It really seems only five minutes since I was writing the review of 2015, but 12 months later here we are! It is perhaps a reflection on how busy the year has been that it seems to have passed so quickly, and it is interesting to look back at the predictions for 2015 and see how many we haven’t quite managed! With that in mind, here is the year in 10 highlights, 1 lowlight and a quick glance at what we can look forward to in 2016…
With best wishes for the festive season and a for a happy new year – we hope to see you in 2016…
2015 in retrospect
1. Progress on Samson and Dunrobin – two significant locomotive projects which saw major steps in their path to steaming during the year. The saloon coach 58A also made progress, with the exterior restoration nearing completion by the end of the year.
2. The Leyland Cub easy-access bus – once again recognisably a bus and making great strides in what has been a demanding programme of work from this ‘hedge-find’ vehicle.
3. The appointment of a dedicated Steam Operations Supervisor marked a new focus on railway operation on site. This included the Rowley Station refurbishment, council depot and new locomotive servicing facilities – this area received a great deal of attention during the year, to enhance the exhibits as well as the ease with which steam locomotives can be prepared for work at Rowley. A photo charter at the Waggonway gave us a rare opportunity to see all three engines together (in the sunshine!) again.
4. Portbury – one of the nicest steam locomotives you could wish to hire! The loan is extended to include 2016 now…
5. Events – the March and November ‘Power from the Past’ weekends showcased Blackpool trams and Northern buses, with the Great North Steam Fair taking centre stage in April – our best yet?
6. The fairground development – moving away from a collection of rides to become a more established vintage fairground, now with an ice rink!
7. No.18 beds down – after much tinkering, the ‘Lewin’ has become a regular performer on the Colliery Railway, and looks more and more at home each time it is operated! Another venerable item in the collection, the Bingfield Threshing Engine, is steamed and launched at Anson Engine Museum in Cheshire, where it is on loan from Beamish.
8. The vehicle collection grows! With the arrival of the Albion furniture van and Seddon Mk5, the daily working fleet grew as well as progress on the existing vehicles including the heavy overhaul of the Morris Commercial and the repaint of the Commer van. Motorcycles have also received more attention during 2015 with the P&M arriving and the James restoration nearing completion.
9. The Friends make great progress… Numerous projects including the horse tram, R025, the James motorcycle, numerous items of woodwork and the increased site activity saw the team busier than ever both in the RHEC and out on site. A highlight might include the weekend operation of the SOS bus in November – in regular service over both days to the enjoyment of all who rode in it!
10. The bus fleet grows… Rotherham 220 arrives, 501 sees daylight in test guise and ex West Riding Cub 560 arrives on site for future restoration as an easy-access bus. The November ‘Northern’ themed event sees the Museum team up with Go-North East for a memorable first ‘bus running’ weekend.
A sad event – the death of Dr Frank Atkinson
The year began with the sad news of the death of the Museum’s founder Frank Atkinson – a full description of his life at Beamish can be found here: http://188.8.131.52/beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2015/01/remembering-frank-atkinson/
Looking ahead to 2016
1. The completion and steaming of new-build steam locomotive ‘Samson’
2. The return to service of Sheffield tram No.264
3. The completion and entry into service of ex Crosville Leyland Cub No.716
4. The Great War Steam Fair – April 2016
5. The completion of the Duke of Sutherland saloon No.58A
6. A return to steam of Andrew Barclay 0-4-0WT ‘Glyder’?
7. The end of the restoration of 1925 Barford & Perkins motor roller R025
8. The commissioning of a new vehicle restoration/maintenance shop
9. Completion of the narrow gauge railway triangle – the end of the first phase of development of this new area of operation
10. News from the Heritage Lottery Fund regarding our application for ‘Remaking Beamish’…
As always, you can follow all of these developments here on the Beamish Transport Blog – which moves towards its millionth view in 2016… There are also a few surprises in the pipeline and no doubt other things will occur that will present opportunities to develop the transport and industry collections and engagement with the visitors throughout the year. We already have some plans for enhanced activity in the Colliery that will begin to appear in the spring.
Images of 2015
Here are a few images that reflect the activities of the year and remind us, for whom it was something of a blur, just what went on over the year!