Friday, 29 February 2008

Friday 29th February 2008

Dear all
Today saw the final inspection of the Wirksworth to Idridgehay section by Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate. After some discussion of our Safety Management System and supporting documentation there was a very thorough physical inspection of the locking arrangements at Wirksworth and the condition of the track, signage, vegetation clearance and fencing to Idridgehay. This was followed by a return trip in the 2 Car Met-Cam dmu at line speed,an examination of the Idridgehay detraining ramp and the arrangements for its use.
The result was an unqualified approval to open the line to passengers at 25mph and an axle weight maximum of 25 tons. I invite you, again, to raise a glass, or two, to this remarkable achievement. Many, many thanks are due to the men and women who made this possible by sweat of brow and financial contribution. We are now the longest heritage railway in Derbyshire with another 5 miles to go! The grand opening can proceed next Saturday with much fanfare.
Meanwhile, carriage cleaning continued for the event and the Incline dmu coach was released back into traffic with its first outing on Sunday. It is now a most splendid vehicle providing new photo opportunities.
The Permanent Way team had a mixed day with shunting and ballast fettling amongst their activities. The tamper rounded off its time with us by completing the section from the Sewage Works through to the north end of Road 2 in time for the Inspector's journeys. The effect of the machines work over three days has been to create a splendid finish to the track ensuring a very stable and comfortable ride.
The Booking Hall received visitors and the Buffet Car was prepared for Sunday. Dorothy fed the Inspection team with the soup being particularly welcome after a very wet walk.
I think we may crow just a little bit with an achievement of three distinct operational passenger railways, Ravenstor, Gorsey Bank and Idridgehay in 7 short years - not bad at all!!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Thursday 28th February 2008

Dear all
A somewhat fractious day with the stress of completing our Idridgehay project beginning to take its toll. Nonetheless I am sure a glass of Scotland's finest product helps put matters into perspective - it certainly works for me!
Rod was able to report the completion of the Idridgehay boarding platform - this considerable task reflects great credit on him and the ever supportive Mary.  John (79) requested yet more paint for the Idridgehay gates and associated fencing - I think the drivers will require dark glasses as they approach the installation.
Much activity on the north foot crossing at Wirksworth with painting, creosoting and preparation for tarmacing continuing apace. The tamper has reached the Sewage Works and will have an early start tomorrow to complete the job to Wirksworth. The Incline dmu car received further lining out and was gleaming in today's sunshine. Attention was given to the footboards, corridor end connection and underframe to ensure its is in tip top condition for the opening.
Ballast was dropped and fettled on the north end of Road 2 at Wirksworth and, all being well, will be tamped tomorrow. Sleepers were further positioned at the north foot crossing ready to be slotted into place next week. Our Multicar Road/Rail lorry received a full service with many niggling faults resolved and the Booking Hall received visitors and many phone calls. The Mess Hall had a good clean and the Met-Cam 2 Car unit cleansing continued. Further fitting out and stocking of the Information Centre and Shop was under way together with painting into the Company livery.
The Maintenance Facility team finally completed all the steelwork and is ready for sheeting. This really has been a marathon task reusing and reconfiguring material recovered from the former dust dock and, again, reflects great credit on those involved. Trains were formed up ready for next weeks activities which will form the basis for the final physical preparations for the Idridgehay opening.
Yellow flags are now on site with thanks to Bridget Birtwistle.

New Stock List Available for Download

A new stock list is available for download by clicking on Enthusiasts at the top and then on Stock List.

The stock list has been updated to include new arrivals Claire, Jana and Iris.


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Wed 27th Feb

Evevin' all,

A great deal of effort today on a wide range of activities. It started
with the Tamper departing for Idridgehay at first light (nearly). The
line was tamped from there to the bottom end of the 'racing straight'.
north of mp 139.25. Work continues tomorrow. Some 'Boxing in' was also
undertaken at the Idridgehay end.

The Per way team completed the task of installing replacement
sleepers, so all available sleepers have now been laid,I appreciate
that there are thousands more to be changed, but those can wait for
another day. Unless we can put in an insurance claim that the
earthquake damaged our sleepers! They also started 'Operation Hover'
the tidying of the line of the remaining logs and waste sleepers. The
team have done an absolutely first class job in difficult conditions,
and deserve the praise of us all.

In the Maintenance Facility,all of the Lateral Struts have been
installed, once again this team have been adding to their rather large
Mecanno kit and are to be congratulated.

Dave Mee has continued with the painting and lining out of the Incline
coach, ready for its role in the Opening trains next week. Meanwhile
John Evans continued with the painting of Idridgehay crossing agtes.

A start was made on the final fixing of the nrthern foot crossing
between platforms 1 and 2 at Wirksworth.

Dave and Chris were busy pulling lengths of wire and cable around the
place, this was for PA and other communications systems.

More stocking out, exterior painting and ramp building for the new
Information Room/EVRa shop on Platform 1.

