Friday, 31 December 2010

Progress Friday 31st December 2010

Dear all,

The final day of the year and indeed the final progress report of the year too. Today saw some great progress despite it being the holiday season and in fact, we even welcomed a new cadet!

The DMU team started and completed the installation of a new electron storage system for M51188. This took most of the day but the results were excellent, rendering this vehicle usable again.
The team then spent an hour gathering their thoughts regarding the continuing vacuum leak problem on the bubble car.

The service train for tomorrow was prepared. If you are bored (or otherwise) tomorrow or on Sunday, pay us a visit and travel down the line with a glass of Bucks Fizz or orange juice.

Some Class 20 maintenance was performed and at the close of play the newly arrived tank wagon was shunted into a suitable position so that the minor repairs needed to make it usable can take place.

A good day,

Graham Walker via Leigh

Supplementary Progress Thursday 30th December 2010

Dear all
I made a grave omission from yesterday's report! The VCT's efforts at Duffield were ignored and their contribution to our enterprise should not be overlooked. Duffield cutting between the footbridge and tunnel has been greatly improved including the vital sight lines when approaching the footcrossing on Holloway Road from the south.
So a special Happy New Year to the VCT team!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Progress Thursday 30th December 2010

Dear all
Quite a satisfactory day today when it was thought the world would still be sleeping. Richard and Hylton responded to an appeal for a day of shunting in Wirksworth Yard which achieved a number of very useful tasks. The three Dogfish were put into the Wash Green dock for loading with ballast next week, The Duke was moved back to the Maintenance Facility area so work can commence in ernest to return it to operational use, the Saloon was put within the Maintenance Facility ready for work to start on its exterior restoration and the SK visited the new steam shed construction before being berthed before its next outing. Dmus crowding the Third Open restoration were moved out of the way.
The work on the "steam shed" speeded up a little and the presentation of the SK demonstrated that the structure could accommodate the largest of our fleet and, thus, any other visitors that might arrive.
The LMSCA were in evidence with further work on the axle boxes and the movement of the dmus has facilitated this work. The recently arrived LMS Brakevan has received further attention and the owner left at the end of the day to collect more new timber for the vehicle.
Late advice was received of the immanent arrival of a second water tank wagon sourced by EVRA from the Llangollen Railway and the vehicle was duly unloaded onto the Car Park siding. This comforts us that we will be able to water visiting steam locomotives in 2011.
The DMU team had an exploratory trip to Butterley and returned with a few goodies.
The day has been dank, foggy and quite miserable and I congratulate everyone who contributed to pushing our project forward.
As this will be my last contribution of 2010 I would like to extend my very good wishes for 2011. For our Railway this will represent such a step change in so many ways and cause our many specialist teams several excitements as the opening deadline approaches. The opening of the whole line to passengers will not be the end of the project as there are so many other things to achieve but it will mark the first 10 years of endeavour. If you can actively participate between now and April 2011 we need you! Other behind the scenes work is equally important to ensure our admin, ticketing, marketing and publicity are all in place for the great day.
We have got this far by the extreme generosity of people giving of their time, a stupendous 400,000 hours; their money, £600,000 in share subscriptions, other peoples money, some £500,000 and trading profit. 2011 sees a new dawn that will test everyone's health and temper with a programme of pretty constant activity from April through to October. The prize will be an ability to invest in areas of our enterprise that have had to live on a shoestring - maintenance, station buildings, Shottle etc. ect.
PS - I attach a photo of part of the interior of the Stanier Third Open that illustrates how much this shell has come on but, equally, how much work is needed to make this coach part of our pening train some three months away.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Progress Wednesday 29th December 2010

Dear all
The Steam Shed for Ferrybridge No3 inched forward. The EVRA shop had attention to its displays and gathered in more donated stock.
The Works Train set sail for all points with a check of the drainage on the "Racing Straight" being the first port of call. The large pipe under the track just north of Shottle received attention to aid the flow of water and then the straight south of Hazelwood was attended to, again, improve the drainage. Logs were picked up from the area around MP134 and taken to Idridgehay for our neighbour in the former Station building. Wagons were shunted to order at Duffield and the project to cleanse the lineside of redundant sleepers was declared largely complete. A most useful day.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Progress Tuesday 28th December 2010

Dear all
Life is steadily returning to normal although Wirksworth was bathed in a damp cold fog today that chilled all but the stoutest hearts. Nonetheless, quite a number of people met the challenge and the DST continued their refurbishment of Henry Ellison with further work on the axle boxes, connecting rods and back cab sheeting.
The LMSCA reported further fitting of pareses and lighting in the Third Open together with more axle box cleaning. The recently arrived LMS Brakevan also received attention so that it may join the running fleet in the foreseeable future - just a little pressure!
Further south the VCT returned to the attack adjacent to Holloway Road in Duffield as conditions gradually enable them to renew their efforts with the vital work.
Tomorrow sees the PWT with an opportunity to return to work with much to do before next April.
For irregular readers - DST Dream Steam Team, LMSCA London Midland & Scottish Railway Carriage Association, VCT Vegetation Clearance Team and PWT Permanent Way Team

Monday, 27 December 2010

Progress Monday 27th December 2010

Dear all,
A gentle day with a birthday charter for Matt Higham and his friends. Matt has been very active as one of our younger volunteers and has the honour of having Bob Gibbens as his Granddad so has steam in his blood! It was very good to also welcome his uncle, Spencer Gibbens, who unlocked the Railtrack bureaucracy that gave us initial access to the Railway and orchestrated the lease/purchase agreement that has enabled us to do what we have done in the last ten years.
Many thanks to the train crew that made it all happen today.
The Works Train is cancelled tomorrow as many of the team are unavailable but the VCT and DST hope to be in action. Works Train activity will now be consolidated to Wednesday this week.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Thursday 23rd December 2010

