railway is still great fun and the active members amongst us derive a great deal of pleasure from it and that alone justifies its continued existence.  I am sure that the amount of fun will increase along with the size of the railway.

Dave IvesIt was with a good deal of sadness that Dave Ives stepped down as President of the Society at the recent Annual General Meeting.

Dave Ives on the left – in front of one of the Worthington diesel locos, early days at Chasewater.

Dave was present at the inaugural meeting of the Railway Preservation Society at the Station Hotel, Stafford, in October 1959 and holds membership number 2.

He was Secretary of the Society from 1959 till 1968 and has been on the Committee until his recent resignation.

In recent years he has been in disagreement with certain policies, notably the sale of the ‘E1’, which others have seen as being essential to the continued progress of the railway.  I personally feel that this is in part due to a change in emphasis on the railway – away from the original static museum concept and towards a fully operational Light Railway.

Having only been in the Society since 1972, I scarcely feel qualified to comment on Dave’s contribution to the Society and to the preservation movement as a whole.  Perhaps it is sufficient to say that the Chasewater Light Railway is testimony to the belief of those people present at Stafford in 1959 that Standard Gauge railway preservation was possible and that ‘the man in the street’ could play an active role – provided he had the necessary enthusiasm.

Dave’s presence at Committee meetings and Board meetings will be missed and I am sure that everyone involved with the railway wishes him the best of health in his ‘retirement’ from the preservation movement.

Ian Patterson.

News from the Line

The past months have seen a series of comings and goings with a vast amount of work getting done in the meantime.

On Friday August 4th the Peckett locomotive from Albright & Wilson Ltd. was moved from Oldbury to the railway, transported by Messrs. Brackmills of Northampton who handled the move with their customary efficiency.  This was the start of a somewhat hectic weekend as the next day we moved the ex Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Crane from Victoria Docks (South Side) Birkenhead to Chasewater.  This was a somewhat tricky operation as there was a good 25 feet of the jib overhanging the rear of the low-loader, which caused one or two motorists anxious moments, especially the idiotic ones who tried to drive underneath the jib.  However the move was completed successfully and the next day the crane was put through its paces, lifting the side tanks off S100.

The crane was built by Messrs. Smith and Rodley of Leeds in 1947 as a vertical boilered steam crane.  In 1968 it was completely rebuilt with a new Perkins diesel engine fitted with a torque converter.  The crane is self-propelled, weighs 24 tons, has a jib 45 feet long and has a maximum lift of five tons.  It has already proved its worth and by the end of the year it will have paid for itself by the amount of work it is performing at present.  Needless to say it is in excellent condition and has been little used since 1968.

Thanks are due to Mr. J.C.James for spotting the crane and to Messrs. John Moores Lid. of Hixon for the transport.

Monday 11th September saw the departure of the ‘E1’ locomotive to Cranmore.  The move was quite involved and beset by difficulties.At Chasewater ‘Alfred Paget’ was in steam to push the loco onto the low-loader, which was achieved after much effort.  On the journey down the low-loader was subject to a blowout which caused much delay, the loco being offloaded at 10.30 pm, assisted by Cranmore’s Dubs crane tank locomotive. 

Dubs steam crane at East Somerset – pic by R.P.Wiesham, 1981, now at Foxfield Railway, Staffs.

The locomotive was unloaded in a neighbouring field and temporary track was laid to the loco shed as their site is somewhat restricted and British Rail would not allow the loco over their lines.

The Lord Fisher Loco Group plan to start work on the loco soon and it will be turned out as BR No.32110 which will no doubt shock many purists, but this is the number the loco would have carried had it lasted into British Rail ownership.