Passenger services were kept busy with visitors as well as taking
bookings for the first trains. Regretably, all First Class seats have
now been sold, more fine planning for the event also took place - the
logistical problems associated with next weeks event are growing by the
minute, but everything is in hand (its says here).

The lorry had some routine servicing carried out, this is now nearly
in daily use.

Off for a soak, and wait for my Red Cross parcel bringing relief to
those who suffered in the earthquake.


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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Tuesday 26th February 2008

Dear all
An extremely busy day with a great deal of activity to record. The VCT stepped into the breach by repairing the broken derailer sign post and making that part of our safety system secure. They also dealt with the remaining unfenced garden on Bournebrook Avenue so we can now say that stretch of line is as protected from trespass as we can make it. The VCT also feature in the hanging of the delightful gates for the foot crossing - looking every inch railway gates that complement the overall look of the station. Much fence painting was also achieved and this part of the project is nearing completion.
Owing to a design fault the timber foot crossing at the north end of Wirksworth station was removed by the Permanent Way team and new timbers collected from the Wash Green weighbridge. These will be installed tomorrow all being well.
Two machines were on test today, the first one was a form of "cherry picker" that was tested at height by Phil - he is now lying down in a darkened room, the second was a tamper that journeyed to Duffield and return. This machine will now work for us and tamp the Wirksworth to Idridgehay section over the next three days providing an economical solution to this usually quite expensive task. Expanding our internationalist role the first machine was constructed in Antwerp and was accompanied by two Belgians. The tamper crew are staying at the Rising Sun injecting even more money into the local economy.
The Information Centre and Shop filled with sale items and the logging department were in production. Progress was made with the power and water supplies to Platforms 2 & 3 and instruction was given on how to oil underneath Claire - great fun for Hylton and preparation for raking out the ashpan on future visitors. Sir Peter & Lady Hilton was started after a period of inactivity and took over the Works Train this afternoon. The Permanent Way team also achieved sleeper changing during the morning making it a varied day for them.
Great strides were made at the Maintenance Facility with the steelwork nearing completion. Dmu maintenance continued and further deep cleaning of the Met-Cam 2 car set was achieved.
John (79) was observed with the great painting project at Idridgehay and had the pleasure of opening the gates for our test vehicle and the Booking Hall played a splendid role in dealing with the phone ringing itself of the cradle. The train staffs were equipped with new brass plaques revealing their new roles and the Wash Green ground frame was reconfigured to require two staffs to permit its operation, again a requirement of our new Safety Management System.
I think that's all!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Monday 25th February 2008

Dear all
The track inspection team undertook a fishplate bolt examination over two miles of the Idridgehay section tightening up as required. It was a good proving exercise for the new regime of track inspections and took place after two dogfish (ballast hoppers) were placed in the dock this morning for stone delivered this afternoon. The ballast is required as and when the tamper finds areas where more stone is required.
A further team, aided by two scaffolding towers hired for the week, made steady progress with the north end steelwork of the Maintenance Facility and dmu maintenance continued apace. The Incline dmu coach had its ceiling work completed and sparkles with its second coat of green. All being well lining out will take place followed by a coat of varnish - weather permitting.
The Information Centre received further fitting out and preparations for its access ramp. Mr Craft was seen learning how to operate the till - a technical advance of amazing proportions.
The head of VCT arrived to wind the station clock claiming it was not the only work he would achieve today - to be fair he has been manufacturing the gates for the new foot crossing in his workshop at home.
A survey team descended on Duffield to prepare the master plan for our southern terminus, multiple platforms, shopping mall, underground carpark, overall roof and catering outlets are just the beginning!
Meanwhile, the Booking Hall fielded an abnormal number of phone calls as interest in the forthcoming opening quickens.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Press release: Ready for the Opening - Vintage Railcar Arrives as Belle of the Ball for March Gala

Wirksworth, 25th February 2008: As preparations intensify for the reopening of the 3½-mile stretch of the Ecclesbourne Valley railway between Wirksworth and Idridgehay on 8th March, a new arrival at Wirksworth this weekend will be the ‘Belle of the Ball’ at the reopening gala.

A 1956-vintage railcar, number M79900 but known to all as ‘Iris’ from her days as a test train for British Railways, has arrived to take her place in the railway’s fleet of historic railcars. Iris was saved from the scrapheap in the 1990s and has been preserved by a private owner.

Meanwhile, preparations are proceeding for the March reopening, which the line’s two level crossings re-commissioned and old sleepers being replaced at a rate of nearly 30 per day by a dedicated volunteer team.

A few tickets remain for the ‘Ecclesbourne Express’ reopening special on Saturday 8th March at £20 per person, standard class. Call Wirksworth Station on 01629 823076 or visit for details.


Note to Editors:

High-quality digital images are available to download:

First of all, this fascinating pair of images show a ‘Derby Lightweight’ railcar at Wirksworth in 1954 and ‘Iris’ in exactly the same location on 24th February 2008:

Note that a second track was added in the 1970s.

