Monday, 31 March 2008


Further details can be found here:

Wirksworth, 1st April 2008: With detailed planning underway for the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway’s ‘Dash to Duffield’; an exciting plan to reopen the last five miles of the line by October 2010, the railway’s management has today announced an even more exciting plan to revive a Victorian scheme to tunnel under Cromford Hill and extend the Ecclesbourne Valley line to Rowsley.

All systems are go here at Wirksworth to start work immediately on boring a 1,503-yard tunnel to take the line under Bolehill, followed by building a 280 yard-long viaduct near Cromford. The new line will then follow the west bank of the River Derwent, before burrowing under the Heights of Abraham in another 500-yard tunnel, followed another two tunnels before forming a junction with Peak Rail at Rowsley.

“Following the superb efforts of our volunteer team to reopen the line to Idridgehay, and the chance discovery on eBAY of a spare tunnel boring machine from the Channel Tunnel project, it just seemed the right thing to do.” Remarked Martin Miller (104), the railway’s General Manager. “We plan to open the line by October 2012, which will be the 20th anniversary of the formation of WyvernRail, the community-owned and managed company behind the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway” he added.

The 1986-vintage tunnel boring machine was purchased on eBAY by a consortium of the line’s volunteers, following a series of detailed planning sessions in several of Wirksworth’s hostelries during March. It has been repainted in the railway’s corporate colours and refurbished with several new features, including a microwave oven, deep fat fryer, compass and an A to Z guide of the Derbyshire Dales.

Construction will commence on Tuesday, 1st April and could take several hours to complete. In the meantime, the railway’s Head of Marketing, Neil Ferguson-Lee (24) will be undertaking a series of briefings along the route of the line, including the Via Gellia, Winster and, if the Tunnel Boring Machine’s navigation system fails, Carsington Water.

John Snell is 97.


Mon 31st March

Evenin' all,

A nice quiet day saw the 107 have a cell changed in a battery, as well
as the Met Cam having a full facial external wash and brush up on both
sides, it positively glistens!

The first weedkilling session of the season saw attention to the Down
Goods platform at Duffield, as well as Wirksworth yard. Things are
sprouting nicely.

The scrap was collected and is now on its way to the far east.

A few people called in to see John in the Booking Hall.

Tomorrow should see some more stone being dropped. Whilst contractors
start on the new tunnel for the northern extension, north of Cemetery
Lane. Naturally this has been kept hush hush due to Lottery rules


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Sunday, 30 March 2008

Sunday, 30th March

Dear all,

Today has been a "better than average day" for a Sunday with the weather fine for once with few volunteers.

The Buffet car was open with two members of staff with the till ring quite well, The Booking Hall functioned well with visitors again taking a trip to Ravenstor with the fine weather.

31 has had the windscreen washers at No1 end re-plumbed and the low voltage power supply for the engine pre-heater re-configured to a neater arrangement.

Access water has been pumped away from the line towards Idridgehay and then progressed north and carried on with 3 more catch pits.

Thanks to all

Duty Manager.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Saturday 29th March 2008

Dear all
What a foul day with little to lift the spirits. A small team crewed the Idridgehay service and entertained a few visitors and a "Day with a Driver" guest - their fortitude in the adverse weather is to be commended. Also of special mention is Tony Chave who stepped into the vacant position of Buffet Car Attendant at the last moment ensure this necessary facility was available. The EVRA shop was open for business and there was a very useful aluminium scrap drive.
Much discussion of the requirements of HMRI for the narrow gauge operation and a huddle concerning the progress on Wee Yorkie's boiler.
The Booking Hall functioned well as Harry Bodkin and I got to grips with the new till and struck a balance at the end of the day.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Friday 28th March 2008

Dear all
A gloomy day with more showers than sunshine but progress made. Site preparation was undertaken for a new tenant arriving in mid April giving an opportunity to see what the "dust dock" was really made of - unfortunately it appears to be mainly quarry waste rather than hiding a perfectly preserved station building. During the process the inevitable discovery of a power cable rendered it necessary for electrical expertise to join it together again and our thanks go to the two Davids that remedied the problem.
We welcomed St Giles School who enjoyed charter journeys in the "Bubble" car to Idridgehay and Ravenstor - we were a little short of staff due to illness and I thank the team that welcomed the school, acted as train crew, opened the Booking Hall and manned the Buffet Car - truly multi tasking.
I also need to put on record that the level crossing lights at Gorsey Bank are now energised with Idridgehay scheduled for next week.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Thursday 27th March 2008

