Sunday, 20 July 2014

Second trainee guard session on the Churnet

This weekend the weather was about as different as possible on each day; torrential rain storms yesterday, benign warm sunshine today. My original plan had been to go to the Churnet Valley Railway yesterday and to the Foxfield Railway Steam Gala today. However, the awful weather yesterday changed my plans; I decided to stay home yesterday and go out on the bike today. But should it be Foxfield Gala, or Churnet as trainee guard? Malc and Ivan, neither of whom have been to Foxfield before, are away this weekend or we'd have gone there. I went to the Foxfield gala two years ago (click here to see that entry on the blog) so I decided to fire up the Freewind motorbike and head for Cheddleton instead.

Melvin was rostered guard, and on my arrival he welcomed me into the guard's compartment of his train.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

The Freewind parked at Cheddleton this morning

Green ring on the handbrake wheel means the brake is 'off'. The vacuum gauge (on the wall above the emergency brake handle) shows 'no vacuum', so when this picture was taken we were coupled to the locomotive (so no need for the hand brake) but it had not yet created the vacuum necessary to release the train's brakes. 

Comfy chair for the guard

At Leekbrook Junction we stopped in the loop for our class 33 diesel locomotive to run around the train for the return trip back down the valley. The signal box has been restored as a visitor attraction, but unfortunately does not operate any points or signals! So other than somewhere to shelter from the weather, it's not much use to any signalman posted here who still has to operate each point manually from the line side. Perhaps that situation will change, either with the layout as it is now, the coming into use of the line to Endon, or maybe the proposed extension northwards to Leek.

Melvin has retrieved the tail-lamp from one end of the train, and will re-locate it to the other end for this return trip. Fred the raffle ticket seller is by the train.

 33102 'Sophie' runs around her train at Leekbrook Junction

Melvin places the tail lamp on what will now be the back of the train

After several trips up and down the valley I left the train to head home the scenic way through Longsdon, Rudyard, Congleton, Withington, and Chelford. 

Probably be time soon to sit the Guard's rules test and practical (being observed doing the job) and then volunteer for the occasional guard's turn in between the signalman turns in Consall box.


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