Newsletter – January 2004
Bradley Manor for Cambrian Coast Express! Past Time Rail have requested Bradley Manor to head the Cambrian Coast Express to Aberystwyth on 20th March! This will be 7802’s first visit to her former home patch in nearly 40 years. So far Network Rail have not given clearance for steam locomotives to cross Barmouth Bridge but Aberystwyth must be the next best thing. Only eight coaches will be on this train, two of which will be support/safety barrier coaches, (one each end), and a third part taken up by a buffet counter. Don’t delay, book now! Over half the available seats have already been booked. Discounts (£2.50) are available to EMF shareholders (but sorry, not to their guests), secured on quoting your shareholder number to Past Time Rail which is shown on the address labels of the envelope bringing this newsletter. We have asked for our shareholders to be seated, if possible, in one coach near other EMF shareholders. Tickets £65 standard class only. Contact Past Time Rail; Telephone 0871 871 4119.
The Torbay Express
As many of you will know, Bradley Manor had mixed fortunes hauling the Torbay Express between Bristol and Kingswear, featuring on three of the five return trips in August and September. Following arrival at Kingswear on the first trip with a driving wheel hot box, the return leg was entrusted to a Class 37 diesel and the following two runs to Didcot’s Castle class No 5051 Earl Bathurst, while repairs were carried out to 7802 at Churston. A superlative team effort by SVR, Paignton and Dartmouth Railway (PDR) staff and EMF volunteers put in 300 man hours to get 7802 running again for the fourth trip. All axle boxes were serviced, requiring removal of all motion and brake gear to allow each driving wheel to be lowered on the wheel drop at Churston. This was made available to us by the PDR and our heartfelt thanks go to them for all their support. (See also Des Ainsworth’s recollections and Gerald Peacocks full report below.)
Rolling Stock Update
Progress on Erlestoke has continued and the chassis with tender has now been moved to Bridgnorth for removal of the driving wheels. The 16-mile movement was completed without any untoward problems with axle boxes, which was a relief because this was the first significant move made by the tender on its own wheels since its construction. Accommodation bogies, which were last used under the Duchess of Sutherland, have been borrowed from the Midland Railway Centre. These will enable the chassis to be moved around the Bridgnorth yard while the driving wheels are away being re-tyred. These have yet to be despatched but it is hoped that this will happen during the next month. The SVR boilersmiths have continued making great progress on the boiler and over 500 new stays are being fitted. Two patches have to be applied to the back corners of the firebox and some lower sections of the outer steel wrapper will also have to be replaced. The cab roof remains at Bewdley where John Whitcomb has been giving it a very thorough repaint.
Don Cook has continued the repaint of the GUV van at Bewdley containing our shop and it now looks much improved in fresh maroon undercoat. We will shortly need someone who can spell “distributed” to do the lettering.
One Way to Travel
Our indefatiguable Chief Sales Executive, Geoff Richardson, who has been manning the shop throughout the Christmas period, and looks forward to seeing you all in 2004, tells us this anecdote: an elderly, dour looking lady, followed by her somewhat infirm husband, complained to Geoff that the train has just left (on time) without them, couldn’t it have been made to wait a few moments for them, quite shocking, how very discourteous! Geoff patiently tried to explain that it was only a single line and there were several trains on it with a strict timetable to keep to reach stations and not delay trains travelling the opposite way. A few minutes later he saw the lady leading her husband back to their car saying “We are NOT travelling on this railway if they have trains travelling in opposite directions and there is only one track!”
Two Missed Opportunities – John Whitcomb
Firstly, not having a camera to record the scene at Kingswear on 28th August, when thousands crammed onto the road overlooking the station, along with every other conceivable vantage point, all apparently gazing down admiringly at 7802, simmering quietly in the run round loop. Popular though our engine is, I have to report that most of them were there to see a spectacular flying display by the Red Arrows, but that wouldn’t have been obvious from a photograph! Secondly, not having a tape recorder on the same day to record a wonderful conversation on the top deck of a bus later, waiting to ferry some of the same spectators back to Paignton, as 7802 reversed on to its packed train to do likewise. It went something like this: Father to young son: “See that steam engine down there, its worth over a million pounds!” Son enquires “How do you know that, Dad?” Replied Dad “Oh, I learnt all about them at Tyseley.” (Music to the ears of the Fund Treasurer – Nice PR work by Bob Meanley!)
