MiscellanyInteresting stuff with a DR connection, however tenuous, but without an obvious place on any of the other pages. Contributions welcomed.
Mid-Hants Railway Steam Gala Feb 18th 2017
Recently our Chairman, Rev Philip Wagstaff, cunningly moved to Crewkerne, ostensibly to take up another post, but in reality to get a bit nearer to some of the major heritage railways. He was at the Mid-Hants at the weekend, and sent us these pictures:
Ivatt Class 2 2-6-2 tank 41312 at Alresford with a demonstration freight
LMS Black 5 45379 at Alresford with ECS for the 2nd train of the day
LMS Black 5 45379 at Medstead and Four Marks
BR Standard class 4 76017 arriving at Medstead and Four Marks
BR Standard class 4 76017 at Medstead and Four Marks, back in service after a 20 year restoration.
BR Standard class 4 76017 at Alton. Unusually in preservation, the signal box controls early colour light signals.
BR Standard class 4 76017 at Ropley, under the former North Tawton footbridge.
The former Exmouth Junction breakdown crane, 45 ton Ransome and Rapier DS1580, at Ropley.
Class 33 33053 at Ropley
BR 9F 92212 and Standard 4 76017 at Alresford
BR Standard class 4 76017 at Alresford.
Ivatt Class 2 2-6-2 tank 41312 at Alresford
Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Autumn Steam Gala Sept 25th 2016
The excuse for including coverage of the LBR is that it's another Southern line in Devon, and there were at least 4 DRSA members there. Numbers seemed to be a little down on last year, presumably because of the showery forecast, although in practice the rain held off nearly all the time. As ever the LBR put on a well organised show, with 5 immaculate locomotives in steam, lots of other attractions, and a warm welcome.
Kerr, Stuart 0-6-0T 'Axe', hopper wagons and fine Exmoor scenery beyond.
LBR's 2 Bagnalls, 'Isaac' and 'Charles Wytock', on shed at Woody Bay.
'Faith', a very smart looking 0-4-2T about which we haven't much information, though it looks like a new build.
The frame in the signal cabin at Woody Bay.
'Lyd', the Manning Wardle replica built at Boston Lodge on the Festiniog Railway, arriving at Woody Bay with the LBR's heritage coaches. What other preserved railway with a discontinuous history can run such an authentic train?
Fred, the DRSA assistant secretary, admiring the view at Killington Lane.
Exeter & Teign Valley Railway members' visit May 11th 2016
A group of DRSA members spent an enthralling afternoon in a lovely corner of East Dartmoor visiting the Exeter and Teign Valley Railway on May 11th. Sadly we only numbered 7.
The Teign Valley line left the South Devon main line at Exeter City Basin junction, and proceeded via Ide, Longdown, Christow, Ashton, Trusham and Chudleigh to Heathfield on the Newton Abbot to Moretonhampstead branch. First proposed in 1860, it wasn't completed until 1903, and sadly, by then the plan to include a branch from near Christow up the Teign Gorge to Chagford had been dropped. During WW2, four of the crossing points were enlarged to enable the line's use as a diversionary route, but nothing saved the line from closure to passenger services in 1958.
The E&TVR is the brainchild of Colin Burges, and is established in the former Christow goods yard, which still contains evidence of the infrastructure which handled the output from Bridford and Scatter Rock quarries. Well lubricated fishplates and an absence of piles of abandoned junk are the first clues that this is a slightly different railway site.
The main 'running line' is a quarter mile long 2 foot gauge layout around the periphery of the site, on which we travelled on 'Jenny Wren', a 4 seater observation saloon built on the chassis of a skip wagon. It is described as 'manumotive', meaning it is pulled and pushed by Mr Burges, though the route is carefully planned to make the most of gravity. It's a tad disconcerting to begin with a 1 in 12 descent towards the River Teign, but 4 little flanges and good maintenance keep the passengers dry. The route includes a neat turntable, and a carriage shed built from the body of a standard gauge van.
One third of the DRSA committee plunging towards the River Teign.
A GWR Toad brakevan has been converted into a compact camping van, for which, sadly, patronage is declining as apparently even campers are moving upmarket these days. More fascinating still is 'Tadpole', a tiny camping van built on another narrow gauge skip wagon chassis, and only suitable for people shorter than 5' 9”. It's beautifully made, though unfortunately not a commercial success.
Tadpole camping van.
