Bradley Manor for Sapperton Climb in May!

Unfortunately cancelled see latest news page – Bradley Manor has been booked by Past Time Rail to head the Golden Spires from Birmingham to Gloucester (2 hours) and then climbing up the Golden Valley to Sapperton Tunnel returning to Birmingham via Oxford! Network Rail have checked the clearances and agreed the trip to take place on Saturday 15th May. Commencing at Birmingham Snow Hill (9.55am), picking up at Stourbridge Junction (10.25) and Kidderminster (10.50), the train is limited to eight coaches, two of which will be support/safety barrier coaches, and another a buffet coach. Don’t delay, book now! Tickets £60 standard class only, juniors £30. Contact Past Time Rail; Telephone 0871 871 4119

The Torbay Express

7802 has again been rostered by Past Time Rail this summer for Torbay Express duties possibly double heading with a King or a Castle, with more runs and longer trains for all five Sundays in August plus Saturday 28th August! Starting at 9.10 am from Bristol Temple Meads, returning 19.55, traveling via Weston Super Mare with two hours at the terminus Kingswear, the trains pick up at five intermediate points and prices vary from £27 (Dawlish Warren) to £48 (Bristol). Booking to Past Time as above.

Disappointment on the Cambrian!

Most shareholders will now be aware that the March 20th run to Aberystwyth, which was to have been Bradley Manor’s first visit to its former home territory since 1965, was in the event hauled by Black Five No 45407. Inadequate clearances (for a Manor) between cylinders and platform edges had been identified at Machynlleth and Dovey Junction stations. This was a tremendous disappointment not least to the organisers and the train operator EWS who went to measure up and confirm the situation for themselves. However the “Five” put in two very good performances described in the latest Steam Railway no 296.

The clearance problem is real but how has this developed? Video footage taken from the train looking down at the platform edge when passing through the stations gives the clue. Far from clearances being engineered down to give more comfortable reduced stepping distances as has been suggested, the truth is that renewed platform edge copings have been put into a very ragged alignment compared to the track alignment which probably has not moved an iota. Most of the length of both platforms gives reasonable clearance but at one or two places at each station, the video reveals that the renewed copings very significantly “move” 2 – 3 inches closer to the coach steps. This is not over any great length, sufficient though to have been picked up by Network Rail’s clearance measurement checks. The scale of the problem appears therefore not great and rectifiable at not too great expense to shave off the copings over short lengths. This gives some hope that maybe the problem can be rectified and a Manor Class loco can once again return to the Cambrian.

Rolling Stock Update

Bradley Manor was given a piston and valve service at Bridgnorth during January and February but the cancellation of its requirement for the Cambrian mainline run on 20th March removed the pressure to get it ready for running by that date. It did not run again until the Victoria Bridge was reopened after renewal works to its decking in early April allowing trains to reach Kidderminster. However, by mid April there were signs that the left hand cylinder valves needed some further attention. Also over the winter, a broken driving wheel spring, which had been temporarily clamped, was replaced and on the tender the leading pair of axles were exchanged in order to even out wheel flange wear and prolong acceptability for main line running. This latter exercise required all the tender brake gear and pipework to be removed as they are routed underneath the axles.

In April the pace of work on Erlestoke Manor’s boiler came virtually to a stop as the SVR temporarily switched their boilersmith’s attention to the 8F’s boiler. This has been removed from the frames for urgent restaying to extend that locomotives boiler certificate for a couple of years. As soon as that is complete in a few weeks, Graham Beddows assures us that attention will return to the Manor’s boiler. The corner patches have already been prepared and bent to shape, we understand with some blood, sweat and expletives from our shareholder Keith Lucas who added some elbow grease to the bending process.

The driving wheels are currently at Ian Riley’s works at Bury being re-tyred and we expect them back at Bridgnorth in the next few weeks. Meanwhile John Whitcomb, Terry Howes and Steve Morgan (borrowed from the 4150 Prairie tank restoration team) have been working steadily on the frames, now resting on the borrowed accommodation bogies, bolstered by more substantial working parties about once a month.