Dear all
I have returned from the splendours of Milano Centrale created by Il Duce giving many ideas for the new station buildings at Wirksworth. I am also minded of the slogan adopted by Morecambe - Health Abounds Beauty Surrounds or in our case Sickness Abounds Work Awaits.
Nonetheless, some brave souls risked the epidemic and completed the new stile installation at Duffield receiving praise from the villagers using the crossing. The track inspection team ferried the materials enabling them to complete a visual inspection of the track from Wirksworth to Duffield and dealing with drainage problems on the "racing straight". They then completed a walk through of the Wirksworth - Gorsey Bank passenger line completing some remedial measures.
A small team carried on with ballast fettling in the 49 steps area and the narrow gauge saw the creation of some new fishplates to join different profiles of track together.
Sperry Rail visited this afternoon to put some more mileage on their prototype vehicle accomplishing 10 round trips on the Incline.
The Booking Hall welcomed visitors and there was a huddle to accomplish a stock take.
All in all a pleasant day and a slow recovery from the great sickness.

Wed 26th March

Steve's report, via the Ambergate galactic relay facility.....

Dear All,

Despite the hacking coughs that appeared to emanate from every corner of the site today the hardy Wednesday team set about the long jobs-to-do list that a very poorly Projects Director had dragged himself from his sick bed to deliver : such devotion!

The PW team ventured southwards to continue with Operation Hoover and managed to clear the line-side of some rotted sleepers that had been languishing for several months and delivered these to the disposal point, returning with two loads of logs to keep the Woodcutters happy.A task quickly reported but, judging by the faces of the returning team, a very arduous activity.

Elsewhere in the yard the Narrow Gauge received more attention as it approaches Cemetery Lane Bridge and the Woodcutters were engaged in a little light restoration in their cabin.

The engineering team carried out the necessary work to return Faraday back to traffic and spent the rest of the day attending to the maintenance requirements of the two 03s.

The solo Land Rover enthusiast carried out more work to his charge and we await the completion of the makeover with some eagerness.

Not to be outdone, the Passenger Dept both welcomed and transported several visitors who had braved the foul weather to visit our enterprise and despite the fact that the ringing of the till bell wasn't as pronounced as of late, the proprietoress of the EVRA shop appeared satisfied with the day's trade.



Monday, 24 March 2008

Mon 24th March

Evenin' all,

Although several members took to their sick beds today, we managed to
work the full service to a delighted stream of visitors. The Two car
ran on the Idridgehay service and was needed on some trains! The
weather was mixed with occasional snow flurries, which meant that
passengers made a 'B' line for the Buffet Car. Julie struggled single
handedly all day and raised £190 (selling out of several lines)
Unfortunately some sandwiches ate into the profits with several seeking
a good home at the end of the day.

Despite the weather the takings are expected to be a lot better than
last year.

Many thanks to all who have helped over the weekend.


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Sunday, 23 March 2008

Sunday 23rd March

Evening all,

With the untimely demise of Anton due to a bout of Man-Flu it was left to me to ensure proceedings went smoothly.

After a snowy start, there were soon plenty of passengers wishing to sample the services to Idridgehay and Ravenstor. Coincidentally, two passengers boarded at Idridgehay! It was also a pleasure to see 'Iris' running up and down to Gorsey Bank adding interest.

As this was an open event, little other progress was made but it was nice to hear the tills, both in the booking office and in the buffet car, merrily ringing!

John Ball

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Progress Report Saturday 22nd March

Dear all,

Many thanks to everyone who persevered today in conditions that would have concerned brass monkeys. A little tidying up of the narrow gauge took place; some movement of aggregates at Duffield; the bins changed on the GatEx; a little shunting; but mainly we attended to the public in about the same terms as yesterday, and given the weather rather to our surprise.



Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday 21st March 2008

Dear all
A better than forecast day with sunshine and showers but bitterly cold. The day was entirely given over to train operations and associated facilities with a reasonable financial result. It was slightly surreal to be a "typical" junction station with periods of activity when the trains to Ravenstor and Idridgehay were arriving and departing followed by periods of stillness. The train crews, Booking Hall and Catering staff did sterling work and everything went with precision.
There were many visitors from other heritage railways and obvious enthusiasts to sample an opportunity to travel to Idridgehay continuing the euphoria of the opening.
A good day.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Thursday 20th March 2008

