Bradley Back in Service!

Our crowning achievement of 2015 was to get Bradley Manor back in service for the Manor 50 event in November after over 4 intense years of effort. So we now have both our locos operational again, but there is still a new tender to complete. However our Chairman is not allowing us to rest on our laurels and attention is being focussed on how we move forward in the future. More of these topics can be found in this larger than usual newsletter – read on!

Erlestoke’s Travels – GWSR May 2016

Following Erlestoke’s visit to the West Somerset Railway as a late entry last Autumn, this loco again is on its travels, this time making a first visit to the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway for their Steam Fair over the Whitsun bank holiday long weekend, 28-30th May. We hope to have a sales stand at this event, so any shareholders attending are invited to make themselves known to those of us or better still offer in advance to help man the stand (via the Editor, email ).

Manor 50 November 2015

Friday 13th November 2015, first day of Manor 50 events weekend with three Manor hauled footplate experience trains running; Soon after midday, 7820 Dinmore Manor arrives at Bewdley from Highley as 7802 Bradley Manor is preparing to depart on a six coach train for Highley with its first day in revenue earning service, albeit a footplate experience service. 7812 Erlestoke Manor arrived at Bewdley half an hour later with a single coach “taster” footplate experience train.

Sunday 15th November 2015 at the Manor 50 event and 7812 leaves Bewdley with the full Cambrian regalia, namely replica Talyllyn Special headboard, X06 reporting number and “Danny’s bull”, the name given to the white painted buffers and smokebox door hinges applied in the 1960s at the behest of Danny Rowlands, Aberystwyth shedmaster who liked to keep his charges looking smart when engines elsewhere appeared very run down.

Manor 50 – a Cambrian Celebration to Remember! – David Kilner

The fifty-year anniversary since the final steaming days of Manor class engines on the Cambrian, indeed the demise of ex GWR and BR Western Region steam on BR generally (except some pannier tanks), provided the frame for a highly successful November event on the SVR welcoming 7802 Bradley Manor back into service after a 4 year overhaul.

The idea for the event first came to Chris Field, one of EMF’s youngest active volunteers, during a quiet moment of reflection in a small room of convenience. He had been reading an article on the last days of Manors in steam on the Shrewsbury – Aberystwyth route. Both EMF locos, Erlestoke Manor and Bradley Manor, had still been in service during those last few days, as also had been 7820 Dinmore Manor handling both the Cambrian Coast Express and the York Mails. 7819 Hinton Manor had also survived almost to the end, latterly hauling the last three Manor hauled freight trains. Chris’ idea got a favourable reception amongst fellow EMF and SVR volunteers and it rapidly grew wings when the SVR management embraced the proposal. It looked like a good opportunity to test the popularity of a late season event when otherwise there would be no regular SVR services. Dinmore had recently
been overhauled at Tyseley alongside Bradley’s chassis and the two supporting groups, EMF and Dinmore Manor Group, had worked closely together during the work. The invitation for 7820 to attend the November celebration was readily accepted. The SVR also investigated the possibility of returning Hinton Manor from its exhibition status in Swindon to bring together the last four Manors active on the Cambrian in November 1965. It was also an opportunity to bring together former Cambrian footplatemen for the event.

So the challenge was set early in 2015. Although Bradley’s chassis overhaul was nearing completion with only work around the cab area to complete, there was still much work to complete on the firebox for the boiler overhaul at Bridgnorth. To accelerate the work and due to lack of capacity at the time, SVR had previously sent the boiler away for a few weeks in late 2014 to Dalgleish’s works in Durham to complete the firebox steel platework. This included welding in new door and throat plates, fabricated at Tyseley and funded by EMF. With Taw Valley’s boiler completed in March, Bridgnorth’s boiler shop team set about Bradley’s boiler with gusto but by July, with the loco chassis now returned to Bridgnorth, it was still looking touch and go to meet the November deadline. Completion in service for the Autumn gala had already been conceded. Meanwhile EMF’s volunteers were having their own struggle to complete replacement platework on the front of the 4000 gallon tender (the new 3500 gallon tender under construction will not be available until 2017). However with the boiler tested satisfactorily in
September and subsequently returned to the frames, it all started to rapidly come together with up to twenty volunteers and paid staff working side by side to complete the many remaining tasks. A contractor was engaged to complete the final paint finish.