The following image depicts volunteers at Wirksworth Station giving ‘Iris’ a wash and brush-up shortly after her arrival.

The final image shows ‘Iris’ on the main line between Wirksworth and Idridgehay.

About the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway:

WyvernRail plc is working with the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Association to reopen the Duffield to Wirksworth railway in the heart of Derbyshire.

The line passes through the beautiful Ecclesbourne Valley to the award winning and beautifully restored town of Wirksworth, nestling at the foothills of the Peak District.

The line is a time capsule, with its intermediate stations largely intact and the layout at Wirksworth virtually unchanged since the days of steam.

There are 8½ miles of single-track railway, which meet the Midland Main Line at Duffield Junction near Derby. There are five station sites, two level crossings, a yard with extensive sidings and a mineral branch to the old Middlepeak quarry at Wirksworth. The mineral branch was re-opened by the railway in September 2005 as its Ravenstor extension, serving the National Stone Centre and High Peak Trail and the line reopens to Idridgehay in March 2008.

Sunday 24th Febuary 2008 Progress Report

Dear all,

Today has seen very few vistiors which we managed to welcome who travelled on the Ravenstor services.

With a limited number of volunteers, activity has only been on a few fronts.

(a) The Gatex has been open and welcomed a number of vistiors
(b) "Iris" has had a wash and brush up and thoroughly cleaned with further work carried out
(c) all the points in the yard have been oiled by the conscripts
(d) Further work has been carried out on the 31
(e) Ravensor station platform has been cleaned up ready for the big day

Thanks to all

Duty Manager.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Saturday 23rd Feb Progress Report

Hello all,

Today has seen a "better than average" turn out for a Saturday. There has been astounding progress on many fronts:

a.. Electronic equipment was upgraded at first light
b.. The dust dock was tidied and cleared ready for the opening day, with theaid of a conscript
c.. A plethora of drivers turned out to have their knowledge expanded, which included an amusing 1950s black and white video on how to drive a DMU
d.. This knowledge was then put to the test with first-hand practice in the car park
e.. Our new arrival, "Iris" was taken to Idridgehay to measure stopping distances against the new platform and several drives trained
f.. "Iris" was then thoroughly cleaned and perfectly photographed on its return to Wirksworth
g.. M55006 Bubble Car also took a trip to Idridgehay as a Guards route learning trip
h.. The car park was emptied of narrow gauge rail

So all in all, a very, very productive day!

Mike Evans

Friday, 22 February 2008

Friday 22nd February 2008

Dear all
A varied day with the first test run of the rail/road Landrover and it successfully negotiated all our pointwork. The vehicle would seem to be everything we would wish of it and familiarisation opportunities commenced today. The Information Centre and Shop received further shop fitting attention and the Guards training run to Idridgehay was successful. This proved that the new detraining platform is the right addition to Idridgehay.
Driver training on the Bubble Car continued and Iris was the subject of a check over following its arrival from the Churnet Valley Railway. Ballast was dropped and ploughed in various areas were stone was needed and the Incline dmu received more green paint - it is truly gleaming now and will be a credit to the opening. It is hoped that the painting and lining out will be complete next week - weather permitting. The Gorsey Bank passenger line had a track patrol in preparation for the return of Tube Lines next week.
The Booking Hall had some sales and dealt with phone calls. The Buffet Car was prepared for its Sunday opening.
We should recognise the sterling efforts being made by Anton and Neil for the opening events - there is a great deal of work going on behind the scenes that should result in yet another jolly good show!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Thursday 21st February 2008

Dear all
The frantic action continues with Idridgehay featuring the completion of the new detraining platform all but some paint and John (79) demanding more paint for the crossing gates and associated fencing. The Permanent Way team aided by a strong group from the Probation Service achieved another magnificent 30 sleepers giving every chance of completing this marathon task next week. Phil managed to hire in a generator this morning whilst our machine receives a well deserved overhaul.
The VCT's fencing sub department made great progress with the new fencing at the north end of Platforms 1 & 2 in connection with the foot crossing and rose to the challenge of fencing off two gardens at Bournebrook Avenue. Fred and Iris completed a deep clean of the two 2 Car dmu sets to be used for the opening specials and the Incline dmu is now green all over with much thanks to Ernie Bradley and Dave Mee. Lining out will take place tomorrow if the weather is fine.
The Information and Shop suite was the scene of more shop fitting and the Booking Hall Harry (73) kept control of the usual phone calls. At the end of the day our road/rail Landrover swept down the drive, it will be a very useful addition to our fleet to easily move teams to site. Tom Birtwistle had quite an eventful journey from New Cumnock including a blow out on Shap, a prolonged service in Carlisle and two new tyres in Morecambe. We will put it on track tomorrow and see whether it performs as advertised! As darkness fell the dmu fleet were being shuffled ready for drivers technical training on Saturday.
All in all, another good day.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Wed 20th Feb

Evenin' all,

Yet another day of frantic activity with various comings and goings.
The Low loader that brought Iris last night, left around 0500 this
morning en route to Teeside, and returned after lunch with he Tamper,
this is now awaiting its testing run next week followed by some tamping
work for us.