Dear all
The main achievement today was the installation of the Duffield south buffer stop after the new extension was slewed and ballasted. We are now 30ft nearer Derby.
The Steam Loco shed made progress so that No3 can live under cover and I am assured that it has been constructed to cope with any other vehicle that is within gauge.
There was some snow clearance during the morning to give the necessary walkways on the Wirksworth platforms.
Planned activity tomorrow surrounds the Stanier Third Open and I am grateful to the LMSCA team for this extra effort.
My annual appeal is for those of you who live close to any area of our Railway is to bob in over the holiday period to ensure no unwelcome guests are present. There has been a spate of thefts in the Wirksworth area that would indicate that thieves are taking advantage of the weather conditions to wreak havoc.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Progress Wednesday 22nd December 2010

Dear all
Another extremely challenging day with yet more snow but the Works Train ventured to Duffield and the team assembled the sleepers and rails for the southern extension of some 30 feet towards Derby. A great achievement given the miserable conditions.
At base useful progress has been made with the Saloon's on board gas system allowing the stove and water boiler to work. We hope the work will be now signed off by a friendly qualified person that will allow us to use these facilities in 2011.
For those of you paying attention, spell-check confused refurbish with republish on yesterday's report. I am happy to confirm the first vacuum cylinder from the Third Open has been furbed!
Special credit to Neil who has cracked, after a great deal of effort, the ability to book a through ticket to Wirksworth from the national network commencing in April next year. Another "coming of age" moment.
Tomorrow sees those that wish to participate assembling at Duffield to reposition the buffer stop on the newly extended headshunt.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Progress Tuesday 21st December 2010

Dear all
This is a bit of an omnibus edition as I would firstly like  to say a tremendous thank you to all involved in our Santa operations. We ran all the services we promised against a background of sub zero temperatures and the most inhospitable conditions for the machines and people involved. A great number of folk pitched in to make it all work but we should pay special homage to the Victorians; Rod, Mary,Yvonne and John together with Anton who kept the catering in order and Leigh who ensured that we had a train that worked. We should also say a special thanks to Santa and his deputy, the deputy was somewhat poorly causing Santa to increase his productivity at short notice. A number of our cadets were in evidence and it is a fact that without them we would not have delivered and I thank them for their vital contribution.
As an aside, I am quite reluctant to pursue a Santa programme next year that is so dependant on a very few of our team taking part. In many ways it's your choice whether we carry on with this opportunity.
I am very grateful to Graham who acted as Duty Manager on Monday for an afternoon party charter and an evening special for the Wirksworth Beavers both of which were well received and , I hope, increased our profile in the local community. ( I was enjoying a Christmas lunch at the usual venue - and very nice it was too)
Today saw a return to some semblance of normality with everything made so much more difficult by the awful temperatures. After dramas associated with frozen points the Works Train reached Duffield and moved a great deal of brash to the burning site. The VCT were back to full production at Duffield creating the brash to be moved which included a Sturgeon load on the last rain.The Komatsu followed the Works Train and discharged the Sturgeon of the contents of the southern extension of the head shunt together with ten bags of ballast that will be useful when they thaw out.
The LMSCA had a good turnout with beading applied to the seats and ceiling of the Third Open and a splendid start was made to republishing the vacuum brake cylinders. There has been much material taken away for homeworking as the deadline approaches. The DST made great progress with Henry Ellison with the first axle box refitted, the rear cab steelwork largely completed and the horn guides have been cleaned up.
The Duffield platform project benefited from supplies delivered on the Sturgeon and we should be able to make limited progress over the next few days. The Booking Hall had a round up of revenue and stock from the Santa Train season.
There is lots to do and it is planned that we have a Works Train tomorrow and next Tuesday and Wednesday and the same again next week.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Progress Report Sunday the 19th of December 2010

Dear all,

It is with some relief that we have despatched Santa back to the North
Pole so he can get himself ready for his upcoming round-the-world tour.
This year's Santa Trains have been, as far as we can tell from visitor's
comments, well received, and many people feel this is because of the
rather unique approach we appear to have. Many thanks, therefore, to all
who have helped in any way with this seasonal jollyfication. We can all
feel the warmth of this endeavour, particularly now that Connor is no
longer standing in front of the buffet car heater.

Meanwhile, down at Stoke Shed, sorry Wirksworth TMD, the steam team have
been addressing the axle box oilers of Henry Ellison, and have rebuilt
the back cab panel, as well as repaired the front buffer beam, in a
necessarily highly complicated and time-consuming manner.

While all this was going on around them, the conscripts, oddly seen to
be skipping along the platform, which can only be due to festive cheer
or tight underwear, have moved further cut brash from various locations
to be disposed of.

In advance news, we will be running a service to Idridgehay, "weather
permitting", on New Years Day and the 2nd of January. Details can be
found on the website.

As this is my final DM slot for this year, may I wish all our
volunteers, shareholders, members and readers a very Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Progress Saturday 18th December 2010

Dear all,

Day 3 of 4 for our Santa trains. The day started off with a small snow shower giving a light dusting of snow, before warming up to -4 degrees. Not deterred by this, our team of volunteers put on the show and many smiles were seen. Many thanks to all!

Iris ran a charter to Idridgehay with the guests enjoying afternoon tea inside the observation saloon parked in platform 1.

Down the yard, further work was done to try and fix the mysterious vacuum leak on 55006.

Many thanks,

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 17 December 2010

Progress Friday 17th December 2010

Dear all
We had a number of brave souls who endured the arctic weather to prepare for the second and last Santa weekend. Dmus were prepared, fuelled and cleaned, the Gatex stock readied and the Saloon rearranged for a party tomorrow. Stores were collected and loaded, the platforms gritted and repairs to the First Open's electrics achieved.
Graham bottomed the reversing fault on L J Breeze and I add an omission form yesterday's report regarding the VCT who, with a very small team, burnt a great deal of the accumulated brash from their Duffield operations.
We were pleased to provide facilities to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch for their training day. Jeff rose to the challenge and provided them all with some welcome hot soup at lunchtime.
We remain short of helpers for service on the Gatex Saturday and Sunday so if you can lend a hand please come on down.
PS - an attempt to make progress next week will see the PWT working with the VCT at Duffield on Tuesday together with unloading of materials for the extension of the Duffield headshunt. Wednesday will again see activity at Duffield associated with the platform supported by the Works Train. There will be no Works Train on Thursday but the Komatsu will be supporting further work on the platform. A general plea for attendance as we have a lot of catching up to do!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Progress Thursday 16th December 2010

