Monday, 14 August 2017

Brewood Garden Party 2017

In 2013, the Brewood Village Garden Party annual event was restarted, re-located to the garden at Brewood Hall. Deemed a success, it has been held in 2014, 2015, 2016 and, as described below, on Saturday, 8th July 2017.

Preparations

Each year significant effort by volunteers, which starts months earlier with a series of planning meetings, is needed to ensure that people enjoy their visit to the event. In 2017, erection of the tents commenced two days before the Garden Party.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The Refreshment Tent takes shape.

Preparations continued on the evening before the event. These included the erection of the large marquee which would serve as the 'Craft Tent'.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: Putting up the large Marquee.

The Event

Once again, the weather was kind on the day of the event and visitors started to arrive at the entrance gate a little before noon.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The Admission table.

The Refreshment Tent was soon busy and remained busy. The combination of covered and open air tables, with the Pimm's Tent nearby, catered for all tastes.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The Refreshment Tent is always popular.

For the first time, food was also available from a 'Pizza Van' which used a traditional wood-fired oven. This was a very successful innovation and many people commented favourably on the quality of the pizza.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: A successful innovation in 2017 was the 'Pizza Van', using a traditional wood-fired oven.

Traditional entertainments included wet sponge throwing at a human target and the ever-popular coconut shy. There was also a catapult range and a supervised Under-5 Play Zone.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: Traditional entertainments included wet sponge throwing at a human target.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The coconut shy is popular with all ages.

The Craft Tent featured the work of a number of local artists and crafters whilst the well-stocked Plants and Produce stall organised by the parish church provided shopping opportunities.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The Craft Tent featured the work of a number of local artists and crafters.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The well-stocked Plants and Produce stall organised by the Parish Church provided shopping opportunities.

For the first time, Black Country Live Steamers displayed two marvellous live-steam scale models of traction engines, which created a lot of interest. You can read more about Black Country Live Steamers on their website here.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: Live-steam scale model of a Fowler traction engine, with a young admirer.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: Live-steam scale model of an Allchin traction engine.

An unexpected "visitor" was the preserved World War II Lancaster Bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Squadron, which overflew our event. You can read all about this historic arcraft on the website here.


The preserved World War II Lancaster Bomber overflew the Garden Party.

As in previous years, live music was provided by the talented young musicians from the Cannock Wind Band and the Cannock Big Band who are based at the Cannock Performing Arts Centre.


Brewood Garden Party 2017: Live music was provided by the Cannock Wind Band and the Cannock Big Band.

Later, a contingent from the Staffordshire Corps of Drums gave a demonstration. Captain Keates provided a virtuoso drum performance, accompanied by what I call a marching glockenspiel (but which I learn is also known as a Bell Lyre or a Lyra Glockenspiel - see Wikipedia here).


Brewood Garden Party 2017: A contingent from the Staffordshire Corps of Drums gave a performance.

As in previous years, a series of Sack Races and Egg and Spoon Races for children were held and, once again, proved popular. All the entrants were enthusiastically supported by the visitors. Each of the competitors was awarded a selection of confectionery,


Brewood Garden Party 2017: The children entering the Sack Races and Egg and Spoon Races were enthusiastically supported by the visitors.

Everybody agreed that, once again, we'd had a very successful event (and the sun shone). This year, the organising committee made four awards - a special award to Compton Hospice and awards to Brewood Scouts, the Brewood Parish Church and the Jan Ford Foundation.

Reports on earlier garden parties at Brewood Hall

Brewood Vintage Garden Party 2013.
Brewood Vintage Garden Party 2014.
Brewood Garden Party 2015.
Brewood Garden Party 2016.

Related posts

More information on the charitable work supported by the Jan Ford Foundation in Myanmar (formerly Burma) can be found by following the links below:-

Education Support
Medical Support.

Pictures of the event

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the album below:-

Brewood Garden Party 2017.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

'Lionsmeet' 2017

Each year, The Old Locomotive Committee (OLCO) has an event for live steam models of the 'Lion' locomotive.

In 2017, the event, called 'Lionsmeet', was held on Saturday, 22nd July at the Worden Park track of the Leyland Society of Model Engineers.

