Hello and welcome to a new Blog detailing, in an informal and random sort of way, the activities associated with the transport collections at Beamish. It occurred to me that a lot is accomplished but seldom seen (it may take place on quieter days or out of hours), so readers may be interested to see a snapshot of what we get up to. We start this blog in a good month, June has been very busy and plans are being laid down for some exiting developments through the summer and into the autumn. I hope you’ll stop by regularly to see what has changed, and in turn I will do my best to keep these pages up to date.
What a busy month this has been. Two significant events have seen the Trolleybus (Newcastle 501) move on a two week holiday to the Black Country Museum for their trolleybus fortnight, and the loan and operation of Puffing Billy to Birmingham Railway Museum to celebrate Tyseley’s 100th anniversary. Below are some photographs of the events and also some of the preparations involved in making these possible…
Below: In order to for 501 to be moved on a suspended tow from Sandtoft (nearish to Doncaster) to Tipton (the Black Country Museum), the half shafts have to be removed. This enables the rear wheels to free-wheel, without turning the electric motor (which otherwise cannot be disengaged) and causing damage to both the motor and the electrical systems. Dave Sheen is in attendance, note the left hand shaft has been removed and a modified saucepan (best House of Fraser!) has been fitted to keep the grease in and dirt out. All four wheels on the rear bogie are so treated.
Below: 501 basks in the sunshine prior to moving to Dudley from Sandtoft. Built in 1949, it has a Sunbeam S7 chassis with NCB (National Coach Builders) bodywork. It was restored over many years by the Beamish Tramway Group and is on loan to Sandtoft until Beamish can both accommodate and safely operate this impressive bus at the museum.
Below: 501 in attracts the attention of the local constabulary at the Black Country Museum on Wednesday June 18th. It has performed superbly here and I sincerely hope a revisit will be possible in due course. Note the rain – a reminder of the torrential downpours of June 2007…
Below: Moving Puffing Billy. On the Tuesday preceding the event which took place between the 26th and 29th July), Heanor (sub-contracted to Moveright International and in turn contracted by Tyseley) arrived to collect Puffing Billy. Numerous preparations are required, most of these being carried out by our Waggonway Technician Bob Fielding. The most obvious is the removal of the chimney!
Below: The tender is pulled on separately to the locomotive, the author watches proceedings from the left!
Below: The engine follows, before being securely chained down. We also have to take note of the position of the beams, which could cause potential fouling on low bridges.
Below: Illustrious company! Billy stands alongside 7029 Clun Castle on the turntable roads at Tyseley. Kinlet Hall peeps in on the right. Is this Billy’s (original or replica!) first encounter with a Castle?!
Below: Dr Dafydd Gwyn, a regular helper when Billy is on tour, attends to the fire as we prepare for the Thursday press call organised by Tyseley. Numerous photo sessions and a live TV appearance later and we were finished.
Below: Dr Gwyn stares wistfully into the distance!
Bob Fielding poses for photographs for the Birmingham Post – we had some excellent coverage in the next mornings paper.
Below: Bob Fielding demonstrates the appropriate waggonway man’s pose when taking digital photographs aboard an 1813 locomotive!
Below: An alternative option for the public to a dowsing of sooty water from Billy’s chimney was provided by a number of GW locomotives based at Tyseley. 9466 does the honours on the ‘modern’ train. After this we took Billy on shed, prepared the chimney for removal and closed the loco down. After two days (to cool), Billy returned to Beamish on the 1st July.
Below: Just a normal morning! The transport fleet at Beamish readies itself for another busy day. Left to right we have the replica London B type bus, Oporto 196, Sunderland 16 and the Access bus, known as J2007 (its registration, J being the old Co Durham prefix, 2007 its year of manufacture).
Last weekend (July 5th and 6th) saw this curator taking a break from Beamish to look at some other collections in the UK – a busman’s holiday I guess! Saturday the 5th included a visit to Bressingham Steam Museum, and despite awful weather forecasts, it turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day. Bressingham has had some criticism in recent years (particularly concerning the selling off of traction engines from its collection), but as a great admirer of the work of founder Alan Bloom, I was delighted to find the place vibrant and alive on this, my first visit.