Saturday 28th October saw the arrival of a box van body from Cashmore’s Ltd. of Great Bridge.  During the winter the body will be turned out as a waiting room cum refreshment room and it is at present situated on the platform.  Thanks are due to Bassett Roadways of Tittensor for the transport of the van body.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces Nos.85 and 86

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

No. 86

From the Chasewater News Magazine No. 24 July 1978 – 2

E1 Locomotive

‘Lord Fisher’ Barclay 0-4-0ST 1398/1915 – Pic by John CorneliusThis loco is now at the Yeovil Railway Centre where it will be restored with the Gartell Light Railway.

At the committee meeting of the 22nd March it was decided that positive action to safeguard the loopline was needed and in the view of the committee the best course of action was to offer the ex. LBSCR (London, Brighton & South Coast Railway) ‘E1’ locomotive for sale.  This decision was reached after much heated discussion, during the course of the meeting Andrew Louch resigned.  The rest of the members of the committee present were unanimous in their decision to sell the locomotive.  The Hon. Sec. was instructed to obtain offers for the locomotive and at the meeting of 24th May it was decided to sell the loco to ‘The Lord Fisher Loco Group’ who reside at the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore, Somerset. ‘Lord Fisher’ Barclay 0-4-0ST 1398/1915 – Pic by John CorneliusThis loco is now at the Yeovil Railway Centre where it will be restored with the Gartell Light Railway.

The LFLG own five engines at present, the ‘E1’ will be their sixth locomotive and if it is restored to their previous standards, then it will be well worth a visit.  They have every confidence of seeing the loco in steam during the early eighties and work will start as soon as it leaves Chasewater.

Members of the Chasewater Light Railway Society will be informed of progress upon the locomotive in this newsletter and the locomotive’s plates will remain at Chasewater as well as the unique tapered Rawnsley chimney, which will be mounted on the platform at Brownhills West.

The sale of the locomotive realised £5,000, which has virtually paid for the loopline.  Appeals in the newsletter and elsewhere have raised over £2,000, which gives us room to breathe a little easier, though we estimate at least another £5,000 is needed to realise our plans for the Chasewater Light Railway during the next three years.

The E1 arrived at Cranmore, Somerset in September, 1978.  The overhaul started in 1986 and she returned to service in 1993 – in green livery, number 110.  Firebox problems forced a premature withdrawal from traffic in 1997.  During 2000 work commenced stripping the loco down to assess the state of the firebox.The chimney is still at Cranmore, last heard of being used as a donation box.In the yard at Cranmore – Pic Bob Fowler

News from the line

The main news is that the purchase of the loopline is secure, as we have the money.  British Rail granted access to works trains as from the 18th April and completion of the purchase should be made by the end of this month (July).  However, this is just the start, as the line must be completely fenced before we can think of extending our services to satisfy the Railway Inspectorate and quite a bit of trackwork is needed, though generally the loop is in excellent condition.

Engineering Works

Over Easter weekend the point at the south end of the loop was dismantled and a start made upon reassembling it on a new alignment away from the edge of the embankment.  Part of the loop has been slewed to meet the new alignment and hopefully the gap will be completed before August Bank Holiday, to enable works trains to start removing scrub from the loopline.  The extension to the platform is now virtually complete, lacking only coping stones before it can be put into use.  The majority of the wall was built by Brian Hames over Spring bank Holiday weekend, infilled with hardcore supplied by courtesy of Walsall Council and surfaced with red ash by courtesy of Chasewater Power Boat Club.

Train Operations

This year has seen a welcome increase in the amount of money taken per steaming, only partially due to the modest fare increase implemented at the start of the season.  After 13 steamings receipts were 230% up on last year with an average of 380 people visiting the railway per operating day.

Small Relics Collection.Recent additions to the collection include a St. Helens Canal & Railway memo; an LMS/GWR joint lines trespass sign; a Midland and Great Northern Tyers tablet (Long Sutton – Gedney) and an LNER ‘Carter to Call’ card.Tyers Tablet

Brownhills CID has apprehended two local youths (thanks to the help of several CLRS members), who are due in court shortly to explain why they were in possession of many items from the museum coach.  Following the trial the missing items will be returned – at present Brownhills Police Station has a fair collection of railway relics!!

