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Beamish Transport Online http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk Fri, 18 May 2018 12:19:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.26 T&I News 9 2018… http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/ti-news-9-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/ti-news-9-2018/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:18:58 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16635 This posting is largely pictorial and includes a few random galleries relating to recent events etc.


Below: The Model T team have stripped the Ton Truck down to its bare form as they continue to assess its condition ahead of a comprehensive rebuild (it is planned to become a refuse cart for use around the site and this will include a ‘bin back’ and also a new cab of English style).  The rear axle/differential is in very poor condition and reflects both previous use before Beamish as well as the use and abuse of regular operation here.  The engine will likely receive new pistons/connecting rods too.  There is very little that will not have to be rebuilt, so this project will be a comprehensive rebuild over the next year – 18 months.  The photos below show the dismantling and also some of the extreme wear caused by lack of lubrication in the rear axle.  A new rear axle assembly is currently being sought.

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A typical day in the Colliery…

Below: A few rather grainy mobile phone images of No.18 one day last week, pottering around the Colliery on one of its three days per week in steam.  1877 locomotive, 1860s/70s waggons and a scene we perhaps take for granted sometimes!  Lamps are not encouraged and will be hidden, making it look a little too ‘main line’ for my liking!

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Narrow gauge musings…

Below: Dave Hewitt sent some more photos through, taken last Friday and showing Matt and I having an afternoon enjoying the narrow gauge railway (never time during steam events) and enabling Dave to gather some more images of the railway in sunshine…

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As before – please don’t harvest these images for circulation elsewhere.

Below: A phone photo showing the view I had hoped to create – dappled light on a grassing over narrow gauge byway and open cabbed locomotive to appreciate the view from…


Great War Steam Fair – a last look…

Below: Again, from the phone so not of the best quality, but these show one of the evenings during the steam fair when the WW1 vehicles were gathered for an informal photo-shoot for their owners.  The event already seems a long time ago…

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Posted by Paul Jarman

Assistant Director – Curatorial

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T&I News 8 2018… http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/ti-news-8-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/ti-news-8-2018/#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2018 11:04:58 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16612 As a change from steam fair photographs, here are a couple of news items relating to Rowley Station and its future operational developments…


Below: Whilst Dunrobin’s overhaul/rebuild has been continuing at Bridgnorth, the Severn Valley Railway’s carriage team have been overhauling the vacuum brake cylinder for the locomotive (having previously overhauled the cylinder for the coach, 58A, some time ago).  Nigel Hanson (Kidderminster Carriage Works Manager), who has carried out the work at Kidderminster, sent through some photographs and notes relating to the work carried out.  Dunrobin will be the first vacuum braked locomotive in the present operating era at Beamish and so will present some new features for the crews here.  There was also some doubt at first as to whether the vacuum cylinder that we had was in fact from this locomotive.  Dunrobin had been modified in Canada, having an air brake system fitted and the vacuum components stored.  There were also items from a Mk1 carriage which was shipped out to Canada in 1969, so we had ended up with more parts than locomotive to fit them to!

Here the brake cylinder is seen on a jig ready for dismantling.  The chambers behind are part of the system for setting up and testing vacuum brake equipment that has been installed at Kidderminster Carriage Works (ex Wolverton I think?).

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Below: A non standard fitting – it is thought that this fitting enabled the reservoir to be released from a valve on the footplate.  Possibly an LMS modification but perhaps something fitted during Dunrobin’s initial running in Canada, when it was still vacuum fitted.

Dunrobin reservoir connection 2

Below: When dismantled, the identity of the cylinder was confirmed by these chalk markings…

Dunrobin vac cyl chalk writing 1

Below: The vacuum cylinder piston is sealed with a rubber ring – the original and replacement are shown here – the newer intact round section of the replacement contrasting with the somewhat worn original!

Dunrobin original and replacement rolling ring

Below: A view inside the cylinder…

Dunrobin vac cyl inside bore

Below: Two views of the piston itself, note the grooves, into which the rubber seal is located.

Dunrobin Piston 1 Dunrobin Piston 2

Below: The cylinder being reassembled…  The piston rod has been renewed and the rubber neck gland (through which the rod passes) has been replaced with a nylon insert to minimise maintenance in the future.  The completed cylinder has been tested and is stored pending fitting to the locomotive when required.  The original components not needed for the overhaul have been returned to Beamish for storage as part of the material record of Dunrobin.   Many thanks to Nigel Hanson for the photographs.