Below: Boxer and the unique Youngs (of Diss) portable engine. The brick building behind is the new entrance building and shop. To the left is the wooden engine shed for the 10 ¼ inch gauge garden railway.
Below: In steam on the standard gauge line was Millom (a Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0ST visiting from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre) and King Haakon, Bressingham’s resident ex Norwegian State Railways 2-6-0, the latter offering footplate rides in tandem with Millom.
Below: The National Railway Museum’s Great Eastern Railway E4 (No.490 built 1895) and Great Northern Railway C2 Atlantic Henry Oakley (No.990 built 1898) were posed outside for photography during the afternoon.
Below (2 images): Mannertreu operated the 15 inch gauge Woodland Railway whilst Alan Bloom, Bressinghams own-build 0-40ST worked passenger trains on the 10 ¼ inch gauge Garden Railway.
Below (2 images): Operating the two narrow gauge trains were Bronllwyd (Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT) and visiting Jack Lane (Hunslet 0-4-0ST). Bressinghams own Hunslet 0-4-0ST Gwynedd was on static display, though the last runs with Jack Lane saw the 1883 veteran coupled inside the 2007 equivalent for a few laps of the Nursery Railway.
Below (3 images): Also in action were the famous Gallopers (Savages of 1897 with Tidman centre engine), Garrett 4 CD 4 N.H.P traction engine Bunty (of 1924), Burrell 6 N.H.P steam roller Buster (also 1924), the Easton & Anderson Beam Engine (1869), and a number of the other stationary engines. On static display was the unique Youngs 8 N.H.P portable engine (1908) and the 1923 Burrell 5 N.H.P steam roller Boxer.
Sunday July 6th saw my first visit to the Forncett Industrial Museum, south of Norwich. Holding a monthly ‘steam’ day, this was a good opportunity to view several interesting stationary steam engines in action, ably demonstrated by the museum’s owner Dr Rowan Francis, who also gave an informative narrative as he took a tour around the site.
Below: The star of the collection for me must be ‘Spruce’, a 50 HP single cylinder Gimson built beam engine from Hopwas. Anyone familiar with the photograph of George Watkins, and who has attempted to photograph stationary steam engines themselves, will appreciate his tremendous skills in amassing the collection published by Landmark and now numbering something like a dozen volumes. Even digital cameras (and their operators!) struggle in these conditions…
Below: Tower Bridge 150 HP Vickers Armstrong Cross Compound engine, the former Bass (Sleaford) 200 HP Robey tandem compound engine. Formerly used as part of the power system for the hydraulics that raise and lower Tower Bridge in London.
It is always interesting to visit other museums with what might be seen (certainly by the public) as having similar aspirations and objectives as our own. Certainly the sight of 18 engines in steam on two sites over the weekend was a gladdening one! It is very much our intention that Beamish will develop new events and interpretation to allow visitors to enjoy similar spectacles, and see engines working in context, at the museum. Watch this space as they say!
Sunday 20th July – Masham Steam Fair. An opportunity to see steam in action in various guises, and a hint towards the attractions planned for Beamish’s own ‘Great North Steam Fair’ planned for May 2009.
Below: Fowler Single 6NHP No.16289 built in 1924 at work driving a stone crusher.
Below: A saw bench, set up to cut and shape timber for making fence posts.
Below: And finally today – why might we include a photograph of the newly restored Haydock 0-6-0WT Bellerophon on this page? Keep your diary free for the last weekend of September to find out why…!!! (Photo courtesy BBC News)
Below: The track lads have been busy today (25/07/08), taking advantage of the glorious weather to rebuild the collapsed retaining wall at the Western end of the colliery railway. A small start, but a start all the same! They (Darren and Mark) are currently busy replacing sleepers, chair screws and keys at the station, in readiness for future operations there…
Below: Elsewhere, the groundsmen are clearing the greenery that has threatened to engulf the colliery – another job for a hot day!