Some Personal Thoughts on The Torbay Express – 2003
Des Ainsworth (Shareholder)
Fond Memories of a summer outing for Bradley Manor on the Mainline
The joy of seeing the hardworking support team (Alun Rees, Terry Jenkins, John Whitcomb and Dave Kilner) giving a “thumbs-up” at Churston on Sunday 24th August – a positive indication that remedial work on the hot box (including dis-assembling, checking, cleaning and servicing the motion and axle boxes) had been successful. This was rewarded with 2 splendid/faultless mainline runs on the following 2 Sundays. The pride in seeing a gleaming 7802 hauling 9 maroon Mk 1 coaches into Temple Meads ready for mainline action – many positive comments overheard from travellers and onlookers on the appearance of our loco. The warmth onboard the trains from customers towards Past-time (imaginative, well-organised route including ferry to Dartmouth), the support crew (acknowledgement of all their efforts, including well executed water stops) and above all for our locomotive (strong performance with a heavy load on testing routes). The smiles on the faces of onlookers all along the routes, especially as we steamed along the sea-wall. The relief in arriving back at Temple Meads 30 minutes ahead of schedule having successfully completed 250+ miles on the mainline. The real ale on board and the banter with fellow passengers.
Well done to Past-time, Severn Valley Railway and the splendid support crews and above all to the paying public who supported our engine on this imaginative summer adventure! Having thoroughly enjoyed two superb, well-patronised mainline runs this year behind 7802, here’s looking forward to meeting even more members on Bradley’s next booked mainline outing – the Cambrian Coast Express from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and return on Saturday 20th March 2004.
Do you know? – Terry Howes
During the ongoing restoration of 7812 Erlestoke Manor’s cab at Bewdley, John Whitcomb and yours truly uncovered a puzzling trio of holes. After the front window frame had been removed from the driver’s side, it revealed a large piece of body filler covering three holes. The centre hole was 2 inches and, above and below it, were holes of approximately 5/8″. So began our search for what, why, when and where. Over cups of SVR Bewdley tea, we wondered if they were for the GWR fitted ATC equipment? Answer, no, wrong place. A speedometer perhaps? Were speedometers ever fitted to Manor class locos? Test equipment fitted at Swindon? Doubtful, a gauge fitted to the backhead maybe? Now seemed like a good time to retire to Geoff Richardson’s “carriage of delights ” – surely that fount of all knowledge and high-class insults would know! No, the response did not seem to fit the knowledge category. Could they have been the fixing holes for the driver’s windscreen wiper? We know these were fitted to Castles and Kings, but were they ever fitted to Manors. If there had been a wiper fitted, why remove it, and who had filled the holes, Swindon? Wolverhampton? After many hours looking at photographs, we thought perhaps “Peto’s Register of Great Western Locomotives, Volume 2” would have the answer, but no, another blank! So as the saying goes, “answers on a post card” if you think that you can help solve the puzzle, please contact Terry Howes on 0121 530 2084.
Treasurer’s Report December 2003 – John Whitcomb
Space was very much at a premium in the last newsletter, so the editor has asked for a few words about the last two years’ accounts retrospectively in this one. Both years saw excellent results from the sales coach, for which we are all extremely grateful to Geoff Richardson and appreciative of the amount of effort he puts into keeping us in the black. Just as an indication of how much work is involved, we have to record each individual purchase of second-hand stock for VAT reasons and amazingly, Geoff has recently recorded his 1,000th purchase since we started these arrangements in 1997. Considering that a single purchase can be anything from £20 to £1000 worth of books, models or relics, all of which have to be priced and put on the shelves, and you begin to realise just how much work Geoff does behind the scenes. Thanks are also due to those well-wishers – not all shareholders – who have donated items, and sometimes quite large collections, to the Fund for us to sell through the shop, giving a very welcome boost to our profitability.
Our ‘shares issued’ figure continues to grow at a healthy rate, so we must be convincing some people out there that we are doing some things right! Thanks to all those of you who have bought more shares, either by lump sum or by standing order.