Dear all
A thin day as the weather conspired to frustrate permanent way activity and the team retired hurt around midday. A little joy was a charter to Ravenstor for the Wirksworth Church of England Infant School where some 80 were conveyed in the Bubble Car and Santa was on hand to greet them on their return. Many thanks to Chris Beale, John Tedstone and Anton for turning out for this short, but successful, tour of duty.
A tyre repair man was sourced to deal with a flat on the Komatsu which luckily only needed a new inner tube rather than a new tyre. Work goes on to tee up the Tamper provision for March next year.
We await what the weather will throw at us over the new few critical days.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Progress Tuesday 15th December 2010

Dear all
Firstly, an omission from yesterday's report when we provided test facilities for a Severn Tunnel road/rail rescue vehicle operated as a joint project between Network Rail and the Avon Fire Brigade. Ably hosted by Mike Thomas the combined test team of 13 declared that they had a most successful day. Today the PWT set sail for Shottle and removed the raised check rail there as the requirement for this installation has been replaced by the bridge check rail located on the Gorsey Bank line. Attempts to free the southernmost breather switch on the long welded section proved frustrating and warming gear will need to be employed to resolve this problem.
The LMSCA have increased their productivity and worked on the beading within the Third Open and commenced examination and cleaning of the axle boxes. The Komatsu received attention to a failed bracket that supports an oil filter and then went on to excavate the area in the car park previously covered by a lose metal plate. With assistance the plate was placed at a lower level and the whole area filled with ballast removing a long standing hazard.
Peal Oil responded to some pleading on Monday and delivered fuel for the weekend and we also received supplies of the 2011 timetable brochure. The Multicar was taken down the line to discharge the remains of the weed killer in the tank before frost damages the pump and nozzles.
On a most pleasant note I received a most satisfactory and unexpected donation from the Chesterfield branch of the Amicus Union towards our endeavours..

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Progress Tuesday 14th December 2010

Dear all
After the recent snow it was very satisfying to get back to a near normal Tuesday with a very large team on site. The LMSCA, conscious of deadlines approaching, had their heads down as they ready the Third Open for its starring role next April - no pressure then! The VCT had a splendid turnout of nine encouraged by the prospect of their Christmas lunch at the Puss in Boots claiming to have achieved more in the work morning than usually managed in a full day.
The PWT had a mixed day as they propelled what may have been our weightiest train south with the Sturgeon, 2 Grampus, a Rudd, Flatrol and two Lowmacs added at Shottle together with the Tool Van and Brakevan. The Sturgeon and wagons loaded with bagged stone were deposited at Duffield and three loads of brash transported from Duffield to the burning site. At the close of play the team managed a record three wagon loads of logs of which two were delivered to Shottle and one to Wirksworth.
The DST dealt with preparation of the axle journals and eccentrics of Henry Ellison, started to overhaul the axle boxes, continued work on the foundation ring, coupling rods and connecting rods.
Our lone honorary plumber dealt with four leaks in the Buffet Car and restored a water supply to the Training Room and the plumber's mate returned washed and ironed table cloths to the Gatex and left with a monster order for supplies for the next and final Santa weekend. I am most grateful to both of them for all the effort put into keeping us operational.
The Duke has be put onto display in Platform 1 and the Santa business has received much attention throughout the day.
Many thanks to all concerned for making such a successful day after the frustrations of being buried in snow - there is a lot of catching up to do!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Progress Report Sunday the 12th of December

Dear all,

A pleasant and successful day of Santa Trains, thanks to all concerned
for a world of effort. For next week, all our reindeer have been fed and
are ready to fly, as are several of our pigs. Various other business was
conducted including the cosmetic painting of J94 "The Duke" prior to its
display shortly; the conscripts continued to clear snow from the
platforms, cleaned Iris, and moved some brash which has been a
long-standing and unwanted addition to the south end of platform 1 to
the fire; the class 20 received routine maintenance from its seasonally
bedecked fitters.

All the best,

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Progress Saturday 11th December 2010

Dear all,

Much warmer today with around a foot of snow melting overnight causing the catering team to go to arms with mops in the buffet car first thing.

Today was day one of our annual Santa specials. This years Victorian theme was well received and thanks goes to everybody who has put in some very hard work today. There were many happy guests who visited Santa in his Victorian Toy Shop grotto at Ravenstor before sampling mulled wine and mince pies in the Gatwick Express coaches.

Elsewhere, the LMSCA were in full swing and a team painted the tank on the recently arrived Austerity locomotive.

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 10 December 2010

Progress Friday 10th December 2010

Dear all
A tremendous turnout today to prepare for the Santa trains. Vehicles were moved round to be in their correct positions and the Komatsu was in action clearing areas to be occupied by visitors cars. Snow clearing and checks were made of the Wash Green crossover and bridge check rail section on the Gorsey Bank line for next week's test customer. Further Santa supplies were collected from Morrison's and Rod & Mary completed their final touches to Santa's mobile grotto.
The platforms at Wirksworth and Ravenstor were finally cleared of snow and all the accumulated crockery from the Buffet Car was moved to the Mess Hall, which now has running water again, for washing up - and there was a lot! The Buffet Car was then cleaned and the train decorated until dusk descended. The boffins ensured that lights would be available in the First Open and heaters have been strategically placed to provide a warm and welcoming environment.
After lunch the tree arrived and turned out to be a monster. I had asked for one about 15ft high but we received the jumbo sized version of around 25ft - maybe the largest tree on any heritage railway?
There was also a catch up of phone messages and postal bookings for the Santa season after the post has been somewhat interrupted by the weather.
Grateful thanks go to all who heeded the call for assistance as without them we would not at all ready to receive our visitors.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Progress Thursday 9th December 2010