Four Beamish representatives (myself included) attended the LREG (Light Rail Engineering Group) meeting at the National Tramway Museum, Crich, on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 22nd and 23rd). The opportunity was taken to contrast our own heritage tramway operation with the NTM’s museum tramway, particular interest being found in the workshops. Our thanks to the LREG and the TMS for enabling us this opportunity. A couple of photos of the occasion follow…
Below: Jim Pattison closely inspects Gateshead 5, a car almost identical to our own Gateshead 10.
Below: Workshop progress – LUT 159 is at an advance stage of restoration. We were very impressed with both the standards of restoration but also of recording the work that takes place here.
Below: The latest restoration project – Leeds 345, in service on a busy summer Tuesday.
Wednesday 13th July 2008 – At long last the Armstrong Whitworth Diesel Electric 0-4-0 No.14 (Wks No.D21/1933) has arrived at Beamish to commence a lengthy loan from the National Collection. The locomotive was previously at Shildon.
D21/1933 was supplied to the North Eastern Electric Supply Company Ltd (later CEGB when nationalised in 1948) for use at Dunston Power Station, across the river from the works where it was built. Initially on trial, it was purchased outright in February 1934. Its hourly operating costs were 19s 8 ½d, compared against the steam locomotives there which cost 28s 6d per hour to operate.
The locomotive was still at work in the early 1970s, before eventually being preserved by the Hexham Rolling Stock Group in August 1974. In October 1974 the locomotive moved from Dunston (where it had been stored) to York, now as a part of the national collection. It reflects an interesting and important era of diesel locomotive design, as well as an interesting form of transmission not widely seen on smaller diesel shunting locomotives. Fully restored to working order, No.14 will be used to give occasional shunting demonstrations at Beamish, recalling its industrial history as well as reflecting the once common practice of trialling industrial designs on the pre-grouping and post-grouping railway network. It is now fitted with a Gardener 6LW engine, in place of the original Armstrong-Saurer 6BLD diesel engine, this conversion taking place when No.14 was in industrial service.
I am delighted that the NRM has allowed us to borrow the loco, and it will certainly look well at Beamish. Permission has already been sought to repaint the buffer beams into a rather more traditional colour (red!).
Below: No.14 is seen aboard Duncan Milner’s low-loader, having arrived at 8am this morning.
Below: No.14 on Beamish metals. Unfortunately both of the diesels already at Beamish refused to start so the movement of the AW to the Regional Museum Store where it will be kept when not in use became rather protracted. There really is no such thing as a ‘quick job’!
Below: ‘Ubique’, Bill Owen’s 1919 built Simplex diesel locomotive. On loan to Beamish until Summer 2009, it is also hoped to occasionally demonstrate this diminutive locomotive. It is currently ‘stopped’ pending repairs to the fuel line, which appears to be cracked and admitting air. It is seen here back in May – remember when the sun shone…
At last – I can now reveal our exiting event over the weekend of September 26th, 27th and 28th (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Beamish is to hold its first ever Autumn Steam Gala. In cooperation with the Tanfield Railway and the NRM at Shildon, we are hiring 1874 Haydock 0-6-0WT Bellerophon and 1863 Furness Railway 0-4-0 No.20. Both are well known locomotives and of superb vintage for demonstration in our Edwardian railway station.
The locomotives are visiting all three railway locations during September, and as a final flourish to this North East month of steam, the Bowes Railway will run a coal train day on Sunday October 5th.
The three day event will include a demonstration passenger train, chaldron waggon train and goods train, several static displays, Mike Sutcliffe’s LNWR charabanc (of 1914), commercial horse drawn vehicles display and hopefully a steam rolling display. Cameo scenes will be recreated for photographers. All of this will be in addition to the usual Beamish activities and I hope we’ll display the three waggonway engines outside over the weekend (with one in steam on passenger trains). The colliery railway engine works will be open for inspection of the restoration of Lewin and Coffee Pot. Three railways, an electric tramway and all the rest, all in one weekend!
I hope that enthusiasts will turn out in numbers to make this event worthwhile, we are already planning some surprises for next year, so if you want to see steam running more regularly ,support us now so that we can do it!!!
Below: Two views of the glorious Indian Red liveried FR20 at the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway. I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing this locomotive brightening up the NER station at Beamish this September!
The autumn steam gala – it came and it went. It went rather well actually!