The Torbay Express Story – Gerald Peacock
‘Bradley Manor’ arrived at Bristol Barton Hill on Saturday 9th August, one of the hottest days in the year. The first Torbay Express the following day started slightly late due to the rolling stock being left at Bristol Parkway overnight and having to be fetched down to Temple Meads. After a steady run down to Taunton via Weston-super-Mare, the tour proceeded to Exeter, where it was discovered that the right hand axlebox was warm. With a good application of lubricating oil, the train carried on to Paignton where it was decided the that the locomotive would not be doing the return trip due to the hotbox. However, 7802 continued with the train on to Kingswear, returning light to Paignton for servicing and then to Churston for repairs. The train and support crew returned to Bristol with a Class 37 diesel locomotive only a few minutes late.
Although this was a disappointing end for many to an otherwise good day, the newly fitted TPWS (Train Protection Warning System) on its first real working test had proved a complete success. This had been clearly demonstrated when the fixed red signal at the boundary between Network Rail and the Torbay Railway, which the footplate crew thought they could override, activated the TPWS which smartly brought 7802 and its train to a rapid halt!
On the following Sundays, 17th and 24th August, Didcot’s Castle Class No 5051 ‘Earl Bathurst’ covered the tour roster, while down in Devon at Churston, the faulty wheelset was removed on the Torbay Railway’s wheeldrop equipment. Luckily, the axle journal was undamaged and only needed a polish. the axlebox was taken back to Bridgnorth for remetaling and machining, together with one worn side rod bush.
Friday 22nd August saw the axlebox returned to Churston and, together with a team of up to nine EMF members, SVR and Torbay (Paignton and Dartmouth) Railway staff, over the next four days (Bank Holiday weekend) the wheelset was refitted, all the other driving axle oil pads renewed and tender axle lubrication pads checked. Side rod oil pads were also changed and other miscellaneous work done. During the week, No 7802 was test run on the Torbay Railway (17 no return trips on service trains!), before returning on Friday 29th August with the support coach to Bristol Barton Hill. Over the next two weeks, the only other problem occurring was the clinkering up of the rocking grate bars which involved the cleaning by hand, chiselling them clear and replacing a number of broken and burnt firebars.
The Sunday 31st August tour involved a diversion via Bath and Westbury (due to engineering works on the Bristol – Taunton main line) with an additional water stop at Westbury. It must be a long time since a ‘Manor’ travelled between Castle Cary and Taunton! A stop due to low pressure was made after Torquay on a rising grade of 1 in 55, and on the sharp curve just before the line falls to Paignton. After a few minutes to recover, ‘Bradley’ got the 9-coach train away again with ease. On the return trip, an early arrival of nearly 30 minutes was achieved, partly due to the omission of the regulatory stop in Tiverton loop. A minor irritation after Taunton was steam blowing from a missing left hand back cylinder drain plug.
Following the success of the ‘Torbay Express’ bookings, an additional trip was made on Sunday, 7th September. A points problem at Weston-super-Mare, which was cleared by the engine crew, lost some time early on in the day. A connection at Taunton with a train with passengers from London, was late and so the tour train continued to Exeter and waited for the joining passengers there. Otherwise the trip went well with 7802 running nicely, returning to Bristol within a minute of the scheduled time. 7802 returned to the SVR on Monday 8th September, and was pressed into immediate passenger train service within half an hour of arrival back at Kidderminster. In spite of the mechanical problems, the ‘Torbay Express’ was deemed a success. Without the huge effort made by SVR/EMF members and assistance from the Torbay Railway, 7802 would not have been able to complete this tour of duty.
7802 on Royal Mail Service!
Don’t forget the new Royal Mail stamps to be issued on 13th January featuring preserved railways and in particular on the 46p denomination our very own No 7802 ‘Bradley Manor’! A number of SVR first day covers are being reserved for the Fund and you can contact the webmaster using the contact link on the menu page for more details.
Obbo Trip 2004
It is hoped to have our annual shareholder’s observation saloon 3 hour return trip along the Severn Valley again on the Friday following the early May bank holiday, but this cannot yet be confirmed. However those interested in joining this very popular outing, hopefully with ‘Bradley Manor’ and our own EMF footplate team in charge, are invited to register their interest with the webmaster using the contact link on the menu page, who will then be able to update them with details as and when they become known. The price will be about £18 which will include a buffet and light refreshments. We have usually managed to arrange footplate rides between adjacent stations for all who wanted one.
Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year!