Rod went to Idridgehay, where work continues on the 'Umbrella'
platform, He was aide by a 'willing' volunteer and his minder. Together
they have achieved a great deal.

The Per way team have again been in operation, firstly moving recently
changed rails from the 4' to the Cess where they will be collected at a
future date, and then carried onsleeper changing. Another 16 were
changed before the generator decided that it had had enough. The team
are now north of MP 140, with another 46 rotters to eispose of.

Various electrical type chaps were playing with bits of wire around
the place, with the new cable inserted on Tuesday having a start made
on its termination end. Meanwhile the communications and webcam boys
were measuring, and installing various bits and pieces (accompanied by
much head scratching)

Work continued on the fitting out of the new Information room' shop.

One item I forgot yesterday weas the return of the old station clock.
This has been lovingly restored to working order. It is stored in a
secure area and will be in situ for the Idridgehay opening.

Several visitors agin braved the cold weather and went on the
Ravenstor train, several cameras were noted especially pointing at

Tomorrow sees more sleeper changing - I am intending to get the
generator in for a service first thing and will hire a power unit, if
one is available.


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Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Iris at Wirksworth - Photo Exclusive!

Good evening,

You may be pleased to learn that the Marketing department got out of its comfy chair this evening and witnessed the arrival of ‘Iris’ at Wirksworth.

Two full-size images can be found at the gallery site below:

Tues 19th Feb

Evenin' all,

Another day of mass activity in the run up to opening. A day when the
temerature did not seem to rise above freezing as well as fog saw the
'umbrella' platform deliverded to Idridgehay and the start of its
final assembly. The Per way team worked in the cold a and managed to
change a further 19 sleepers - not bad seeing as they had to fight for
each 'rotter' as the ballast was frozen and each one had to be hacked
out. Two more wagons of top stone also arrived ready for dropping

A drainage problem in Idridgehay cutting was also attacked and we
await developments there, the ice was over an inch thick!

The VCT worked at a furious pace constructing the walkway at the
northern end of Wirksworth station, new fencing was added and it is now
taking shape.

The cold weather caused problems with the loco fleet, with engines
being difficult to startm and with air resevoirs and brakes being
frozen. The Bubble car eventualy was able to operate on the Incline
service with several visitors.

'Iris' finally arrived late this afternoon and was unloaded almost in
the dark. This magnificent vehicle was towed across to the Pit area for
a check over. The team who brought Iris, are overnighting at Wirksworth
and then going to Teeside to return tomorrow with the Tamper.

Tommorow sees another big push with the sleepers, only about 60 left
to change - a last offensive to rid the section of the rotters.


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Monday, 18 February 2008

Monday 18th February 2008

Dear all
A cold but sunny day saw much activity at the Maintenance Facility with steelwork being cut and welded together with the spectacular arrival of the sheeting that will cover the structure. This significant investment in the project has been funded by EVRA and brings the objective of covered accommodation tantalisingly near.
Two new Multicar drivers were given a basic induction and 32 tonnes of ballast was received and quickly dropped and ploughed in an area between Bournebrook Avenue, 49 steps and Derby Road bridge. More stone arrives tomorrow for dropping on Friday. Action around the new Wirksworth foot crossing saw power and public address cables being routed under the track together with a water pipe for supply to the Buffet Car. Preparation by the head of VCT prepared the way for further fencing work at the crossing tomorrow.
John (79) was seen continuing his work to paint the Idridgehay gates and associated fencing and the enlarged Idridgehay detraining platform was loaded to the Flatrol and Lowmac for transit tomorrow.
The Information suite received further attention and the Booking Hall dealt with visitors and a flurry of telephone calls associated with the forthcoming opening.
PS - I am trying to source two yellow flags for use by crossing keepers when Gorsey Bank and Idridgehay are manned. If anyone has these they would be gratefully received.
PPS - Just a reminder that we just have the remainder of this week and all next week to complete the resleeping process before the arrival of the tamper - all hands welcome and needed!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Progress Report for Saturday 16th February

Dear all,
On behalf of Mike Evans, Duty Manager, here is today's report:

A bright sunny day began with the departure of the weekend PW gang to Barnsley Lane where a great deal of ballast was moved from the sleeper tops to enable tamping to take place shortly. At base there then followed Shunt of the Month in which most vehicles in the yard were moved from one siding to another, in some cases more than once (this is due to the limitations of our siding space and having a lot of vehicles). At the end of the day both two car DMU sets were in platform 1 for cleaning and trailer car 56289 was in the car park for the continuance of its refurbishment. Work proceeded on the class 31, and the 03s also received attention. In the shed area work proceeded on the burying of drains in connection with the work on the Temporary Storage Facility. (Any large loose stone which may be collected around the yard can be used to help bury the blue drainage pipe which runs by the shed roadway, there being no conscripts to attend to this duty today).