Dear all
A dismal day with the Easter weekend not promising to be much better, but we live in hopes! Maintenance of the south Idridgehay gate was completed and further ballast fettling achieved. We don't normally mention our customers by name but we were pleased to welcome the Roger Bance to site today whose name lives with some of our track tools.
Defects in the Museum Coach lighting were investigated and a solution reached. Work continued on very Wee Yorkie and the Booking Hall acted as "mission control" and had further tweaking of the new till.
The track patrol team viewed the Wirksworth to Idridgehay section and attempted some work to unblock the drains on the "racing straight" with mixed success.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Wed 19th March

Evenin' all,

Operation Hoover continued, with the Per way team travelling as far as
Shottle. They recovered various odd lengths of rail and a wide variety
of recyclable metal objects. Some Sidings quality sleepers were also
recovered where they will be used at Wirksworth. The area around the
Badger setts was also tidied up, Although they were given notice to
quit, Mr and Mrs Brock decided to return and have spent some time
digging out again. A sleeper wall was built to protect them from the
trains, but they managed to chuck the soil over the wall ont the
running lines, this soil was also shovelled away.

The Steam group had a planning meeting and continued dismantling of
Wee Wee Yorkie, it seems to be getting smaller each day.

In the station area, work was carried out on the new gate where
trouble with the spring has been encountered. Vincent the elder
continued in his namesake's vain and continued painting the outside of
the EVRA shop and Information Center.

Much more planning and a site visit to Duffield with representitives
from other interested parties took place this afternoon. We await

Refurbishment of the landrover also continued.

We also had members turning up for work from Kent, Sussex as well as
Lancashire. All coming to help with the Easter weekend

Tomorrow sees another paying guest. This week, we have had guests or
potential sources of income every day so far, this is what we need!


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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Tues 18th March

Evenin' all,

Oh! You should have seen the happy smilly faces of the VCT as they
arrived this morning. Newly arrived on a low loader was a huge tractor
with heavy duty flail and monster chipper attached. Alas, it was here
for testing not work. The VCT split into two, with teams working near
Jebbs Lane on tree felling as well as the remainder zooming to Duffield
to replace a stile at Holloway Road. By the time the testing vehicle
arrived at Duffield There was quite a traffic jam forming. The
Landrover which was carrying bits for the testing, was turned as was
the lorry.

The Per way team continued ballast fettling along the back of
Bournbrook Ave with some Boxing in. Some more stone is required in

Work on the dismantling of Wee Yorkie continued with bits being
removed for restoration.

Several visitors attended and had a look around


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Monday, 17 March 2008

Monday 17th March 2008

Dear all
It was a delight to welcome Sperry Rail International on their first visit after wining their business on a long term contract giving unlimited access to our test facilities against strong competition. This will see a variety of equipment passing through our portals with a bias to the export market. They are a delight to work with and bring the most unusual vehicles to the Railway.
The DMU Manager spent the day cleaning floors after the weekend and preparing them for their next duties. A situation we will need to address in the future - the practice at Crich, when I was involved, was for the driver and conductor to clean the tram before putting in the depot at the end of the day!
The track inspection team reviewed the Idridgehay to Duffield section in advance of tomorrow's testing and remedied some defects and dealt with a couple of obstructions on the line. The situation at Travis Folley was reviewed where some minor works are required to ensure the Down side gate can be easily closed. A satisfactory exercise in the plan for regular patrols of our whole line.
The Booking Hall received a few visitors and fielded the usual phone calls. A couple more share applications were received in response to the "Dash for Duffield" appeal and the Police have donated some gizmos that activate telephone messages if entry is sought into sensitive areas - it's great we are on the radar.
Another good day.

Sunday, 16 March 2008


Under leaden skies the Railway came to life in preparation for the second Sunday of big line running. It was very reassuring to see the public waiting on the platform for the arrival of the first train of the day and a steady influx of customers was to follow who soon were relaxing in the warmth of the units. It was doubly rewarding to speak to people who had enjoyed last week's activities and returned for more of the same- they were not disappointed and shares were sold!  We welcomed John Allsop to the DMU drfver's roster : John is an experienced driver and this showed through with a  capable and calm approach to the task. The GLV did steady trade in warm drinks but not sandwiches and the Booking Hall welcomed several visitors and received more favourable comments. SL.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Progress Report from Duffield

Dear all,

I am in receipt of the following report from my esteemed colleague the Station Supervisor at Duffield:

ATB, Anton


SUNDAY (Afternoon/Evening)FEB 3rd
Delivered top for breakfast bar, to be fitted later and delivered large bag of ballast from Wirksworth for use on our compound and parking area extension. (Does this mean we're going to have breakfasts served at

MONDAY (Evening) FEB 4th
Dropped off more signing in sheets,doing some pruning of overhanging foliage at back of new office and taking this away together with a large root for recycling off site.