I travelled to Preston on an Edinburgh train which I joined at Wolverhampton. The journey, operated by Virgin using two 5-car 'Voyager' diesel-electric units, was swift and on-time (although it never ceases to irritate me that so many long-distance journeys 'under the wires' remain operated by diesel traction). I first spent a while exploring Preston city centre on foot - still strangely quiet as early morning shoppers started to fill the streets. I walked as far as the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, with its all-embracing, gilded, carved inscription
'TO LITERATURE ARTS AND SCIENCE'.


The famous Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston.

Then, I retraced my route back to the station and took a taxi south of the city centre to Leyland. The taxi dropped me at the Park Gate and I had a walk of a few hundred yards to reach the Club House and Steaming Bays but, fortunately, my 'railway homing instinct' did not fail me.

I was welcomed by Andrew Neish, who is currently the 'Lionsmeet' organiser for OLCO and the other early arrivals. Members of the host club were also there in force and I was soon drinking a welcome cup of tea in the clubhouse.

The club has established a 1617 foot continuous raised track for 3½ and 5 inch gauge models (arranged as a 'folded dumb-bell') and a ground level 7.25 inch track extending to one kilometre (laid out as a 'slightly-bent dumb-bell'). There are covered steaming bays, turntables and station facilities for each gauge.


Click for larger image
Worden Park, Leyland: Plan of model railway facilities. (Map: Leyland Society of Model Engineers).



'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: View looking west from the Stock Shed towards the 3½in and 5in steaming bays with the 7.25in steaming bays on the right.

My eye was drawn to an impressive 7.25in model of 60809 'The Snapper', brewing-up in the steaming bays. I learned that this would be giving public rides during the day on the ground-level track. Soon, a 7.25in 'B1' was also being steamed.


'Lionsmeet 2017': 7.25" gauge locomotive 60809 'The Snapper' being prepared for service on the ground level track.

Although we've had 7.25in gauge 'Lion' models in steam at some previous 'Lionsmeets', none attended in 2017 and so the OLCO activities were confined to to raised track. Club members first extracted their battery electric locomotive 'Worden Ranger' from its 'garage' (where battery charging takes place) and marshalled a train of two passenger car and a 'tool car'.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: The Battery Electric locomotive 'Worden Ranger' ready to perform a line inspection of the elevated track, with two passenger cars and a tool car.

After the line inspection was completed, I was invited to make a couple of circuits with 'Worden Ranger'. Driving was straightforward, with just a direction selector and a single power controller handle. The handbrake on the leading passenger car was used for train braking although there was also a 'parking brake' on the locomotive. I found the locomotive responsive and powerful. A (rather feeble) two-tone horn was provided. For part of the morning, the host club gave public rides with 'Worden Ranger' and its train but the raised track was generally reserved for OLCO members.

Models were steamed by David and Andrew Neish, Jon Swindlehurst and Adrian Banks. David and Andrew, as usual, alternated in driving David's model.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: David Neish and Andrew Neish on the elevated track.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: Jon Swindlehurst about to depart with his 'Lion' with John Oliver as passenger.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: Adrian Banks pauses adjacent to the steaming bays whilst he 'fettles his fire', allowing his passenger, John Brandrick, to chat to John Hawley.

In addition, a number of part-built 'Lions' were displayed in the Club House. David Forrest's beautifully-built model (on the right in the picture below) attracted many favourable comments. He had produced a number of trial '3D-Printed' plastic components during the development of his design.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: Discussions in the Club House: John Oliver, David Forrest, John Hawley.

The host club laid on a splendid buffet lunch and free-running of the models in steam continued into the afternoon. OLCO Chairman John Brandrick made a short address of thanks to Leyland S.M.E. for their hospitality, following one minute's silence to commemorate the death of Justin Garside-Taylor from the Museum of Liverpool.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: During the afternoon John Brandrick, Chairman of OLCO, made a short address of thanks to Leyland S.M.E. for their hospitality.

Some of the OLCO visitors made their way across to the 7.25 inch ground level track at the adjacent Worden Parkway Station, where rides were given to the public throughout the day. In the morning, 'The Snapper' was the motive power but, by the time John Hawley and I went across, B1 'Reedbuck' had taken over.


'Lionsmeet 2017' at Leyland SME: Worden Parkway Station on the 7.25 inch ground level track showing 'B1' 61031.

John Hawley kindly ran me to Preston Station for my return train, so I missed the informal 'OLCO Dinner' held later in Euxton.