With test running of 7802 only completed just days before, the event dawned on 13th November, a Friday, with the three Manors, 7802, 7812 and 7820 providing taster and intermediate footplate experience trips, some with full length trains. The 46 places had all been fully subscribed weeks earlier so the success of the 3 day event already looked promising. And so it proved over the following two days with a huge turnout of enthusiasts to fill the eight coach trains, augmented by small prairie 4566 on local shuttles and 1450 on an auto train. Sadly however, it had not proved possible to return 7819 in time for the event. Several former Cambrian railmen attended for a reunion, and for whom this event would be a rare poignant occasion to see several of their former steeds in action together. An exhibition of Cambrian archive photographs, many showing Manor locos in action, had been assembled by David Giddins at Bridgnorth station and was much appreciated. All locos performed well throughout, and despite
the typically November weather, the whole event proved to be a resounding success rivalling an Autumn Gala for popularity!

So Bradley Manor is back in SVR service, its overhaul completed just in time, not only for this event but to assist on the subsequent extremely busy Santa service trains on which it also performed satisfactorily. This would not have been possible without the magnificent 4 year effort, including an estimated 9000 volunteer hours, alongside SVR paid staff, Tyseley Works and other contractors. EMF still welcomes new shareholders and particularly younger members to assist on its work parties.

Bradley’s Rapid Boiler Lift!

7802 continued running satisfactorily over the Christmas period but, due to a persistent and worsening water leak, was regrettably unable to perform at the SVR Spring Gala. A very rapid exercise was carried out in March to rectify the otherwise inaccessible leak by lifting the boiler from the frames (see photo), sealing the leakage and returning it back into the frames within 36 hours. The loco was back in action in April still looking good!

Sales Coach Changes

Dave Adams has taken over from Graham Stevens in our sales coach at Bewdley as Graham has unfortunately been laid up with a back problem since Christmas. Graham is making a slow recovery and successfully generating EMF sales from home via ebay. (click advanced/search by seller/steamcider). Meanwhile Dave and his wife Chris have made their mark in the sales coach with a new look in the way stock is presented. Our grateful thanks to them all for their efforts in this very successful sales operation.

7802 Boiler and Tender Appeal

The appeal total now stands at about £40k expected by the end of 2016, with more still required to achieve the remaining objective, the capital project to construct the 3500 gallon tender for Bradley. Thoughts are also now turning towards the next overhaul of Erlestoke whose current boiler certificate expires during 2017. We expect to be able to commence this over the winter of 2017/8.

New Tender Progress

Attention is now fully focussed on the new 3500 gallon Churchward tender and volunteer working parties are taking place generally twice a week at Tyseley Locomotive Works. Nearly all the parts for the new tender chassis including wheels, axle boxes, spring and brake hangers are in the final stages of painting, machining work having been completed where needed. Front and rear dragboxes are both taking shape after much drilling of holes for framing pieces. The main frames which will tie everything together are expected to be ordered and fabricated shortly. Share subscriptions for funding the tender tank are invited and will be most gratefully received.

Cambrian Memories – John A Davies

John A Davies of Aberystwyth, has sent some accounts of his life as a former Cambrian (and elsewhere!)

“In 1955 I was regular mate (fireman) to John L Thomas for the season on the Vale of Rheidol Railway. The following year 1956 I was for a similar period mate for Les J Morgan and eventually with him 8 years on all sorts of trains with the many Manor class locos we had at Aberystwyth and other depots. I found the Manors an excellent locomotive as a Mixed Traffic type in comparison to others I have worked on, both LMSR and LNER, also some Southern locomotives when servicing them during my service at Neasden Depot for their return work on excursion trains for Wembley Stadium and special events. I do recall one Manor locomotive (which one?) in particular that worked the Cambrian Coast Express regularly for the long period daily for 18 months except for boiler washouts on one day every 2 weeks. It was a fantastic locomotive coming to us ex works yet I had a near tragic experience on
her with a blow back when running through Glandyfi. We made it to Dyfi Junction with oil in the axle boxes and surrounding framing getting alight with fire blowing out of every hole available even with doors and ashpan shut – a never to be forgotten experience.