TUESDAY (Evening)FEB 5th
Delivered six more Harras fence panels with six feet,for use at Duffield.

FRIDAY (Evening )FEB 8th
Updating 'our' posters in cabinets at Duffield Station car park end of site.

SATURDAY (Aternoon/Evening)FEB 9th
Took heavy metal DY 548 Signal foot on trailer to HQ's scrap metal skip .Excavated surplus soil that was too high on Road/Rail vehicle turning area, so that this can be reconstructed to correct height.Continued with first part of this reconstruction and to make area usable for Monday.

SUNDAY Feb 10th
(Afternoon) One member of staff put up 'Idridgehay Opening' posters up in Duffield Station car park cabinets and directed lost members of public up to Wirksworth to ride on train, before going up to help with HQ's P.Way gang on Idridgehay line.

(Evening) Brought back on trailer from Wirksworth, wooden shed which will be erected on the smooth concrete floor of 'The Old Lamp Room' by old signal box site, which is being exposed by removing the ballast,which has been covering it for several years. This will house some things presently still being stored in the old office and will have some Harras fencing around it to protect it from intruders. Also more work on moving ballast from off the concrete floor on the Road/Rail turning area continued.

SATURDAY (Afternoon) FEB 16th
Brought up by rail trolley the last remaining wood off platform 3(The platform is now completely clear)then taking shed back down by the trolley to temporary store position,before it can be put up. Then more ballast off old buried floor was moved to road/rail turning area,to make it easier for rubber vehicles tyres to grip while manoevering.

(Afternon)One member of staff,went helping HQ's P.Way team again on the Idridgehay line.

(Evening)Brought another large bag of ballast down from Wirksworth and unloaded it by old office.Then did more exposing of old concrete floor,putting ballast on adjacent turning area.

TUESDAY (Evening)Feb 19th
Started pruning tree and shrubs along stone wall at back of office compound,so we can enhance our security in that area. Then taking off site two large bags of branches to recycle.

SATURDAY (Afternoon/Evening)Feb 23rd
Did a massive spring clean and reorganisation of both offices, then emptied the 80 litre plastic storage tank of rainwater which was on a wooden bench along the stone wall at back of office compound. Relocated
(temporarily) the tank on a pallet in the recess end of old office and transferred the rainwater back into it.
Our two young helpers from Duffield then started the refurb of our new office, by fitting the first section our 'Double Glazing' to one of the four windows which will (a)Make the environment more thermally efficient and (b)make the windows obscure to stop prying eyes from peering in.

Then some old rotten sleepers were brought up by rail trolley from near the buffer stop and loaded to trailer to be taken off site for recycling. On the return trip the contents of one large bag of ballast was taken down to the buffer stop area for temporary storage until it will be used down there.The wooden bench was then put in the new office ready to be used to do jobs on it. A steel shelving unit was also brought and put in its final position in the new office.

WEDNESDAY (Evening) FEB 27th
Changing 'Friends of Derwent Valley line' posters and putting up some new ones of ours,including 'Idridgehay Opening' ones up in the main line platform cabinets.

THURSDAY (Evening) FEB 28th
Some more pruning along back wall of office compound and collecting dead leaves up from our side, also from out the back corner of the garden outside our stone wall.

March to date
The poster cases at Duffield were cleaned by the main station path and car park, hardcore was moved to the road-rail turning area which had become boggy and some ballast brought from Wirksworth has been used to tidy the staff car park area around the station office at Chapel Street.

All the Best-----------------Rodders

Saturday 15th March 2008 progress

The first day of normal running to Idridgehay with an additional Ravenstor service saw a flurry of Passengers plus a small Coach Party visiting the Railway.

The 03s were swapped to enable 03084 to work incline over Easter whilst D2158 received repairs.

Class 31 having wiper washer pipes renewed. Ballasting also done on Narrow Gauge.