Dear all
I am most grateful to the small but active team that turned in today who checked the line to Duffield which involved digging out the flangeways of the level crossings at Gorsey Bank and Idridgehay. This task aided by John Silvester who freed the pointwork at Duffield North, enabled the confirmation to next Tuesday's customer that all would be well for the test of a Network Rail Emergency Response vehicle. The team also did a track examination of the Wirksworth Ravenstor line in advance of the weekend's operations.
Much progress was also made with the conversion of the former Tarry Office into one that will be the centre of all our record keeping associated with the Safety Management System requirements, all quite dry but so essential to operating in the current climate.
Tomorrow sees a final purge to get ready for Santa including the preparation of the Buffet Car and Gatex vehicles which have been quite frozen up over the last two weeks making the basic task of washing up nigh on impossible.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Progress Wednesday 8th December 2010

Dear all
Another post for the records I'm afraid! However, there were perceptible signs of a thaw during the day and the station approach road is becoming quite passable. Stores were gathered from Sainsbury's for the upcoming Santa season and a further check was made on the frozen plumbing.
We will try and examine the line to Duffield tomorrow and have a lot of preparation to do on Friday to be ready for the Santa weekend.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Progress Tuesday 7th December 2010

Dear all
The view from the Wirksworth Station igloo remained fairly grim but a number of hardy souls tried to keep the show on the road and I am most grateful for their efforts. Further work was undertaken to free points and ensure there was a manageable route for the Santa train equipment to access Ravenstor. Partially successful but the three Dogfish in Wash Green dock stubbornly refused to move and it was decided to await Friday when the temperatures are said to rise before there is another attempt to move them.
A small DST continued with repairs to the back cab on Henry Ellison, overhaul of the brake gear and refurbishment of the connecting rod. Rod and Mary made their way in from even deeper snow to decorate Santa's grotto and the Booking Hall processed Santa bookings which had arrived after around a week of no mail at all.
A lone volunteer spent the day unfreezing the staff toilet, Mess Hall and tending to a flood in the Catering/Training Block. All very unglamorous but quite critical to the wellbeing and comfort of today's team.
Our new Book Keeper, Angela, had the first of her regular Tuesdays with us and has started to master the task of ensuring our accounts are meaningful and up to date.
Based on present information there will be no activity on site tomorrow, an examination of the line to Duffield on Thursday and a full preparation for our first Santa train on Friday.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Progress Saturday 4th December 2010

Dear all,

The thrust of today from a small team of six was to continue clearing the station area and make a start on clearing the yard of snow. Enough of the yard was dug to enable the vehicles that will take the visitors to Santa's Grotto next week to be coupled together.

It is likely that this clearance work will continue tomorrow, so as per an early e-mail, if you are able to lend a helping hand, do pop along!

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 3 December 2010

Progress Friday 3rd December 2010

Dear all
Valiant efforts have been made today to make safe walkways on the platforms at Wirksworth and Duffield with some success. The work at Wirksworth will make a contribution to next weekends Santa trains if the white stuff lingers through the week.
Obviously the pointwork around Wirksworth Yard is under snow and it would be useful if any of you can reach the station tomorrow to begin the process of clearing, again with next week's activities in mind.
We are having some work done in our kitchen as a result of water damage and the builder produced an example of some china ware he had come across. I attach a photo which may prompt one of you to comment on its origins.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Train Service Suspended - Saturday 4th December

We have had to suspend train services this Saturday due to bad weather conditions. There is lots of snow and ice surrounding Wirksworth station. However, at the moment, we still intend to have the station open so that passing visitors can drop in and have a coffee.

Progress Thursday 2nd December 2010

Dear all
Just for the record when these posts are researched deep in the future. A visit to the Station today revealed an impassable station apppoach to all but 4x4s and all the platforms buried under 2 to 3 feet of snow. Even the Mess Hall padlock had frozen up and there are some spectacular icicles hanging from the Buffet Car. Reluctantly I have advise our Day with a Driver clients for Saturdays that no trains will run together with the train crews involved.
Any of you visiting the Railway in the near future need to be very careful as all the hazards are neatly hidden.

Progress Wednesday 1st December 2010


Dear all
I was going to say "none"! Reaching the Station proved impossible in the conditions that have prevailed but the has been an immense amout of homeworking as we stride towards the opening of the whole line next year.
For those of you more from more distant parts I am going to attach a warming picture of the Malt Shovel, taken today, so you know what it looks like!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Progress Tuesday 30th November 2010

Dear all
Our hero of the day is MKT who rose to the challenge of looking after a MyTestTrack customer who, against all odds, arrived this morning for a whole line 1530 test. White out conditions prevailed but, none the less, the test was conducted and the client satisfied with the result. The only other activities on site were the Dream Steam Team, somewhat depleted, that worked until early afternoon and the LMSCA who reported that all seat bases for the Third Open were now complete.
As I write this the road outside the window is white over and even the Malt Shovel has shut its doors as no custom is expected - truly a sad day.
You will have every sympathy with Hylton who is sitting at home with a broken gas boiler in the vain hope that British Gas will meet its obligations.
In view of the weather conditions no works train will run tomorrow or Thursday and we hope we can catch up next week. This is the first time in ten years that we have been totally beaten by the weather!

Train Services in Bad Weather

In regards to the recent weather conditions, we will endeavour to operate any timetabled services and BuyAGift experience days booked as scheduled. If there is bad weather on the day you would like to visit us then please view our live webcams to look at the current weather conditions in Wirksworth. If there is any doubt please do not hesitate to contact the station.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Progress Monday 29th November 2010

Dear all
Our obligation today was to fulfil a Group Drive a Diesel Day and of the four booked participants two managed to make Wirksworth. Lewis and Richard rose to the challenge which saw LJB reluctant to start and the impossibility of moving the Class 20 out of the Maintenance Facility but Iris was willing to participate in the day. Our clients were entertained with a journey to Duffield in Iris and, on return, LJB had responded to some battery charging to provide the opportunity to climb to Ravenstor. Two very happy participants departed appreciating their hosts.
The Booking Hall opened to receive our guest and was the only place on site where water was available for tea and coffee. Catering also rose to the challenge and provided a much welcome lunch including hot soup.
This early winter will prevent productive activity over the next couple of days but it can't last for ever - can it.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Progress Sunday 28th November 2010

Dear all,

Today we mainly ate pies. At the start of the day, the temperature was
minus 12 at Idridgehay and by the end of the day it had risen to an
almost bucolic minus 9 at Wirksworth. The staff warmed their noodles on
the Mess Room radiators and defrosted their pies in the GLV microwaves,
only to have them re-freeze on the way back to the Mess Room. The locals
were found to be quietly skiing to the shops.