Related posts on other websites

Leyland Society of Model Engineers.

Related posts on this website

All my posts regarding the Old Locomotive Committee can be found here, with links to my pictures.

My pictures

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-

Lionsmeet 2017.
Preston.
All my 'OLCO' albums.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017

On the weekend of 5th and 6th August 2017, Peak Rail ran its popular '1940s Weekend'. On the Sunday, I was the driver of the steam locomotive 'Jennifer' operating the 6-coach passenger train between Rowsley and Matlock Town, top and tailing with diesel-electric 'Penyghent'.

My arrival at Rowsley was later than normal, as we had no 'Driving Experience' course prior to the first service train. The Picnic Area and the woods are normally deserted as I make my way to the shed but, on a '1940s Weekend', the area becomes a series of tented military encampments for the re-enactors. Many of the re-enactors were getting ready or taking breakfast in their camps.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: Breakfast in Camp.

I signed-on at the shed and there was some discussion with Dave Pendleton, the fireman, about our pairing on the '1940s Weekend' the previous year when our motive power became a complete failure early in the day. That day is described here. We hoped that history wouldn't repeat itself and it didn't. 'Jennifer' was simmering on the outside pit so I set to oiling-round and carrying out the daily exam.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: 'Jennifer' simmering on the pit at Rowsley.

Nice and early, we made our way 'off shed' and across to the north end of our train. Waterman Railway Heritage Trust locomotive 5224 (a Great Western Railway 2-8-0T of the 5205 class, built by Collett in 1923) was on display on the turntable. Turntables always seem to fascinate visitors - it's a pity ours doesn't get more use. There's an article about turntables here.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: 5224 (awaiting restoration) on the turntable.

The first departure was delayed, waiting for one of the coach parties booked on the train which was delayed in a traffic hold-up somewhere.







Our train was certainly full when we left, about ten minutes late. I was wearing my 'tin helmet', which alternated with the normal 'grease-top' throughout the day. Of course, we were 'tail end charlie' on the way to Matlock, with 'Penyghent' doing all the work. At Darley Dale, a Remembrance Service had been held.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: A Remembrance Service was held at Darley Dale.

There was a lot of activity on the platform at Matlock Town but, eventually, we received the 'Right Away' and, with a whistle, I set off for Rowsley. I'd discovered previously how readily 'Jennifer' copes with the train when hauling northwards (and the 'surging', although not eliminated, is much attenuated), as I described in the post here, so I was able to enjoy our trip back to Rowsley. Then I had a chance to have a quick look around the stalls near the station. I was surprised to discover the prices genuine second-hand period clothing, sought by re-enactors, now commands.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: A stall selling period clothing.

The large marquee is always popular, featuring refreshments, a licensed bar and a variety of live period entertainment. I called in when Sue and Steve Mace were dancing to the music of the Ashby Little Big Band.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: The Marquee with Sue and Steve Mace dancing to the music of the Ashby Little Big Band.

The highlight of the day was the Mock Battle with pyrotechnics which took place in front of the wooded area facing Rowsley Station platform, with a commentary by Paul Harper. Of course, this happens only once the train has departed for Matlock so, if you're on the footplate, you miss the action. The picture below, taken as we left Rowsley, shows the large crowd eagerly awaiting the start of the mock battle.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: View from 'Jennifer' as we depart for Matlock, hauled by 'Penyghent', prior to the start of the Mock Battle.

I think everyone had an enjoyable day: I certainly did. At the end of traffic, we followed 'Penyghent' onto shed and, after disposing on the outside pit, stabled 'Jennifer' inside on number 1 road, adjacent to 'Penyghent' on number 2.


Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017: End of Shift - 'Jennifer' stabled on number 1 road, next to 'Penyghent' on number 2.

Related posts/pictures

I've participated in the 1940s Weekend at Peak Rail on a number of previous occasions.

Peak Rail 1940s Weekend, 2016 (article with link to pictures).
Peak Rail 1940s Weekend, 2015 (article with link to pictures).
2014 event (pictures only).
2013 event (article with link to pictures).
2012 event (article with link to pictures).
2009 event (article with link to pictures).
2008 event (article with link to pictures).
2007 event (pictures only).
2006 event (pictures only).

To see all my posts about Peak Rail, select Label 'Peak Rail' or click here.