Mike Evans.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Friday 14th March 2008

Dear all
A pleasant earning day with the customer bringing two vehicles for test. A slight miscalculation of the kinematic envelope for one of the vehicles will necessitate its return - this is the value of testing! The Incline dmu received more internal attention and has been prepared for service over the Easter period.
Further attention was given to Wee Yorkie's bits and improvements were made to the Buffet Car electrics and plumbing. The Buffet Car was also readied for the weekend and the Booking Hall welcomed a few visitors.
The track between Wirksworth and Idridgehay was patrolled with fishplate bolt tightening and loose spikes driven in so as to be in fine form for the weekend. We are just beginning to get a feel for the impact on the line after it has been used in ernest - there is certainly a difference between its occasional use by a low speed works train and line speed scheduled passenger trains.
All in all, another good day.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Thursday 13th March 2008

Dear all
A much more settled day with some sunshine. We welcomed a new customer from north of the border and used our "new" Landrover as escort vehicle. Work continued on the EVRA shop and Information Centre together with the ever extending narrow gauge. Wee Yorkie seems to be benefiting from a lot of energy and initial results from the boiler examination were assessed. Midland Railway rail chairs released by our work at Cemetery Lane had preparation work to make them presentable for sale in the EVRA shop and the Logging Dept. bagged up sticks for sale.
During a rest period the Landrover had its locks tended to and ballast fettling made its necessary slow progress along Bournebrook Avenue. The VCT continued their work in the Jebbs Lane area encompassing a tree that had split in the recent high winds.
The Booking Hall received a few visitors and fielded the usual phone calls. A late booking was taken for paying guests tomorrow helping us to gradually recover our financial equilibrium.
All in all a satisfactory day.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Wed 12th March

Evenin' all,

Today saw a mixture of rain as well as bright periods. The Per way
team replaced a few more sleepers under the continuation of road 2 by
Cemetery lane, and a pair of rails were rolled back into place so that
the road can be used again. A plan to get some more sleeper quality
sleepers from further up the line this afternoon was scuppered due to
unforseen circumstances. However some ballast regulating tookplace in
the Jebbs Lane area. Measurements were taken for a replacement rail as
well as other minor tasks.

The Landrover continued to get some TLC and some replacement parts
fitted and long rusted bits had an application of Easing Oil.

Some alterations to the services in the GLV were discussed and a plan
was formulated. This Buffet Car was kept at full stretch all over the
weekend, and some ammendments are required.

A passing HMRI turned up, to take a first look at the Narrow Gauge
line and also popped in for a chat - you never know when they are

Admin work was carried out, following my visit to the Rail exhibition
at the NEC yesterday, with some inputing of data. Other members have
been today and some are going there tomorrow.

More training took place with the new equipment in the Booking Halll,
now all we have to do is get the price which is marked on items to
match those displayed on the till!

Tomorrow sees a whole line test of a new vehicle for another new
customer, Activity will be limited to the yard or own transport.


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Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Tuesday 11th March 2008

Dear all
Still a little lethargy from the weekend but the pace is gradually cranking up again. Phil was representing at the Infrarail exhibition in Birmingham and pressing the flesh. The Idridgehay south crossing gate received some remedial maintenance and the Permanent Way team concentrated on an area under Cemetery Lane bridge giving the Yard some well needed attention.
Work commenced on the Road/Rail Landrover to make it a credit to the Company with a new paint scheme. Great activity around Wee Yorkie with yet more parts removed and an air of confidence that it can all be put back together again. The Incline dmu car received further attention to its paintwork and it will remain out of service again until its ceiling can be completed.
The VCT returned to "normal" tasks and disposed of pre-cut brash in the Jebbs Lane area. Alleys collected the Grant Rail tamper and it never ceases to amaze me that these comings and goings attract so little attention, it being quite usual now.
We were pleased to welcome two new faces, one from the Severn Valley Railway with footplate and platform experience, and one who has had design experience with Jaguar - quickly pressed into bodywork repairs on the Landrover - should be a very good finish.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Monday 10th March 2008

Dear all
A gentle day with the track patrol reviewing the effects of the new services on the Idridgehay section. They also prepared the Works Train for action tomorrow and the dmu fleet was repositioned for next weekend. The Booking Hall received a few hardy visitors and there was much activity on the banking front. Time to breath and send the formal notice to HMRI that we will complete the works to Duffield by 30th September 2010!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sunday 9th March 2008