Well, as I sit to write these notes I am slowly beginning to recover from the highly successful autumn steam gala. We were attended by superb weather over the three days, which saw over 6000 visitors to the museum enjoy the spectacle of FR20, Bellerophon, the charabanc, horse on commercial vehicles and the 1889 Marshal traction engine all in action, doing just what they always used to.
Bellerophon failed on the Friday morning with clack valve problems (I thought it might having crewed it at Shildon the previous weekend), but a quick phone call to the owners, the Vintage Carriage Trust to confirm our proposed repairs, and the parts were out, machined by David Young and back in the loco within the day. It then remained to fill the boiler then very slowly warm the engine through. I was then able to pronounce Bellerophon fit late on Saturday morning and he ran very well for the rest of the weekend. Thanks to David for his speedy work and unfailing help, assistance and guidance with this.
It would also be timely to thank Darren, Mark, Chris and Jim at Beamish; John, Pam and Paul Young from the Bowes Railway; Alan, Tim and Kate from the Furness Railway Trust and Ian, Chris, David and Mark from the Tanfield Railway for crewing and assisting with the event. Mention also should be made of Dave Antell, our haulier, who stayed in the region moving locomotives and coaches for nearly five weeks! Thanks also to the Friends who turned up on the Saturday with some cars and motorcycles to add to the scene in the goods yard.
So. Will we do it again? That remains to be seen, but I hope to bring in regular steam during 2009. This is all a part of steadily warming up the site to achieve its full potential in coming years. We carried out a visitor survey, the results of which were very encouraging but revealed a demand for passenger rides. We also have to apologise to those who queued for over an hour to get in – the strong lure of steam and vintage vehicles on a warm sunny autumn weekend was cleary more than might have been expected!
Below are a selection of photographs from the weekend, showing some of the attractions that were there to be enjoyed!
December 1st 2008 saw the commencement of a programme of winter activity on the colliery railway. Principle focus is on trackwork renewal, installation of a turnout on the headshunt (to improve operating flexibility), renewal of the large level crossing gates and construction of a typical colliery water tower. Initially, the track work consists of purchasing materials and grading the ground for the alterations on the headshunt. A JCB has been hired for this work and Darren and Mark have laid out spare turnout components (switches and crossing/frog) in situ as a trial fit. The gates are being renewed by Alan Milburn in Douglas Fir and are particularly challenging as every length tapers the further away from the hinges it goes! This work is being carried out in the spacious workshops at the Bowes Railway, Springwell. The gates are required to limit public access during running sessions, a new footpath now providing an alternative route from the colliery yard to the winding house and Birch Wood footpaths. Incidentally, a new colliery boiler is also being installed this winter, the current Ruston boiler being extracted last week.
The construction of a water tower is a significant step forward and marks the commitment to returning steam to the colliery railway. It is based on typical colliery practice, consisting of two brick towers supporting an egg ended boiler – use of such boilers as water tanks was commonplace, this particular example serving to supply cattle in a byer in a Stannington (Northumberland) barn until 2007.
Between the brick towers is a stone faced platform and set of steps. A coal dock made of sleepers will abut to this directly, serving for locomotive servicing requirements and also providing a focal point for visitors to engage with the locomotive crews and inspect engines in steam.
Scott Bricklaying, a local firm, successfully tendered for the construction work, and using drawings prepared by David Young and myself (both struggling with the metric world we now find ourselves in!), commenced work on December 1st. Despite sleet and snow, the concrete foundation was poured and today, December 2nd, saw the front wall and basic footprint in place – see photographs below…
5th December 2008
The colliery railway works are now in full swing. The water tower masonry work is progressing as quickly as the weather will allow. Snow and hard frosts have hampered this work to some extent as a minimum temperature of two degrees is required for the mortar used to go off. I also thought a photo of the water tank might be of interest. Fittings and pipework for this have been identified and are currently being prepared for this. Work on the tank itself will begin in January.
A vehicular interlude!