A 1949 Wickham type 27 has been extensively rebuilt, and looks as-new, though it wouldn't start during our visit thanks to a fault with the modern electronic ignition fitted to the Ford 10 engine. The Improved Wickham Turntable enabled Mr Burges to demonstrate how one man could get three quarters of a ton of trolley off the track in a few minutes.
Demonstration of the Improved Wickham Turntable.
There is a line of standard gauge rail vehicles, comprising a Ferry Van like ours, a Covered Carriage Truck (CCT) like ours, an 0-4-0 Drewry shunter (like a BR class 04) which came from the coal concentration yard at Exmouth Junction, and a Matisa Neptune track measuring and recording machine. All seem to be deteriorating faster than they are being restored, and suggest that Mr Burges could use some help.
Some of the standard gauge kit awaiting overhaul.
Time was starting to run short by the time we reached the modern cabin which functions as the 'booking office'. The interior was a surprise as it is nicely crafted in the style of a traditional railway office, and houses a display of fascinating railway paraphernalia, as well as selling replica tickets and railway oriented gifts, but not tat.
Booking office entrance.
It's hard to encapsulate the essence of the E&TVR in a few words. There is much to entertain and educate railway enthusiasts and thoughtful 'normals' alike, but the real point is support of an idealist's campaign for railway reinstatement, and opposition to its alternatives. In addition, there's a great deal of engineering excellence to admire for those who appreciate these things. It's an intriguing place.
There is more detail and a great deal of Mr Burges's writing on his website, and Peter Kay's book 'The Teign Valley Line' is one of the better branch line histories. Our thanks are due to Colin Burges for giving up so much of his time to describe his fascinating railway project to our embarrassingly small group, and to Tony Hill for organising the visit.
A few more pictures:
New committee member induction - pushing a 9 ton van up a gradient
Demonstration of conicity using flangeless wheelsets. The LH one has parallel sided wheels, and wanders off the track. The RH one has a conic section profile, which confers directional stability. It rolled to the end of the track and back without derailing, without needing flanges.
General view of the E&TVR site.
Mid-Hants Railway Diesel Gala April 23rd 2016Our Chairman Rev Philip Wagstaff attended the Watercress Line diesel gala, and took a couple of pictures of their Class 205 Thumper 1125. It looks to be in nice condition. Is 1125 or our 1132 the correct shade of green?
Class 205 Thumper DEMU 1125 at Medstead and Four Marks on the Mid-Hants Railway
Class 205 Thumper DEMU 1125 at Medstead and Four Marks on the Mid-Hants Railway
West Somerset Railway Steam Gala March 5th 2016
Thanks to organiser Andrew Turner, a substantial contingent from the DRSA visited the WSR's Steam Gala on March 5th, and in better weather than was forecast, a good time was had by all. The weekend commemorated 50 years since the closure of the Somerset and Dorset line, and the locomotives in operation were chosen for their S&D connection.
A few photos:
BR class 9F 2-10-0 92214 at Minehead. This actual locomotive saw service on the Somerset & Dorset Railway. It is based on the Great Central Railway.
Scene inside the shed at Williton, headquarters of the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group. Class 33 D6566 (l) and Class 35 Hymek D7018 (r). Hymek D7017 can just be seen outside the shed gate.
LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0 48624 and SR Bulleid Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 34070 Manston at Bishop's Lydeard. The 8F is an honorary Southern engine, having been built at Ashford in 1943. It is based on the Great Central Railway, and was a last minute stand-in for a Black 5. Mercifully the crimson livery it carried recently has been overpainted with something more authentic.
BR Standard class 4 2-6-4 tank 80072, masquerading as its mate 80043, at Washford.
Somerset & Dorset Fowler 7F 2-8-0 53809 at Williton
SR Battle of Britain 4-6-2 34053 'Sir Keith Park' at Minehead
1910 built Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219. It's at Washford, whatever the sign says. Caledonia Works was the name of the Andrew Barclay factory at Kilmarnock, and 1219 was originally their yard shunter.
Built at Bristol in 1929, this is the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust's Peckett R3 class 0-4-0ST 'Kilmersdon'. It spent its working life shunting collieries in the Radstock area, of which Kilmersdon was one, and was the last working steam loco in the Somerset Coalfield when the final colliery closed in 1973.
4 compartment, 6 wheeled first class carriage no 4. Built at Highbridge in 1886, it was taken out of use in 1930 and spent 50 years as a cricket pavilion at Templecombe before being restored by the S&D Railway Trust at Washford. Eat your heart out, C&W team!