Dear all
Another first! Our first three route day with trains operating to Gorsey Bank, Idridgehay and Ravenstor - how many other heritage railways can match that? The sun came out, the visitors arrived in some numbers and the tills ran hot. Iris and the Met-Cam dmus operated to Idridgehay, Margaret-Ann and green trailer to Gorsey Bank and the Bubble Car to Ravenstor creating yet more photo opportunities.
Heartfelt thanks again to all who made it happen, the train crews, Booking Hall and EVRA Shop staff, the caterering team, the crossing gate operators at Gorsey Bank and Idridgehay, the car park attendants and Wil who found his vocation as station announcer.
It has been very exhausting for all involved. Several have been on duty for several days and are due for a well earned rest. We now focus on the "Dash for Duffield" and of the £230,000 needed some £12,900 has been raised in share sales over the last 7 days - only another £217,100 to go!
We intend to take a more managable pace over the next few weeks dealing with a few outstanding tasks on the Idridgehay section and some essential maintenance within Wirksworth Yard. Work will start on the Idridgehay - Duffield section once we have recovered from the financial strain of getting to Idridgehay and built our bank balance somewhat - I anticipate this will take a few months. The "Dash" will then commence.
Rand and the Band would like to thanks everyone who turned out to support them at the Rising Sun last night - it was a right good do!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

The Grand Opening Saturday 8th March 2008

Dear all
Well, the great day arrived and whilst quite cold, the rain held off for most of the day. The atmosphere was great as passengers assembled for the formal opening and the prebooked special trains. Introduced by the splendid Harry Bodkin. in Town Crier garb, John Snell welcomed the crowd and received a rousing and complimentary response from the Mayor of Wirksworth, Andy Pollock. The six car Ecclesbourne Express departed promptly at 1200 and thus began a new era for our Railway. The Buffet Car did sterling service, the Share and Sleeper shop received funds and the Booking Hall's new wisso till began to recover some of the expense of the day and replenish our somewhat depleted funds.
Idridgehay was en fete with, what seemed like, the entire village attending the station creating more passengers than has been seen in its entire life. I can only express my sincere thanks to everyone who made this momentous day possible with great attention to detail, seat reservations, antimacassars, coach letters, destination blinds, vehicle preparation and cleaning etc.etc.etc.
This has been the busiest day we have experienced in our custody of the Railway and Wirksworth station was really alive and seeing passengers transfer between the Idridgehay and Ravenstor services was truly a delight.
I am now raising a glass, unusual for me,  to all involved and hope we are ready to achieve our next ambition - the Dash for Duffield - now that opening will be something else! Clear your diaries for 1st October 2010 - seats will be on sale soon.
Best wishes

Friday, 7 March 2008

Friday 7th March 2008

Dear all
A rather splendid day when we entertained the media, representatives of the tourist industry, local councillors and the working volunteers to a preview of tomorrow's grand opening to Idridgehay. The sun stayed out for us and we received many complimentary remarks about our achievements. The fact that we have come so far in a relatively short time certainly has not passed unnoticed. Peter Taylor, the last operations manager for the line in BR times unveiled the remarkable 1867 original station clock that has been lovingly restored and John Snell welcomed the assembled guests.
The whole exercise will pay dividends in terms of passengers for the forthcoming weekends and BBC East Midlands and BBC Radio Derby did us proud! Meanwhile a loyal band put the finishing touches to the new northern foot crossing and generally tidied up in advance of the guest arrivals.
We learnt a few lessons with this first venture into long distance running that will be adopted tomorrow for the really big day. The Share Shop, Booking Hall and EVRA Shop all traded well and stand expectant for what the next two days will bring.
Two members of Rand and the Band were active in the team today as they limber up for tomorrow's gig at the Rising Sun.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Eve of the Reopening - Progress Report

Good evening.

It was a strangely quiet day at Wirksworth Station today. There was plenty of activity going on and once again, we saw transformations hour-on-hour, but there was a quiet sense of anticipation for what is going to be happening in the next 48 hours. No fuss, no ballyhoo, just a determined team effort to get the job done and have us look our very best.

So where do we start?

Money is always a good place: two paying guests were on site, both testing a variety of on-track machines. Passing the training room at lunchtime, it was interesting to see it full of customer representatives hard at work in a meeting; pretty well the same location where there was once an abandoned car less than a decade before.

Meanwhile, the Incline coach which had come to us in a grubby blue and grey livery now sparkled in the, er, overcast, resplendent in malachite green with lining, speed whiskers and antimacassers (hey, what did macasser ever do to us?). What has almost become 'Mission Impossible' to Dave Mee has now become a tribute to his skill.

The DMUs received a darned good fettle. Mike and his faithful assistant were seen emerging from underneath each carriage in turn as they checked, oiled, greased and tested. Even your Global Marketing department (me) was involved, fitting destination blinds. No longer will our trains break the Trades Descriptions Act by purporting to take passengers to such exotic destinations as Princes Risborough, Acton, Redditch and Litchfield Trent Valley. From now on, our destination blinds say Wirksworth, Ravenstor Shottle, Duffield and Idri dgehay.