A visit to Derby Carriage Works is being arranged so that Society members can view progress on the restoration of our Royal Saloon (ex Midland Railway), which many members will know is on loan to Derby Corporation until 2020 if they take up their full option. (I think this was another of the crown jewels to be sold!)

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

No. 85

From the Chasewater News Magazine No. 24 July 1978

Time to get back to some Bits & Pieces – I found this article in Magazine 24.

The Society’s Pump Handle Trolley’s next adventure.

Since the summer of 1975, when three anonymous persons were jettisoned off the causeway at great speed, the Society’s pump handle trolley has been living in retirement (or was it disgrace?) off the rails, festooned with various cast iron signs.

During a recent tidy-up the trolley was ‘re-discovered’ by one of our younger members and once the day’s running was over the trolley was re-railed, oiled and found to be in a rather sorry state of repair.  Gary Kay foolishly offered to rebuild the trolley, so it was decided to give it a final run prior to overhaul.  The party was formed of the more lunatic fringe of the Society (though Graham has since had his hair cut) namely Messrs. Attwood, Bull, Owen, Webb, Patterson and last but not least, the brothers ‘Grimm’.

At first the run was to be to the crossing and return, but before we could say ‘every confidence’ or even ‘doom and despondency’ we were carrying the trolley across the infamous ‘gap’ (the ‘gap’ was out of the Brownhills West gate and over the bridge by the fishing pool) and onto the loopline.  The loopline was found to be passable – well almost – despite a few hassles with the odd wayward bush, but an attempt at a run down the Norton branch (to the Norton East Road and Conduit No. 3, not the Pelsall to Hednesford line) was thwarted by the locals having covered the track with rubbish – everything from a three piece suite to a dead cat.  After this an attempt at ascending the causeway was made, but this too was blocked, this time by several tons of hardcore tipped by the Council.

The return trip provided more excitement, a hasty start left Mr. Bull stranded brandishing a shovel, and quite a speed was attained.  Unfortunately we were halted in full steam by a large overgrown gorse bush, which forced an evacuation of the trolley rather sooner than most of the crew anticipated as they were jettisoned, arms and legs akimbo, and ended up with rather sore arms and legs and backs, though the elder ‘Grimm’ was more concerned about his station master’s hat which landed dangerously near a large puddle.

After several minutes of recovery time the trolley was re-railed and a slow return to Brownhills West was made, and although it had been proved that track still existed beyond the ‘gap’ there are several members who are beginning to think that perhaps 800 yards of railway is more than enough, especially for pump handle trolley racing!!Following the successful  re-enactment of the bucket-chain a couple of years ago, I asked Mr. Bull about a possible re-enactment of the trolley trip-  unfortunately his reply is not for publication!

Now tucked away in the Heritage Centre

Hand Pump Trolley

This trolley was purchased (after a whip –round!) from the British Rail permanent way yard in Walsall in the 1970s.  A few years later, in their 1981 session, it was renovated by students of the West Bromwich College of Commerce and Technology.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No.82

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 82 – March 1978

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 23 – Part 1

Editorial

The operating season is now a mere fortnight away as I write this Newsletter and despite a fair response to the appeals in the last Newsletter, the purchase of the line is still as precarious as ever.  To date we have raised £1,200, less than 25% of the total amount of £5,400 required.  It is quite clear that some drastic action will be required during the next six months in order to effect the purchase of the line, the favourite course of action amongst the ‘hard-core’ at Chasewater being the sale of the E1 locomotive ‘Cannock Wood’ for reasons already expanded upon in these pages and elsewhere.  Suffice to say it is time for those who care to stand up and be counted (many members already have) or accept the consequences.

(No, we haven’t!)