A meeting of the global IT team took place to consider the connection between the server and the 2 webcams on Mr Henshaw's, er, pole. Our entire stock of strangely coloured cloth, bedsheets and pelmets was removed from the stores and transfered to the Eatch Family SPV, for the flag project (thanks to Debbie). Painting the interior of the Emporium and Information Suite proceeded and work was done on the station north end foot crossing. The Booking Hall received over 30 visitors and the Gat Ex was aired and various material moved from it in preparation for its upcoming role as VIP waiting area for the Opening.

The drain covers on the west side of the car park were completely rebuilt, as were the steps to the Training Room and the Passenger Office. The car park was re-stoned, swept and re-marked; many items remain to be moved, however. At Duffield, work proceeded in the compound. A supply of EVR logo hi-vis vests was brought from Milton Keynes (where else) and these will be on sale in the Booking Hall in a very soon moment.

All the best,


Friday, 15 February 2008

Friday 15th February 2008

Dear all
We are truly becoming a seven day week enterprise with another substantial turn out on what, historically, been a quiet day. Another customer was with us today with two machines and the process went very smoothly and all their objectives achieved. Two Permanent Way teams were in action, one tending to missing track spikes between Wirksworth and Gorsey Bank on the Duffield line and conducting a track inspection of this line and the Gorsey Bank passenger line. The second team walked Wirksworth to Ravenstor inspecting the track and correcting minor faults and logging work to be done in the future. This all added up to a pleasing start to a new, more regimented track inspection regime in preparation for an extension of our passenger operations. The teams came together in the afternoon to jack and pack a section alongside Bournebrook Avenue that had dropped so that the tamper visit the week after next will be productive on that section.
Cable was delivered for the link to the new distribution box at Platforms 2 & 3 can be energised in the not too distant future and initial preparations were made to install it. The work on a new ceiling for the Incline dmu coach continued and the north end corridor connection of the Gatwick Express was repaired and secured again.
Fitting out of the new Information Centre and Shop progressed and the Buffet Car prepared for action on Sunday. The great Idridgehay detraining platform received further attention with the prospect of it being delivered to site next week.
The Booking Hall acted as mission control receiving visitors and fielding the usual phone calls.
Another good day.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Idridgehay Opening Update!

Hello all,

Just to let you know that all of the First Class tickets for the opening train are now fully booked!

There are, however, still tickets available in Standard Class.



Thurs 14th Feb

Evenin' all,

Fresh back from my fact finding trip to study the SNCF in Tunisia, it
was back to reality with a bump.

Three main areas of activity in various locations. Firstly the Per way
team marked up the remaining defective sleepers and dropped off 85
sleepers at the respective locations, they also replaced a further 9
rotters, the trouble is that they are now more spaced out (a bit like
the team who have been working extreemly hard to keep to schedules).
Extra new sleepers wer picked up from further along the line where thay
had been used for a on/off tracking point.

A team were busy clearing mud off the sleepers between 139.5 and
139.75, this is very hard work but they made steady progress, they also
managed to creat more drainage facilities.

The VCT were in operation at the north end of Wirksworth platforma
where work continues on the northern foot crossing. fences are being
built on both ramps along with associated hard surfacing. great changes
have occured.

The Idridghay new platform Co. were busy with their timber, it is
hoped to transport the new 'umbrella' platform to Idridgehay next week.
Meenwhile, more rubbing and painting was carried out to Idridgehay
crossing gates as well as some gardening opposite the platform.

In the woodyard, another consignment of assorted bits of trees were
deliverd to the logging dept for conversion to domestic fuel.

More strategic planning, where daily events for the next three weeks
activities were drawn up. There is not much time left to get everything
ready for the Opening!


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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Wenesday 13th February 2008

Dear all
Well, I run out of superlatives - the daily sleeper changing record has been surpassed again! Thirty in one day is truly a record and the team achieved this whilst marooned as the Works Train had to return to base after dropping them off to permit a paying guest to traverse the line. The team also included a new recruit who was very rapidly gathered in, inducted and despatched to site.
Work continued on the new foot crossing where some of the non slip felt was fixed and the Information Centre received more fitting out. Further mytesttrack bookings were taken and stores of wood, steel and cable ordered for the Idridgehay project.
There was some rearrangement of the Car Park to prepare for the arrival of Iris, now scheduled for Friday, and the narrow gauge inched forward. The Idridgehay enlarged detraining platform was preassembled and now seems the right size for a helicopter landing pad.
Much activity surrounded the preparation of the dmu fleet for its starring role and there was great progress on the Maintenance Facility steelwork. John (79) continued painting at Idridgehay and again was able act as crossing keeper for today's customer.
The Booking Hall received a number of visitors on a very pleasant sunny day. The site finally closed down at around 1900 hrs and over the next few days will have two night watchmen to surprise any uninvited guests.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Operation Trackman