The principal thrust of the day was the repair of the cab windows in the
class 108, the only feasible work in such conditions, though the Duty
Conscript continued to clear the quad of snow and removed some man-sized
icicles from around the station. The weather took its toll of our
equipment and will staff please note that LJ Breeze is whores de combat
with a frozen reversing system which requires fitters attention. The
Mess Room pipes are frozen up and despite heroic efforts, heroic I say,
not all the washing up has been done. Water can be obtained from the
Booking Hall, where the heat generated by the till is keeping the pipes
clear. Staff were reported at Duffield and polar bears were apparently
eating the residents of Middleton.

Today's picture is actually yesterday's picture of Lewis closing the
gates at Idridgehay, kindly provided by Richard Buckby.

The Mess Room cooker has also gone south for the winter, so if anyone is
disposing of their old one and replacing it with a new multi-million
pound B&Q kitchen, we may be interested in your old one (electric only,
hob and oven type needed). I can be contact on my direct email of to save everyone the deep joy of a discussion
about cookers.

All the best,

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Progress Saturday 27th November 2010

Evening all,

The show went ahead as planned today with no alternations due to the five inches of snow lying at Wirksworth. The passenger service ran with a few hardy souls and entertained out Day with a Driver guests - it was actually a brilliant day to ride as you could take in the snowy vistas along the line. Also, the Drive a Diesel guests thoroughly enjoying themselves driving LJ Breeze and the Class 20. Neither loco was phased by the cold.

Elsewhere, steps were taken towards rectifying an ongoing intermittent vac fault on the bubble car and two meetings (passenger and 8F group) were held.

A very very cold but picturesque day,

Mike Evans via Leigh

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Progress Thursday 25th November 2010

Dear all
It's a miracle anyone turned up today yet alone set out to do some constructive work. However, there remains the spirit of adventure even though extremities were in danger. The PWT and VCT joined forces again to continue the attack on the dense vegetation at Duffield. Four loads of brash were moved to the burning site but timing issues prevented the ace fire raiser from achieving a burn leaving a great deal of this product to be dealt with next week.
Duffield is certainly benefiting from the clearance and the process will continue for some weeks to come. I am grateful to the PWT who managed to provide two loads of logs for sale to waiting customers at Shottle, a very worthwhile achievement.
Some of you may have read about the auctions of material from the late Jarvis empire. Two of our four bids came good and some 30 fishplate spanners and 10 timber nips were collected from Doncaster today at prices we could never have achieved from our normal supplier. The Saloon interior had further work and I am very grateful to Peter who is pursuing this most worthwhile project. During the morning the uprights for No3's shed were successfully erected.
The responsibility for our book keeping was successfully transferred from Tom to Angela during the day and this activity, usually hidden from the world, is essential to ensure our dues are paid to HMRC and that we have a clear picture of our financial situation.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Progress Wednesday 24th November 2010

Dear all
A little less busy today but the Permanent Way Team achieved some remarkable things in arctic conditions. An historic event was the removal of the buffet stop in our car park for reuse at Shottle. We can no longer say that the first day of clearance started there because it is no more! This recovery will marginally increase the parking space and will allow road vehicles an easier access to deposit the various vehicles arriving and departing from the Railway.Two Grampus and one Rudd were filled with bagged stone from last week's exercise and will be used, in time, to address areas along the line that need a ballast top up. A remarkable recovery took place at Ravenstor where some 26 concrete sleepers donated many years ago have been resting and are now loaded to the Sturgeon for use in our plans to increase the siding capacity at Shottle. The team have made a real contribution by utilising material lying about at Wirksworth and its environs for improvement projects down the line. More sweating of our assets!
Lynette continued her labour of love on the Station garden assisted for a while by Rodney who was having car repairs assessed by our very own Station Garage.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Progress Tuesday 23rd November 2010

Dear all
So much going on today that, unusually, I have had to resort to a taste of Scotland to help the creative juices. So off we go with the joint efforts of the PWT and VCT to move four wagon loads of brash from the Duffield clearances to the burning site a little way away. The PWT had a number of tasks to perform at Wirksworth before departure including placing the ballast hoppers in the Wash Green dock and gathering the Lowmac from the Car Park. On return form the south the Sturgeon was added to the consist for loading with materials tomorrow.The Komatsu journeyed from Duffield to Wirksworth ready for its role in tomorrow's activities but also to receive more repairs to the flair and filter housing. Alan managed along with his duties as head of burning to undercoat milepost 134.
The DST, consisting of ten people!, continued painting, repairs to the foundation ring, replating the footplate and overhauling the drain cocks of Henry Ellison. I merely report this without really understanding what it all means but I am sure the end product will be lovely.
More jargon to come with the LMSCA constructing a further nine seat bases for the Third Open and experimentation with new lighting configurations. A word I have never come across before, may have been invented by Derek Mason, is "patresses" which represent the area between light fittings and the ceiling which it is claimed were fitted today. A special mention is due to Peter who has funded and fitted newly made drop windows and surrounds to the Saloon. Last seen in pitch dark fitting some of his newly supplied material.
Radio Derby visited this morning for a piece that was put out during the afternoon. We had around 20 minutes of exposure which I am sure will help the cause and enabled me to ramble on without interruption.
The Komatsu was returned from Duffield to Wirksworth ready for some activity tomorrow and yet more repairs to the flail. We knew this machine would be high maintenance given the work asked of it and it is great we have the skills in house to undertake the bulk of the repairs.
Work has continued to give the Gatex First Open coach lights and a modicum of heat for the Santa season without it costing and arm and a leg. The Logging Department were rejoicing in Friday's delivery of product, I think that's what they said, and have produced a quantity of full bags for sale. More progress was made on the covered accommodation for Ferrybridge No3.
In the Booking Hall further fine tuning of next year's timetable leaflet occupied quite a lot of time and more Santa bookings were progressed. Our Duffield representative visited HQ to report on a day of leaf gathering, assistance to VCT and brash loading. Whilst a future is determined for Hydra useful parts were removed to store as it is likely the locomotive will make a positive contribution to the future of the Railway in one form or another.
Another very good day.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Progress Report Sunday the 21st of November 2010