Related photograph albums

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-

Peak Rail 1940s Weekend 2017.
'Jennifer'.
All my Peak Rail albums.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Ty Gwyn 2017

Ty Gwyn is a small commercial woodland around 27 hectares in area near Corwen in Wales.

A Recent Timeline

By 2006, the whole plantation was mature and, but for depressed timber prices, would have been harvested.


View of the entrance to the plantation in 2006.

Timber prices recovered by 2009 and around half of the plantation was harvested.


View of the entrance to the plantation in 2010 with harvesting in progress to the left of the road.

In 2010, the harvested area was replanted.


Around 6 months after planting, the trees were already well-established.

In 2014, a further 10 hectares were harvested. The picture below shows this harvesting in progress to the right of the entrance with the area to the left (replanted 2010) growing well.


View of the entrance to the plantation during harvesting in 2014.

In November, 2015 the recently-felled area was replanted.


Ty Gwyn, November 2015, Cell grown sitka (1 of 18,000) a few days after planting.

The picture below shows the entrance to the plantation in August 2017. The sturdy trees on the left have had seven growing seasons, those on the right barely two. In the background, there are mature trees not yet harvested.


View of the entrance to the plantation in 2017.

Visit to Ty Gwyn on Tuesday, 1st August 2017

Rob MacCurrach, the Forester who'd managed the plantation for some years, was retiring and so this visit was to thank Rob for his efforts and meet his successor, Tegwyn Hughes. The weather was overcast, not too warm and it rained periodically but the three of us spent a couple of hours inspecting the site and discussing future actions to ensure that the crop continues to flourish.


Ty Gwyn 2017: Rob MacCurrach (L) and Tegwyn Hughes (R) examining the 2015 planting.

Related posts on this website

To see all my posts about Ty Gwyn, select Label 'Ty Gwyn'
or click here.

My photograph albums

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-

Ty Gwyn 2017.
All my Ty Gwyn Albums.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Summer at Shackerstone

In the earlier post DMU Days at the Battlefield Line, I described a couple of days driving Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) at the Battlefield line. My next driving turns at the Battlefield Line, outlined below, featured mixed weather and mixed traction.

Events of Tuesday, 25th July 2017

This time, the single-unit 'Bubble Car' 55005 was used for four round trips from Shackerstone to Shenton, leaving Shackerstone at 11:00, 12:30, 14:00 and 15:30.

During my daily examination before we started, I'd noticed brown staining on the corner pillar at the south end of 55005 which I initially thought was the result of a previous 'bird strike'. Once I'd brought the unit into the platform at Shackerstone, I attempted to remove the marks with detergent, without success. Closer inspection suggested that the culprit was fruit juice from wild berries growing near the track. There had been a lot of rain, encouraging wet branches on lineside trees to lower themselves, potentially striking the train.


Staining on the corner pillar at the south end of 55005.

Although it was not raining on the Tuesday, there were still a few places along the line where sodden branches hit the train. Keeping the railway clear is a major task, akin to the proverbial 'painting the Forth Bridge'. Regular efforts by volunteers are needed in the growing season. Other than a few 'slaps' from branches, we arrived at Shenton without incident.


55005 at Shenton, viewed from the foot crossing.

From time to time, the sun emerged, allowing me to photograph Tony, the Guard (who is also a DMU Driver) and Bernard, on that day acting as Travelling Ticket Inspector (TTI).


Tony (Guard) and Bernard (TTI) at Shenton.

The only problem during the day was an intermittent loss of control air pressure caused by a sticking 'E.P. valve'. The 'E.P. valves' are electro-pnuematic solenoid-operated valves which remotely control engine throttles, gear-changing and the final drives mounted on the powered axles. Tony and I opened up the suspect control box but failed to locate the occasional fault.

Events of Sunday, 30th July 2017

I was rostered to drive regular performer 'Cumbria' but, on Saturday night, I had a text from Steve A. who was booked to fire on Sunday saying that 'Cumbria' had failed with injector problems and we would be using 'Sir Gomer'. It had been some time since I'd driven resident engine 'Sir Gomer', so I welcomed the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with the locomotive.

