Monday 12th April 2021

John Dixon constructs the formers for the new brick arch in FR 20We are heading towards the casting of a new brick arch for FR 20 with John Dixon now in the final stages of constructing the formers in the confined space of the fire box.

Alan annealing copper steam pipes for FR 20With the injectors now fitted, Alan has been annealing the copper steam pipework that now needs to be connected. Meanwhile Ed has continued his work cleaning up the chimney.

John Davis paints controls in FluffJohn Davis has been painting the controls in Fluff‘s cab.

Fred cleans up the water craneFred has been back in action after the lockdown break and has been cleaning up the former Furness Railway water crane from Foxfield. Needless to say, it didn’t take him long to wear out his first cup wire brush of the year!

New fire box for the water craneMeanwhile Keith has finished fabricating a new fire box for the water crane.

Ade drilling out smokebox rivets on Caliban's boiler

And finally, Ade has continued to drill out out the rivets on Caliban‘s smokebox to allow it to be removed.

Easter Monday 5th April 2021

This last week saw the start of a gradual return to normality with the lifting of the ‘stay at home’ restriction and the welcome reappearance of some of our working members. Paul Balshaw and Fred both popped their heads into the FRT shed to say hello and to apologise for a further delay in their return due to injuries sustained during lockdown – just what had they been doing? However, both Mike Rigg and John Davis appeared on Friday with intent to do some work, although Mike’s time with us in the shed was limited owing to having to be careful after a spell in main works. We hear that Phil is also likely to return shortly after having spent time at home in a caring capacity, but Paul Newton (whose professional career was in health) is currently doing a sterling job in assisting with the vaccination programme – well done, Paul!

So, what have those who are fit and well been up to this week?

Sam and Alan with one of FR 20's injectorsSam and Alan (grandson and granddad) spent time making up joints (steam joints, that is!) and test fitting injectors on FR 20.

Ed rubs down FR 20's chimneyEd has been cleaning and rubbing down FR 20’s chimney.

John Dixon with the formers for Fr 20's new brick archJohn has nearly completed the formers for the construction of FR 20’s new brick arch.

Lined out splasher - wish it would appear right side up!!!Tim has completed the lining out  of FR 20’s splashers, which are now ready for fitting.

John Davis and Mike Rigg measuring up Fluff's engine compartmentThe ending of lock down will make it easier to search for and view a potential replacement engine for Fluff. With this in mind, John Davis and Mike Rigg have been measuring up the dimensions of Fluff‘s engine compartment.

John Davis painting one of Fluff's cab windowsJohn went on to paint Fluff‘s cab windows, a job that has been put on hold for over three months.

Water crane components being restored outside the mess roomFinally, the components of the former Furness Railway water crane from Foxfield have recently been unearthed and placed outside the mess room in order for restoration to take place.

Keith with the new water crane fireboxKeith has been busy making a replacement fire box for the water crane; these were fitted to prevent frost damage in winter.

Monday 29th March 2021

Today, at long last, sees the end of the third lock down “stay at home” message that commenced almost three months ago on the 5th January. We are therefore looking forward to being able to welcome back this week all those working members who feel able to return to working parties in the FRT shed, although of course all the safety measures, including sanitising and social distancing, remain in place.

Alan making new steam joints for FR 20's injectorsAs previously reported, it has been possible to make some progress over the past three months on the priority project of returning Furness Railway No. 20 to steam this summer. It is hoped to start mounting pipework and fittings over the next few weeks and Alan has made a start on making new steam joints for the injectors.

John Dixon constructing the new formwork to enable FR 20's new brick arch to be madeJohn has continued his work in making up formers to enable a new brick arch to be fitted.

Stewart Waugh refitting FR 20's vacuum cylinderThere was a successful effort on Friday morning to lift the lower part of FR 20’s vacuum cylinder back into position after it had been serviced. The lifting table that was purchased last year has certainly proved its worth and Stewart Waugh is seen here fitting the retaining nuts on to the vacuum cylinder.

The refreshed paintwork on FR 20's dome coverTim has again been busy with the paintbrush and the paintwork on the dome cover has been refreshed. We are now ready to lift the cab spectacle plate and the dome cover into place using the Ribble Rail hi-ab when a date can be arranged.

Elsewhere, Ade has again been busy drilling out rivets in Caliban‘s smokebox and Keith has been continuing his work on Wootton Hall.

Monday 22nd March 2021

Whilst numbers of volunteers at Preston have been restricted since the start of the third lockdown, there has nevertheless been some continuing progress on projects in recent times.

Ed trimming a bushEd has been sanding down the interior of FR 20’s cab sides but, with plans for visitors to return to the RSR site in May, he also took to his shears to trim the garden near the FRT shed.

The finished jobThe results of the post winter tidy up can be seen here.

