Monday 25th September 2017

This last week brought the sad death of David Shepherd CBE. David was a man of passion, who made his name by bringing to life on canvas wild animals (particularly elephants) aeroplanes and steam locomotives. He befriended us many years ago through member Derek Milby and, as a result of this, famously gave a lecture at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston. His double-decker sales bus appeared in the Lakes on more than one occasion and he delighted in joining us for a musical evening on Roger Mallinson’s steam launch Shamrock on Windermere. We also made several exchange visits down to the East Somerset railway at Cranmore where some renowned and very liquid folk evenings were held in the village hall. An avowed conservationist of both wildlife and steam locomotives, the world will be very much the poorer for David’s passing.

Last Tuesday evening saw a gathering at the Ashton Bowling Club for the Ribble Steam Railway AGM at which Tim, Alison and fellow FRT member David Starkie were elected as directors of the RSR. Tim then presented a photo presentation entitled “The Activities of the Furness Railway Trust”, which was followed by some slides of Steamport at Southport. An evening of some nostalgia for all!

John D fixing a strap to the fire extinguisher holderWe were delighted to welcome new member John Davis at Preston on Wednesday – he must have enjoyed it as he turned up again with a new set of overalls on Friday. Mine's a pint!John is seen here by the RMB bar with Mike Rigg, who did the induction.

John attending to yet more panelling adjacent to a doorIt was again a time of finishing all the remaining snagging jobs in the RMB with John Dixon still working on restoring some of the wooden panelling by the doors, Paul replacing the servery area cupboard shelves, Mike starting to replace the ceiling fans and John Davis assisting with some of the other fittings.Paul attending to the archway adjacent to the buffet

Beware: Ade brandishing a paint brushThere was further work on Caliban, with Alan turning his attentions to the cab and Ade wielding a paintbrush on the running board.

Bob appeared on Friday and spent some time taking a rubbing of the numbers stamped on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames which had been found after the shot blasting had taken place. The exact number of the tender has always been a mystery and Bob will be making contact with a gentleman in Swindon who has been keeping tabs on this particular vehicle with a view to identifying it. Keith was also present to make further progress on the loco.

Alan at Shildon's Steam Punk eventAlan and Alison went across to Locomotion at Shildon yet again, it being the annual Steam Punk weekend at which people delight in dressing up in all sorts of incredible garb. Steam Punk is defined as being retro-futuristic and FR 20 probably fits quite neatly into the scene, although we are not sure how you should view the two coach Pacer passing in the background!

As many of you will be aware, the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 is currently out of service for its 14 month boiler examination. In preparation for this, the brick arch has been removed and Andy Booth has put in twenty new patch screws. Keith and George were going over to Embsay yesterday, Sunday, to remove the remaining plugs and mudhole doors ready for a cold examination by the boiler surveyor, which we hope will take place this week. It is planned to fit the new blower ring, which is currently being machined by Steve Shearing at Preston, next weekend and then hold a formal steam test the following week. So, fingers crossed!

Finally, it is reported by the latest Cumbrian Railways Association newsletter that the former Vickers Gun Range signal box, which was gifted to the Wensleydale Railway Association by the FRT a few years ago, will be moved from Scruton to Leyburn where it will be used to control the movement of trains following the planned installation of a passing loop there. As many of you will be aware, the signal box was originally preserved by FRT member Jon Wilkinson, who himself gifted the signal box to the FRT.

Monday 18th September 2017

Working parties at Preston last week were rather more thinly attended, but still the work went on.

John has now nearly finished fitting trimmings around the doors of the RMB.Mike vacuuming the buffet shelvesMike has been busy cleaning the shelves behind the counter.

Paul painting one of the heater guardsPaul painted the remaining radiator guards (one of them new) which were then fitted along with the remaining tables. Mike then turned his attentions to vacuuming the seats.

Work continued on Caliban and Fred did more cleaning up of the former Foxfield water column. Fred working on the water columnKeith has been cutting spare metal to make new support stands for Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

Alan, Tim and Alison went over to Shildon last Friday for Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala which was well attended by the public. BR Class 2
2-6-0 No. 78018, the star of British Transport Films’ classic “Snowdrift at Bleath Gill”, was back on former home ground and on show in light steam along with Flying Scotsman, which arrived on Friday evening having hauled an excursion form London Victoria to York. It was a bit of a surprise to find long standing FRT member Jon Wilkinson in the cab, having volunteered to join the locomotive’s support crew during its operation at the West Somerset Railway earlier in the week.

Saturday saw FR 20 work the demonstration line service until 2.15 pm after which there was time to top up with water and for Flying Scotsman to back on to the other end of the two brake van train. The giant 4-6-2 and rather smaller 0-4-0 then hauled the demonstration train up and down from 3 pm until 5.45.