News from the line

Much activity during the winter has been centred upon putting in a new siding leading up to the platelayers’ cabin.  Access to this siding is controlled by a two lever ground frame which marks the start of interlocking on the railway.

It is intended to extend the siding up to the crossing at a later date and outline planning permission is available for construction of a building over the siding.

The present end of the siding has a railbuilt buffer stop – another first at Chasewater.

Work is now concentrated upon improvements to the two points leading into the compound and the installation of their associated control gear which will, in due course, be controlled by the platform lever frame after the running line has been slewed to clear the extension to the platform.

The extension to the platform will be built once the worst of the frosts are over.

The platform fence has been painted black, Midland style, and a box-van body is being acquired to be used as a waiting room and to provide some much needed shelter.

The bookstall now sports a new roof, by courtesy of Adrian Pearson, and it is actually waterproof!  The brothers Grimm have been noticed performing strange exercises which, apart from resulting in the bookstall being repainted in Midland Railway colours, are reputed to be in readiness for the ‘forthcoming influx’ (of visitors I presume!).

The rear compartment of the DMU coach has undergone refurbishing, which has included repainting the roof, seat frames and heating ducts, re-covering the seat backs and a thorough clean.  The rest of the coach is to receive similar treatment next winter.

(I don’t know if it’s just my reading of this section, but it gives me the impression of being much more optimistic than past articles.)

Locomotives.

Invicta – this is currently being prepared for the new season, its yearly boiler test not being due until July, when it is hoped to give it a final top coat of paint.

Alfred Paget & Invicta – Gricers’ Day 9-10-1977

Alfred Paget – currently being prepared for its annual boiler test and it should be back in service by May.

Asbestos – The hydraulic test will take place within the next few weeks, when a final decision will be taken as to whether the necessary firebox repairs can be afforded.  Hopefully the money will be forthcoming as ‘Alfred Paget’ is due for its six yearly hydraulic test next year.

Work involved entails lifting the saddle tank, stripping of boiler cladding and lagging to expose the boiler, repairs to the saddle tank and overhaul and refitting of all boiler and cab fittings. Mechanically the loco is sound. The loc is to be renamed ‘Colonel’ using the nameplate off the now scrapped Hudswell Clarke loco, latterly at Granville Colliery, as a pattern.

Lion – Following a change of ownership, plans are being made to give this loco its six yearly major boiler test during the summer, with a view to steaming it at the tail end of the season.

05406 The Colonel 0-6-0ST HC 1073-1914  at Granville 12-6-1964

The name is doubly appropriate as ‘Lion’ started its working life at Woolwich Arsenal, whilst the name ‘Colonel’ conjures up visions of Colonel Holman F. Stephens the godfather of light railways, and who would probably be highly delighted at the current set up at Chasewater.

Long standing members will recall that the loco was originally purchased minus safety valves.  Happily the recent sale of loco spares held at Chasewater was of particular value, as a pair of Ross pop safety valves were obtained suitable for the loco.

It is considerably less than pleasing to report that on the afternoon of Monday 23rd January someone broke into the compound and deliberately set fire to the brake end of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln coach.  There can be no doubt that this was a deliberate malicious action and if it wasn’t for a sharp-eyed resident of Hednesford Road then every wooden bodied vehicle in the compound would have been razed to the ground.

The damage is estimated to coast at least £1,000 to repair.  Allied to this fire, has been the theft of several items from the museum coach on three separate occasions.  It is interesting to note that all three break-ins occurred during the school holidays.  Two vacuum gauges, lettered MSL, were not recovered from the wreckage of the coach, though it is of small comfort that they were, in fact, BR gauges with false lettering.

The nature of the break-ins suggest that the person(s) responsible were familiar with the way things are run at Chasewater and the nature of the stolen items suggests that they knew what they were after and knew where to get it from.

The Police have been informed, but as it was the 270th crime reported in Brownhills in the first five weeks of the year, it is unlikely that they will have any success.

