This week presents another mixed-bag of news from around the site, as carried out by the Transport & Industry/Site Support teams. A little bit of sunshine makes all the difference to one’s mood and the site always looks the better for the spring greenery starting to take hold. We have a great deal to do over the next ten days or so, Easter marking the real start of our high-season. All being well, things will be completed in time and we can look forward to the forthcoming Great North Festival of Transport and its various events. I’m updating the relevant post on this fairly regularly so it is worth checking back to see what is expected to attend as the list is really quite impressive!
Site Support Team/Outdoor Works
Below: I referred to the work of the Site Support team in the last post, so am following that up with a look at some of the jobs they are currently tackling. We start with Francis Street in the Pit Village. Rotten doors, door frames, lintels and windows are the main areas for external attention, whilst worn and tired interiors also require treatment. This yard gate highlights just how quickly things can deteriorate.
Below: The team has been working with some of the Friends of Beamish volunteers, to produce new frames and doors, for yards and outbuildings. Here are some after installation.
Below: When completed, the difference is marked to say the least!
Below: Interiors are also tackled, this being the bedroom in No.2.
Below: There are still areas to tackle, but overall the terrace is looking very well. More windows are to be tackled and brickwork pointing is still required, but these views show the difference already being made. If we can keep on top of this work, the rate of deterioration should be slowed (though never stopped!) for the future.
Below: The big push to complete the footbridge at Rowley Station has also been occupying the team. The scaffolding has been reduced and the bridge is now receiving its finishing touches.
Below: Ian and Danny fit new pre-painted steps to the bridge whilst some of the staff from the steam-team assist with the paintwork. Note the low-slip surface applied to the timberwork, some being the original whilst some is new.
Below: For most, Friday afternoon is a time to escape – but it also tends to be when faults manifest themselves ahead of the weekend, when staffing levels in the RHEC are reduced. Against this, the Access Bus arrived in with a leaking seal on the lift. Brian stayed behind into the evening to repair this, only to discover the sound of escaping air from somewhere – inevitably a tyre on the same vehicle! This was then changed in order to ensure the bus would be available for service in the morning. The blog tends to focus on the new and exciting, so it is worth remembering from time to time the need to ‘keep the show on the road’ and the work that Brian, Alan, Hughie and Russell do on the vehicles, David on the steam side, Tony, Matt and Chris in the workshops and Bob, Ian, Danny, Gordon, Michael, Darren, David, Ryan and Rebecca do across the wider Museum. Often cold, often wet, usually filthy/dusty and not always fitting the planned hours of the usual working day. It makes a huge difference to the operation of the Museum but, when done well, is usually discreet and not seen by the visitors.
Below: Progress on the Model T ‘Crewe Tractor’ has been good lately, and the olive drab paintwork is also progressing, as seen here. I’m investigating having stencils made for the lettering and numbers, based on original photographs of these vehicles in use c1916 – 1918. Samson’s boiler cladding is also receiving its first coats of primer, a pace which is going to have to pick up rather over the next couple of weeks!
Below: The blacksmiths has relocated from the Fairground following its winter ‘tour’ there, and has been reassembled in more permanent form on a site adjacent to the boilerhouse in the Colliery. This area is being given a certain amount of attention in order to eventually open it up for new working exhibits, the blacksmith being the first on site.
Below: The Fairground team continue their build up following the winter maintenance period, as they will be open (sans gallopers) this weekend. On Monday/Tuesday the gallopers assembly will continue in time for full opening by Good Friday. New signage is to the fore in this area. The toilet block (right, background) will be completed shortly by contractors, being fitted out for full access by all of our visitors.
Narrow Gauge Railway
Below: The laying of track and general tidying/landscaping in this part of the site continues. This is to conclude the first phase of development of the narrow gauge railway, completing the triangle and giving us the scope to open up the ‘turn up and have a go’ type experience that we have gently trialled in recent years. It is also to enable enhanced access for visitors to this area (so there will be less restriction on viewing what is going on) and improve some of the drainage plus route in/out for tankers attending to the sewage plant in the vicinity. It will also form a new display area for use during events, commencing in a few weeks with a steam powered saw bench…
Out and about
Below: We are members of the Heritage Railway Association, a sub-committee of which is focussed on Heritage Tramways. This period’s meeting was hosted by the Black Country Museum, where a useful meeting covered various operational and legal matters concerning operation of historic trams and tramways within the modern World. After the meeting there was a chance to look around, where the BCM’s stalwart tram, No.34, was in service alongside a Guy single decker in West Bromwich livery.
Below: The BCM runs an accessible bus, like us, this being adapted from a Fleur-de-lis vehicle. The lift is powered and the bus is on-call. It is always useful and interesting to compare notes on such matters, our own access bus now showing its age and due for replacement (it will be kept as a standby) by the Leyland Cub, ex Crosville 716, which will be operated in an amended way to that which we use the present access bus for.
Below: You can follow the buildings team developments on their blog (link below), in particular the construction of the chemist/photographers, which is due to open in May. As part of the aerated water plant, a working gas engine has been installed, complete with associated plant, though this is no longer producing the aerated water (this is done using modern pub-style gas bottles). The engine was installed and tested this week, and as working instructions and risk assessments are prepared for its use, readers may be interested to see the installation so far. Railings and safety barriers etc. remain to be fitted, but the area is worth looking out for after opening in May – aerated water with a variety of flavours will be available in replica Codd bottles – Clara’s blog covering all of these areas in some depth. You can follow more on this project at: https://beamishbuildings.wordpress.com/