Dear all,

A rather chilly day in parts, with some of our parts being more chilly
than others. A host of activities occupied the many volunteers who
attended today. Starting at Duffield (for once), the entire and utter
staff of that station tidied up around the station office and moved
various items of brash and tat which had sadly accumulated there.
Meanwhile, the conscripts had arrived at Wirksworth and the word
"drains" was the first instruction issued, followed by "spades" and

In the yard, the steam team, using the full power which the yard can
provide (having first turned the kettle off) welded parts of the boiler
of Henry Ellison as part of the restoration programme of that
locomotive. Also in the yard, Santa's Helpers (High Peak Division)
completed the major works on the Emporium de St Nicholas, and it also
looks very fine, with an especially fetching window, that Bob Cratchet
will be peering out of, come Christmas.

Around the Training Room, complete with its new step, the Global
Marketing Dept held a meeting to determine a cunning plan to take over
the world using the Bubble Car and a crack team of specially trained
dogs from Turnditch.

While this was taking place the Gat Ex Fitter (Bramson's Grease and
Tools Plc), addressed the droplights in the Buffet Car, which have been
known to give our guards back-strain trying to open them. In addition,
the reputed failure of the FO motor alternator set was traced to a loose
wire, with the full force of the railway's engineering skill having been
brought to bear upon it, and for which we are hopeful of a resolution in
a very soon moment.

The DMU team, being so populous as to have to split themselves into two,
firstly engaged in assorted repairs to the cab of the class 108 and then
assembled and arranged the recently arrived and newly painted seat
frames for the Met Cam centre car, and this is the subject of today's
picture, which shows them laid out ready to be bolted down: we hope to
be able to compare this picture to the finished product very shortly.

All the best,

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Progress Saturday 20th November 2011

Dear all,

Another busy and cold day at the foot of Wyvern Towers. Our teams entertained six BuyAGift Guests and all seemed to enjoy themselves. The passenger service saw reasonable numbers, with the first train being loaded with a party of 29 that turned up out of the blue.

Down the yard, a lone member of the LMSCA began preparations to renew the drain pipes inside the LMS Third Open coach. These pipes are fitted to the majority of coaches (LMS, BR and DMU) under the windows. They catch the condensation that forms on the inside of the window and they drip it outside so that it doesn't rot the interior. 

The 8F group continued work inside their coach and the DMU group continued working on the Class 108, with the vehicle getting ever closer to being ready for service.

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 19 November 2010

Progress Friday 19th November 2010

Dear all
Much activity again today with dmu maintenance featuring to resolve a vacuum leak on the Bubble Car. LJB was checked over for a water leak and the Saloon and SK were shunted to Platform 1 for an event next Wednesday. Further research was undertaken as to whether it was worth while to try and revive Faraday and this work will continue as and when circumstances permit.
A young offender and minder unloaded a wagon of logs for the Logging Department and Santa bookings were progressed in the Booking Hall.
Mike Billings managed a stretch of flailing north of Duffield and Rodney went on a litter picking exercise from Duffield station to the footbridge - a dirty old place Duffield!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Progress Thursday 18th November 2010

Dear all
Another most satisfactory day with MKT and Hylton tending to our customer's every need. Many thanks are due to Anton for stepping into the breach to man the Buffet Car to provide soup and sandwiches to our customer's customers. The end of the day saw the test machine leave site with some trailers due to depart tomorrow and we are just left with some 60 tonnes of ballast to find a home for!
The PWT and VCT joined forces again as they tackle the considerable undergrowth at Duffield. Some four loads of brash was moved away from the housing there and burnt further up the line. Two useful wagon loads of logs were brought back to Wirksworth, one for a direct sale and one for the Logging Dept.
The LMSCA were in action dealing with window drain pipes and there was a modest effort surrounding the proposed shed for No3.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Progress Wednesday 17th November 2010

Dear all
A cold, wet and dark day tested the most resolute of our team but, as ever, achievements were made. The PWT set sail to further cleanse the lineside and are finding not only the redundant assets of our own activities but the cast offs of relaying from the 50s and 60s. Nonetheless much more material has been moved to where it may rot in peace.
The PWT's operations were interrupted by a valuable customer whose test day went very well but was lengthy involving all concerned arriving back at Wirksworth after dark. Again many thanks to MKT and Hylton who keep on top of the customers requirements despite the cold and wet conditions.
A scrap collection from Shottle of the wasted rail from Duffield yielded a satisfactory return and suggested renewed efforts to capitalise on this source of income.
I am pleased to report the Phil has taken up the challenge to attend Birmingham University's Independent Competent Person course with the encouragement and aid of our supporter, Associate Professor Felix Schmid, the course leader.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Progress Tuesday 16th November 2010

