Monday, 29 February 2016

Churnet Valley 2016 Winter Steam-Up!

I've just spent a most enjoyable weekend as signalman in Consall, box on the Churnet Valley Railway for the Steam Gala. What a great weekend! Dry weather and even some sunshine! Lots of passengers as far as I could tell, and everything worked a treat - no loco failures, just a coach that had to be taken off the Ipstones set yesterday setting the schedule back 1/2 hour, most of which we'd made up by end of day.
The maintenance of the signalling equipment by S&T last weekend paid off - in the first intensive use of the token machines everything worked as it should, with no equipment failures at all. Even the signaller managed not to screw up!
I enjoyed the challenges of being in the box, even though that meant no opportunity to get up to the Ipstones line to witness the S160 in full cry. But even pulling up the bank to Consall from London Bridge she was impressive! Her crisp bark echoing off the valley side to give a 'double beat' effect. And that chime whistle echoing up and down the valley. What a loco! 

Here she is, S160 No.6046 blasting up to Ipstones on the Saturday:
Click here

Here are some pictures of the weekend. Click on any one for a larger image.

Working time table for the weekend

Taffy Tank at Leekbrook with replica headboard

Jon Jon Kerr, maestro of the weekend conducts affairs at Cheddleton! 

Emma hangs onto her steed; the Taffy Tank 5619 at Cheddleton 

  Consall Box on Sunday morning just after I'd switched the box in (with me in it, yet to drop the 'up starter' signal behind the train) with the S160 on the back of the departing first train (Polish Tank 'Hotspur' on the front), on its way to Froghall.

 5619 running up to Consall from London Bridge

Gregg in his S160 6046. This locomotive was hired out to the Nene Valley Railway and suffered cylinder hyraulicing which induced the pin holding the piston rod to the crosshead to fall out, allowing the piston to smash through the front of the LH cylinder. It went to Tysley for repairs being returned to the CVR a few weeks ago in time for final preparation, steaming, and running at this gala. The second resident S160 is nearing completion in Cheddleton workshops, so soon the CVR will be able to run two of these magnificent machines!

The enabler for the weekend's intensive timetable is the Tyres Token Machine. This is the one in Consall box, and its partner is in Cheddleton box, and they control the Leekbrook to Consall section. Only one token can be removed from either machine (not both!), and it's not until that token has been replaced into either machine that another can be removed. Since the train needs a token to enter the section, this ensures that only one train can ever be in the section at any time.

5619 photographed from Consall box 

Frank Richards' superb picture of 6046 approaching Consall on Sunday morning 

5619 up out of the valley, on its way to Ipstones 

6046's air pump receives attention in Cheddleton yard 

The first train of the Gala leaves Consall for Froghall on Saturday morning. S160 6046 shown here on the rear of the train, Polish tank 2944 'Hotspur' on the front. The train has brought the combined staff to Consall which I have just separated into the staffs for the Consall - Leekbrook section (which I have inserted into the Tyres Machine) and the Consall - Froghall section (which 'Hotspur' is carrying), and used them to 'switch in' Consall box. Once the entire train has passed the down starter signal (just to the right of 6046) I will drop that signal back to 'on' (danger).

Consall box interior just before switching out Sunday night, the 56XX in the loop waiting for the train from Cheddleton. Once that arrives I'll put the 56XX on the rear of that train and close the box. The combined train with 'Hotspur' on the front and 56XX on the rear will proceed to Froghall, then return to Cheddleton stopping at Consall on the way.

Here is that train returning from Froghall, Consall box in darkness. This is the last train of a very successful Steam Gala weekend.

I've saved the best 'till last. Below is a link to a superb video collation by Liam Marsh. It starts at Consall where I've put the 56XX light engine into the loop platform while I collect the Froghall token from the Ipstones train running into the Main platform. The Ipstones train with the S160 as train engine and 'Hotspur' as tail engine heads off past the Black Lion for Leekbrook.

Liam then takes us to undoubtedly the least picturesque bit of the line, the site of Boulton's Copper Works just north of Froghall. Here we see the 56XX heading up the valley, which rapidly adopts its usual rural tranquillity once away from Boulton's.

We then go up to the Ipstones branch. When the first train we saw on this video reaches Leekbrook, 'Hotspur' will detach an run back to Cheddleton with the token for that section, while the S160 and train head up to Iptones. Look for the flash of reflected fire on smoke and steam as 6046 passes under the bridge at 7:49 on the video.

And finally we see the 56XX 'with 5 on' making short work of the climb to Ipstones, including having conquered the 1 in 40 tight curving climb out of Leekbrook Junction.

And all weekend not a diesel in sight! A true STEAM gala!


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