John woodworking to make a new former for FR 20's brick archJohn Dixon has been preparing the wooden formwork required to construct a brick arch in FR 20’s firebox.

One of the new formersOne of the new formers can be seen here.

Alan with new manifold jointAlan made a new joint for FR 20’s main manifold valve last Wednesday.

Alan in FR 20's firebox - but don't tell Alison!!Once Tim had removed the firebars from FR 20’s firebox, Alan fitted two new fusible plugs. He smiled for the camera but asked that we didn’t show the “after” photo to Alison!   Alison will never know that I've been in a firebox(However, we guess that she might have got a clue when she went to her washing  basket….)

Tim's overalls showing signs of being in a bad placeTim also had to take his overalls home for a wash after rolling in spent ash underneath the firebox!

Keith with a new piece of cladding for 4979There has been a recent delivery of rolled steel sheet for Wootton Hall’s cylinder cladding. Keith was busy painting one of the smaller items.

New cladding sheet on Wootton Hall's r/h cylinderThis larger piece, once fitted, fitted transforms the look of one of the cylinders.

FR 20's tender vacuum cylinder in the process of being loweredFriday saw Stewart Waugh make his FRT working party debut to assist in the removal of FR 20’s tender vacuum cylinder for servicing, using the lifting table. The cylinder has now been stripped down, cleaned and reassembled. We just need to lift it back into position on the tender when people are feeling strong!

Monday 8th March 2021

This is another of our intermittent lockdown blogs to keep you in touch with the activities of the Furness Railway Trust.

Firstly, it is heartening to be able to see the end of the ‘stay at home’ lockdown message which is due be revoked on the 29th March. This should, if things don’t change, enable all working members to return if they wish to working parties scheduled for Wednesday, 31st March and Friday, 2nd April.

In the meantime, apart from regular security checks, it has been possible to make some progress in recent weeks on projects which respect the Heritage Railway Association lockdown guidelines, although the lack of larger gatherings of working members has been very much missed by all concerned.

Ed Tatham rubs down FR 20's cab spectacle plateThe main thrust of lockdown work has been on the ongoing ten year overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20, which is scheduled to steam again this summer. The aim is to complete its statutory in-frames steam test as soon possible and the very small gang involved on this project has been making steady progress. Fortunately, the current workload has enabled individual tasks to be carried out with members suitably socially distanced. With a full repaint of the locomotive under way, much of the work has involved rubbing down components and building up the new paint finish. Ed is seen here sanding the cab spectacle plate.

The boiler bands ready for fittingThe boiler bands have been re-painted and lined ready for fitting.

John Dixon refurbishing FR 20's vacuum pipeworkMeanwhile John Dixon has been refurbishing some of the vacuum pipework.

Adrian has been continuing his work on Caliban‘s axlebox lubrication to a point where he says that he is satisfied. He has also re-started the task of drilling out the smokebox rivets. Ade sets up the magnetic drill on Caliban's smokeboxHe is seen here setting up a magnetic drill for the job.

Finally, whilst the restoration of Fluff has regrettably had to be temporarily put to one side during the lockdown, enquiries are still being made to find the locomotive a new engine.

Monday 22nd February 2021

Tom with his 90th birthday spreadSadly, we have recently lost another of the Trust’s stalwarts, Tom Bradshaw. Tom passed away peacefully at home from natural causes on the 22nd January, surrounded by his family. A private funeral was held last Wednesday. Tom had been a member since 1976 but unfortunately  had to retire from working parties at Preston in recent times due to his increasing fragility. He was admitted into hospital just before Christmas, but returned home at his request in the New Year.

Tom left school at the age of 14, but was unable to achieve his dream of becoming a train driver, in the footsteps of his father, based at Blackpool Central, and his uncle at Fleetwood, owing to his need to wear spectacles. His application to train as an electrician was refused because it was known that he would be called up to the army at the age of 18 and so Tom became a points boy with the Blackpool tramway, progressing to being a ‘jumper’, who moved from tram to tram collecting fares. Tom used to recall the day that he was fired, by no lesser person than manager Walter Lough, for having had a run in with his wife over fares!

Tom was called up and joined the army in 1944 where he was almost immediately involved with providing covering fire from the opposite side of the river during the withdrawal from Arnhem where losses to British forces totalled nearly 2,000 during that fateful battle. Tom ended up in Germany after the surrender and started driving vehicles. On the afternoon of the day that he was passed out to drive, Tom notably drove a three ton truck all the way to Italy. He then spent quite some time driving around a wagon picking up tanks from battlefields.

On returning home Tom married wife Barbara and bought a car. Tom was pleased with the fact that the car turned out to be very economical, although Barbara contended that this was due to the fact that she seemed to spend much of her time pushing it! Tom then spent 20 years in the postal service and, from tales told over mess room lunches, it appears that he managed to spend some of those times at railway stations. Tom then went into club management where his natural outgoing personality must have made him particularly suited, so much so that he was recruited to manage the Marton Mere Caravan Club for many years until retirement.