The never ending job of applying paint to hold the decaying woodwork together of our three vans at Bewdley continues sporadically when available time and enthusiasm come together. Actually their visible condition now compares very favourably to the average vehicle specimen at Bewdley and Don Cook’s work on the GUV sales coach is especially to be commended.

Martin Pearson

We were very shocked and saddened to learn of the death on 9th April in a motor bike accident of Martin Pearson who last year fitted the TPWS equipment to Bradley Manor. This is a grievous loss which will be felt widely in the heritage railway movement. Martin had returned to the SVR only recently to service the equipment on 7802.

Bradley Manor, was the first locomotive to be fitted with TPWS by Martin’s firm Heritage Rail Traction (HRT) and we owe him a special debt of gratitude for enabling the locomotive to continue on main line running. Although only in his mid twenties, he won the job of installation on his enthusiastic and professional presentation which had obviously been based on many months preparation of shear hard work, determination and a strong belief and dedication to main line steam running. For us it was an act of faith which was quickly justified by the swift execution of the work and appearance of our engine to widespread appreciation on the main line Torbay Express to Kingswear several times last summer.
The success of the work led by Martin on Bradley Manor, paved the way for HRT in a short time to achieve similar success on many other heritage locomotives including SVR’s A4 No 9, LMS Mogul No 42968 and recently one of the most historically significant, City of Truro. This can now once again race along the main line, 100 years after its famous 100 mph run as a result of Martin’s and HRT’s efforts. Our Fund and the heritage railway movement in general owe Martin a deep debt of gratitude for the significant contribution he made to it, in a life which was far too short. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family and also Bert Hitchen and Neil Henderson as his business colleagues in HRT.

Biased of Bewdley – Simon Marshall

Just before Easter fireman Trevor Ellis and I volunteered for a week’s footplate work on the SVR. As luck would have it we were given 34027 ‘Taw Valley’, masquerading as something else, potentially for the whole week. At first this seemed quite a privilege, working on an express engine for once, but before long the novelty started to wear off. Despite working a small mid-week train, this seemed to have no direct effect on the quantity of coal consumed. The grate is so huge a large amount of coal is required just to keep it covered. This was the equivalent of taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut and suggested that the SVR must have money to burn – at least they did have until that week! We took coal at Bridgnorth on Monday afternoon, but it had all gone by Tuesday afternoon. By filling it to the loading gauge on Tuesday we ended Wednesday with a bit to spare. Now I don’t wish to be misunderstood here. Messrs Bulleid and Jarvis produced a superb machine for getting twelve and more coaches to Bournemouth at high speed, but for pottering along a Worcestershire branch line with a six coach stopping train, it is surely just an expensive waste of space.

By Thursday we had had enough, so it was with eagerly anticipated relief that we were allowed to swap it for ‘Bradley Manor’. Stepping off ‘Taw Valley’ and onto ‘Bradley’ came as something of a culture shock and generally when changing engines I like to take a few moments to adjust. Neil Parker, who had brought 7802 down from Bridgnorth, handed the footplate over in spotless condition with a full boiler. But the first thing we noticed was that we were standing in daylight! On ‘Taw Valley’ we had been entombed in a hot black tin box. Things were looking up. A quick tug on the ejector handle and the brakes released. That was a bit different! ‘Taw Valley’ is fitted with a Davies and Metcalfe ejector, complete with stiff springs and hot knobbly brass handles, so Swindon’s nicely rounded wooden handles came as such a relief. I had put the engine into reverse gear before I realised I had done it with one hand. On ‘Taw Valley’ I had needed two, standing up and putting all my weight behind it. A clear signal, a whistle and a touch on the regulator and we were on our way. A touch on the regulator? That too was impossible on the West Country. Its regulator is really tight and opens in a series of judders. At first nothing happens leaving you to wonder whether to wait for the steam to exert its force on the pistons or to try a bit more and risk going into a whirling slip. At best the pacific accelerates like a super-tanker – very slowly.

