A steady week

Working for the NRM isn’t all playing with trains and looking at other people’s toys. Some of it is good old collections management, report writing, condition checks and answering queries or basic research. This week has basically consisted of such work, both at York & Shildon. I’ve been carrying out initial condition surveys of all the rolling stock at York in advance of writing Conservation Management Plans for them all and then writing that up. On Tuesday it was a pleasure to introduce our new Engineering and Operations Manager, Chris Beet, to the site at Shildon – though he had visited four years ago when the family brought “Leander” to our Steam Gala. The rest of the week passed with aforementioned activities – and one or two pleasant surprises which you will hear about before long. So anyhow, here are a selection of pictures from the past six days!

Firstly is the Station Hall at York, with Furness Railway “Coppernob” and Queen Adelaide’s saloon. The latter is off to Holland for part of 2010 for an exhibition on Royal Trains at the Dutch Railway Museum and will be shown alongside many other European Royal Train vehicles. I’ve never taken a decent picture of this pairing, and the works digital let me get away with this!

Another personal indulgence was to take this photo of the Midland Railway Spinner, No.673 – one of the most graceful steam locomotives to run on Britain’s railways in my opinion. I saw it in steam at Rainhill in 1980 and have a picture of similar single wheeler “Princess of Wales” on the wall at home.

Over in the workshop, work progresses steadily on Flying Scotsman; I hope to be able to bring a proper update on progress soon. There are many refurbished parts ready to go back on now and talk of finishing dates and running in locations. As with all restorations though, it would be unfair to say too much just yet, but once we have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, you will find out!

Steve Huggins, our diesel fitter, is taking a break from mending the Western (where he has found a collapsed bearing since last time – more expense!) to perform a winter overhaul on the two locos from the museum’s 7 1/4″ gauge miniature railway. Here’s Greatrex 6 wheel petrol hydraulic loco “Helen” (named when new in 1998 after Helen Ashby) and tender just arrived in the workshop for the assessment to begin. These locos work long hard days, and each year need a really good looking at; the other loco is identical and named “John” after the late Dr John Coiley, first Head of the NRM.

Meanwhile, at Shildon I was walking to the office on Tuesday morning and saw the sun shining through the cab window of the Barclay fireless loco “Imperial No.1″ and rather liked the picture it made. Ironic as when I turned on the computer, there was an enquiry about the loco. Built in 1956, it worked in the paper mills in Gravesend for twenty years, and my Dad has memories of seeing it at work on family visits to Kent. I harbour thoughts of returning it to operation as a clean shunter – no diesel fumes to worry about, just pure water vapour as long as we had a static steam source somewhere…maybe one day under a clean energy initiative?

The 03 shunter is due to have its air tanks inspected by the insurance company at the end of November, so some of the York workshop team came up to remove the tanks and take them back to York for testing, assisted by our apprentices, Jeff Cail and yours truly. As we could see the weather was taking a turn for the worse, we brought the loco inside on Wednesday to allow work to proceed in half decent conditions.

Finally for this week, Pam Porter, our Events Officer at Locomotion had organised a Local History Fair for today (Saturday 21st) so I went down for a look. Some 18 groups were represented, from the Durham Mining Museum to the British Steel Archive project and some excellent displays resulted as can be seen below. I hope that plenty visited – certainly it has the seeds of being a really special event for those interested in local industrial, social and transport history. I could have bankrupted myself on books alone for sale – but my hands stayed in my pockets – and there they will remain until after payday!

Outside in the mist & murk, our friends from the Aycliffe & District Bus Preservation Society brought a couple of their vehicles to display. Not much fun in the pouring rain this afternoon I bet, but hats off to them for making the effort!

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About Anthony Coulls

Anthony is Senior Curator of Rail Vehicles at the NRM and has been an active heritage railway volunteer since 1988
This entry was posted in Rail vehicle collections. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A steady week

  1. Great to see the Newtonian out on the hard standing in the mist.

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