Dunrobin vac cyl reassembly 1

Rowley Station

The collection team required access to parts of the storage area usually obscured by rolling stock in the Regional Museum Store.  On Monday a shunt was carried out to move these items, including the NER clerestory luggage composite coach 3071 (which carries the number 818 at present).  The opportunity was taken to pose this coach in the station and David Watchman sent through these photographs of the shunt.

Our plan is to overhaul and repaint the NER coach, hopefully starting later this year.  The RHEC programme is fairly ‘full’ at present, and we will be glad to see the gallopers components completed and depart!  Next winter we are likely to have to renew the two chaldron waggon timbers from the Waggonway train, so this will occupy a great deal of the programme from Christmas.  The work on Joe the Quilter’s cottage should be finished shortly and Tony and Matt B will turn their attention to some of the other work that is to be undertaken in-house.


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Paul Jarman

Assistant Director – Curatorial

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A professional photographic view of the GNSF… http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/a-professionals-photographic-view-of-the-gnsf/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/a-professionals-photographic-view-of-the-gnsf/#comments Sat, 07 Apr 2018 17:29:28 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16589 Professional photographer Dave Hewitt has once again sent through some of his superb images of the railway during the Great North Steam Fair…  Many thanks to Dave for letting us use these on the blog.

They are shared here for viewing only – please do not reproduce these without permission…

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Great North (War) Steam Fair 2018… http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/great-north-war-steam-fair-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/04/great-north-war-steam-fair-2018/#comments Sat, 07 Apr 2018 13:18:18 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16566 Unlike previous years, I’ve not had a chance to add much about the steam fair this year – so here is a small gallery of phone shots taken over the last three days.  A glance online suggests there are a great deal of photographs appearing online in any case, so please do look out on the Beamish Facebook page for images, and I’ll try and expand the gallery next week once other images have come our way…  We’ve had two days of good weather and today is a little damp.  However, as Wednesday saw a decent snowfall and a lot of flooding, I think we can be glad to have had the weather we are ‘enjoying’!  There is another good turnout of WW1 lorries, and we will try and gather these for a photograph at some point over the weekend…

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Great North Steam Fair preparations – narrow gauge railway http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/great-north-steam-fair-preparations-narrow-gauge-railway/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/great-north-steam-fair-preparations-narrow-gauge-railway/#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2018 15:12:16 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16546 With less than a week to go until the Great North (War) Steam Fair, Friday and Saturday have been spent preparing the Colliery area, largely around the narrow gauge and saw bench activities/displays.

The two guest locomotives, Hunslets Statfold and Jack Lane, arrived from the Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire.  Statfold was then used as motive power for the shunting needed to prepare the trains which will be operated at the event.

A number of new waggons were also completed, with final work being carried out as they moved to the Colliery!  Here, then, are some photographs that show what visitors can look forward to seeing next week and beyond (the locomotives are staying with us beyond the event).

Below: Statfold and Jack Lane arrived on Thursday.  Statfold has now become well acquainted with the railway here during shunting operations.  I’ll try and get around to putting some film on the blog showing these runs.  Unusually, there was some sunshine for the first photo on Thursday.  Friday and Saturday was attended by cloud, rain, sleet and more rain!

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Below: The two side tipping Ffestiniog Railway granite waggons.  Matt Ellis described these in an earlier post.  Both are now complete and moved to the railway in the last couple of days (so much space in the workshops now!) after a lot of evening effort to complete the work.

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Below: Ffestiniog Railway coal waggon No.26.  Comprehensively rebuilt and repainted in the RHEC and placed on the railway here for the first time this morning.

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Below: The two bolster waggons on loan from the Apedale Valley Railway and which have been repaired, shotblasted and repainted as part of their loan to us.  They arrived for the GNSF last year and area appearing again at this event.


Below: The potential extension of the line is seen here.  Not particularly long but it would enable a couple of sidings and for us to display rolling stock adjacent to the Sinkers catering outlet so that visitors can see the waggons etc. when we are not operating the railway.  The small matter of losing a mound of stone and rubble to contend with first…


Below: The brake van (tool van!) has been completed and tested.  Its handbrake is very effective and we are delighted with the way this waggon has turned out.  It looks very well with the FR stock as well as our own, and is a useful place to store items needed for operating the railway and which always get left in a shed a walk away!

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Below: The ‘beer waggon’ seen on test – it does seem to hold water!  It will provide a mobile water supply for traction engines operating the saw bench both at this event and in the future.  With a 200 gallon capacity it should be ably suited to the role, and next week will be used in conjunction with the Steam Mule.


