Watercress Line

Coronavirus / Covid-19 Update

Our priority during the Coronavirus / Covid-19 outbreak, and the railway's closure, is on meeting our running costs. We need around £75,000 per month. Without this income, within a relatively short period we will exhaust our reserves which are so important us for our long term plans.

Although these are difficult times for all of us, we are asking you to consider providing financial support to the railway. With your support, ideally through a monthly standing order, the railway can be in a safe and good position to move forward rapidly when circumstances allow.

The amount is up to you as everyone’s circumstances are different, but please give as generously as you can. One-off donations would also be welcomed.

Thank you.

Visit our donation page to make a monthly gift or donate a single amount.

You can also text WATERCRESS to 70085 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message.

Urie Blog Feb-May

Those of you who have read my blogs over the past few years will be aware that I don’t routinely mention names. This time however, I’m going to break the rules – and dedicate this particular blog to my late father, Clive Pedley, who passed away recently following a long and brave fight against cancer. A railwayman himself in his early working life (firing on the western region out of Gloucester Horton Road), Dad was always extremely supportive of what we are doing within the ULS and shared my enthusiasm for steam preservation. Even though the S15’s don’t have copper chimneys, my Monday visits always had to start with a summary of the work we’d done over the previous weekend. He was proud of how much was being achieved by such a small group, he was also extremely proud of what the MHR as a whole has achieved since my first days there as a spotty faced teenager back in the ‘70’s. He looked forward to a footplate ride on 506 one day, but sadly that is not to be. My blogs have been somewhat erratic over the past year and now you all know why. It has been a very difficult time, and a period in which we in the ULS have come to think about our own mortality. We don’t go on forever - but the loco’s do; we are merely guardians saving them for future generations. So, in dad’s memory, here’s a brief overview of what’s been done since February in the overhaul/restoration of these 2 wonders of British engineering heritage:

The new cab was left in situ for the MHR spring gala, after which it was immediately stripped down. The roof, spectacle plate and lower front sections, and R/H side/tool box have all been removed including supporting angles. A significant amount of time is being spent on drilling/countersinking all missing holes, removing millscale and rust, priming and undercoating. Once complete then the L/H side will be taken for the same treatment. When everything is ready, then the cab will be rebuilt permanently. This is one of those periods of time when not much appears to be going on whereas in fact there is an awful lot happening! I don’t believe we’re that far away from putting the cab back together in its finished state.

Tender 3214
With the new frame sections for 506 not yet on site, work on the tender has continued uninterrupted for the past couple of months. Lids have been made for the waterfillers and these are now firmly bolted into position towards the back of the tender. The area on which these sit has been cleaned, primed, undercoated and glossed – its starting to look the part! Further towards the front, in the coal section, we’ve been doing yet more drilling! This time it was to secure the beading at the top of the raves with bolts rather than just the spot welds which have held it in place up to now. The reason, one of practicality – if the digger bucket were to catch the beading when coaling up there would be a risk with spot welds of the whole thing coming off. The bolts give us that extra bit of security. The inside of the raves have again been painted up to first gloss, while the tool box stands and supporting brackets have also been taken to the gloss stage. The sides of the tank are now up to grey undercoat. The shovelling plate has been fabricated and fettled, and is bolted in place – it also provides quite a handy step for climbing into the coal space! Underneath, the pipework to the injectors is fabricated, just needs painting before final fixing. The water feed valves to the injectors are now in place. The vacuum cylinder has been removed and is currently being refurbished while the weighshaft is receiving attention to ‘alterations’ made whilst the chassis was in use as a diesel testing van at Eastleigh. Although there are still a number of jobs to complete, we can now see our way out of the job and I’m hopeful that the finished tender will be on display at the Autumn gala. 

Some work has been done midweek in building up wasted areas on the central casting with weld then grinding back, as reported in the scribe’s blogs. Other than that nothing is happening until we receive the new frame sections from Tata; at the time of writing I have no more news on this delivery. Most of the heavy repair work to the boiler is complete and fittings made/refurbished – I’m away in a couple of weeks time, so my intention is to prepare the long awaited boiler blog in July.

As always, if anyone who is considering a donation to the 499 Appeal please click here. Donations come in many forms and I’m delighted to say a recent contribution came in the form of a watercolour painting of 506 by artist Stephen Bedser. We will have a limited number of prints available to buy soon then, of course, we will consider ways to maximise the funds we can get from the original; watch this space for more information. If you would like to view some of Stephen’s other work, please click here

Until next month…

Photo gallery