Bradley Back in Steam!
On Tuesday 12th March on a dull afternoon, I was watching from Bridgnorth’s footbridge whilst steam drifted upwards around Bradley Manor standing nearby. Then, I caught my breath as Brian Malyon wound the reverser into back gear. A few more seconds and Brian pulled the whistle chain for a brief toot. The drain cocks were opened with a mighty whoosh, releasing a cloud of steam which rose up and completely enveloped the engine! Was it moving? I could see only a white cloud! Then the cloud subsided to reveal 7802, already twenty yards further away, moving gently backwards towards the road underbridge. That’s good, I thought, we’re back in business. Bradley, with exchanged boiler, had moved again under her own power.
Did you know?
The 4000 gallon tender currently behind Bradley Manor was the one attached to Castle Class No 7026 Tenby Castle in its final years in BR service. Manors were poor steamers, as first constructed, and faulty draughting arrangements were diagnosed in a series of tests at Swindon in 1951-2 carried out on 7818 Granville Manor. The draughting was modified and, with a new chimney design, the performance was transformed. This was fortunate as otherwise the class might have been withdrawn much earlier and we would probably have lost all of this most useful and much loved class of engines. In 2001, further modifications have been adopted on 7802 with the fitting of a rocking grate and hopper ashpan, as already added on two other preserved members of the class. These have been paid for and fabricated by the SVR. This development will be a welcome assistance to footplate staff to speed up disposal after the day’s work.
Rolling Stock Update
7802 The exchanged boiler from 7812, duly re-certified and already lagged and clad, was placed on Bradley’s chassis in early December. A new chimney has been cast as part of a job lot, including one for Erlestoke, and fitted as well as the newly fabricated hopper ash pan and rocking grate, as mentioned above. Several weekend working parties, usually mustering 6 or 7 EMF stalwarts, have been augmenting Bridgnorth’s own SVR staff and the “Tuesday Gang” of semiretired fitters to complete the many plumbing and platework tasks. John Gittins and Dave Giddins have been following up with painting. It has felt like luxury for EMF members, more accustomed to open air work at Bewdley, to be doing this under the cover of the Bridgnorth boiler shop, especially during these cold winter months.
The boiler recently removed from Bradley currently resides on a well wagon at Erdington awaiting acceptance into the boilershop. New driving wheel tyres have been purchased and these have to be shrunk-fit on to the wheel centres and machine turned when these can be conveniently removed from the loco. Work continues on platework round the cab area. The newly rebuilt tender (nominal 3500 gallons) requires only minor works to the water scoop and brake gear plumbing to complete. The locomotive chassis coupled with its tender has during February been shunted out of the way round Bewdley station area whilst siding layout alterations have been made. With these now complete, the loco is now stabled right alongside the two stores vans which saves us a bit of effort carrying heavy parts the length of the yard.
The GUV, forming our Sales Coach at Bewdley, now needs its sunny side repainting, as degradation by the sun’s rays has badly crazed the paintwork. Hopefully this will now become an early target of attention following Bradley’s return to service. This has recently been open for sales at both ends, such is the quantity of stock held within. Helpers welcome! The Fruit D, housing our stores, is looking quite respectable all round following repainting (maroon) last autumn, although hardly to “concours” standard. New footsteps have also been fitted. However, there’s still some rotten woodwork evident which needs replacement. Recent part-recanvassing of the roof and treatment with rubberised paint has succeeded in keeping the interior drier through this winter than previously. Inside, the shelves, groaning under heavy materials, have been strengthened. Bob Marrows’ ex GWR Permanent way van, much in use for painting and storing our small fittings, also still looks reasonably presentable following repainting and attention to the windows in recent years. The roof is a problem though. The tarpaulin, provided to cover it before last winter, has not survived this winter’s gales and has been replaced by another one.
Manors in Former Mainline Service – Video Review
B & R Video Productions have several archive videos (the ones in bright yellow boxes) which feature Manor Class locos in BR main line service during the 50’s and 60’s particularly in the Cambrian area. Volume 24 (“Cambrian and Borders Steam”) in fact features both our own locos, 7802 and 7812, in several sequences on the former Cambrian lines. One delightful series of clips accompanies Erlestoke on the footplate on a local two-coach train through rural tranquility on the Ellesmere – Whitchurch route. Several other Manors are also featured on this local service including 7819 Hinton Manor and 7820 Dinmore Manor. Volume 19 “Steam on the Cambrian” also features both 7802 and 7812 and other Manors in the early 60s, but not quite in such quantity as Vol 24. Bradley appears briefly “resplendent with white buffers” and smokebox door hinges at Aberystwyth for the Cambrian Coast Express. All the other Manors which have since been preserved, as well as several other locos since preserved, feature on these two videos, on various parts of the Cambrian and Borders system. The quality of production and interesting content make both these videos well worth having. They can be purchased at the Bridgnorth station shop and also the Kidderminster Museum shop alongside the station, price about £19. Very occasionally, our own sales coach has preowned copies from the B & R series in stock, price about £10, (“negotiable upwards, bags extra!” as Geoff Richardson might say!)
EMF Web site
Shareholder Robert Brittle has suggested that an EMF website would be beneficial. The Trustees have concurred and have commissioned Robert, who has been involved with several others, to set up and run the site. The objective will be to ensure that the site is attractive to a wide audience by being kept regularly refreshed with attractive pictures and useful promotional material. The web site address will be www.erlestokemanorfund.co.uk. Watch this space!
Overheard, somewhere near the sales coach we think; “Don’t ask me, mate, what a flippin rocky ash pan and a hopping grate is – I only work ‘ere. Sounds a bit dodgy if you ask me though! I’d just give it a new set of brushes myself.”