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. It is mounted on temporary four wheeled
The successful steam tests of both our current operable steam locomotives took place on
April 20th in readiness for the Easter
Photo P. A. Witts
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.
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