Sunday, 10 November 2019

Progress Sunday 10th November 2019

Dear all,

Finally some sun! Today we continued with out Shottle Specials steam and diesel top and tail combination. Three return services to Shottle operated, with the first slightly retimed by 5 minutes to allow the railway to fall silent at 11:00. Thereafter, the sunshine brought out good numbers for the time of year for a ride. The Cafe was also quite busy, with most things sold old. I am told stocks of Mars bars are critically low!

Down the yard, work continued on the refurbishment of Faraday and the restoration of the Derby Lightweight. Further ceiling panels have been plimped up in the latter.

I attach a couple of photos. One is of HE about to set off across Gorsey Bank Crossing yesterday sent to me by Stuart Graves and the other is of 08605 "GR Walker" shunting the stock back into platform 1 this evening.


Friday, 8 November 2019

Progress Friday 8th November 2019

Dear all,

Following the heavy rain over the past 48 hours or so the decision was made to traverse the entire route of our line by DMU this afternoon to check for any issues with flooding and trees. It really is a testimony to the efforts of our PW gang there are no flood waters in site anywhere down the line and the entire route is clear. The River Ecclesbourne is higher and flowing faster than normal but is still well away from the track. The sight of the fields the other side of the main line at Duffield though reminded me of the sea. We dropped off one volunteer who was going home by train and fortunately managed to catch the last train to Derby from Matlock before services were suspended.

Volunteers were still hard at work back at Wirksworth with work continuing on reinstating the toilet compartment on 50170 hopefully ready for Santa's visit. A start was also made on the fitness to run on the recently arrived teak coaches. 08605 also had some fettling ahead of services this weekend on the Shottle Specials.


Thursday, 7 November 2019

Progress Thursday 7th November 2019

Dear all

A quiet day on the railway today with torrential rain all day putting most people off. Trains aren't running during the week at this time of the year which allows lots of admin and planning to take place. A meeting was held with the plumber to get the next phase of the toilet project underway.

The PW braved the elements to traverse most of the line checking it was clear and free from flooding. A blocked drainage channel south of Shottle was causing water to block up but this was temporarily remedied by hand to keep things flowing for now.


Friday, 1 November 2019

Progress Friday 1st November 2019

Dear all,

The final service day to Duffield until 28th December has been and gone and it was an acceptable day for the time of year. The Shottle Specials start tomorrow and Henry Ellison was warmed through in anticipation. The coaches were also cleaned and readied too.

A delegation from Lancashire were out in force hammering and banging away at the Class 14, with the owning group using down time over winter to do some much-needed TLC. Both vacuum exhausters were removed for overhaul and they were still hammering away at a stuck nut on the rods in the dark, as they are being removed for rebushing. This should help the ride quality no end next season.


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Progress Thursday 31st October 2019

Dear all,

A beautifully sunny but chilly day to end October with Iris handling the services today. The majority of passenger came from Duffield today and the buffet particularly benefitted so.

Advantage of the weather was taken with the doors and windows on the new toilet block being varnished to protect them.

Down the yard, the Maintenance Team investigated and hopefully resolved a random power controller fault that had developed on W55006 over the last few days.

I suppose the big news of yesterday was the arrival of two beautiful vintage teak coaches in the form of a 1935 LNER first class and a GNR 1910 Observation Saloon. The coaches are operational and we look forward to them joining the LMS Brake Third coach which is in the final stages of restoration.


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Progress Sunday 27th October 2019

Dear all,

In stark contrast to yesterday, today was typically a beautiful day even though it wasn't very warm. It was back down to expected activity levels at this time of year as we had our final normal service day on a Sunday for a while. Next week the Shottle Specials start on Saturday but we do have trains Tuesday, Thursday and Friday through to Duffield as it is half term.

Down in the engineerium, work continued on Faraday's cab and on 50170 which is receiving roof repairs and toilet construction work.

Further work continued in the LMS Brake Third which is in the process of being painted.


Progress Report Saturday 26th October

Dear All,

Despite the monsoon rain and flood warning from the Environment Agency that the River Ecclesbourne was about to burst it banks, and thanks to the skills of our drivers, we were able to run our advertised service yesterday. Many Muggles of assorted shapes and sizes braved the weather to visit the Wirksworth Wizarding Day. It was quite a spellbinding sight akin to a scene from one of Harry Potter's films as our visitors alighted in full costume at Wirksworth station. I believe the on train catering of chocolate frogs, jelly bat wings and other related confectionary was very popular and quickly sold out. We welcomed both Radio Derby and BBC East Midlands Today on the first Duffield departure and a feature on the event is planned for Monday's programme.

At Wirksworth station the display of owls proved very popular offering some great photo opportunities. A frequent incline steam service was also in operation and Richard conducted a number of yard tours to interested visitors. Congratulations to Rob Green who successfully completed his practical driving assessment on the class 73. The warmest, driest most popular place today was the museum and shop which seemed perpetually busy.

Other heritage railways in the Midlands had to cancel their services today due to the severe weather therefore its timely to mention the excellent drainage work our Permanent Way Team has been undertaking over the past few months. Without a doubt today's intensive timetable would not have been possible if it wasn't for the planned improvements the team has made to problem areas requiring better track drainage. To give you some idea of the impact the rain has had on the River Ecclesbourne, I have attached a video of the river in Wirksworth yard taken by Dave Williams in between testing of Henry Ellison.

Today's event was an unqualified success despite the weather and grateful thanks must go to the following groups of people who went that extra mile in often atrocious weather conditions to ensure we were able to deliver all advertise services and attractions:- Train Crews both steam and diesel, Crossing Gate Keepers, Shottle Signalmen, Station Staff, Catering Staff, Booking Hall Staff and those volunteers providing on train hospitality. A great team effort. (apologies if I have missed anyone)

All the best, Tom