I was beginning to feel like a child opening a succession of wonderful Christmas presents when there was a cry of amazement from Trevor. “Ere! I’ve just started the injector with one ‘and!” and sure enough there it was singing away as sweetly as could be. The steam and water valves on ‘Taw Valley’ are so stiff even a gorilla would struggle and we are provided with a specially made extension handle to be able to turn them at all.

That afternoon, as a matter of principle, we took no further coal leaving the Bridgnorth coaler shaking his head in disbelief. We had struggled with the heavy Southern Railway coupling, made worse by an enormous bob-weight on the screw handle with a pointless floppy handle on the other end. It sounds daft, but have a look next time you have a chance. Compared to the simpler Swindon design, it is a wretched affair and took two of us to manipulate it in a reasonable timescale, twice at each terminus.
For our remaining two days we ran happily up and down the line, the vacuum pump ticking away and the ‘Swindon bark’ still audible despite the engine being well notched up. Compared with the Bulleid sighs and shufflings at 25mph this was a real joy. I was relieving my pent up feelings to our guard over a cup of tea when he remarked “That’s all very well, but you are biased!” “Yes,” I replied, “I know I’m biased, BUT THAT’S WHY!”

Obbo Trip 2004

Our annual shareholder’s observation saloon 3 hour return trips along the Severn Valley again have been confirmed for Friday 14th May (note not the 7th!). It is unlikely that this will feature Bradley Manor this year due to its mainline run the following day (see above) but hopefully something large enough to accommodate guests on the footplate will be available (Taw Valley?!!). Those interested in joining this very popular outing, with our own EMF footplate team in charge, are invited to contact David Kilner as soon as possible, about 12 places still available. The price will be £19.50 which will include a buffet and light refreshments. We cannot guarantee but have usually managed to arrange footplate rides between adjacent stations for all who wanted one. Departures 11.15am or 3.0pm ex Kidderminster.

Bradley Manor on the Mail!

The Royal Mail railway stamps issued 13th January featuring Bradley Manor have sold out, in some post offices anyway. A very limited number (25 only) of the SVRs issue of 300 first day covers were specially signed for us by the driver, Vic Smith and fireman of 7802 on that day, carrying them to the post office. Available, price £25, from email contact on the menu page.

Manor Nameplates

Some fascinating (but utterly useless) statistics about Manor Nameplates by Colin Walker.

1. Number of nameplates found
All the nameplates currently on active preserved Manor locomotives are replicas. Of the 60 genuine ones off the 30 locos in the class, 32 have been seen, verified and photographed. The whereabouts of another 10 and current owners are known. Past owners of another 12 are known but their current ownership is unclear. Nothing has been discovered about the ownership, past or present of six nameplates, all left side off Barcote, Broome, Draycott, Dunley, Freshford and Fringford Manors.

2. About the owners
Out of the 34 current owners contacted, six owners purchased the plates direct from Swindon. There were many previous owners, in nine cases there were more than four previous owners! Frilsham Manor plates have been in 16 different ownerships! However only one recorded case of a lady owner (shame!). Two plates are now held at the Manors after which they were named, although another four have been in the past. Four plates are in museums or available to public view. Nearly half the plates are currently still in former Manor ex GWR territory, the rest are spread throughout UK from Scotland to Essex, and one each in Canada and USA.

3. Maximum distance travelled
On the locomotive, Compton Manor travelled 950,000 miles, more than twice the distance to the moon and back. Since locomotive scrapping, the most travelled plates are Torquay Manor and Ramsbury Manor (the first and last in the class), both across the “pond”. Last year Bradley Manor’s (replicas) travelled 10,797 miles, including nearly 1000 miles on the mainline.

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