Below: A few general views taken through the gloom and rain…

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Posted by Paul Jarman

Assistant Director – Curatorial


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T&I News 7 2018 *Updated* http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/ti-news-7-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/ti-news-7-2018/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 11:00:27 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16492 With Easter only a matter of days away now, and the forthcoming Great North Steam Fair also on the very near horizon, a huge amount of work is underway to ensure we are ready for both occasions.  The first weekend of the Great North Festival of Transport has also taken place and is covered below.  We start in the workshops, with a look at recent work undertaken within the Regional Heritage Engineering Centre…


Below: The rebuild of the Morris Commercial has now finally been completed.  This included an extensive engine/mechanical overhaul, a lot of cosmetic work, fitting of a new body and it being fully repainted and sign-written.  The original donor’s livery has been retained, as can be seen here.  It will be used by the site handymen so will continue to earn its living, despite dating from 1933!  The indicators are a feature on the body that I think may disappear in time…!

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Below: Matt Bedard took some photos whilst the Morris was ‘brand new’…

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Below: Down in the Colliery David Grindley is awakening the locomotives from their winter slumber.  Here is Coffee Pot No.1.  Behind it are the non-operational chaldron waggons.  These have had cosmetic attention in readiness for display outside again.  No.18 is awaiting new brake turnbuckles – chasing a deadline for these by the end of the week in readiness for its fitness to run examination and re-entry into traffic for next the steam fair.


Below: Much progress has been made on the narrow gauge rolling stock, as reported previously by Matt Ellis.  Here is the beer waggon, which is now being plumbed up in order to give us a mobile water supply for the steam fair and other events.  Care is being taken to make it look as ‘probable’ as possible and I think it looks terrific!  Sign-writing is to follow…


Below: The completed waggon, with balance pipes fitted and delivery hose installed…


Below: The brakevan (we call it a braked tool van – more in keeping with the colliery environment it will live in) is now complete and will shortly move to the railway.  The lettering is based on the style used by the Earl of Durham, the livery is a traditional style in the spirit of the early NER brakevans and I think really suits the van.  Matt and I are so pleased with this vehicle that we can’t stop looking at it!  Given the steep gradients we have on our little narrow gauge system, a well braked van has been something we have wanted for some time, sufficiently heavy to be able to restrain a train as well as its own weight.  Testing will be undertaken very shortly to see how effective the van actually is…

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Below: The two bolsters on loan from the Apedale Valley Railway have been repaired, shot-blasted, painted and reassembled.  These will be carrying timber once again during the steam fair.  New coupling pins have also been made, complete with secondary fixings for safety.


Below: The second Ffestiniog Railway granite side tipper has been quickly stripped and repainted…  This is a fast turnaround in order to run it with the fully restored example completed by the BINGE volunteers recently – see them both at the steam fair…

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Below: In the RHEC the new framework (in steel) for the swing boats is being painted after Chris has spent the last few months manufacturing this sizable structure.  It will hopefully prove rather more resistant (to weather and visitors) than the wooden framework had done and should minimise maintenance in the years to come – the appearance being exactly the same as its previous incarnation.


Below: Horses continue to progress through the production line as Rebecca works her magic on the 36 original wooden examples from our steam gallopers.


Below: Over in the tram depot, the D bus is being fitted with a new gearbox – Russell has been acquiring spare parts for this particular chassis, and this has paid dividends in ensuring the ongoing availability of this vehicle.  In due course we may have to consider an alternative chassis/drivetrain for this bus – built in 1987 it has now had a far longer (and possibly harder!) life than the vehicles upon which it was based – certainly the original J2503 which ran for only a matter of months as a bus for Gateashead Tramways before being handed over for military work (as a lorry) in the First World War.  It will also regain the solid-tyred wheels as part of this current programme of maintenance.


Below: The completed project, with the bus tested and inspected and receiving a clean ahead of re-entering service in time for Easter.


Below: John and Mike, who are the volunteers working on the Model T fleet, have now stripped the Ton Truck – seen here.  It is fairly tired (very tired!) and will require extensive work to bring it up to the standard of the Crewe Tractor and Tourer (seen behind).  It will be outshopped with an C style cab in place of the American one previously fitted; and a refuse body in place of the dropside.  This will enable it to access parts of the site, such as the forthcoming Spainsfield Farm area, where modern vehicles are not desirable.