With a speed and dexterity that amazed all, Rod Birch completed the construction of the north-end foot crossing, which will become the normal means of crossing to Platforms 2 and 3 in future. To see him whacking away with his enormous mallet at a full-size sleeper was a pretty awe-inspiring sight. If you spill his pint, you'd better get him a replacement fast.

Concurrent with the completion of the crossing was the laying of tarmac on the north-end platform ramps; The transformation in this area has been as rapid as it has been remarkable.

Meanwhile, the repositioning of vehicles resulted in a fairly awesome amount of shunting: Richard Newby and Gavin Kenning seemed to be in their element. For the press launch tomorrow, we have an interesting selection of engineers vehicles on display next to platform 3.

Elsewhere, patient industry abounded. The booking hall dealt with a near-continuous stream of calls, including several from the media, promising good coverage on radio and TV tomorrow. Housekeeping was the order of the day in all quarters, while banners advertising the next phase of the reopening programme (of which more anon) were affixed on the platform 2/3 waiting shelter and at Idridgehay.

Finally, Vince Ware and his merry bunch from EVRA completed the painting of the new shop / information centre. Considering that the building arrived less than a month ago, progress has been swift and we now have a shop full of railwayana, old magazines, books, videos and DVDs which are guaranteed to cause marital disharmony for many couples in the future.

As I write this, the countdown timer on the website reads " 1 days 16 hours 28 minutes 5 seconds to go until the first train departs" (note to self - you need to change it to something else after Saturday lunchtime). Tomorrow we have our preview day for invited guests and working volunteers. This isn't meant to be something elitist; tomorrow is the day when we sell the railway for all its worth to local attractions, the rail industry, the press and 'The Worthies'; all of whom need to leave us with a favourable impression of what we all know is a fantastic project achieved by the very best volunteer team anywhere and with an exciting future. I am reminded of the night before the share launch in 2002, when we were poised waiting to step up onto the stage for the first time; now, this is about the fifth time we have laid-on a big press event and more than ever we know that we can deliver the goods. And the passengers.

Here's to Idridgehay - Duffield beckons.

Kind regards,


Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wed 5th March

Evenin' all,

Another full day as another big push to get things ready for this

The works train was delayed somewhat by a strange machine which was on
test. It is a new concept for a fastclipper, which inserts fastclips
onto newly laid rails. Fastclips are the new method of fixing rails to
their sleepers or bearers. The clips themselves arrive usually as part
of the sleeper, once the rails have been inserted a machine goes along
knocking the clips into place This machine, designed and built in
Sweden, with some British input is an experimental machine that can
climb on and off track on its own legs. Some f the testing was carried
out today, with more being done tomorrow. Our new addition to the
fleet, the Landrover, acted as escort and enabled various Fitters,
designers and NR staff to accompany the vehicle.

When the works train eventually was able to leave, the remaining
scrap sleepers were removed and relocated and many pre cut logs were
returned to base. Much more tidying and sorting of the Narrow Gauge
materials was carried out.

The Incline coach really looks the Cats Wiskers, as these were painted
on today. The coach looks superb and is a credit to those who have
worked on it.

MOre work was carried out on the northern foot crossing - fresh from
his success with the Idridgehay ski jump, Rod has been asked to carve a
niche by cutting out the sleepers to fit around the rail chairs. This
work will be completed tomorrow, as will the tarmacing for the new

Generally, a day of more tidying and fettling, if it moves - salute
it; if it stands still - paint it! The Passenger Services dept were
also busy with lastminute bookings as well as the usual casual

Tomorrow is the last day to get things ready, with much tooing and
froing, as well as shunting. More communications work will will also be
completed. The machine will be leaving early and testing will take
place at the southern end of the line allowing other movements at the
northern end.


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Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Tues 4th March

Evenin' all,

The fast and furious pace continues, We are trying to cope with the 1001 things to complete the work ready for the weekend.

Idridgehay platform and 49 steps had some patio cleaner applied to get rid of the moss and lichens and other slippery stuff.

The rest of the coping stones for the northern walkway on platform 2 were laid, also more paint/creosote was applied to the fencing as well.Various pallets of this and that were transferred from the platform area.

Ballast fettling was carried out and in the afternoon the works train went down the line collecting 'rotters', when the tean got to the unloading point, a local farmer was tidying them away - buy one rotter get 100 free!

