Another season has drawn to a close. We were able to steam three locos through the year: CHAKA, TOURSKA and 1091, all featuring in the end of season steam-up on 21 and 22 October. This was well supported despite stormy weather never being far away.
It was certainly wet and windy for the Saturday evening photo shoot, which went ahead, with some interesting photos obtained due to the prevailing conditions! The locos posed outside the loco shed, later CHAKA also stood in California Crossing station with a passenger train and the illuminated signal box in the background.
"The night shoot"
A recent Sunday saw a small group hire the narrow gauge for a railway experience day which incorporated driving the Simplex diesel on the line with passenger coaches, also trying their hand at guard's and signalman's duties. The feedback was very positive and it would be good to do this again with other small groups of between four and six participants.
Meantime, JUSTINE's boiler is away at a contractor's workshops. It has been stripped down and will require some serious – and expensive – work.
The Wembley carriage continues to see further progress, with footstep brackets now in place ready for the oak footboards to be fitted, with the wood provided thanks to a generous sponsor. It is hoped fitting of the boards will be done soon. The remaining metal parts required are being manufactured at the Dean Forest Railway.
The railway featured on the popular daytime Channel 4 television programme 'Find It Fix It Flog It' during October. The presenters visited a few months ago and took away a few small surplus items which were renovated and sold at auction, with the NGR getting the proceeds, plus some publicity.
CHAKA, 1091 and TOURSKA have all been used during this season which has been well supported by enthusiasts and the public alike. CHAKA was the engine for trains on the Bus Rally Sunday which was very busy. TOURSKA's next scheduled work is the THOMAS weekend in September.
Justines boiler being prepared for transportation.
Work continues on JUSTINE which includes a new footplate and bottoms to the well tank amongst other refurbishments. A contractor for overhaul of the boiler has now been selected and is due to be transported on Monday 17th.
Also in the workshop, work has started on fitting the Wembley carriage with air pipes for the braking system and roofing material has been sourced and purchased.
The Simplex diesel has a busy time coming up with the two day Diesel gala at the end of this month and in August when we will be running trains on Wednesdays as well as Sundays, see YOUR VISIT for dates and times.
One of the wooden signal posts at California Crossing station has had to be removed, a victim of old age. Its temporarily replacement is a double dummy ground signal. There are plans to put up a metal post and return the two arms to use in due course.
The 'dummy' in situ before a repaint.
More time has been engaged on cutting back lineside growth, with very visible results. Needless to say this seems like a never ending task at this time of year. Regular volunteers have also seen a great array of wildlife along our line, most of which is far to quick to photograph and includes Buzzards, circling Red Kites, Stoats, a shrew and some beautifully coloured Moths.
Left a "Cinnabar moth" and Right a "Scarlet Tiger moth".
With Easter almost upon us, it is time for an update on the current state of the locos and railway. As you would hope there has been plenty of work going on behind the scenes during the winter months and now we are raring to go!
TOURSKA has been passed fit and is rostered to start the season off, working both Easter Sunday and Monday trains.
CHAKA awaits a small amount of work to be undertaken by a contractor and will be reserve loco if she passes her boiler insurance examination before Easter.
1091 is intact after repairs on the firebox during the winter. It is not intended to run until the summer, so has not yet had the boiler inspector's steam test.
JUSTINE is fully dismantled, with fettling of various parts well underway. Quotes are being obtained to carry out work needed on the boiler.
Both line diesels are in working order.
Many, many hours have been spent on cutting back lineside growth, an arduous and never-ending task. The Brambles have really been taken to task as they were in danger of taking over completley.
Attention has been given to our large station sign at Toddington and also a smaller but no less interesting sign near our gate. Having been left out to the mercy of many Winters, some wood had rotted and needed repacement and the whole was treated to copious amounts of paint. The cast iron posts that support the large sign were also spruced up on a decent and sunny Sunday.
Finally, at the end of this month we were visited by a television crew, the program is "Find it, Fix it, Flog it" on Channel 4 with Henry Cole and Simon O'Brien. It was a very interesting and amusing day and I think the presenters had a good time as well. The NGR will feature in a programme later this year, probably on air in Autumn.
Filming "Find it, Fix it, Flog it"