Saturday, 22 March 2014

Visit to MoSI on a wet Saturday

It's been a while since I last worked a rostered turn as fireman at the steam railway at the Museum of Science & Industry (MoSI) as my recent firing turns on the roster have been cancelled though no driver being available.

I decided to go to MoSI today to see how the railway was doing. I was amazed to discover just how short of drivers the railway is. Some have moved away, and some have retired as they are getting a bit long in the tooth. Those of us very experienced firemen who have done a great deal of driving alongside a passed driver are keen to be passed out as drivers ourselves, but since we lost our Railway Officer to a job on The Big Railway some months ago, that process seems to have stalled. I understand that the Museum is about to advertise to fill the post of Railway Officer; presumably the difficult funding situation in the Science Museum Group has prevented this happening sooner.

Click on any picture for a larger image.

Waiting for the bus at Manchester Piccadilly station this morning in the intermittent rain, I took this picture of the station approach. The 18 storey tall white building in the centre is 111 Picadilly. It was built in 1966 across the Rochdale Canal (there's actually a canal basin and a lock in the basement of the building). It used to be called Rodwell Tower, and I started my career in IT there with Burroughs in 1970 after a horrendous false career start in a bank! If you click on the picture to enlarge it the Co-Op CIS building can be seen in the background between the trees. When it was completed in 1962 it was the tallest building in Europe! The left-most of the two buses in the middle of the picture is the Number 3 free bus, which I will use to get from here to within a few hundred metres of MoSI.

When I arrived today I found Peter and David as driver and fireman, and Richard as guard. The loco crew in particular were having a hard time of it in the rain and cold winds on Planet's exposed footplate (the loco doesn't have a cab), and I joined them for a run up the line and a chat.

Before joining the MoSI train crew, I had a look around the Power Hall. The largest engine in there is this massive twin-tandem-compound mill engine, made by Galloways of Manchester.

I took a ride with the crew on Planet's open footplate in the rain. Here, fireman David changes the points at Ordsall Lane ground frame so we can reverse down the Pineapple line. 

Ordsall Lane ground frame is adjacent to the main line railway between Deansgate and Salford Crescent. It is usual, when main line trains pass the MoSI steam train here, to exchange whistle and hooter blasts. Here a Trans Pennine class 185 unit from Manchester Airport to Glasgow Central complies with that tradition.

Peter, our driver, prepares to reverse down the Pineapple line as the 185 goes on its way. This section of  railway has recently been electrified as part of the Northern Hub rail improvement scheme.  

Peter drives us back up the Pineapple line to Ordsall Lane ground frame. Lots of steaminess in the damp atmosphere. 

David once again does the honours with the points so we can reverse back down to Liverpool Road station for the passengers to alight and the next ones to board.  

Meanwhile another Trans Pennine 185 unit passes on its way to Manchester Piccadilly

I went down to the railway cabin for a brew and a chat with Operating Officer Bev. Before leaving, I made a billy of hot tea for the train crew and took it up to them. They were certainly in need of it and most grateful!


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