Dear all
Quite a day with an incredible level of activity on our project. The Dream Steam Team devoted their attentions to Henry Ellison with much painting, plating of the cab and cleaning the motion. The LMSCA were in production again with the seating to be installed in the Stanier Third Open.
The Permanent Way Team went south and report that redundant sleeper have been totally cleansed from Duffield through to Derby Road 4 bridge north of Hazelwood with four loads delivered to their final resting place and any garden or siding quality sleepers placed in appropriate stacks. Miscellaneous scrap encountered during these activities has been filed in the waiting skip at Shottle.Given a fair wind, tomorrow should see the final uplifting of unwanted material from the lineside with the exception of the prodigious products of the VCT. That team today dealt with some 40 yards of blackthorn north of Shottle, a most challenging piece of vegetation, and two large fires consumed the end product. The team's endeavours at Duffield had been interrupted today as contractors for Network Rail thoroughly examined the footbridge at Duffield requiring a complete ban on passing traffic.
Yesterday and today had been occupied by the bagging up of 60 tonnes of ballast into one tonne bags ready for use by a customer tomorrow and Thursday. This was all ably orchestrated by Hylton with a contractor and was ready in good time before the customer's arrival this afternoon.
The LMSCA were in full production of the parts necessary for seat construction in the Third Open and the Booking Hall continued to process Santa bookings.
We were pleased to welcome our new Book Keeper, Angela, who will move amongst us once a week from now on to ensure our financial reporting and probity is as it should be. For those of you who watch our activities from home from time to time I give thanks to Leigh and Anton who have installed a second web cam giving a new view of our enterprise.
I also take the opportunity to thank Ernie Marchant who has very kindly returned to the fold to get our share register into shape and ensure that we do not breach Companies House rules. Not an easy task but very essential to our general wellbeing unless you relish visiting the directors in less salubrious surroundings. ( Did I hear a yes there!)

New Version of the Stock List Available for Download

Evening all,

A new version of the stock list is available for download from the usual place. Updates this time include the arrival of Austerity "The Duke" and a support coach. Some other minor alterations include updated images for some stock that has changed livery etc.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Progress Sunday the 14th of November 2010

Dear all,

A foggy start, which soon cleared. In a highly unusual move, the Duty
Conscript was out of the door to start work before our own staff. The
first task of the day, was then, to finish the removal of the remaining
ballast bags from the north end of platform 1 and transmit the contents
down the yard, by the miracle of the hand trolley, to complete the Shed
Drain. The completion of this work was rapturously received by the Steam
Team, whose joy at not having to negotiate the drain after 2 1/2 years
was plain. The balance of what remained in the ballast bags was used to
fill in the cribs next to the fuelling point, as many staff walk in this
part of the yard as well.

Meanwhile, the DMU team, aroused by this show of interest in work,
managed to stagger out of the Mess Room in the direction of the Class
108. A fruitful day saw them finish the painting of the chassis parts of
that unit, with a great deal of underframe black slapped around, closely
followed by red, white and orange. Other members of the Team attached
both handrails and steps. In an effort to prove Mr Fergy-Lee's statement
about our ability to attach pictures to this edifice, which is the daily
report, I attach a picture of the DMU Team being "supervised" by Mr Rob
Green, who is looking very cheerful, having just passed his ECS exam
(L-R in the picture: Brad, Leigh, Connor and Rob). Further driver
training took place on the M55006 during the day and the train crew were
refreshed by the the station staff at Duffield. Also at Duffield, a
mammoth leaf clearing exercise took place, closed followed by the
replacement of the boarding on the down slow footbridge abutment, which
had been blown off by Al-Quaeda. Oh, I'm sorry, I wanted that to sound
more interesting than it was, so I made it up, like they do on the TV.
Actually it fell off and has been restored by Rodders.

Back in Wirksworth, the small but perfectly formed Steam Team were
engaged in preparing the cab floor plating on Henry Ellison and, er,
delivering a boat. Also in the yard, the Class 20 received routine
maintenance, principally involving a bucket, and the Elves were hard at
it preparing Santa's Toy shop. We were all, quite, quite exhausted.

All the best,

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Progress Saturday 13th November 2010

Dear all,

Today was very much a rolling stock day, with oodles of volunteers on site performing various tasks on our workhorses. Both the Class 20 (work on the injectors) and Class 31 (traction motor fan) received some pretty heavy maintenance by their various custodians and organisation work continued by the 8F group. Some of this work continued well into the winter darkness.

Meanwhile, the Class 117 received new start and stop buttons for the engines in various places after these had decided to go faulty, and the Class 108 received attention to the cab brake valve so that drivers do not need to be Mr Muscle to operate it. Some further investigations into the lack of illumination inside the Mark2 FO continued and the LMSCA worked on their coach as well.

On top of all of this, the bubble car and LJ Breeze bobbled about entertaining our Day with a Driver guests, with a few ordinary passengers braving the cold for a ride.

Busy day!

Graham Walker via Leigh

Friday, 12 November 2010

Progress Friday 12th November 2010

Dear all
A most satisfactory day as we assisted our customer to conduct further radar detection tests which was said to be a successful mission. On the first run a tree was found across the line near Rowlands crossing but, after returning for equipment, the offending item was disposed of.
The dmu team concentrated on painting the Class 108 underframe and some exploratory work was conducted on the Gatwick Express First Open to try and deduce why the lighting and air conditioning no longer work.
Useful detective work was progressed to more closely analyse where our substantial electrical consumption is going to. I anticipate interesting results.
A young offender and his minder gave the platforms a brush and tidy up and the Booking Hall was in production processing Santa bookings and enquiries.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Progress Thursday 11th November 2010

Dear all
Winter has really set in but the brave souls of the PWT and VCT joined forces to further clear the area between the footbridge and tunnel at Duffield of unnecessary vegetation. A mighty seven wagons loads of brash were shipped to the burning site and a fire of gargantuan size dealt with all this unwanted material. A magnificent achievement given the inhospitable weather. Apparently, as areas are cleared, Duffield proves to be one of the worst for dumping of sundry items by our neighbours including a most surprising number of buckets!
60 tonnes of stone was delivered to the Wirksworth Car Park to be bagged next week and used as one tonne weights by one of our regular customers. Timber was also delivered including a proportion that will be used in the quest to provide a cover Ferrybridge No3 and is also capable of allowing full sized stock to pass through it. Exploratory work was undertaken to see whether Faraday may be brought back to life with initial encouraging results.
Two minutes silence were observed by the PWT at the eleventh hour.
PS - We have learnt of an incident at a Railway not too distant from us where a volunteer slipped on the footboards of a Brakevan, whilst it was moving, fell and was hospitalised. A lesson for us as in wintery conditions these wooden footboards can be treacherous and it is a real no no to try and join a moving vehicle - please by cautious!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Progress Wednesday 10th November 2010