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Below: Tony and Matt (seen here) have been engaged in splitting timbers for Joe the Quilter’s cottage – having produced the crucks which support the roof.  They are now working on the purlins and rafters – time consuming and repetitive work…


Below: Matt B also supplied these photographs showing the RHEC made components in situ.  For those not familiar with this building, more information can be found on the main Museum website.  The roof will be heather thatched, over a base layer of turf.  The style and construction reflecting materials in a fairly raw and primitive state.  The construction is pegged together – the bolts visible were fitted to enable the timbers to be carried in one piece from the RHEC to the site.

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Below: In conjunction with the new developments, an extensive display of signage of an appropriate style (and both printed and signwritten) has been attached to the boundary fence along the 1950s development area in order to explain something of the plan and also illustrate some of the shops and amenities that we are building in this area.  Sheffield 264 and the first real spring sunshine accompany this scene.


Pedal and Bus Power event

As the Old King Coal event has moved to June, a new idea was trialled this March – originally Pedal Power, but expanded to include buses, the event last weekend was considered successful and will, in a modified format, reappear in 2019.  We had a number of visiting buses, both on display and in operation, giving us the best transport service we’ve ever operated!  Part of the tramway was closed to trams so as to allow rail-cycles to be demonstrated on the reserved track sections.  Cumbria Classic Coaches and the Aycliffe & District Bus Preservation Group sent vehicles, alongside some private examples as well as our own.  Hopefully for 2019′s event we’ll gave the new bus depot as a feature of the activities…  Meanwhile, here is a sample of what could be seen during the weekend (more photos appear on Beamish’s Facebook page).

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Posted by Paul Jarman

Assistant Director – Curatorial

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T&I News 6 2018 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/ti-news-6-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/ti-news-6-2018/#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 15:44:52 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16485 In response to a comment on a previous post, Paul mentioned that we have been looking at apprenticeships and skills succession. Some readers may have already seen the advert for the Heritage Restoration Apprentice, more details of which at this link: -


The Heritage Restoration Apprentice will work in the RHEC, working on and learning their skills on a variety of projects some of which will include the transport exhibits.

We have just advertised, today, for a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice. We have been working with a local college to work out which courses they provide that best fit with our operations and needs. The result is a 4 year apprenticeship which has the emphasis firmly on mechanical engineering, with a particular focus on the manufacture and repair of components. This is likely to focus on the tramcar fleet, the apprentice will also be trained in the operating grades to gain an understanding of the fleet as an operating exhibit. More details can be found at the link here:-


Both apprenticeships are excellent opportunities for people wishing to learn the skills necessary to maintain and repair our working exhibits. As you would expect, they are hands on roles. Should you wish to apply then details of how to do this can be found at the links provided.

Here are some photos of some of the types of work the apprentices might expect to learn and carry out in the future.

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Whilst on the subject of skills retention, on Friday we had 2 new tram drivers externally assessed, Kayleigh and Kevin.

Below: Kevin and Kayleigh with 196 in service on Friday, after qualifying as drivers that morning.


The need to train new drivers is ever present as people move to new jobs or take retirement; we also need to up our numbers slightly to keep up with the increased visitor numbers. Kayleigh is now our youngest driver at 21, having worked at Beamish for 3 years. Kayleigh and Kevin have both been trained by Stuart Jennings, out tramway supervisor. The importance of passing on the sort of knowledge Stuart has cannot be under estimated, these apprenticeships will replicate the passing on of skills suitable for the maintenance and overhaul of our exhibits.

Matthew Ellis

Keeper of Transport


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T&I News 5 2018 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/ti-news-5-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/03/ti-news-5-2018/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2018 09:53:30 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16467 In the last blog post I promised to update with the Narrow Gauge motive power for the GNSF, once we had confirmation on what we will be using.

The railway will be operated by 3 steam locomotives covered below. The sub theme for the narrow gauge line at the event is new build locomotives, all these engines being built built since 2000.


Below: Samson will be familiar to regular blog readers. Whilst it isn’t a visitor this will be the first time that Samson has operated on the Narrow Gauge Railway for the GNSF. It will be largely based at the Pockerley end of the line with its tender and lead tub, though may see some occasional use on the other wagons.


Statfold and Jack Lane

We are pleased to be hosting two locomotives from the Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust. Statfold and Jack Lane were both built in 2005. These two locomotives will do the majority of the work over the GNSF, running with the various wagons covered in the previous post. They will arrive just before the Easter weekend and will stay until mid-May so will be seen in steam on a few occasions after the event.

Below: Some photos of Jack Lane and Statfold at the Threlkeld Quarry Railway event last year. The locomotives are well travelled ambassadors for Statfold and we are pleased to be able to add Beamish to the list of locations they have visited.





Whilst not a new build, the National Railway Museum simplex will see occasional use over the event, fitting into the World War One theme.

Below: The simplex and Crewe tractor last year.



Matthew Ellis

Keeper of Transport

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T&I News 4 2018 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/02/ti-news-4-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/02/ti-news-4-2018/#comments Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:51:47 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16439 It has been quite some time since a dedicated Narrow Gauge update so I thought I would do an update on the variety of work going on.

At the GNSF each year we try to make a feature of the Narrow Gauge Railway and where practical and safe open up sections of the railway so that visitors can get up close to the locomotives and rolling stock. With the GNSF now just six weeks away (they go quickly too), we are trying to bring a number of projects to completion in time for this year’s event.

Brake Van

Dave Young has been working on the brake van chassis, completing all running gear. Last time this was seen on the blog the wheelsets had just been trial fitted in the axleboxes.

Below:  In this view we see the completed chassis, with brake gear assembled. To test the brake gear assembly, the handbrake pedestal had been temporarily mounted with packing of the same size as the main frame of the van, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of that stage of the work. The pedestal will be reinstated in the van when the body is fitted onto the chassis, then it can all be finally tested.


Below: Later in the week the body and chassis were brought together in the RHEC, then the body lifted onto the chassis. The main jobs remaining are to complete the pipe runs for the axlebox lubrication and to manufacture and fit the buffing and draw gear. There are other detail jobs to complete too. The van will be sign written to give the van an identity. The identity will be V3, V meaning Van and the 3 because it is the third Beamish built wagon.


FR Wagons

The first of the tipper wagons (830) is now complete and back on the railway. Again signwriting is to be done but it is otherwise complete.

Below: Before restoration



Below:  After restoration. The work has been entirely completed by volunteers, including some staff working in their own time.



The second tipper (848) is next in line. This is in good mechanical order having been restored by the FR about 15 years ago. We have the wagon on short term loan and in return for this we are bringing the cosmetic appearance up to the same standard as 830. Whilst they are not an exact pair, they will look excellent together.

Below:  848 is seen here with the wheelsets, brake gear and axleboxes removed. This will be grit blasted and spray primed before being brush painted to match 830.


Below: 848 is seen part way through the blasting process


The coal wagon (26) has been largely complete for some time. Its rebuild was speedy and benefitted from some apprentice work, this being a good project to see right through and practice their skills. It has been painted in the paint shop at the same time as the brake van.  Again sign writing will take place in the next few weeks.

Below:  26 complete and outside for the first time since painting. Shed space being at a premium on the Narrow Gauge line, 26 will temporarily live in the dual gauge (though not rail connected) store shed.


Flat Wagon

Last year one of the RHEC volunteers completed the flat wagon (identity B2). This was designed to be multi-purpose with the stanchion sockets able to take various attachments. At the GNSF last year it was used with the stanchions in as a timber carrier. It has since been used with the stanchions removed to carry the newly acquired steam winch.

Below: B2 seen with stanchions removed and loaded with the steam winch.


At the GNSF this year we will need the ability to transport water to the Pockerley end of the Narrow Gauge Railway. After some thought and sketches, we have decided to use two barrels. They will sit on a frame that locates on the bolsters and can be tied down through the stanchion sockets. The barrels will be plumbed together forming a suitable water carrier. At future events the frame and barrels could be moved pretty much anywhere to give a loco or traction engine a water supply remote from running water.

Below: The two barrels loosely placed on the flat wagon.


Hopefully the six remaining weeks provide sufficient time for us to complete the various pieces of work to deliver another good event. Once we have a bit more certainty on what motive power we will be using to shunt all these wagons we will of course update the blog.

Matthew Ellis

Keeper of Transport

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T&I News 3 2018… http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/02/ti-news-3-2018/ http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/2018/02/ti-news-3-2018/#comments Fri, 09 Feb 2018 22:00:12 +0000 http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/?p=16423 Month 2 and post 3!  I had promised more information on Dunrobin’s restoration – so here it is, along with some other snippets of news that will be of interest to readers…


This project is really the one that continues to ‘give’!  Having committed to the project as a comprehensive restoration, we are now at the ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ stage of work where anything that presents a doubt, is being renewed.  The boiler is largely complete (and awaits assembly), with a great deal of new material incorporated including new barrel, firebox outer wrapper skirts, all new stays, new longitudinal and palm stays, overhauled dome, new smokebox and new internal components such as the J pipe also being replaced.  Whilst the locomotive is a historical exhibit, we will expect it to operate for many years at Beamish, and to this end, the restoration has been a no-compromise exercise.  The frames have also received extensive attention, likewise the axleboxes (with improvements to enable them to be better serviced) and new tanks and ashpan are also in hand.