Changing the subject, it is indeed pleasing to report the acquisition of two more locomotives for use at Chasewater.

More about these next time!

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No 81

More from December 1977

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 81 – Dec 1977

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 22 – Part 2

Editorial

We are well into the close season on the railway and as usual the volunteer force has dropped, leaving the real ‘hard core’ of members to wade about in the mud and watch their fingers turn blue with cold.  Despite these hardships some work manages to be done.  However at the present moment in time we need money, more than anything else in the world – we need money!  In fact we need £5,400 by March.  If we don’t have this money by then we shall be in debt to the amount we have failed to raise, as the bank have promised a loan of £4,000 to be repaid over a twelve month period from the day the loan is taken.  Now it is blatantly obvious to even the most starry – eyed member that there is no way that our Society can raise up to £4,000 to repay a bank loan in twelve months.  This is the sixth Newsletter I have written in the past twelve months (in itself something of a record) and in each issue there has been an appeal for money to buy the line and each time the response has been minimal.  Gentlemen, I put it to you this way, unless each and everyone of you (and I mean everyone) donates (or loans) the Track & Development Fund £40 then the ambitions of the Company and Society will fail to have been realised and we will be confined forever to running over 500 yards of single line from nowhere to nowhere, that is until the members get fed up with the lack of expansion that would be possible and then the Society would fold – a miserable reflection upon members past and present.

So the task is simple – £40 from every member (pay it in over a year and it’s less than £1 per week) or tear up your membership card as the Society will fold.

All monies to be paid to the Hon. Treasurer.

News from the line

Another season has come and gone before we’ve noticed and it came as rather a shock on the 9th October to realise that this was the last steaming until March of next year.  However the past season has been the most successful one ever, over 12,000 visitors having come to the railway and despite the worries over money, etc., next year should be even better.

Work going on has centred mainly on the tractor which has suffered a worn out cam shaft which cost the Society £50 it can ill afford.  Apart from that, work has been of the routine maintenance variety, ‘Invicta’ and ‘Alfred Paget’ being put into store until next March when they should pick up where they left off in October.  The fate of ‘Asbestos’ remains undecided until a hydraulic test in undertaken to ascertain the condition of the boiler tubes.  If many tubes blow then the engine will surely become a static exhibit until such time as the necessary money can be raised.  Negotiations for further motive power proceed on three fronts, however mums the word as they say (at least until the next issue).

AGM notes

This took place on 17th September at the Pear Tree Cottage Inn in Hednesford Road.  The meeting was opened by the President, Dave Ives, who pointed out that it was action, not words that were needed and that £5,400 must be raised by March, 1978.  Unless positive steps can be taken, then we can forget the rest of the line.  Around £40 was needed from every member and if this was not forthcoming not only would we lose the line but we would also lose the backing of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, which would be extremely sad as the Society is 18 years old this year and should have ‘come of age’.

The Meeting went on through the Agenda, the next item of importance was when it was unanimously decided to change the name of the Society from the Railway Preservation Society to the Chasewater Light Railway Society, as this was more in keeping with the aims and interests of the membership as represented by the meeting and would avoid confusion when dealing with the Press.  It also strengthens conformity between the Society and the Company.

The motion to sell theE1 locomotive to the Stroudley E1 Locomotive Centenary Restoration Fund was scrapped due to their inability to say that they would provide the necessary money by March 1978.

From AGM of the Chasewater Light Railway Company

Mr. MacMillan stated that it was not proper to appeal to the public for money until concrete proposals for the end of the line had been drawn up and planning permission had been obtained.  These plans were in the course of preparation and planning permission was 99.9% as Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council sees the railway as the biggest draw in the park and, apart from money, they would give as much help as they could.  For this reason alone it was ESSENTIAL that the loop line was purchased by the Society to prove to the Council that we were worthy of support and it is up to the membership i.e. EVERYONE READING THIS NEWSLETTER to pay for the line if the membership are fully behind the plans for the future.