Built about 1902, this LSWR brake van, seen at Minehead, was restored by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust
SR brakevan like ours, albeit in slightly better condition. What appear to be vacuum brake cylinders are mounted on one of the platforms.
Scene at Minehead shed with LMS Fowler 4F 0-6-0 no 44422, GWR 4-6-0 no 4936 'Kinlet Hall' (not in service on the day) and LMS Stanier 8F no 48624
Another locomotive which saw service on the Somerset & Dorset, LMS Fowler 4F 0-6-0 no 44422, at Minehead
Too shiny! Somerset & Dorset Fowler 7F no 53808 at Bishop's Lydeard, having hauled the DRSA's private train back from the Norton Fitzwarren triangle. 48624 was on the other end for the ride.
Tarka Valley Railway September 6th 2015
The Tarka Valley Railway held an open weekend on September 5th & 6th, and I spent a gloriously sunny Sunday morning at Torrington looking around.
Passenger services to Torrington ceased in 1965, but freight lasted until the early 1980s. Both platforms of the station survive, along with the station buildings (as the Puffing Billy pub and restaurant) and a coal platform. The goods shed was demolished in 1970 and replaced with a fertiliser warehouse which is now occupied by a cycle hire company. The trackbed is owned by Devon County Council and forms the Tarka Trail cycleway, hence its immunity to 'development'.
TVR is pretty clear about its objectives, the goal being Bideford. In the meantime Plan A is the 300 yards to the first of 3 overbridges which cross the meandering Torridge in quick succession, as well as laying 2 sidings to the west of the line. The Tarka Trail will have to be moved about 1 metre to the right to accommodate the railway, and a fence will separate the two.
Planning permission has been granted, and the railway is in the final throes of negotiating a lease agreement with DCC. A major boost came with the recent award of charitable status, based not just on the interesting local railway history, but also the 15th Century Rothern bridge a short distance away, and the 19th Century Rolle Canal.
The only locomotive is a 1945 John Fowler 0-4-0 diesel shunter 'Progress', nicely scruffy but in working order and being demonstrated enthusiastically during the open day. It was donated to the railway having spent most of its working life at the North Devon Clay Company's Marland Works. Its driver described it as having a hydrostatic transmission, but neither he nor I knew the difference between hydrostatic and hydraulic. The original Fowler engine has been replaced by a Leyland.
There is a Mk1 TSO with seating in about half of it, the other half being used for book sales and an enquiry desk. It looks to be in fairly tidy condition, apart from the roof. Appropriately there is a 1955 china clay 'hood', which looked very nicely restored when I first saw it several years ago, but is now in need of a coat of paint. An LNER-style BR brakevan is sheeted over and partially dismantled. The most recent item of rolling stock is a tank wagon of unknown ancestry.
Everyone seemed very knowledgeable and friendly. It's well worth a visit. There's much more information on their website. A few pictures follow.
The Tarka Valley Railway's 1954 Mk1 TSO
The Tarka Valley Railway's 1945 John Fowler diesel shunter 'Progress', which spent most of its life at the North Devon Clay Company
The Tarka Valley Railway's goods stock: 1959 LNER design BR brakevan, 1955 Clay Hood and undated tank wagon
The Tarka Valley Railway's 1955 China Clay wagon
The 15th Century Rothern Bridge 100 yards from Torrington Station
Okehampton Station photosSome fabulous photographs of Okehampton and Meldon, taken in 1975, can be found here.
Tom and Sue Baxter have escaped again, this time to a wet Mid-Hants Railway. The MHR shares SR ancestry with the Dartmoor Railway of course, and to reinforce the connection they have a large piece of our infrastructure. Their station maintenance team is a bit different though. Many thanks for the photos Tom, and for reminding us how things are on heritage railways. It's also nice to have an excuse to show an LNER locomotive.
Ropley's ex North Tawton footbridge. The gentleman in the picture, one of the Baxters's WHR colleagues, was a little the worse for the previous evening's excesses, and was waiting to be banked up the bridge.
Commemorative plaque on Ropley footbridge. Can we have it back please?
Poster for Ropley's site 'Care & Maintenance' Team. 26 members with an average attendance of 15! Free tea and coffee! They don't know they're born.
LNER A4 Pacific no. 4464 'Bittern' and BR 9F 2-10-0 no. 92212 in Ropley shed yard. Rear of SR Schools Class 4-4-0 no. 925 'Cheltenham' in the distance.