Dear all
Very, very unusually for me I am deviating from the proper subject matter for the eGroup but hope the following will be of interest. The author is Bob Gibbens whose son Spencer has a special place in our history. For it was Spencer that facilitated our entry to the line to start clearance and negotiated, on behalf of Network Rail, the purchase.
The Wolsztyn Experience (WE) in Poland, run by an Englishman Howard Jones, has given many hours of fulfilment to aspiring steam engine drivers from all over the world, is now looking for help by aspiring trackmen.
The WE is associated with the still operational 750mm gauge Smigiel railway. The railway runs a sparse passenger service with a single car dmu and sees occasional freight services. The WE has acquired a PX48 0-8-0 tender steam locomotive which it would like to run at Smigiel but, unfortunately, the track is in a poor state to run the steam locomotive on and the Smigiel company do not have enough money to improve the track.
The Manager at Smigiel, through WE, has asked if UK enthusiasts would like a working week on the track to make a start on the improvements to allow the steam loco to run at Smigiel.
It is proposed to go out from the UK Sat/Sun 26/27th April and work on the track from Monday 28th April to Friday 2nd May returning to the UK Sat/Sun 3rd/4th May. However. this weekend 3rd/4th May is the grand parade of steam engines at Wolsztyn and a steam operated train to Wroclaw. WE will give participants free tickets to these events.
The cost of the working week will be travel to Poland and accommodation. Dependent on how many volunteers come forward, it is anticipated that the final decision to go ahead with Operation Trackman will be taken in the last week of March.
Anyone who is interested please contact Bob Gibbens on 01332 557095, 07715 374 636 or

Tuesday 12th February 2008

Dear all
Another extremely pleasant day with, almost, a sense of hysteria as the Idridgehay opening day rushes towards us. The Permanent Way team departed for the south and had a very full day with 20 sleepers achieved and a load of logs gathered from the 49 steps area on return. A more youthful new recruit to the team confessed to being exhausted by the "old hands".
Much activity took place to create the north end foot crossing at Wirksworth with the VCT cracking on with fencing, Craft and Co nailing the crossing into place and a department of one tending to the ducts for power and water. Dmus were fettled and the 03s received attention with the opening in mind.
Our small S&T team, after expressing loud exasperation at not being able to find the gas bottles, cutting gear and small grinder, pressed on with the locking at Wash Green. When visited, problems seem to be resolved by the application of a large sledgehammer and a more sunny atmosphere prevailed. The gas bottles have been found but if anyone has "borrowed" the small grinder could they return it to the Weighbridge promptly!
Claire had a battery charge and work continued on the narrow gauge and Idridgehay detraining platform. The Booking Hall opened at 0800 with a new recruit who has recently retired from Security at Lubrizol and has been in "go" mode all day. Stuffing of invitations to the opening has been completed and a useful roundup of all the tasks to be undertaken conducted.
Derbyshire Police supplied a Crime Prevention Officer to review the security of the Wirksworth site and one of his recommendations implemented tonight. This is to leave the site in darkness rather than provide illumination for unwelcome visitors. This will mean that volunteers overnighting will need to equip themselves with torches. Other recommendations will implemented over time.
Customers are on site tomorrow and Friday necessitating flexibility in our work methods on these two days.
News from "up north" was the confirmation that the road/rail Landrover has been collected from New Cumnock and, all being well, will cross the border tonight.
Exhausted of Wirksworth

Monday, 11 February 2008

Couple of Site Updates

Evening all,

Just a couple of site updates I thought I would report.

  • Minor changes on the Idridgehay station page.
  • Minor changes to the information regarding the Opening Day (check the Saturday afternoon and Sunday running information).
  • Updated 2008 Accommodation List

But, probably the biggest update is the progress with the webcams. You can now access feeds by clicking CCTV at the top of the homepage. At the moment we are still very much testing this new way of serving the images and therefore they may go offline or change without notice. We hope to be adding more cameras in the near future.

If a feed fails to load, simply refresh the browser. If you get an offline message, don't worry, the image should be back shortly afterwards.


Monday 11th February 2008

Dear all
The normal peace of a Monday was shattered by activity! We welcomed a new customer to mytesttrack with a road/rail bulldozer hosted, in Phil's absence, by Hylton and the process occupied quite a long day. The remains of Wee Yorkie were further reduced by the lifting of the engine to free the wheelsets for transport to Burton-on-Trent to enable new tyres to be fitted. The reduced very Wee Yorkie now rests on sleepers in the Maintenance Facility area.
Rod and Mary continued their efforts with the Idridgehay detraining platform and it is certainly taking shape. John (79) made progress with the Idridgehay fence and gate painting and was pleased to see passing traffic allowing him to open and close the level crossing.
The North End foot crossing received attention from the head of VCT ready for the whole team's visit tomorrow. The webcam controls were tended to and the Booking Hall received, amongst the usual dross, a call from another potential new customer.
A very good day in pleasant sunshine.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Progress Report Saturday 9th February 2008