There are not many men left here at Aberystwyth, just two of former senior men from 1940, they are Gwylym Morgan, formerly from Carmarthen and Gloucester, promoted to Driver at Machynlleth prior to return to Aberystwyth, one of the 16 drivers at depot closure in 1965. Up to then Mike Thomas was a Passed Fireman promoted to Driver along with Cyril Rees at Crewe June 1965. Be under no illusions that our transfers to Crewe were pleasant because of the former Internal Promotion system of Crewe area only transfers i.e. Stoke, Alsager, Northwich and Whitchurch under parent depot Crewe. I was fortunate to pal up with Neil Cadman, a former Macclesfield Cleaner moving to Crewe for promotion to Fireman where, as in my case, seniority was in our favour which did not please most Crewe junior locomen!

I have over the years been able to write my diary of driving at Crewe, following previously writing of firing at Aberystwyth, Neasden and Crewe. So now I have much more to finally have a book published covering all my railway work.” (We look forward to reviewing that in due course – Ed)

Bernard’s Thanks

I would like to say thank you to all members of the (EMF) for the print of 7802 which was well received and very much appreciated, and for all the kind thoughts from you all on my recovery. Regards, Bernard Rainbow (President EMF)

Dave Link Resigns as EMF Trustee

At the last Trustee committee meeting in January, Dave Link tendered his resignation as an EMF trustee to devote more time to his other rail interest, namely the restoration of ex GWR Prairie tank no 4150 at Bewdley. With quite a few EMF devotees involved also in that project we wish him well and look forward to seeing 4150 returned to service before too long. Dave oversaw the necessary work needed to return our 4000 gallon tender to service with Bradley Manor last Autumn, the new tender still being under construction, and our grateful thanks go to Dave for his service to EMF.

Future Shareholder Events, “Obbo” Trip, Specials etc

The popular annual shareholders “obbo” trip this year is programmed for Thursday 28th July, with the GWR Observation saloon attached to the 10.30am service train ex Kidderminster for the morning round trip to Bridgnorth, and 2.20pm for the afternoon trip, each returning to Kidderminster after about 3 hours. We are hoping that 7802 will be our steam power for the trips. The usual lavish luncheon buffet and refreshment will be served on the morning trip, with cream tea, including sandwiches and strawberries provided on the later trip. Your reservations for places (including any guest(s) you care to bring) are invited by telephone (01905 621048) or post to David Kilner at 3 Woodbury Park, Holt Heath, Worcester WR6 6NT, or even better by email to him at Prices are £35 each for the morning trip, £25 for the afternoon trip.

Also plans are being made for a special train celebrating 7802’s return to service, free to shareholders who contributed £50 or more to the Appeal fund, but at an attractive rate for other shareholders and guests. The confirmed date for this is Sunday 18th September. More details will be given on the website, enquiries can be made to

Where to Next?

With Bradley back in service it would have been easy to relax a little but the Trustees thought it better to review and overhaul our own organisation to better meet the requirements of the future. So a period of intense self-scrutiny of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) has been carried out using the facilitating skills of EMF shareholder and ex SVR Chairman Paul Fathers to help maintain and focus our efforts more effectively for the future.

This resulted in particular areas being identified for attention, generally underscored by the need to plan the succession, i.e. bring in new blood to eventually take over the management and activities to maintain our main EMF objectives of maintaining our two locos in active service as long as possible. These areas include marketing, insurance, limiting liabilities, shareholder register database development, shareholder events and new fund raising ideas.

One of the earliest outcomes of this exercise has been the engagement of new EMF shareholder, Alan Gormley, a sports coach living in Bromsgrove, to harness his career-gained marketing skills. The first fruits of his efforts are a new promotional leaflet and competition which hopefully will be enclosed with this newsletter. This is aimed not only at encouraging share subscriptions but particularly attracting new active supporters into our fold.

New Design Ashpan in Service on 7802

The ashpan now fitted to 7802 is of this pattern redesigned from the original so that the bottom slopes towards the “oven door” seen here underneath the opening for the damper. No moving parts, no maintenance, screens can be fitted over damper openings, no ashpan related line side fires. Ash is simply
swilled out sometimes with a little help with a rake. With an effective ashpan spray from a depot hose connection no dust need arise. This excellent idea originates from the WSR and has proved itself in service. Other WSR locos with this hopper design are 7828 Odney Manor, Mogul 9351, S & D 2-8-0
no 88 and large Prairie 4150. (The advantages of keeping in close touch with our brethren on other railways! – Ed)

Sales Stands

As well as our very successful EMF sales coach operation at Bewdley, we have been able to set up sales stands at two Tyseley Loco Works Open days during 2015 with very successful results and we plan to do the same this year. We have also applied to have one at the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railways Cotswold Festival of Steam over the long bank holiday weekend 28th to 30th May at which our 7812 Erlestoke Manor has been invited to participate. 7820 Dinmore Manor is currently resident at the GWSR so this is another opportunity to see the two locos working together.

