T&I News 14 2020...

T&I News 14 2020…

There has been very little to report on the transport blog lately (for obvious reasons), meanwhile the operation of the museum in these new and ‘interesting’ times has been an absorbing experience with numerous learning curves to traverse. However, I am conscious that readers will be keen to see something new on the blog, so here goes…

Above: The weeds continue to thrive as the warm and damp weather becomes this summer’s ‘normal’ for us! In some ways, this is the effect I always wanted to achieve with the narrow gauge railway (just with rather fewer shrubs and trees taking hold!).

Albion furniture removal van

Five years ago we took, on loan, an Albion furniture removal van. This was allocated to the joinery team and has proved invaluable in supporting their work across the museum on the Remaking Beamish project. The owner has now requested the return of the van, so Russell has prepared and cleaned the van, which has been in store during lockdown, in readiness for collection this week…

In 2015 Mr Julian Brett approached us regarding an eBay purchase he had made.  It was a 1947 Albion furniture van, which had seen use with a member of his family in Kirkcaldy.  He was having the vehicle restored and was looking for somewhere suitable to loan it to, and operate it, on a day-to-day basis.  In May 2016 the completed van arrived at Beamish and was put into regular use around the site.

Above: Albion AZ9N chassis with Luton type body, was built in 1947 and originally supplied to Lions Crisps before being sold to Julian’s grandfather,  JA & SJ Ward, Furniture Removals & Auctioneers, Kirkcaldy, Fife.  Both of the original liveries survived, as can be seen in the photograph above, taken before the van was stripped for repainting.
Above: The completed restoration, seen after arrival at Beamish in 2015.
Above: We’re sad to see the Albion go, but very grateful to the owner for trusting us with it for the last five years and a return, one day, has not been ruled out.

Looking back…

A reminder of past times – Andy Martin’s superb gallery of images taken during numerous events at Beamish:


Accessible transport

Russell has been busy working on the accessible bus, J2007, so that this can be made available for use (complete with COVID-19 Secure adaptations), now that the conditions allow and recent feedback has confirmed the necessity of having a WAV available for visitors who require assistance accessing the museum.

Ready to go! As well as completing the reassembly and painting of the bus, inspecting it and overseeing the LOLER inspection of the lift (and a repair), Russell also gets to drive the vehicle too!
I must update the sign so that it says ‘Vehicle’ rather than ‘buildings’!
Above: The driver of the WAV now has a Perspex screen behind him, and the area in the foreground is available for the conductor to use.
Above: Looking towards the rear of the WAV, the removal of two seats (above the wheel arches) is particularly noticeable. Above these, though not clear in the photo, are two Perspex screens installed to disrupt the open space that occurs within the bus. Note the new internal panels, now painted rather than stained/varnished. Signage is to be applied to the screens so that they are more readily visible. The bus will carry one household/bubble (so the wheelchair user plus companions) at a time, per trip.

There have been many comments regarding our lack of transport operation, and that others are running theirs – but it is not just about the need to be COVID-19 Secure, but also the financial considerations that are also at the forefront of our minds, and so we must cut our cloth very closely for the time being.

A two-fold challenge faces  us with transport – the need to ensure the highest standards of safety, and the high operating costs of the various transport operations at the museum.  With a prolonged period of closure, there are numerous necessary steps we must take before reintroducing passenger carrying transport, and this will be carried out once the full team is available to carry out this work to the required standards.

We have been able to reintroduce the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (or access bus as it is colloquially known) on three days per week, available on an on-call basis only for one household at a time and very specifically for those who otherwise would not be able to access the museum. This service started this week and will continue on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until the end of the school holidays (Saturday 5th September), after which we will review the operation for the late summer/autumn opening.

Around the museum…

We’ve managed to find sufficient materials on site to start building some of the screens adjacent to the bus depot, which weren’t completed by the contractor or building team when the depot was handed over. This has been a useful fill-in job for the two handymen who are back at work, and as can be seen, they are making good progress on the tall fence that will hide the compressor, jet wash and waste oil tank from view. They also found a pair of gates on site that have been hung to prevent access around to the workshop area. This was completed just in time for a delivery lorry to collide with the new gate that protects visitors on the perimeter path from vehicle movements in this area, so that’s another job the handymen have set themselves to completing the repairs of!
Signs of the times! The tramway, in its dormant form, has become a popular footpath on site – something that worries us somewhat given the slippery nature of sleepers and the prevalence of tiebars. So this sign is a more suprising and unusual example from our growing catalogue of COVID-19 Secure notices being installed around the museum.

This time last year…

It really is amazing to look back 12 months to the times of ‘old normal’ and see what we are missing out on now! Here is a reminder of what August 2019 looked like…

Above: Peckett 2000 was operating at Rowley Station. We have now off-hired the locomotive and, as we will need to review our outgoings for the transport operation for the short-term future, we are unlikely to hire-in any more locomotives. Rowley is also in need of some work to the track, that has now joined a lengthy queue of work that will need to be prioritised through the winter and into spring 2021.
Note that the weeds were growing in this location even then!
Above: Last year we were completing Samson’s little train, ahead of its visit to the Richmond Light Railway in Kent (seen below). Samson is still in the tram depot, the work on the replacement (weighted) buffer beam having stopped when the museum closed on March 20th. Glyder is stored though is a possible candidate for one or two steamings later this year (which I will advertise) before being laid up for the winter.
Above: Samson at the Richmond Light Railway. Suggestions following this visit led to the modification to the slide valve that has transformed the locomotive’s performance – though we have had little opportunity to enjoy this in 2020 with just a couple of steamings having taken place since this view was taken. When Samson re-emerges in 2021, it will sport the new buffing arrangements as well as the completed white pinstriping on the front boiler band – a long overdue job that I really must complete!