SR Lord Nelson Class 4-6-0 no. 850 'Lord Nelson' awaits departure from Ropley under the ex North Tawton footbridge
SR 'LN' Class 4-6-0 no 850 'Lord Nelson' approached to couple onto its train at Alresford. Lots of SR detail around with cast iron signs, LSWR/SR lower quadrant signals, SR type metal fencing, plus a superbly restored BR Cattle Wagon as an added bonus.
That big blue LNER engine again, with SR 'Heath Robinson' chimney cover
SR 'Schools' Class 4-4-0 no. 925 'Cheltenham' at Ropley. Although a 4-4-0 this design was apparently inspired by the much larger 'Lord Nelson' 4-6-0 and incorporated some of its features. The Schools class being smaller and designed to cope with lines with a restricted loading gauge, such as the Tonbridge to Hastings route. In the distance can be seen some of the MHR diesel fleet. Amongst them a number of class 37s. The footbridge in the distance incidentally came from Kings Cross station in London. Neat!
LMS brakevan on the Churnet Valley Railway
Tom and Sue Baxter recently visited the Churnet Valley Railway, and noticed an LMS brakevan similar to ours. Numbered 731790, it is a bit younger than ours, having been built in 1944 at Derby to diagram 2068 lot 1363. (Ours, 731411, was built in 1942 to diagram 2068 lot 1332 at either Derby or Wolverton). Interestingly the brake setter has been moved from the cabin to the veranda, and like ours it has had doors fitted; both mods presumably to enable brakevan rides.
LMS brake van on the Churnet Valley Railway.
Close up of modified veranda on the CVR's LMS brakevan
On July 3rd we welcomed a group from the South Devon Railway. In the absence of a rail connection to Okehampton on any day other than a summer Sunday, they arrived in their Routemaster bus. They are hoping to come back on a running day in the near future.
A group from the South Devon Railway visited us on July 3rd in this Routemaster bus. It's the next best thing if you can't come by train.
This sign has been around for a year or two, and Paul Martin had a closer look when out cycling recently. It's clearly not an original railway sign, but interesting nevertheless, marking 200 miles from Waterloo near Meldon Junction, which must be about right. The post is a piece of old rail, with 'WATERLOO' added with what looks from the photo to be beads of weld. Quite neat writing with an arc welder. Does anyone know who put it there (and whether they would like to join the DRSA Station Maintenance Team)?
The mystery sign near the site of Meldon Junction
Bere Ferrers trip
As part of the celebration of 125 years of railways in the Bere peninsular, the Tamar Belle Heritage Railway held an open day on May 30th, and 5 members of the DRSA station maintenance team took the afternoon off to attend (not having done a great deal in the morning, it has to be said).
It's a fascinating place, absolutely heaving with relics, with a slant towards the Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway. They have 3 ex-MOD Hunslet shunters, a number of coaches including 3 Gresley LNER ones which are variously in service as buffet, B&Bs or exhibition rooms, and other rolling stock. Historical displays and model railways are everywhere. The former Pinhoe signal box has been reconstructed there, with a computerised simulation. There are short standard gauge and narrow gauge running lines - we had a ride in a coal truck accompanied by a group singing railway songs. An old wagon turntable provides a compact right angle in the path to the engine shed which is under construction. We all had a spin on a pump trolley, constructed from scratch by Tamar Belle's engineers.
A 1938 Peckett 0-4-0 saddle tank is the subject of a two-thirds complete share appeal to rebuild its boiler. We brought back details if anyone is interested. Wouldn't it be nice for a spell of brakevan rides on the DR when it's finished?
There's much more detail on their website. We are very grateful to proprietor Chris Grove and stalwart volunteer Dennis, both of whom gave up a lot of time to show us around this extraordinary place. A few pictures below give a flavour.
General view of the lovely Bere Ferrers station, with the former Pinhoe signalbox. FGW Plymouth-Gunnislake services use the station.
The interior of the former Pinhoe signal box.
One of the 3 Gresley carriages, with the 2 ton Stothert and Pitt goods crane in the background.
Tamar Belle's 3 ex-MOD Hunslet shunters. The green one was in service on the day of our visit.
Mark Williams, Sue Baxter, Rosie and Jon Kelsey pondering someone else's station maintenance problems.
1927 goods turntable, used to good effect on this compact site.
Mark Williams and Tom Baxter blasting past the Peckett on the pump trolley, with proprietor Chris Grove keeping an eye on things.
We're not the only ones with vegetation clearance problems.