Rebuilding of the Gloucester carriage frame is proceeding very well, with the two long outside stretchers and the smaller inside replacement timbers cut and being slotted in. The router purchased for the job at a modest price has certainly proved its worth. New metalwork has been fabricated where necessary.
The Hunslet diesel has continued to receive a lot of attention. Replacement clutch plates were sourced and fitted amongst other items. It has been reassembled and started, but it became apparent that further adjustments are needed, and advice is being sought from other owners of this type of diesel.
Our boiler inspector has made a visual inspection of both Justine and 1091, with some relatively minor jobs needing to be done before the steam tests which will be carried out next year before the start of the running season.
Another task undertaken by the Tewkesbury gang has been replacement of the broken back piece on our GWR seat which resides on California platform during the running season.
It is intended to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the Dowty Railway Preservation Society on October 6 and 7, 2012. The first date will probably be for invited guests and the second a public operating day. We will be inviting anyone who was associated with the Ashchurch site, DRPS members, Princess Elizabeth Society and Great Western Society in particular, as well as other people from more recent times.
Meanwhile it is hoped to write up a history of the DRPS and the NGR. Much has happened in fifty years!
Photo P. A. Witts
On a very cold December day two of our members are dismantling number one shed road. Fishplates are first removed, followed by the dog spikes that hold the rails. The latter are then lifted clear and the old sleepers taken out and replaced. New holes are drilled in the sleepers, the rails realigned and spiked in. Chippings are tamped under the sleeper ends to the correct level and coarser ballast is built up around the ends and between the sleepers to keep the track in alignment.
Timber to rebuild the frame of the Gloucester carriage has now arrived from a local supplier, so the project will be making progress over the next few weeks. Work has already started on marking up one of the new frame bearers, using the old one as a pattern.
The Hunslet diesel is receiving major attention. It has been fitted with four new springs which we had in stock. The clutch plates were worn and needed replacement and initial enquiries pointed it being an expensive job. Luckily we were able to source a much cheaper alternative. With the Hunslet out of action, the 1953 Ruston is being used for shunting, along with the Lister for light duties. The Motor Rail is being repainted though the gloss may have to wait until the spring.
After steaming 1091 for working members in late October, both it and Justine are now being prepared for winter storage, which includes a washout, tube clean and removal of firebars.
A major part of the history of the Dowty Railway Preservation Society has come to light, thanks to colour cine film taken by Ken Vincent, who was instrumental in forming the DRPS, which he has given to the NGR. After patient and skilled work by our member Roger Butwell, this has been transferred onto DVDs, with around an hour's worth of excellent material covering the years 1963 to 1968. Views of 46201 Princess Elizabeth, 7808 Cookham Manor and 0-6-2T 6697, plus the DRPS' own Cadbury Bournville No.1 steaming up and down the sidings brought back many memories. There is even some extremely rare footage of ex- Dinorwic Quarry Hunslet 0-4-0ST George B in steam on the small section of narrow gauge track laid by its owner Alan White, our former Chairman. And several still active working members are able to see themselves in their younger days!
Another piece of DRPS and North Gloucestershire Railway history is due to disappear shortly, when the standard gauge rolling stock shed we used at Ashchurch and was moved to Toddington is being dismantled to make way for a new, larger shed for the GWSR.
August Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday were quite busy. The Hunslet diesel covered the early services, with Justine taking over around midday. Although not advertised in the timetable, it is intended to operate a diesel service on the narrow gauge on Sunday 11 September. The Classic Vehicles rally at Toddington on Sunday 18 September should see Brigadelok 1091 in use, it will be the last opportunity this year to ride on the narrow gauge.
Further work has been carried out on the Hibberd, the Motor Rail and skips. More research has uncovered further information about our Gloucester RCW carriage. A lady from the family that acquired it remembers its arrival at their farm at Roberts End, around 1932/33. It was hauled there by what sounds like a traction engine; it is understood the family owned one for use in their haulage business. She says the carriage was always referred to as the Wembley Van. The carriage was shifted to Teddington Fields at an unknown date, but probably pre-war. A visitor to Toddington has been able to provide quite a lot of information about the Roadrails system on which our carriage was used at the British Empire Exhibition from his research into the Dutton of Worcester signalling equipment manufacturers. It was Frank Dutton who patented the system used by Roadrails Ltd. Further research by our own members has also found more information, so the history is all building up nicely, though details and photographs of the system in use at the Wembley exhibition in 1924 and 1925 are still required if anyone can help out with possible references.
The running day on 24th July that was originally timetabled for diesel operation will now be steam operated using JUSTINE.
Photo P. A. Witts
The rebuilding of our wagon fleet continues apace. This flat wagon was converted from an open wagon we refer to as a "tumbril" that were originially used by the RAF for carrying munitions. It has been converted into a flat wagon that is an ideal size for carrying sleepers.
Henschel 1091 ran passenger services on 29 and 30 May, with the Polish coach and Trecwn coach being used on the latter date due to the wet weather. On the following weekend trains were operated by the Hunslet Diesel on Saturday and Sunday for the Emergency Services Gala. The diesel will be the usual power on Sundays during June and July, except on 19 June when JUSTINE is due to run on the Classic Vehicles day ( also the GWR diesel gala ) and again on 10 July which is the Vintage Bus Rally at Toddington.
Further work has been carried out on carriage no. 1 with a bogie swap being done in an effort to give a smoother ride on this vehicle. Work progresses on the Hibberd petrol loco with several new parts being fitted.
Photo P. A. Witts
The railway aquired some Hudson tipper wagons many years ago and these are currently being renovated ensuring the axleboxes are properly lubricated and are being painted for the first time since aquisition.
