Saturday, 19 May 2018

Astley Green Colliery Museum Steam day

Brilliant day at Astley Green Colliery Museum Steam Day today. The weather couldn't have been better. We (me & Malc) went on the Little Bikes via Mobberley, Ashley, Dunham, Cadishead, and Culcheth and noted that someone has done us all a favour by burning down the outrageous toll booth (a toll to cross a dried up river bed where the Mersey once flowed) at Warburton bridge. 
We returned home over the Chat Moss dirt roads. Always a bit of a challenge!

Please click on a picture for a larger image.

 Malc admires a steam organ and its showman's engine.

 Till Joseph with his lovely miniature engine.

 Another miniature enjoys the day!

 Till Joseph goes for a bimble around the site

 A gleaming Fowler ploughing engine. One of a pair which would have used the winches beneath their boilers to haul the plough back and forth across the field.

Gardner 6 cylinder diesel engine in this Pickfords tractor 

Another view of the Fowler ploughing engine 

 Malc and Peter Flitcroft with a little Tasker steam tractor, very similar to one Peter is currently having rebuilt.

 The heart of Astley must be this iconic pit head gear. The main pit here was 2,000 feet deep, and in that engine house is a double tandem compound steam winding engine. Back in the day it had SIXTEEN Lancashire boilers feeding it with steam.

Today it will run (briefly and slowly) on compressed air.

The pit head gear is a listed monument, but needs a lot of restoration as corrosion has taken its toll.

 Ian Whitfield with his steam tram was giving rides to visitors.

 Looking towards the entrance from the steps of the winding engine house.

 The crowds gather to watch the running of the giant winding engine on compressed air.

These are the high pressure and low pressure cylinders on one side of the engine (you can just see the LP cylinder of the other pair behind the HP cylinder of the near pair). Each pair of cylinders drives a crank on either side of the winding drum, thus it's a four cylinder engine, double compound, tandem.

On the side of each cylinder is the Corliss valve gear with the long rod between the two cylinders connecting the valve gear on each.

The common piston rod for the HP and LP cylinders is behind that valve rod.

Click here for a video of it running: Engine running on air

As ever, these little bikes can find an unobtrusive parking position just about anywhere


Saturday, 12 May 2018

Ashley Hall Traction Engine Rally, 12th May 2018

I went on the little bike (Honda Innova 125) which is ideal for a day out like this.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

 The advantage of going on my little bike (125 Honda) is you can park it among the action - just behind the ring-side stalls instead of miles away in the car park

 General view of the engine park just after the show opened.

 Blond on a tractor....

 ...And another! "Three wheels on my wagon...."

 Tractor line-up

 Pop-pop-pop-pop.... It's a single cylinder Field Marshall popping and bobbing its way around the rally arena.

 Vanguard of Lymm, with a rather fine trailer.

 Half-size engine with a father and son crew

 Matthew Jodderz Jodrell proud owner and driver of this rather nice roller 'Britannia'.
I know Matt from the Churnet Valley Railway (1992) PLC where he is steam locomotive crew.

 Matthew Jodderz Jodrell leans out to see what the hold up is getting into the arena.

 Fowler showman's engine

 Another showmans engine in more traditional colours

 'Britannia' in the engine line-up

Engine line up with miniatures in front 

 'Britannia' leaves the arena.

 Matt on he regulator and reverser of 'Britannia

Bike line up 

 A noisy and smoky but very nice Yamaha 125 2 stroke racer.

 The chap on the BSA is well into his '80s!. Must keep you young, this motorcycling lark....

This lady has a whole collection of these rare beasts, apparently


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Give my regards to Broadway

We've just returned from a few days visiting elder daughter in Broadway in the Cotswolds, a pleasant break we take annually. It's a lovely part of the world; villages of honey-colored stone in the evening sun -  quite stunning. Lots of fabulous pubs serving superb food and ale. And a great heritage railway, too.

We visited the Cotswold Falconry Centre near Burford-on-the-Hill (highly recommended), enjoyed local villages, and of course I had a day on the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway, including their new northern extension to their restoration of the original line, up as far as Broadway itself (the line originally connected Cheltenham to Stratford-on-Avon via Broadway).

Next stop Honeybourne, to the line's original connection to National Rail's main Oxford to Hereford main line?

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

Broadway from Fish Hill 

Chrystal the Snowy Owl at the Cotswold Falconry Centre 

Claire with Desmond 

Vulture sunbathing 

Wet Wednesday morning at Toddington station on the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway. Our loco for the day is 2807, an ex-Great Western 2-8-0 freight engine, which offers scant weather protection for the crew on a day like this. 

Newly-opened halt at Hayles Abbey. This is a replica of the original one at this location.  

The steam train ran from Toddington down to Cheltenham Racecourse via Winchcombe, then back up to Toddington. From there we headed north (above) on the new extension of the line to Broadway

Crossing Broadway Bridge 

A damp member of the footplate crew, with the inadequate tarpaulin between cab and tender which doesn't really keep the rain off 

2807 runs-around the train at Broadway ready for the return journey to Cheltenham. It's carrying an appropriate head board. 

I left the steam train at Toddington (for now!) to have a light lunch before joining the northbound Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) to have another run up to Broadway 

 The advantage of the DMU is the view out of the front. Here approaching Broadway station.

The recently built station at Broadway is a credit to the railway. It's a close replica of the original station which was closed and demolished on the 1960s, and the quality of the brickwork and canopy is superb. 

Only the 'up' platform is currently in use. The down platform has no shelter as yet, just the immaculate replica Great Western signal box, which has yet to be fitted out and commissioned. The loop points at Broadway are currently operated by ground frames and as yet there are no signals in use.


Thursday, 5 April 2018

First turn at Nether Alderley Mill in 2018

The mill from the front

Nether Alderley Mill has opened for the 2018 season and this afternoon was my first turn there this year.

I have been a volunteer guide here since the Mill re-opened in 2013, after extensive restoration by the National Trust to the building and the mill machinery. In 2014 I qualified as a Miller after a course at Cann Mill, Dorset, and today enjoy carrying out both roles - Guide and Miller, at this delightful location.

The picturesque mill pond. The back wall of the mill forms part of the mill pond dam.

Today I was a Guide, together with Terry, and Bruce was the Miller. Last year the National Trust dropped the Thursday Afternoon openings (the other two open afternoons are Saturday and Sunday) but I'm pleased to say they have had a re-think and the 'Thursday 'A' team' is back together!

We were busy, too, Terry and I running our full quota of three tours each, with a total of well over 40 happy visitors.

The two sets of mill stones on the upper floor, with some visitors descending the narrow and steep stairs to view the Hurst Frame on the floor below.