Dear all,

By the miracle of t'internet, I speak to you now from the wifi enabled
front desk of Mr Won Hung Low's emporium of Chinese delights (2 number
45s with egg fried rice). A bright sunny day was had, perfect for
trackwork. Indeed, Miss Toseland's PW Gang were off bright and early
(Miss Toseland possibly being at the hairdressers but having made sure
the ganger was here first) and have, in a fine demonstration of their
masculine prowess, cleared the mud off all the sleepers between 40 steps
and Derby Road Bridge, also inspected the line to Idridgehay and picked
up the Marketing Manager at Barnsley Lane on the way.

At Wirksworth a great mote of engineers were in attendance and work was
carried out on many of the parts of the class 31, Clare and Jana, and
the 03s, which involved some shunting; in addition, the chassis of an
0-4-0 steam engine, possibly Wee Yorkie, or possibly not, was also
shunted pending work next week. Some red paint was applied to the
Temporary Storage Facility with a very small brush.
Some clerking took place as the Marketing Manager is presently dealing
with some Opening related matters, and a number of visitors were
received. The coffee machine returned from Turnditch but is not fully
operational yet, requiring a small part. Work proceeded on the new
Emporium and Information Suite.

As much as £8 was spent on a new rake and a small body of conscripts
raked the minor loose stone off the wideway, the large stone having been
removed over a 3 week period. This was the last task to be done on the
wideway, which, you will remember, began some time ago in the form of
levelling a large amount of Costly Railway Aggregate Piles. This job is
now finished. The conscripts will be redeployed shortly on something
suitable, probably involving moving many heavy things from one place to

All the best,

Friday, 8 February 2008

Friday 8th February 2008

Dear all
Firstly we welcome John Evans to the VCT in the post of painter at Idridgehay. You have heard of Roy (72) and Les (77), we now have John (79)!!! and he came to receive his safety briefing fresh from the gym.
There was a small but perfectly formed Friday Permanent Way team, supplemented for part of the day by a young offender and minder, who achieved a truly remarkable 14 sleepers changed. Work continued on the Idridgehay detraining platform enlargement and the Information Centre had further work to its electrics.
The "Bubble Car" was engaging in driver training on the Gorsey Bank passenger line and progress was made with the Incline dmu car's ceiling replacement. The Mess Hall was tended to and the Buffet Car prepared for the weekend.
An Herculean effort was made by Dorothy to unblock the gents toilets, not an enviable task. There was some success but I fear further work will be required.
There was good news about the Tube Lines contract advising that the next arrival is scheduled for 22nd February. It will be nice to see this project rolling again. Confirmation was also received that the Company's bid to acquire a road/rail Landrover had reached a conclusion with Network Rail and the machine is ours. We collect the vehicle from New Cumnock next week with a full service planned in Carlisle and delivery to Wirksworth the week after next. Many thanks to Tom Birtwistle for facilitating all this.
The Booking Hall received a few visitors and further bookings for the Idridgehay opening trains.
All in all, a satisfactory day with the sun shining down on us.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Thursday 7th February 2008

Dear all,
An industrious day on many fronts. Much activity at the Maintenance Facility with continued progress with the steel work preparation and fixing. Jana had an appraisal of the work needed to put it into service on our line and Claire will be lifted this weekend to try and cure an axle box that is prone to overheating. Also at the north end of the yard a pile of redundant telephone equipment and assorted other rubbish was consigned to the wheelie bin for disposal. Anthony Gell students continued their assistance of the renovation of Wee Yorkie although, to the untrained eye, there seems to be less and less of the locomotive!
Rod and Mary returned to the Idridgehay detraining platform enlargement project and seem to be bottoming this quite demanding task.
With the help of a team from the Probation Service, trenches were dug for the power and water supplies to cross from Platform 1 to Platforms 2 &3 and the Buffet Car. The VCT also worked in this area to undertake the initial work for the north end foot crossing, recovering some of the necessary timber from the "nursery" area above the Wash Green dock.
The Permanent Way team changed a further twelve sleepers and dropped more off on site for tomorrow's special extra work party - all welcome to this very unusual Friday opportunity departing at around 0930hrs. The PW team also gathered a quantity of household rubbish previously dumped at Gorsey Bank and hauled up the embankment to tidy the area up. I think our activities alongside Bournebrook Avenue have finally dissuaded our neighbours from using the Railway as a dump.
We welcomed a customer for a fairly short test, the machine being incapable of coping with bull head track. This is the value of testing! Work continued on the narrow gauge extension and fitting out of the new Information Centre progressed.
The Booking Hall welcomed a number of visitors and further Idridgehay Opening bookings. Lastly, it was very satisfying to take payment from George Millward for 20 sleepers after some years of cheques moving in the other direction.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Wednesday 6th February 2008

