Watercress Line

Miniature Railway Summer Activities

Work has been continuing on several fronts at the Miniature Railway during the summer.

The new coach frames are nearing completion and two of the four bogies have been rebuilt and repainted. The other two have been re-assembled but have yet to be painted. This 3 car articulated set of frames has undergone the first test run and it runs quite smoothly and freely both up and down the main line and through the yard points but we still have a couple of issues to resolve. One end coach frame has a slight twist and the centre coach sits slightly lower than the two end coaches. Nothing major but obviously needs resolving. Thanks are due to David Ford and his fellow Wednesday Loco Gang members for their efforts with these frames and also to the Preservation Society for kindly funding the materials. Martin has made a start on the seat frames having made some excellent jigs for this. All the centre coach ones are now complete.

The exposed north side of our container has been repainted and looks much neater. David Ford will hopefully be obtaining plans and materials for the cladding shortly.

We have been trying to keep the line side vegetation under control and Ben Spraggon has been of great assistance with this. More fencing has been erected and both platforms plus the cess tank area are now contained within pleasant looking green fencing. This is a credit to Dave, Keith and various others that have pitched in to help. We now have power at the station thanks to a post donated and installed by Ben Spraggon and the efforts of the Building Dept Electrical Group who connected it into the previously installed container supply circuit.

All our electrical gear has been PAT Tested and thanks are due to Helen Broadbent for undertaking this for us. We have four failing items which require attention but nothing too serious.

We have been running every Saturday throughout the season and are considering the possibility of running Sundays as well next year, as we have gained some new members and might be able to divide into two teams to cover this. We ran on one Sunday in support of the Charity Event “Isabelles Dream” being held at the Watercress Lodges to help raise funds to send young Isabelle to America for an operation. We raised £40 in donations for this and a big thank you to all who supported this worthwhile cause. We also ran during the Saturday and Sunday of War On The Line. Saturday was reasonable with 249 passengers carried but Sunday was a disappointment with only 46 carried.

The August DOWT event was very good in comparison as the figures below indicate:

 

Day     Date          Trips         Passengers Carried

1    Sat 6th       106            988

2    Sun 7th      103            1049

3    Mon 8th      102            942

4    Tues 9th     104            707

5    Wed 10th   100            794

6    Thur 11th   94        883

7    Fri 12th       87        829

8    Sat 13th     104            933

9    Sun 14th    112            1274

 

No records broken (our previous highest passenger count was 1368 on Good Friday of this years Easter DOWT) but, the passenger numbers were much more consistent, presumably due to the good weather we were blessed with. In total we carried 8399 passengers over the 9 days in comparison with 7131 carried over the 10 days of the Easter event. Also we made 912 trips (compared to only 871 for the Easter event) which meant that we covered nearly 140 miles.

We had a couple of issues during the event both of which were quickly resolved. During the Monday morning test run we heard a scraping noise and found a coach wheel coming loose on an axle. The wheel was rubbing against the outer frame causing the noise we heard. The bogie was removed and taken down to the shed where the wheel was pushed fully home, checked for true running and welded to the axle. We are indebted to young Alex who did the welding for us. With the bogie repaired and replaced we commenced services just 10 minutes late. The only other issue was with the loco Patricia which had been handling our services with ease, until Friday afternoon when she disgraced herself by spraying some diesel oil in the engine compartment from a pin size hole in a fuel pipe. Nevada was pressed into service for the remainder of the afternoon without any disruption to the service. Patricia was soon cleaned up and repaired and ran without issue for the remaining two days. So, all in all, a very good event and it was most encouraging to hear all the positive comments, not just about the Miniature Railway but the event as a whole – we must be doing something right! Again thanks are due to all of the Miniature Railway Team who worked so tirelessly to keep everything running smoothly. Also we must thank Karen Butler for plugging us during her commentary (I don’t know how she keeps this up!) plus the Vicar and his PC friend and all the station and train staff that endeavoured to encourage the public to visit our little station.

 

Ray Briscall

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