In this photo at last Autumn’s Tyseley Open Day our young sales team consists of Chris Field, Jimmy Norris and Robert Smith.

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone! – Neil Evans (Chairman of Foxcote Manor Socy)

Seeing the truly marvellous photo on the EMF web-page of 7802 at Aberystwyth jogged my ageing memory cells to think back over 50 years to the Cardiganshire summers of the late 1950’s and early 60’s. Our motley gang of assorted cousins and mates used to explore every nook and cranny of the splendid countryside besides Borth bank adjacent to the railway, between the village and Llandre at the top of the incline, (a few miles to the North of Aberystwyth ). It was our own special playground of trees, hedges, flower meadows and streams where we made dams, dens and helped my uncle with his sheep who seemed to escape everywhere.

They were innocent days of The Dandy and the Beano and e-mails, mobile phones and twitters were the things of dreams and inventions that could only be created by characters such as the Mekon (in the then Eagle comic!) We left our parents early in the morning, had pit stops for beans on toast somewhere or other in a relative’s house, and had to be dragged home at dusk for supper to fuel our young hungry stomachs – ready for another day’s play! Oh – how life has changed! Trains passed, seemingly all the time either panting up the bank or running like hares down it and of course whistles near Borth and Llandre stations always gave us adequate warnings of their presence. However, we took little interest in the trains or locomotives – even though steam trains were the norm. There wasn’t a train-spotter between us. Engines were green(ish) with bits of copper and brass and some, the Manors, had names (“namers”). Looking back over the years we must have seen most of the namers which graced our special bit of line. No-one put pen to paper and photography was for grown-ups only. The only names we seemed to care
about were Hinton (which we seemed to observe all the time) along with Bradley and Anthony, as these were the names of gang members! Granville always attracted comment as that was the name of my father’s school. When our busy play schedule took us to Borth village we would forsake eel catching in the local ditches and watch the “Cambrian” leave Borth and accelerate over Soar Chapel crossing – much to our delight flattening the bottle tops placed on the line (whilst we innocently waved at the loco crews).

Thankfully the much rationalised Cambrian is still with us 50 plus years on. Diesel units hoot in the same places as they scuttle up and down the bank. Bradley and Hinton have fleetingly graced the bank again to satisfy my pangs of nostalgia and the buzzards (now seemingly outnumbered by the Red Kites) continue to soar above everything. As they say “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be” but as Joni Mitchell summed up in her Yellow Taxi song, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” In the photograph of Bradley Manor, 7802 is pictured from the line leading to the coaling tower ,(which remained in-situ for years after the end of steam). The young band of cleaners pose proudly on the front buffer beam showing
pride in their work – their shift had started at 6am and “The Cambrian” always had that little bit of special treatment and the best available engine that the shed could muster. The lads were then about 18 years old, having left the local school in 1956, three of 6 school leavers who found work on the railways. From left to right; Brian Hopton, Mike Parry and Ray Lovelock. They all moved on to assorted railway careers, sadly Ray died a few years ago. On the footplate the crew pose equally proudly for the photographer – these are again local men, albeit from Machynlleth shed who had brought a train into Aberystwyth earlier. They would proudly take the “Cambrian” part or all way to Shrewsbury. The driver is John (Jack) Royles who, when this photo was taken, had nearly 40 years railway service under his belt
after starting at Corwen as a cleaner in 1920. The fireman will be no stranger to the
Erlestoke Manor Fund – a young Gareth Jones! The photograph also shows the many component parts of a then typical busy shed of that era – locomotives, assorted stock, ash-pits, brake-down van and lurking in the background is the coal/ashman who undertook important work to keep the
shed functioning. 7800 stands outside the shed ready for working a stopper train and another unidentified tender engine lurks in the background. Aberystwyth station has been much rationalised since this photograph was taken. The shed still survives albeit much altered by the Vale of Rheidol Railway – at least steam trains still pass the spot.

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