While sorting through photographs for this blog, I realised that the year has seen a variety of work for my increasingly put-upon Landrover! For those interested, it is a year 2000 Defender 90 TD5 (basically, it has the BMW engine, a turbo charged 2.5Litre straight five). It has been of assistance in numerous shunting manoeuvres, or been used to steady vehicles while chocks were inserted. I have a range of slings for the purpose and it has certainly aided and made safer many of the jobs carried out during the year. As a token of my gratitude to its hard work I have enclosed a selection of photos showing it at work this last year. I hope readers will not mind this small indulgence! In the future I hope to fit a larger intercooler, remap the engine management programme and carry out some other modifications to not only increase the power but also improve the fuel economy. Some saving up will be required first however…
Waggonway work, December 2008
Bob Fielding, the museum’s waggonway fitter, has been busy preparing all three waggonway locomotives for their winter boiler inspections. This involves considerable cleaning and stripping down of the engines as well as attending to numerous maintenance jobs other than the boiler inspections, which are required at statutory 14 month intervals. For ease of the calendar, we carry ours out every December and January.
In the photographs, Bob can be seen working on Steam Elephants water tank, Puffing Billy and Steam Elephant can be seen positively glistening under protective oil coatings and there is a view of the inside of Puffing Billy’s boiler. The latter view is taken from the fireman’s end (chimney end), and you can see the furnace to the left, with the tube nest running away beyond this. On the right hand side is the return nest of tubes. The long bars running through the photograph are longitudinal stays. The photo reveals the benefits of a rigorous regime of water treatment. In fact, the other boilers tend to be even cleaner and more free of rust than this. The grey coating evident is a magnetite that forms on the surface as part of the treatment and serves to protect the boiler plate. The original Puffing Billy has a return flue, so the furnace tube would run to the far end, turn back and head towards the camera then up the chimney. For various reasons this method was discounted on the replica, the result being the same in effect but rather more robust in construction.
If you would like to see more photographs of this nature, with appropriate explanations, let me know and I will see if I can make this a more regular slot, maybe entitled ‘anatomy of an engine’?
Here are a couple of shots taken on my phone during a weekend of driving turns at the Bowes Railway. Like so many other heritage railways in the UK, Bowes operates Santa Specials as a revenue earning exercise. However, when the low winter sun makes an appearance, there is much for the photographer to enjoy as well, these views being taken early in the morning while preparing the locomotive (No.22, an Andrew Barclay dating back to 1949) for service.
Also included is a view of the level crossing gates for the colliery railway at Beamish under construction. These are utilising the excellent facilities at Bowes’ Springwell workshops. The gates taper in section away from the hinges (presumably to save weight and put less strain on the hinges). Alan Milburn, who is rebuilding them, has produced a kit of parts that will now be tanalaised before final assembly and painting in black bitumastic paint. The timber is Douglas fir, a structural timber and one of few species available in the lengths we require at a price we can afford!
December 12th 2008
Progress on the water tower is cracking on apace, the addition of a diesel fuelled space heater to the scheme ensuring the mortar hardens as required. Optimistically, the construction work will be completed Saturday 13th, with final detailing being carried out next week
Elsewhere in the colliery, we have seized a window of opportunity to carry out preparatory work on the railway formation through what is known as the ‘back cutting’. This was part of the original Beamish route laid down in the early 1970s, later being abandoned, lifted and the trackbed buried under spoil. I regard this link as vital to enabling the colliery railway to function within the colliery landscape, according to our future plans, it also serving an area to reflect railway construction plus a loading/unloading area for low-loaders. This selection of views (and I apologise for the poor quality – they are camera phone images taken in poor conditions) shows progress accomplished in only a few hours!
Next week we will receive a delivery of 260 tons of ballast to grade this route, plus 500 second-hand softwood sleepers. However, the next priority will be the trackwork in the exchange sidings area, and this will be tackled throughout 2009.
December 16th 2008
This morning we had 260 tons of whinstone ballast and 500 second-hand sleepers delivered to advance the developments of the colliery railway. The ballast is being tipped onto the prepared formation, then graded out by the contractor’s excavator. Elsewhere on the railway, the headshunt turnout is progressing well, with completion anticipated for next week. Attention will then turn to the existing chaired track (rather than flat bottomed) with a target for completion by Easter 2009.
This selection of views shows this mornings progress – by this afternoon it will have changed again!