Saturday, 21 June 2014

Churnet Valley Railway 'Anything Goes' weekend

Today I was back in Consall signal box for the first time in several weeks, as 'turns' in the 'box are scarce due to the railway running fewer 'multi-train' days than usual. Consall 'box is only needed when two trains are running in the valley, so they can cross each other in the passing loop at Consall.

I was in the 'Box by 08:15 this morning, time enough to get it ready for the day's work and make a brew before the N7 tank engine and diesel loco 33012 arrived from Cheddleton coupled together and bringing the 'combined staff' for the line. I split the staff into its two sections, Consall - Leekbrook and Consall - Froghall (see HERE earlier in the blog for an explanation operation of the 'box)  so the N7 could proceed to Froghall and the 33 back to Cheddleton to commence passenger services from those stations.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

A steamy and smokey N7 tank engine heads off light engine to Froghall this morning to commence passenger services from there

Class 33 diesel 'Captain Charles' prepares to head the other way, back to Cheddleton, to start services from that station

 Fellow steam nut and a friend from years ago, Pete A. came down to the railway today. This is a picture he took at Cheddleton; the N7 and Beyer Peacock 0-4-0 saddle tank. The drivers are deep in contemplation at the massive task ahead! (Not!).

 The Beyer Peacock and the N7 roll into Consall from Froghall. The 0-4-0 driver has the staff in his hand ready for me to collect....

 .....Like this. The author, about to pick up the Staff from the Beyer Peacock driver at Consall.

 Lots of smoke  at Consall. And not from St Bruno Flake!

 Roger, the DMU driver, doesn't usually walk back towards the 'box to collect the Leekbrook Staff as other drivers often do so here I am returning from delivering it to Roger in his cab. 

 Both of the Railway's 33s, Captain Charles and Sophie, thunder out of Consall together for Froghall

 'Captain Charles' remained at Froghall to return on a later train, while 'Sophie' brought the 'down' train up the valley. Here the author catches the staff at Consall, watched by driver Nick and (far right) station master Howard.

 'Sophie', ready to leave Consall

 The Polish Tank on its first passenger train down the valley, at Consall

 The Polish tank and the N7 were working together between Froghall and Ipstones. Here they leave Consall for Froghall.

 The diminutive Beyer Peacock pilots the not over-large N7 (but it still dwarfs the 0-4-0) into Froghall

 Pete A. strolls back down the platform towards the 'box at Consall

 One of the last trains of a long day; the N7, the Polish tank, and one of the 33s leave Consall for Cheddleton

 A Hornby model railway with Tri-ang Minic electric roadway  set up in the Consall waiting room

 It's the longest day of the year, yet approaching 7pm shadows lengthen in the valley as I await the final class 33 movements, one from Froghall and one from Cheddleton each bringing the staffs to be joined in Consall 'box before it is switched out for the night

 Time passes slowly but pleasantly as I sit out in a chair on the 'box stairs landing in the evening sunshine, the occasional wind rustling the leaves in gusts and the steady fall of water over the canal wear the only sounds (apart from the squawking of the resident crows) as I await our final Class 33 arrivals, arrivals which will enable me to join the staffs, close the 'box, and go home. There can be few more peaceful and relaxing heritage railway sites than Consall.

 Predictably the first to arrive, from Froghall, is 33021 'Captain Charles'. The Captain sat outside my 'box bathed in 'longest day' sunlight for about half an hour filling the air with its distinctive Sulzer engine Bud-um-bum-bum, bud-um-bum-bum beat as we awaited its classmate's arrival from Cheddleton.

Eventually, after much shunting at Cheddleton, 'Sophie'arrived. Having briefed her driver before 'Sophie left Consall for Cheddleton I pulled off my signal 14 as agreed, and she slowly appeared in the main platform ready to couple up to 'Captain Charles' (proving that, despite the electrical and mechanical  interlocking, a conflicting movement can be set up at Consall!). The Captain's crew are relaxing on the platform bench, including the train guard; the Captain's train had been left at Froghall ready to commence the passenger service from there tomorrow.

I used the two staffs to close Consall 'box, then combined the staffs into one for the entire line, which I handed to 'Sophie's' driver. By the time I'd completed the train register, signed out, and locked up the 'box the two 33s were powering out of the station as I headed for my car. The time was about 7:30pm... Long day on the longest day! But fun!

Next day - Sunday 22nd June

Today Malc and I rode down to Cheddleton on our C90s. The weather was hot and sunny, ideal for a day out, and we chose the scenic route via Chelford, Jodrell, Withington, Hulme Walfield, Congleton, Dane-in-Shawe, Biddulph Moor, Rudyard, Longsdon, and Horse Bridge.

 The flight deck of the newly-restored Polish tank

 This loco will be the mainstay of CVR steam when the N7 is withdrawn at the end of its 10-year boiler ticket next month. Note the proximity of the cylinder to the platform edge; the gap on the other side was much more generous as the track is not centrally slewed in the bay platform. But 1.25 inches has been taken off each cylinder width, 4.5 inches off each tank's width, 6 inches off the cab roof, and the cab floor lowered by 6 inches so the engine now fits the UK loading gauge.

 Superbly restored 4-wheel Knotty coach on display from the Foxfield railway

 The Polish tank and the N7 ready to take a train up to Ipstones

 The other of the two Polish tanks at Cheddleton. This one requires a bit of work, but the green one looked little better than this when it arrived.

 Greg Wilson's original American Transport Corps S160 undergoing overhaul in Cheddleton yard. Hard to believe this is the engine I drove on my 60th birthday 'driving experience', which got me involved with this lovely railway. The S160 has cast steel bar frames, not plate frames as is common British practice

The little Beyer Peacock saddle tank is fettled in the yard between duties

The owner disappeared into the tank to fix a leaking water valve

Click on these links for two videos. The second one I particularly like; after the train had thundered past Apesford the crossing keepers had to douse a couple of lineside fires!



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