Without determination the project would fail and the onus is on YOU.

We are at the end of the beginning – and hopefully it is not the beginning of the end

.Pictures from Lawrence Hodgkinson’s Collection.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces, No.80

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces, No.80, December 1977

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 22 – Part 1

Barry Bull, Hon. Sec. of the Chasewater Light Railway Society, asked for his Secretary’s Report be included in the Newsletter and as it is a very good description of the state of the Society as a whole, here it is:

Hon. Secretary’s Report 1976 – 1977

The past year saw at least one intensive period of activity, this came during the final preparations for ‘Transport Scene’, general all round improvement was made in several directions during the year however.

Two locomotives were steamed during the year, ‘Invicta’ and ‘Alfred Paget’. ‘Asbestos’ being stripped for a major boiler test, the results of the first part of this test are unfortunate in that they show that repairs are required to the firebox, which could cost us a couple of hundred pounds to repair to the boiler Inspector’s satisfaction.  Both Invicta and Alfred Paget had repairs to the motion, re-packing glands, etc., carried out on them and both soldiered on.  Every steam loco on site had some paint or preservative treatment applied and this should help improve our image considerably, only Asbestos now looks really shabby.

The two ex. Worthington diesels also received attention and Planet No.1 was repainted.  Plans for next year include the overhaul of L & Y No.1.

On the rolling stock side of things, the main improvement came with the Chasewater Light Railway Company’s decision to have the DMU trailer repainted by outside contractors, this was duly arranged and completed in time for service on ‘Jubilee Weekend’.  The livery is maroon, with black underframes and grey roof.  Transfers and lining are to be applied by next season’s running.  Other important work carried out on coaches included the necessary re-panelling of our TPO.  Roof repairs were also carried out on this vehicle, but to date these cannot be said to be entirely successful.  Some of the goods stock was repainted also.  Unfortunately the heavy rain we had during a good part of the year did little to improve the paintwork on our two prize exhibits – the MSL and Maryport & Carlisle coaches.

The small relics collection continues to expand, albeit slowly, due to lack of available cash.  However one or two astute deals were pulled off during the year and we can boast the acquisition of some quite rare items because of them.  Several members have helped by taking home items to restore and a good standard of restoration has been reached on several items.  The ex. Cambrian Railways Merryweather fire pump was put back into a steamable condition, giving us an extra steaming exhibit on Transport Scene and Bank Holidays.

Much hard work was put into trackwork, this not being helped when the main pillar of the diesel crane suddenly snapped under the strain. The necessary repair work was carried out and the crane is now fit for service.  A point was laid in preparation for a storage siding to hold the works train, by our platelayers’ cabin.  The platform was extended and a lever frame installed on the platform, together with the erection of a fixed distant signal, albeit in a rather peculiar spot.  The platform area was also improved with the erection of lamp standards and installing several boundary markers and portable notice boards.

Train services operated on the time-tabled dates but poor weather on many days prevented the making of fantastic profits.

‘Transport Scene’ was obviously the highlight of the year, being easily the largest single event ever staged by the Society.  However, we must not allow the euphoria gained by this event to blind us to the fact that as a money raising exercise it can only be described as a moderate success.  Remember it was primarily to raise money that this event was set up.  In saying this, it was very pleasing to hear the many favourable comments of exhibitors and visitors alike.  It is to be hoped that we can cement our current good relations with several of the exhibitors at our ‘Gricers’ Day’ event on October 9th and indeed at another ‘Transport Scene’ in 1978.  Whilst mentioning exhibitions it is worth noting that the best profits yet resulted from our annual Model Railway Exhibition – these profits in fact approaching those made at ‘Transport Scene’.