On joining the Lakeside Railway Society, Tom became a staunch member of the Blackpool Branch and was able to volunteer at Haverthwaite during the closed winter season at Marton Mere. As well as being an enthusiastic member of the sales team, Tom became a stalwart of the carriage and wagon team at Haverthwaite and enjoyed taking on board those tricky tasks that demanded both skill and determination. One of his favourite tasks was the overhaul of carriage door locks. He was absent for some years whilst he tended to wife Barbara until her untimely death from cancer, but then returned and was joined by son Trevor. Team Bradshaw played a vital part in the restoration of GER No. 5 at Appleby and also a refresh of the North London Railway coach at the FRT shed at Preston.

It was always a joy to be with Tom during working parties and he thoroughly enjoyed the playful banter that went on between us as well as recounting tales of times past. We will very much miss his company and will remember Tom as such a cheerful character who unfailingly brightened up our lives with his presence. He will be very much missed and our sincere condolences go to Trevor and family.

Our photo shows Tom on the celebration of his 90th birthday in the FRT shed on the 22nd July 2015.

There is not much more to report this week apart from some more progress on painting FR 20’s components and the fitting of a couple of boiler bands. Alan with his cakeAlan celebrated his birthday on Wednesday and brought along his cake!

We conclude with a look at some time lapse of FR No. 3 Coppernob being cleaned at the National Railway Museum. This was originally posted on Twitter, and there is a short thread there too about the history of the famous locomotive.

Monday 15th February 2021

Derek at Dalton, 20.08.20We are extremely sorry to have to record the death of long standing member, Derek Milby, who died on the 9th February after having contracted Covid-19 in January.

After having started his career as a seaman on the Irish boats working out of Heysham, Derek transferred to working on the Windermere steamers, becoming the long-time engineer on MV Tern before becoming part of the relief crew who worked on all three remaining steamers after 1981. Derek, who always lived in his hometown of Ulverston, soon became a member of the Lakeside Railway Society which was supporting the initiative to open and operate the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway. Although being unable to have much time off during the summer sailing season, he was a regular at the Sunday winter maintenance working parties where he will be remembered for purchasing and cooking local Cumberland sausage to provide a warming roast meal for members. Despite that limited availability during the running season, Derek became a loco fireman and was usually rostered on Saturdays when the boats had a reduced service in the early days.

Derek’s cheerful demeanour and natural wish to go the extra mile when meeting visitors to both the railway and the boats resulted in him forming many lasting friendships, including with the late David Shepherd CBE. He also travelled widely in the low season, again making friendships at many heritage railways, and he also had a wide circle of friends within the model railway world and particularly within the Furness Model Railway Club (of which he was a founder member) and the National Model Railroad Association.

Derek’s birthday parties were renowned as an opportunity for him to invite his many friends from around the country for a day out on a vintage bus to local heritage attractions followed by an evening of music in a pub, usually provided by home folk band, Live Steam. His natural organising skills led him to organise many weekend trips away to heritage railways where his contacts invariably produced preferential rate travel and cab passes. Again, the associated evening Live Steam concerts were memorable, with the ale at Cranmore village hall, on a visit to the East Somerset Railway, being notably quaffed before the start of the concert. Needless to say, further supplies appeared (in buckets) from the nearby Strode Arms. The result of these parties and visits was that we all made a wide circle of friends, benefitting from Derek’s many contacts, and have enjoyed some wonderful times together.

Derek was presented with a video camera on his retirement from Windermere Lake Cruises which he soon mastered.  He set about recording steam specials, generously providing his many friends with copies of the subsequent DVDs. He also took it upon himself to record progress on the Furness Railway Trust’s projects and made a monthly journey to Preston to film. It was whilst passing Carnforth on his way to Preston in November 2011 that he suffered the first of two strokes. Fortunately, as a result of swift action at Lancaster station and the fact that the exact timing of the stroke was known, he was able to receive the latest treatment and subsequently, after moving into sheltered accommodation at Abbeyfield House in Ulverston, he was able to resume his hobbies, albeit with some loss of use of his right hand.

Derek will always be remembered as a cheerful, generous and loyal supporter to the Furness Railway Trust, and a man with so many, many friends. We extend our sincere condolences to his bothers, Don and Ken. Derek’s funeral will take place at 1 pm on Friday, 19th February at the chapel in Dalkeith Street, Barrow, before a graveside ceremony at Ulverston Cemetery. Unfortunately, owing to current restrictions, only invited mourners will be able to attend the chapel service, but others may wish to pay their last respects at the Cemetery.

