Sunday, 27 April 2014

Churnet Valley 1940s weekend

Yesterday and today was the Railway's 1940s weekend for this year, and today I was rostered signalman in Consall box. Consall was, as usual for the 1940s weekend, 'invaded' by the 'German military' who had set up camp there. I therefore decided parking at Consall might be a problem, so parked at Cheddleton station at about 08:15 this morning.

The plan was to run the DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) as one train up and down the valley, and the N7 tank engine with coaching stock as the other train, crossing at Consall. The N7 was still being prepared at 08:45 so the class 33 diesel locomotive 33102 'Sophie' was coupled to the rear of DMU and Dave (the line's photographer) and me climbed into its rear cab for the ride down to Consall getting a lovely view of the valley and back down the line from the cab windows, the big Sulzer diesel engine ticking over with its characteristic 'burum, burum, burum' beat in the engine room behind us.

33102 'Sophie'

View down the line from Sophie's rear cab 

Sophie's engine room with the traction generator nearest the camera and the Sulzer diesel power unit beyond

On arrival at Consall I opened the signal box and split the line staff into Consall - Froghall and Consall - Leekbrook. The former I gave to the DMU driver and he set off for Froghall to form the first train of the day from that end of the line, and the latter I gave to the 33 driver to take back to Cheddleton to give to the N7 driver so that train could form the first of the day from that end of the line. Unfortunately it turned out later that there was a problem with the N7, so 'Sophie' worked the first train from Cheddleton.

The N7 at Consall last year

The N7's technical problem was quickly solved and that locomotive worked the coaching stock for the rest of the day with the exception of one turn.

DMU by Consall box

As expected, Consall was 'occupied by the Germans' with military tents on the grass, gun emplacements, and uniformed military staff strolling about. There was also a large marquee housing a bar and snack counter, and a dance floor as a band would later play typical 1940s melodies.

Soon after 10:00 the DMU arrived from Froghall with its load of passengers, and 'Sophie' from Cheddleton with five ex-BR Mk1 coaches also with a fair load of passengers. Sleepy Consall was not going to be quite so sleepy today!

Here are some of the 1940s characters seen in and around the railway, care of Dave our official photographer:


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