It has been half-term week at Beamish, alongside which numerous pre-season works have been underway. Whilst we are a year-round attraction now, there is still a semblance of high and low season still, and ‘high’ season really commences on April 6th with the Great North Steam Fair. As always, there are not just seasonal jobs to undertake but also those things that hopefully improve the visitor experience overall, through access on site to enhanced quality of exhibits, and this post gives just a few examples of this work.
Below: Wednesday saw a flurry of activity around the Colliery as several jobs were tackled ahead of the steam fair in April but also which will make permanent improvements to the visitor spaces in this area. As well as large amounts of vegetation and rotten sleepers being tidied, the fencing around the boiler house was installed, to enable visitor access to this area at all times. The Simplex provided works-train motive power and Samson was also in steam following its steam test for the boiler inspector a few weeks ago. Several more enhancements to this area are in-hand, which will also see the Blacksmith forge air-blower powered by steam!
Below: Matt Beddard restored the London Lead Company Tub in between other work, and with David Young machining the wheels and axles etc. This was completed on Tuesday and moved to the narrow gauge line on Wednesday for testing and, inevitably (!), haulage by Samson, also of London Lead Company origins.
Below: A reminder of what Matt B started with!
Below: The waggon is seen with Samson.
Below: A final shunt placed all of the rolling stock into position ready for the steam fair, and enabled a posing of the Simplex (of WW1 origins) with the Crewe Tractor.
Below: The Kitching coach is now resplendent in its livery – which the camera has rather brightened in these two views! Unorthodox, yes, but it is based on colour washed images that are contemporary with the original coaches when introduced into service on the Stockton & Darlington Railway. It is due for final completion next week, having been canvassed this week and received numerous coats of paint. The seats are made and will be fitted when the paintwork is complete.
Below: Chris is progressing work on a number of fronts, including the Ford Thames, but also the B-Type bus, with one completed side seen in these photographs. The paintwork will be attended to next week.
Below: The Horwich tender for Samson is progressing well in the hands of Dave Young and assisted by Chris and Matt. The beading has been riveted onto the side sheets and the basic carcass has been reinforced with the drawbar. Also visible here is the raw brake handle – brakes being fitted in order to supplement Samson’s single brake block.
Below: A reminder for those who are new to the blog of what it is that is being built… This tender accompanies the 18 inch gauge ex Horwich Works internal railway system locomotive ‘Wren’ and is on display at the National Railway Museum in York. The locomotive originates from Beyer Peacock, whilst the tenders (with capacious tool/coupling boxes) were constructed at the works. Samson has very little storage space on ‘board’ so an alternative place to store tools and belongings as well as a more accessible coal space was found desirable, and the Horwich tender is of an ideal size to accompany Samson.
Below: The re-roofing of the British Kitchen and Home Farm toilets building is now completed. New guttering has also been added at this stage. Some internal redecoration is due to be carried out, but hopefully this building will be something we don’t need to return to in the near future.
Below: The Track team are currently spot re-sleepering across the Rowley Station site, with several crossing timbers (the long ones, which support the points, or turnouts, and their associated levers and rods) already replaced (seen below as the last one is completed) and 100 second-hand hardwood standard sleepers in stock ready to tackle the plain line in this area.
Below: Finally, in this storm-lashed week, here is a photo of a warm fire and cosy waiting room, the refurbishment work by the team who usually operate the station now being complete… There are also numerous other areas of work being completed by the same team to improve the station environs further, including a series of new (and more durable than paper) NER posters and timetables, which we will feature next time…