Dear all
The day started with holes dug at Wash Green for "benches" that support the point rodding for the revised locking of the crossover necessary for the Idridgehay service. I am told that this project will be largely completed next week. This involved the Permanent way team who where joined at 1100 by other volunteers on site to witness the scattering of John Bentley's ashes at Wash Green by Lorna and their son, Ross. Coffee and tea were taken afterwards in the Buffet Car along with John's favourite buscuits - shunters dunkers - prepared by Dorothy. Fittingly a "train" passed the site during the scattering from one of our test customers.
Virgin, now Arriva Dave resumed his work with us, after a long break over Christmas and New Year while he was rebranded, and commenced an overhaul of our mileposts that he last painted 5 years ago! Four down and 32 to go. Hand point handles were also in receipt of a spruce up. The Permanent Way gang moved down the line after the "bench" work and managed to change six sleepers despite being somewhat disrupted by our customer's requirements.
At the Maintenance Facility there was further steel preparation and erection together with the fitting out of the 40 ft container with lights. The new Information Centre was being fitted out and the Booking Hall received a number of visitors and received more Idridgehay opening bookings. Rod and Mary commenced revisions to the Idridgehay detraining platform necessary following last week's visitors from HMRI.
Thus a day of progress and mixed emotions.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Tues 5th Feb

Evenin' all,

The Per way teamsettled back into the rythem of sleeper changing,
after a week or twos break. They were working in the muddy remains of
the floods from several weeks ago. 16 got changed, not bad for the

The VCT were in action at Idridgehay completeing fencework. This is
now finished, some landowner adjacent to our line was so impressed with
the work being carried out by our team that they carried on the good
work and have trimmed the hedge, put new gates on etc. A touch of
clever work by the fencing chaps has closed the gaps.

The Pit area saw work carried out in the new container and strip
lighting being installed, it will take a few days to complete but is
promising.In the same area, logs were cut, and surplus waste material
gathered in.

Work was also carried out around the site of the new interplatform
crossing at the North end of platform 1 and 2 The position of the new
service trenches were marked up ready for digging on Thursday.

On Platform 1, the boys with the black stuff were busy and have
resurfaced around the new Information suite and surfaced around the new
troughing route, as well as the new entrance gate.

Behind the scenes a great deal of admin work involving the 1001 tasks
involved with dealing with all of the various authorities, meanwhile
more MTT bookings. The diary between now and opening is filling up with
all manner of activities. It is a conjuring job trying to fit it all
in, especially with the Testing side as well, but the Testing side does
pay for many of our costs.


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Monday, 4 February 2008

Supplemental Monday 4th February 2008

Dear all
The Memorial Sleeper was put into place to commemorate those working volunteers that made a significant contribution to our project during their lifetime. EVRA have organised this tasteful tribute that carries brass plaques in honour of Stuart Baines, Pam Hill, Colin Blower and John Bentley. It is located in the quadrangle at Wirksworth Station and reminds us of absent and missed friends. Given our collective advanced ages there remains ample room for the future!

Monday 4th February 2008

Dear all
A delivery of sleepers today should bring great cheer to the Permanent Way Team! Surplus "short" sleepers from the narrow gauge project have been donated for the north end foot crossing at Wirksworth so that part of the plot can get under way. Roy (72) and Les (77) have been usefully gathering our scrap aluminium for conversion into cash and tidying the site at the same time.
The Booking Hall acted as "Mission Control" and two new mytesttrack bookings were taken. Arrangements were firmed up for Grant Rail's tamper to visit and work during the last week in February. There is a happy coincidence of a need for the machine to visit for testing and our requirements pre-opening.
A report has been received from the Sunday Permanent Way team who continued the vital work of clearing the tops of sleepers and maximising the amount of ballast in the right place. They will be in action again both days this weekend and would appreciate any help.

Progress 3rd February 2008

Dear all,

Slow start in regard to passengers with the cold weather, but a good afternoon, with the Ravenstor services in which a good number of visitors who travelled.

Activity has been on several fronts during the day with a limited number of volunteers:

(a) Further work cleaning sleeper's towards Idridgehay Station with the lorry

(b) Stone clearing on the embankment futher up the yard carried out by the youngconscripts

(c) Gatex open for light refreshments wich welcomed a number of visitors

(d) Work carried out on sleeper's for norrow gage railway

(e) Further work on the garden carried out tyding up, oppsite car parkFurther work carried out on the DMUs and 31.

Thanks to all concerned for your efforts

Duty Manager.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Friday 1st February 2008

Dear all
Well, after the Lord Mayor's show! A gentle day that saw driver training on the "Bubble Car" and back to the mundane with more drain rodding. The Mess Hall had a good going over and the Buffet Car was readied for Sunday.
The Booking Hall received a few visitors and I am pleased to say that mytesttrack appears to be coming back to life after a lean period in December and January. Sleepers scheduled for delivery today are now arriving Monday ready for next week's activity.