'Sir Gomer' is a six-coupled Peckett, class OX1, works number 1859 of 1932 with two 18 x 24 inch outside cylinders and 3 feet 10 inch diameter wheels. Nominal weight is given as 34.5 tons. The locomotive worked at Mountain Ash Colliery until preservation in 1981, before moving to the Battlefield Line in 2001. There's a little more history (and an explanation of the name) on 'Wikimedia Commons' here. I think that back in 2001 the locomotive was in plain green livery but, more recently, she carried a handsome lined-out green. Her last repaint was in unlined blue.

Prior to working the service trains, we had a 'Gold Footplate Experience', where the trainee driver has one round trip to Shenton light engine, followed by a second round trip hauling the passenger train, carrying the trainee's family and friends. Whilst our trainee was on the footplate, it remained dry although overcast and he said that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There are a number of posts in this blog which talk about driving experience courses at different sites.

Because of a problem with the Buffet Car 'Jessie' all the service trains during the day departed from and arrived in platform 1, to ease the problem of replenishing the water supply. It was still dry when we set off with the first train, about ten minutes late, but later in the day, we had a number of heavy rain storms. I normally drive leaning out of the cab, for better visibility ahead and I had little option with 'Sir Gomer' - I'm not very tall and I found the spectacle glasses set too high up to keep a good look-out. In any case, when moving in driving rain, the spectacle glasses give a very limited view, so I resigned myself to getting wet. But, even leaning out, it's not ideal with rain sluicing towards you (I remembered my mantra - "Anyone can work on an engine in good weather, it takes footplatemen to do it in bad weather").

We managed to make up the lost time and finished the day very close to 'right time'. Although it remained overcast, it didn't rain all the time and I enjoyed the day. Incidentally, 'Sir Gomer' was sporting a loaned chime whistle which I believe originally graced a South African locomotive. I normally disapprove of non-authentic fittings, but I have to admit it did rather grow on me!


'Sir Gomer' in platform 1 at Shackerstone.

Events of Wednesday, 2nd August 2017

After signing in and reading the Operating Notices, I walked to the DMU Siding and discovered that the diesel railcars had been 'swopped around', so that we would be running with the 2-car set (51131/51321). There had been heavy rain (which returned during the day) and I was warned that a tree had come down the previous day so I proceeded with caution on the first trip in case there were any new obstructions. Other than the front corner of the driving cab receiving a slight 'slap' occasionally from a branch, all was well.

I hadn't realised that it was exactly 25 years since passenger services returned to Shenton in 1992 (although I'd started my career in preservation in 1988, I didn't join the Shackerstone Railway Society until after 1992). Dave Weightman, the Guard, however, remembered bringing a table from home on the inaugural day which he set-up on the platform at Shenton (there was no station building then) and from which he sold tickets!


Dave Weightman (Guard) at Shenton, 25 years after the public re-opening of the station, near the spot where he set up his ticketing table.


The Summer 1992 copy of 'Shackerstone News' had this article about passenger services returning to Shenton.

I'm afraid there was no celebration in 2017, no bunting, but a member took a picture of Dave, Jan and the DMU.


Dave Weightman (Guard) and Jan Ford (Driver) at Shenton, 25 years after the public re-opening of the station.

The well-proportioned and elegant Shenton Station Building originally served as the Ticket Office at Humberstone Road Station, Leicester. In 1992 it was redundant and Leicestershire Country Council, with help from a number of organisations, took it down, and re-erected in in its present location.


The redundant building in Leicester, prior to dismantling.

The roof was removed and slates were reclaimed. Roof timbers were not good enough to re-use and were replaced. The walls were dismatled at section at a time, the bricks cleaned and palletised for transport to Shenton. By February, 1993, the Humberstone Road site had been cleared.


The building in course of re-erection at Shenton.

By April 1993, the building at Shenton was ready for tiling.


Shenton Station Building, shortly after completion.

On the final journey of the day from Shenton back to Shackerstone, it was agreed to stop in a few places to allow Dave to 'lop' overhanging branches. Another interesting day, well-supported by passengers.


Branches being 'lopped' by Dave.

Related posts on this website

To see all my posts about DMU at the Battlefield Line, select Label 'DMU'
or click here.
To see all my posts about the Battlefield Line, select Label 'Battlefield Line'
or click here.

My photograph albums

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-

DMU at the Battlefield Line (2).
'Sir Gomer'.
DMU at the Battlefield Line (3).
Shenton Station Building.
All my Battlefield Line albums.