Narrow gauge trains ran on five days in April and, to date, two days in May. Steam was provided on four days by Henschel 0-8-0T 1091, which was the only steam loco operating at Toddington, as the standard gauge service used a single diesel railcar or 2-car DMU. Passenger figures on the narrow gauge compared more than favourably with last year, which is encouraging considering the lack of standard gauge steam at our end of the GWR. 1091 will be steamed for the next narrow gauge operating dates which are Sunday 29 and Monday 30 May. After that Jung 0-4-0WT 'Justine' will be running on steam days, normally one Sunday a month in June and July, with the Hunslet diesel in use on other operating days.
The Hibberd petrol loco has now been started up after quite a bit of attention and will be moved from its current position at the back of the shed to test out its running capabilities.
We seem to be acquiring items of local railway interest this year. After the GRCW carriage, we have been given two ex - Midland Railway farm crossing gates, which, although of some vintage, are relatively intact and in restorable condition. They came from Nick Gilder's farm at Aston-on- Carrant on the line from Ashchurch to Evesham and we are very grateful to Nick for the donation and transportation of these gates. It is intended to use one of them across our unloading spur to replace the metal gate currently there.
Another item just arrived is a lamp hut measuring 8 x 6 feet which is in excellent condition and was built in Birmingham for the Midland Railway. We thank Margaret Lewis very much for donating this item, while invaluable assistance in extracting and moving the hut from Tewkesbury to Toddington was provided by farmer Chris Stagg, to whom we also extend our thanks. The hut was acquired many years ago by Margaret's grandfather, a ganger based at Ashchurch, who moved it to his railway cottage in Newtown, Tewkesbury. We are not sure exactly where it was situated on the railway, but possibly in Tewkesbury. The hut has been placed close to the ex- Midland Railway California Crossing box and will once again be used as a workshop, already having a workbench and electric power points.
Photo P. A. Witts
Unloading the lamp hut on 11/5/2011. It is a standard Midland Railway design though extended by an extra two feet. It is in excellent condition an has obviously well looked after.
Photo P. A. Witts
The hut in position. Luckily there was space for a location close to the signalbox but without effecting the line of sight of the signalman. The signalbox, CALIFORNIA CROSSING, was originally at Gloucester just south of the former Midland railway station and was situated near the junction of the branch line into the docks.
In support of the GWR's opening to Laverton, the narrow gauge service operated on 2 and 3 April. The Hunslet diesel and the newly refurbished three-carriage set were used, with a worthwhile number of passengers, particularly on Sunday. The next public running date is scheduled for Good Friday, 22 April, using the Hunslet diesel, with trains on Easter Sunday and Monday, 24 and 25 April, rostered for steam haulage. But that depends on the boiler inspector passing the locos as fit to run on his visit to see them in steam shortly before Easter. The visual inspection of the locos cold has already been done.
The Lister diesel has seen quite a bit of activity in the last few weeks, hauling the end tipping skip from the 20 ton ballast pile in Toddington car park to the work site - the shed approach line and pit road which both received a ballast top-up after relaying and replacement of quite a lot of sleepers. The rest was spread on the track shoulders from Didbrook back towards California. All the ballast from that delivery has now been used.
Work is being carried out on the petrol engined Hibberd, which has not run for a long time. This loco would be capable of similar duties to the Lister. Over the winter carriage No.1, which displayed the Dowty Railway Preservation Society logo, and was constructed in the mid-1970s, received considerable attention, including complete replacement of the body sides. One end of the carriage contained no less than 14 batteries for the compressor used for the air braking system - their weight affected the riding of the carriage and it developed a somewhat alarming sway going down the track. Those old style heavy batteries have now been replaced with just two modern ones, which, along with the new more substantial body, makes the carriage ride better. All three carriages in the set received a lot of attention internally and externally from the painters, so they look a lot smarter this season. Additionally all the axle box rubber blocks have been replaced with new ones which should also improve the ride.
A replacement signal now in use at the north end of California Station platform has a brand new wooden post, replacing the original which became rotten and had to be taken down. Other signal and telegraph work since last season has seen new signals installed at Toddington and Didbrook.
Our recently acquired carriage body, built by Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company in 1924, has an interesting history. It was one of eighteen built for use on a short, 2 foot gauge line at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. The chassis has a wooden frame and is probably from a War Department bogie wagon built by Gloucester RCW for First World War light railways. A works picture of this type of carriage survives in the Gloucester RCW records held in the Gloucestershire Archives.
The Exhibition railway's operation was by a company called Roadrails and motive power was unusual, being a tractor unit which had road and rail wheels, patented as the Stronach - Dutton system. There were four petrol engined tractors and two steam ones on the railway, the latter using Sentinel boilers and two cylinder double-acting engines. During 1924 and 1925, millions of people flocked to the Exhibition, so our carriage was no doubt very busy. Some years later (with bogies removed) it was in use as family accommodation at a farm near Longdon, about fifteen miles from Gloucester, before being moved to Teddington Fields, just six miles from Toddington. We believe it is the only survivor of those carriages, so is a very worthwhile preservation project. Restoration will need funding, which will be investigated.
Photo P. A. Witts
The carriage is in the process of being removed from Teddington Fields. It was situated only yards away from a very busy main road but we were completely unaware of its existence until three years ago.
Photo P. A. Witts
After arrival at Toddington. The infillings to the open doorways have been
removed, as has has the corrugated tin roof covering.
The latter and the fact the ground underneath was dry has ensured its general good condition.
Photo P. A. Witts
April 20th, 1091 and JUSTINE in the afternoon sun after successfully passing their boiler tests carried out by our boiler examiner Graham Morris. During the morning Graham had looked at the boiler of our third steam loco, CHAKASKRAAL No. 6. This is at the works of Alan Prout situated between Newent and Dymock.