On the Social side of things, regular monthly meetings were held in Brownhills during the winter.  An enjoyable and informative time was had by those who attended, but once again attendances could be said to be a little disappointing.  Several speakers from outside the Society have been arranged for the forthcoming season’s slide and film shows, so please support us and them with your attendance.  I must close with the most important item on our minds during the year – that is the purchase of the BR owned loop.  The price of £5,400 has been agreed between British Rail and Walsall Metropolitan Borough and we hope to get access to the line around next January.  Much work remains to be done before we can run a regular service on this section and this work will obviously cost money – this, coupled to the fact that we must pay for the track plus the Council’s pound of flesh in increased rents puts us in a somewhat embarrassing position.  Our Chasewater Track Fund has not been very successful due probably in part to too few people having time to push it, so may I ask those who feel they can help in any was to contact the Society.

B.J.Bull – 17.9.1977

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No 79

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits and Pieces No 79.

These ‘Bits and Pieces’ were taken from old magazines and publications going back over more than 40 years. If anyone should want to do this in another forty years time they will obviously struggle because these days there are very few magazines to get information from.

This can create difficulties for the Museum as we get queries from time to time and sometimes refer to the magazines for dates, ets.

Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces 79 – Aug/Sept 1977

The Railway Preservation Society Newsletter

Chasewater News 21 – Part 2

To continue – Enthusiasts’ Day October 9thIn past years the last steaming date of the year has seen unfamiliar activity, usually the use of the Maryport & Carlisle coach and the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincoln coach instead of the DMU.  This year it is proposed to put on a few extra attractions in the hope of attracting a good crowd of gricers and general public alike.  It is proposed to have two locos in steam, one on passenger trains and one on a freight train, with photographic runpasts at suitable intervals.  Several vintage vehicles, notably buses and cars are expected to be on display and a ‘mini mart’ of upwards of six sales stands will be present, offering a variety of goods of railway interest.  Several ‘dead’ engines will be on photographic display and several relics, not normally on display will be visible.  In addition, the ‘Merryweather’ fire pump will be doing its thing, perhaps even roasting chestnuts.  There is little else of steam interest this late in the season, so please make every effort to attend and tell friends, etc., and let’s end the season on a memorable note.

Admission – 30p for adults, 15p for children, including a free train ride!

On a grander scale, the Severn Valley Railway holds its ‘Enthusiasts’ Weekend’ on September 10th & 11th.  12 locos will be in steam.  Of special note are:

  • BR2-6-4T 80079 – recently restored and immaculate.
  • GWR 4-6-0 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ – recently arrived from Steamtown, Carnforth.
  • GWR 4-6-07819 ‘Hinton Manor’ – the latest ex. Barry engine to be restored and making its debut on public trains.

Raveningham Hall

There are many other attractions and a frequent train service employing five makes of coaches will be in operation.  The best chance to see ex. BR steam in a genuine setting and thoroughly recommended.

Transport Scene 23rd & 24th July

This was certainly the most important event on the RPS’s calendar in the last five years and although it was hard work I think its success is proved by the fact that everyone spoken to enjoyed themselves immensely, whether members of the public or members who spent three days on site to help in the multitude of tasks that needed doing.  It is unfair to single out anyone for praise as it was teamwork that made the event a success, ably led by our captain, Andrew Louch, who reports as follows:-

“Well as some of you will know, this event has been a success, although I must admit it had us guessing right up to Sunday morning.  Over the weekend we netted a grand total of £1,014, which is our best ever for a single event.  However, expenses came to £764.84, which left a profit of £249.16.

I would like to thank all our members who helped, including some less familiar faces, which goes to prove that our pleas for help don’t go unheard.  I would personally like to thank our Chairman, Albert Haywood, for organising the arena events and making up the original commentary which put the BBC to shame!!

We have decided to hold another ‘Transport Scene’ next year, so if you have any ideas for improvements then please let me know!”

Chasewater Railway Museum – April 2020 Newsletter

Chasewater Railway Museum

April 2020 Newsletter