Painting and lining of the Incline coach continued. A new wooden bench was made for use at Idridgehay.

The Landrover had some attention including the removal of the top mounted tunnel lights, the speed limiter was looked at, as this is set too low, but it is computer controlled and enquireies are in hand to get it sorted.

A customer came and demonstrated a vehicle modification for the benefit of Network Rail. Another test vehicle was put through its paces. They are testing tomorrow.

More carriage cleaning and tidying in the platform area, more paint was applied to the EVRA shop amd Information room.. More electrical cable was also passed under the tracks for more speakers to be fitted.

Mid afternoon, THE piece of paper arrived, so that we can now be fully operational for the opening. A hard fought for piece of paper, but it reflects the fruits of asll our labours.

Tomorrow sees early testing and continuing tidying of the site, collection of logs etc.

Quite a week and its only Tuesday!


Tues 4th March

Evenin' all,

The fast and furious pace continues, We are trying to cope with the
1001 things to complete the work ready for theweekend.

Idridgehay platform and 49 steps had some patio cleaner applied to get
rid of the moss and lichens and other slippery stuff.

The rest of the coping stones for the northern walkway on platform 2
were laid, also more paint/creosote was applied to the fencing as well.
Various pallets of this and that were transferred from the platform

Ballast fettling was carried out and in the afternoon the works train
went down the line collecting 'rotters', when the tean got to the
unloading point, a local farmer was tidying them away - buy one rotter
get 100 free!

Painting and lining of the Incline coach continued. A new wooden bench
was made for use at Idridgehay

The Landrover had some attention including the removal of the top
mounted tunnel lights, the speed limiter was looked at, as this is set
too low, but it is computer controlled and enquireies are in hand to
get it sorted.

A customer came and demonstrated a vehicle modification for the
benefit of Network Rail. Another test vehicle was put through its
paces. They are testing tomorrow.

More carriage cleaning and tidying in the platform area, more paint
was applied to the EVRA shop amd Information room.. More electrical
cable was also passed under the tracks for more speakers to be fitted.

Mid afternoon, THE piece of paper arrived, so that we can now be fully
operational for the opening. A hard fought for piece of paper, but it
reflects the fruits of asll our labours.

Tomorrow sees early testing and continuing tidying of the site,
collection of logs etc.

Quite a week and its only Tuesday!


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Monday, 3 March 2008

Monday 3rd March 2008

Dear all
There has been no slackening of effort to be ready for the grand opening. Coping stones have been laid to edge the new northern foot crossing at Wirksworth and the east side is now ready for tarmacing. Track inspections of the Ravenstor and Gorsey Bank section have been undertaken and remedied minor defects. A thorough review of our fire protection arrangements has been undertaken in light of the many changes and additions to rolling stock that have taken place since the last review in June 2007.
Preparations continued of the dmu fleet for their major role and a start was made on fitting new destination blinds appropriate to our Railway. Sir Peter & Lady Hilton had a little tlc and a machine was delivered to site ready for its testing later in the week. The Information Centre and Shop access ramp was largely completed and electrical work made further progress.
After a beauty contest with two other rather larger organisations than ours, I am extremely pleased to announce a major international mytesttrack contract with an assured income over the next 12 months - more details to be revealed after consultation with the customer who is really a world player!
The Booking Hall held the fort with interest quickening in the upcoming weekend.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Wirksworth Station Progress Report, Sunday 2nd March 2008

Dear all,

A day in which we had a visitors to the railway who travelled on the Ravenstor service, and spent money in the booking hall shop.

With a limited number of volunteers, quite a number of jobs were carried out:

(a) The Gatex was open for tea and coffee with light refreshments

(b) The six car DMU has had various jobs done and is coupled togeathe,r and ready for next weekend for the Idridgehay opening

(c) All the First Aid boxes on site have been checked

(d) Windows in and out have been cleaned on the incline coach

(e) The Book Shop was open and had quite a few visitors

(f) Points at Gorsey Bank have been oiled

(g) Futher rubbish has been picked up around the yard and the approach to the station

(h) The manhole at the end of platform 1 has had futher brick work carried out

(i) Futher work carried out on the 31.

Thanks to all,

Duty Manager.

Minor site updates

Afternoon all,

A few minor site updates for you:

  • Latest 2008 Train and Tea Afternoon information uploaded
  • A minor update to the running timetable, to include Sunday 16th March 2008 as an Idridgehay running day.