It was then time to head off to the local hostelry for food, accompanied by the four strong Flying Scotsman support crew before retiring for an early night. Alan, Alison and Tim were, not surprisingly, pretty tired after the day’s activities.

Peter and Dickon joined the fray on Sunday morning, helping to clean FR 20 after the night’s rain and the loco once again operated the demonstration line service until 1 pm and then topping and tailing with Flying Scotsman from 2 pm until close of play. Heavy rain showers brought the unusual sight of the FR 20 crew soldiering on in the rain under the conveniently borrowed NRM umbrellas – it looked like something from a Roland Emmett sketch. The relationship formed with the FS crew the previous evening enabled Alan and Tim to enjoy some cab swapping later on Sunday, ending a most enjoyable weekend during which hundreds of passengers were carried.

Alan and Alison are heading off to Shildon again next weekend for Locomotion’s now very popular annual Steampunk event.

We leave you this week with a photo unashamedly shared from the Locomotion Facebook page showing a little old Furness Engine in the distance, formerly of a school playground in Barrow, hauling the mighty Flying Scotsman and train under a dramatic rainbow. Yes, dreams really can come true!Somewhere under the rainbow

Monday 11th September 2017

Any planning of work for last Wednesday’s working party at Preston went out of the window when we learnt that morning that it was proposed to have a shunt of vehicles in the shed.

It had previously been agreed that Caliban‘s frames would be moved on to road two and that the newly shot blasted and painted tender frames for Wootton Hall would be moved behind the RMB buffet coach on road three. And so it all came about along with the movement of Peckett 0-4-0ST John Blenkinsop into the paint shop from road two, to be replaced by Hunslet 0-6-0ST Kingsley.

John preparing Caliban's axleboxesNeedless to say, work had to start quickly on preparing Caliban‘s frames, including oiling the axleboxes which John is seen here undertaking along with a photo of it in its new position. Caliban's frames in their new positionThe RMB out in the open for the first time since repaintThis was a chance to photograph the repainted buffet car out in the open and also the Class 47 cab which Dave and Jo have been preparing for the museum. The Class 47 cab out for some fresh air during the shuntIt was also possible to photograph Wootton Hall without the RMB in front of it.Wootton Hall exposed

The tender frames are seen here in their new position in the shed.The tender frames inside for the first time in over fifty years

Well done to Ribble Rail’s Phil and Mike for getting the shunt carried out in a day.

Friday was then spent removing the accommodation bogies from under the tender frames, giving the shed floor a good clean and setting up a display of FRT work and sales tables before the sheds doors were opened officially to the public for the first time for the Heritage Open Days on Saturday and Sunday.

The shed open to the publicThere was a constant flow of visitors to the shed, with a mix of enthusiasts attending the RSR’s Autumn Steam Gala and other members of the public following the Heritage Open Days trail around Preston. Around three hundred people visited the shed and Alison recruited four new members as well as making many sales.

2890 ready to depart with its first train after restorationThe Saturday was also a milestone event for the restoration of Andy Booth’s converted Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0 No. 2890, which made its passenger hauling debut at Preston on the 14.45 train. 2890 double heading on SundayConsidering that the boiler had only been placed in the frames in the last ten days, this was quite an achievement and a great birthday present for its owner.

Next week sees Alan, Alison and Tim heading over to Shildon for Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala where Furness Railway No. 20 is due to be top and tailing the demonstration line train with some whippersnapper LNER 4-6-2 locomotive called Flying Scotsman… 

Monday 4th September 2017

Last week was the last of the summer holidays for many with children, but that didn’t stop some of the older generation from taking a break as well. So we were without Alan, Adrian and Keith last Wednesday, but this did not stop progress being made in various directions.

The cabin now has a glossy shine to itWith the weather looking reasonable last Wednesday, John and Tim applied a gloss coat of paint to the side of the new mess room that will be up against the shed wall when it is moved, hopefully some time in September. For those worried about painting the door, it swings inwards and so can be painted at any time!

The RMB servery area almost back in one pieceMike and Paul have continued work on the interior of the RMB with the servery heater guards being fitted and a new heater guard for one of the saloons being finished off and painted. John has been replacing some of the architraves around the doors where they have been damaged during the welding repairs.

Howard working on one of Caliban's sand boxesDespite the absence of other members of the team, Howard has continued his efforts to repair Caliban‘s sanding gear and can be seen here with one of the sand boxes.

Work continues on painting the tender framesFred and Roger have continued their task of painting Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, which are now beginning to look very smart, and Keith also appeared on Friday to carry on his work on the running plate.

Ready for the Heritage Open DaysDavid has made up a presentation board recording Wootton Hall‘s history in readiness for the opening up of the shed for the Heritage Open Days this next weekend. John making a stand for David's Wootton Hall presentationJohn is seen here making it some legs. Do come along this weekend to see progress. And don’t forget, it is also the Ribble Steam Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala.