I should start with an apology – it has been quite a length of time since the last post on the blog – largely as there has been very little to actually report but a lot of behind the scenes work on such things as revised risk assessments, Health & Safety Policy, competence management updates and discussions as to the nature of what might lie ahead for the 2021 season. However, there are a few things to report, so here is a quick summary, followed by some archive views from an event held at the museum in 1973…
Something to break the monotony of lockdown 3 – the weather! Recent snowfalls would usually have been a great inconvenience, but this time they enable the site to be viewed in near-silent stillness. However, some work has continued, with the construction of the terrace continuing (internal fit out by contractors and the joinery team) and external work at Spainsfield Farm progressing (installation of drainage being the current challenge in this weather!). As can also be seen in the photo below, the roof trusses for the Redhouse semis have been installed as the walls for these and the neighbouring Police Houses are reaching eaves height. Elsewhere on site, the bakery is busy supplying the online afternoon teas which are selling fast through the retail arm, whilst minimal maintenance work on site is keeping things safe and sound in readiness for the mothballing process to be reversed, as and when we are able to carry this out.
We have a limited amount of engineering taking place on a part-time basis, focussed on keeping vehicles in service for use by the staff who are still at work, as well as making some inroads into the maintenance of the bus fleet that would usually take place over the winter. The Coop mobile shop has also been loaded aboard the trailer (itself in need of repairs, so not currently available for use) so that the two could be placed inside the tram depot for secure storage. The Landrover 2A is the hardworking tool of the gardens team, and is out most days – including its use as depot shunter as seen below!
A number of repairs have been carried out to vehicles – including the modern Transit vans, routine MoTs and the S&N replica van, used by the food team (seen in the view below) which required a replacement spring. Once these jobs took a matter of hours, but at present they can take weeks as parts are removed, sent away for refurbishment or renewal, then received back and wait on the next opportunity for attention. However, this job was completed and the van is back in the depot awaiting its call to service in due course…
Dave Young has been looking for lockdown projects and, in email correspondence, we discussed the idea of a steam calliope – something it turns out has interested him for years. So, work has started and this series of whistles, tuned in order that they can be ‘played’ will adorn the Steam Mule at some point in the future.
Another job (below) that started last year as an in-house contract for one of the apprentices (and in doing so earning some income for the museum) was the manufacture of four brake screws for Lister narrow gauge petrol/diesel locomotives. In due course Zoe will provide full details of the manufacture of these, but as lockdown loomed and the work was incomplete, Dave Young has finished the nuts that pull the brake rods off to help the museum out and complete the job when the staff were all furloughed once again.
There are still collars to weld to these, but hopefully this can be completed in the spring and the shafts can be dispatched to the customers. We don’t intend to do much contract work at the moment, but this was an opportunity last year to complete a contained task to enhance Zoe’s apprenticeship and offset the costs of manufacture and resourcing.
From the archive…
Eric Waugh has kindly sent through some images that he took at Beamish on the 2nd September 1973 on the site of the present events field (you can see the then new electric tramway in the background, which had opened in May of that year).
Captions sit below each image are taken directly from Eric’s own notes.
Above: JWS 594 – A Guy Arab II/Nudd Brothers FH555 bus which was new to London Transport (in 1943) and rebodied in 1953 for Edinburgh Corporation. The front grill arrangement seen here was fitted in 1961, but has since reverted to the 1953 style at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum, Lathalmond.
Above: HHN 202 – This is an ex Durham District Services Bristol L5G of 1947, fitted with Eastern Coachworks B35R body. The company was a subsidiary of United Automobile Services and the bus was preserved in 1969 after a career on services around County Durham.
Above: NVK 341 – An AEC Regient III fitted with Northern Coachbuilders (NCB) body H56R. Built in 1950 for Newcastle Corporation (what a lovely bus this would be to add to the collection!).
Above: CBR 539 – A 1952 Guy Arab III with Charles Roe H58R bodywork, ex Sunderland Corporation. The vents on the front upper deck were part of the Cave-Browne-Cave heating system, a modification carried out on this vehicle as an experiment by the Corporation.
Above: YPT 286 – This Leyland PD3 with Burlingham H73D bodywork was built in 1958 for Sunderland District Omnibuses, a subsidiary of the Northern General Transport Company. One of the last batch of double-deckers built before the arrival or rear-engined vehicles. These buses were fitted with platform doors form new, and were used on longer distance services such as the No.40 Newcastle – Sunderland – West Hartlepool run, or the No.57 Sunderland – Durham – Bishop Auckland route.
Above: JC 5313 – This is a 1938 Guy Wolf chassis with Waveney C20F body. Ex Llandudno Corporation. The bus featured on the first episode of the TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
Above: JUB 29 – A Leyland TD1 chassis from 1928, fitted with an Eastern Counties L53R body. Ex Keighley. After 36 years away from the rally field, the bus made its first outing (to York Racecourse) in September 2017. It has been in the ownership of the present custodian since 1963 and there is some suggestion that it is in fact a Leyland TD2 chassis. It was owned by Wallace Arnold between 1942 and 1952 after Keighley-West Yorkshire sold it. Between 1952 and 1963 it was used by Lister & Co in Addingham as their staff transport.
Above: CWX 671 – Another ex Keighley-West Yorkshire bus, beign a Bristol K5G chassis from 1938 and fitted with a Charles Roe L53R body. It was rebodied in 1950. It is now thought to be in private ownership in North Yorkshire, following a spell in the ownership of Keighley & District Travel Limited between 1993 and 2006.
Above: XUP 347L (left), a Leyland Atlantean with Northern Counties H83F body and at the time, brand new. To the right is ABT 157L, a Leyland Leopard with Dominant C53F coachwork, also dating from 1973. Both were newly acquired by OK Motor Services of Bishop Auckland. Eric notes that some years later, he drove the Atlantean in service.
Above: DCN 905 – An AEC Monocoach with Park Royal body. Built in 1954 it was new to Northern General Transport but by 1973 it was owned by Beamish and used as a mobile exhibition bus, travelling to events around the region to advertise the new museum. Eric recalls that it was the first bus that he drove, returning it from an event at Wheatsheaf Bus Depot in Sunderland, and later driving it to an air-show at Church Fenton as part of the travelling exhibition. It received a repaint under Beamish auspices, but was later disposed of. A the time, of course, it was believed to be too modern for the museum – how things have changed and how useful this bus would have been as part of the 1950s bus route development underway now.
Above: LKV 123 – An ex Newcastle Corporation Leyalnd PD2 with leyland H56R bodywork. Built in 1948 it was associated with Beamish at this time (see this link: http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk/imagegalleries/transport-industry-at-beamish-1970s/ ). Another bus that would have been a very useful asset to the museum now! This bus still resides in the region today.
Above: KUP 799 – A 1950 Albion Valiant with Associated Coachbuilders C33F bodywork. This bus was new to the Economic Bus Service of Whitburn but by 1973 it was owned by Don Smiths’s coaches of Murton. Today it is owned by John Sullivan, and has been restored to a very high standard at his company, Gardiners Coach Repairs in Spennymoor (who are completing the restoration of Leyland Cub, Crosville 716, for Beamish).