We are aiming for a locomotive good for 20+ years (fitting around boiler inspection and written scheme intervals) before any further significant work is required.  This also motivated the manufacture of a new cylinder block (currently being set up)  and now, new coupled wheels.

When we bought the locomotive, we could see some cracks in a small number of spokes.  Once these were stripped at Bridgnorth, a great deal more cracks were revealed, to the extent that an independent inspection was commissioned using the magnetic particle inspection technique.  The photos below vividly illustrate just what the problem is…

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Faced with such extensive cracking, and knowing this could be an Achilles heel for the locomotive, the renewal of all four ‘driving’ wheels (coupled wheels) was investigated and as a result, this is now the approach being taken.  The crank axle will be retained, whilst the rest (wheel centres, tyres, front axle and crankpins) will be entirely new.

This is obviously a huge disappointment and a very large cost to add to the project.  However, it will match our desire to have the best possible restoration for the locomotive.

One thing that is worth adding here, once complete, Dunrobin will operate almost exclusively at Beamish - it has a considerable investment to repay!  We have a small number of railways it could visit in mind, where it would be appropriate and add value to an event, if it is wanted there.  I would love to see it operate in Scotland again for instance…  Interestingly, the cost of hiring at the rate we operate, is equivalent, over 15 years, to the full Dunrobin project cost (including purchase, shipping, restoration, the saloon coach and the improved facilities at Rowley Station for it) so it does offer a very sound return on our investment in the medium term.  Plus has the advantage of the footplate seat for a number of passengers…

Timescale wise, the delay is significant but not as bad as one might assume (and no, I won’t say how long!).  There is an interesting curatorial debate to have regarding the restoration and operation of the locomotive – given it was so recently steamed in Canada before purchase.  We are introducing a considerable amount of new material to the locomotive, but this is in the interests of sustaining its operating well into the future and giving Beamish a very sound return on the investment and a reliable locomotive with which to bring the NER station to life – such an important part of our visitor engagement there.

Rowley Station

Below: The station team have been busy improving the exhibits within the goods shed display – including a repaint for the NER G2 goods van.  This is a hugely important vehicle and very much on the ‘to do one day’ list. For now it remains under cover and forms part of this display.  The Tranship van will also be tackled and the GWR Mink is now in the RMS to dry out to enable completion of its repaint and tidy up for display.

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Below: Negotiations for another hire locomotive to operate at Rowley later in 2018 is being concluded - this being the M&GN Railway Society’s Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST ‘Wissington’.  Built in 1938 it worked at the British Sugar Corporation’s Wissington works, where a network of private railway lines enabled beet to be harvested and delivered for processing.  Wissington was withdrawn in 1972, passing to the M&GN Railway Society in 1978 and moving to the North Norfolk Railway where it was eventually restored.  Of particular interest to us is that it worked alongside our own Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST ‘Newcastle’.  It is unlikely that they will meet at Beamish however, this time anyway…

It is terrific to work with another group, especially one dedicated to the preservation in working order of an industrial steam locomotive such as Wissington.  It will also be recreating a very nice light-railway scene with the two four-wheel coaches now in use at Rowley.  Our thanks to the M&GN Railwlay Society for making this hire possible.

You can read more about Wissington and the M&GN Railway Society on their website here: http://mandgn.org/page.php?pid=30

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Photo credits: M&GN Railway Society

Tramway and Buses

Remaking Beamish is gathering momentum with progress continuing on the civil engineering stages of the programme.  The area to the front of the tram depot is likely to be recipient of attention later in the spring, and to this end a start has been made on clearing the space in readiness for setting up a construction compound.  This view should change dramatically during 2018, so I thought a ‘before’ photo would be of interest…  The area I am stood on should also form a new apron for both shunting and also turning the Colliery bus services in rather more space than they have at present…


Next time we should have more on the steam maintenance programme from Matt Ellis, and I’ll try and update the RHEC works currently underway including some of the narrow gauge waggon restoration progress.

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