In other news, the continuation of the third lock down and the high rate of Covid-19 infections in the Preston area has made it necessary to limit work in the FRT shed to that which is necessary to progress essential pre-planned projects, in line with HRA guidelines. This has enabled some work to continue, with only a very few members in attendance, with the ongoing overhaul of FR 20 which is planned to be completed in time for it to operate during the 2021 season.

FR 20 with boiler cladding plates fitted and paintedAs can be seen, the boiler cladding plates have been fitted and painted which will enable pipework to be fitted in the coming weeks.

It is to be hoped that a continuation of the current reduction in infections will enable normal working parties to be resumed in the not too distant future. We very much look forward to the day when all regular working members can be welcomed back to the FRT shed.

Monday 4th January 2021

Welcome to the first blog of 2021. We wish our readers a Happy New Year and hope that you all stay safe in these difficult times.

There was plenty of activity in the FRT shed at Preston over the Christmas period. The following photos show activity on Wednesday, 23rd December.

John Dixon completes the fitting of the boiler crinolines on FR 20John Dixon completed refitting the crinolines on FR 20’s boiler.

Ed Tatham sanding FR 20's boiler claddingTim Owen at work on FR 20's boiler claddingEd and Tim busied themselves sanding the boiler cladding sheets. Fred then  completed the firebox sheets the following Monday.

Ade working on Caliban's brake rodsAde was working on Caliban‘s brake rods.

Paul Newton and John Davis working on FluffPaul Newton and John Davis continued their work on Fluff.

Keith working on Wootton Hall's tender brake cylinderKeith was working on Wootton Hall‘s tender vacuum cylinder.

Finally, there is good news in that the latest edition of The Iron Horse has been proof read and is back with the printer to produce the magazines.

Monday 21st December 2020

FR 20 with engine and tender reunitedIt has been all change again in the FRT shed this week with a big shunt around the site on Thursday which has enabled FR20’s engine to be reunited with its tender over the pit and for Fluff (and its associated workforce) to be moved into the warmth of the main shed. They have also been joined again by Caliban‘s boiler.

Ed Tatham working to fasten crinolines in the confined space under FR 20's boilerMost of the crinolines were fitted to FR 20’s boiler on Wednesday and one of the front  cladding sheets also fitted to ensure that everything will align with number plate and hand rail fitments. Ed Tatham is seen here fastening one of the crinolines in the confined space under the boiler.

Fred sanding another cladding sheetWe also feature another photo of Fred sanding down a cladding sheet, just to confirm to daughter Helen (who reads our blog) that he hasn’t gone AWOL and that we are still keeping him busy!

Paul Newton working on a cab seat from FluffWork has continued on Fluff with Paul Newton attending to a cab seat.

John Davis carefully painting one of fluff's fittingsJohn Davis has been painting some of the fittings.

The last RSR lighting column about to be removedOutside the shed, the remaining tall lighting column was removed by the Ribble Steam Railway on Wednesday as it was no longer required.

We are pleased to be able to record that there is a welcome appetite by our volunteers to work over the Christmas period and so the following working party dates have been arranged:

Wednesday, 23rd December
Monday, 28th December
Wednesday, 30th December
Friday, 1st January

Finally, the Trustees wish to thank all members for their support during what has been a very difficult 2020 and to wish everyone an enjoyable festive period. We also remember those very frustrated members who, because of the pandemic, have been unable to participate in the Trust’s activities since March and look forward to seeing them again, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Monday 14th December 2020

John Davis and Neil Smith fit the insulation to FR 20's boilerA shorter blog this week but one which records some more visible progress on FR 20. Neil Smith was able to join us on Friday and was soon put to work fitting the fibreglass insulation to FR 20’s boiler. Neil (right) is seen here with John Davis.

Paul newton and John Davis fitting the insulation to FR 20's boilerPaul Newton (left) also gave a hand whilst Tim was kept busy with the sweeping brush down below collecting the bits of fibreglass that inevitably fell to the ground during the progress.

FR 20 with its boiler insulation fittedThe almost finished job is seen here – the former insulation for the top of the dome has gone awol so that needs making up this week with new.  We are hoping that Neil might get a few more days of annual leave to help us get on with the rest of the jobs! The next task will be to fit the crinolines.

Tim getting there with the smokebox preparationsWhen he wasn’t on sweeping up duties, Tim carried on sanding the filler on the smokebox, which still has a bit to do, but is getting there.

Meanwhile Keith was cutting and tapping more metal for Wootton Hall’s tender.

Gavin Renshaw working on the first of the RSR's timeline muralsOutside, local artist Gavin Renshaw, who was featured in the blog earlier this year when he recorded the work being undertaken on Caliban, has been commissioned to paint some timeline murals on the outside of the RSR’s museum. He is seen here at work on the first mural which features Stephenson’s Rocket. The end result should be impressive!