Dear all,
Great to hear from Howard - 9000 posts is quite something and will provide much material for the historians of the Inter Galactic University in 2110 - I wonder what they will make of PWT, VCT, DST, IMT, DMU, S&T and PSD? Perhaps time travel will enable them to appreciate our efforts - they may be with us now! I'm just having a David Ike moment.
Back to reality as I report on the PWT achieving further work to cleanse the lineside of the debris from the relaying programme. Two loads of life expired sleepers were transported from the Shottle to Hazelwood section to their final resting place south of Hazelwood. The Komatsu was in action at Shottle to empty the Rudd of unwanted material from Duffield, discharge the Sturgeon of parts gathered from the S & T store at Wirksworth and remove pointwork previously put to ground but now in the way of extending the Shottle Loop by a further track panel. Two short rails were loaded to the Sturgeon along with a couple of concrete sleepers as part of the plot to extend the headshunt at Duffield.
Back at base the Logging Dept. were in action chopping sticks and many thanks are due to Mick Kingsley who restacked yesterday's fire north of Duffield with the final load of brash delivered.
I should also give a special mention to Richard Buckby who mentored our very own South African Flying Dentist in the fine art of driving L J Breeze - from Piper Aztec to Rolls Royce?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Progress Tuesday 9th November 2010

Dear all
With some 45 volunteers on site today we should have made considerable progress and, of course, we did. A joint operation between the VCT and PWT saw a concerted attack on the vegetation in the area bounded by Duffield Tunnel and Duffield Footbridge. As trees were felled the brash was taken by rail to a point some distance away from the inhabited area to be burnt and some six large wagon loads were dealt with. Many requests from our neighbours were integrated with today's activities which resume on Thursday. All concerned deserve a little extra praise as the weather conditions were wet and cold and many hot baths and showers will be enjoyed this evening.
The Dream Steam Team seems to grow week by week pushing Henry Ellison forward with paint being applied to the wheels and frame. Surrounding this activity was the refurbishment of the foundation ring, springs and eccentric straps. The last two activities were under the control of Mary Birch who has been introduced to areas of volunteering that she wouldn't have ever dreamt of. Nonetheless she can work closely with her husband who has been christened "eccentric Rod" and was sporting a very natty "Tornado" woolly hat today.
The LMSCA have been closeted in their workshop with machines working overtime to support the remarkable progress with the restoration of the Stanier Third Open.  Also at Duffield the Platform team rebedded some of the coping stones that had been disturbed by the Komatsu a couple of weeks ago.
An essential back room job engaged Patrick as he brought the drivers records up to date and Dorothy braved the cold to undertake further work on the station planters. The Booking Hall continued to process Santa bookings as the pace quickens.
It was very good to welcome Fred and Iris back into the fold after Fred's absence due to a minor, but worrying, emergency operation. They have duly cleansed the Mess Hall and restored order to this facility where even simple washing up seems to provide a metal block on those who rest, briefly, there.
A day that brings much encouragement to the forward movement of our project.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Progress on the 10th Anniversary Day Monday 8th November 2010

Dear all
10 years ago to this very day negotiations had reached a stage where the then Railtrack felt able to grant permission for work to start on site at Wirksworth prior to purchase of the line. A straw poll amongst the eight souls involved picked an area to commence the great clearance effort that turned out to be where the buffer stop is in the Car Park, then a dump for sundry piles of muck and rubbish. The rest is as they say "history"!
Many, many hours of volunteer effort have since been put into the project and much, much money has been put in by supporters of the Duffield to Wirksworth line to move it to where we are today. The tantalising prospect of full line reopening in our eleventh year is truly exciting and will comprise sights and sounds to match the opening of the line in 1867.
We have gained new friends as our journey has progressed and, sadly, lost a few on the way. What will be achieve in the next ten years? Given what has gone on in the past one suspects the 20th anniversary will again celebrate remarkable achievements.
Raise a glass and toast the energy and determination of all associated with the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway - haven't we done well!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Progress Sunday the 7th of November 2010

Dear all,

A bright, if chilly, winters day here with volunteers pottering around
dealing with a wide range of necessary tasks. For the first time this
year, there was no Sunday passenger service, though there will be a few
trains on Saturdays in November to Idridgehay. In this blissful peace
some jobs were got to grips with that couldn't be done while passenger
services were running, including the removal of several ballast bags
from the north end of platform 3, with a couple still to move. The
conscripts were occupied in this task and also broke the back of the
shed drain job, which should be complete next week if all goes well.

Around the yard the newly arrived J94 received painting attention in the
shed, and work also proceeded on the LMS brake van. One of our other
brake vans received its cosmetic wooden cladding from the Rod and Mary
Show, in preparation for the scheduled visit in December of one Nicholas
S Claus. Also on the woodwork front, the Training Room steps were
repaired by ASM Woodhouse and the interior checked for leaks, after the
roof was recently treated, and this appears to have done the trick.
Further remedial work took place on the Gat Ex doors and the Gat Ex
water tanks and toilets were checked and winterised.

The DMU team first attended to some computer work and Mr Kilroy's cat
will shortly be on-line. The team then devoted themselves to checks on
the Bubble Car, which proved satisfactory. Duffield Station was
inspected, along with some passing Black Fives, and a station ladder,
the disabled ramps and the solar unit battery were transmitted to that
station; however, an immediate return was delayed while tea was made
using the slowest boiling kettle in Christendom.

All the best,

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Progress Saturday 6th November

Evening all,

A very strange sort of day with many many Day with a Driver and Drive a Diesel guests. The day started with a planning moment so that all of these guests could receive the best value for their money, and despite the bubblecar throwing a wobbly after the first run, they all enjoyed themselves. The DMU team were able to fix said wobbly after swapping the service vehicle for Iris. The guests all enjoyed their lunch in the buffet car too. Three trains ran on the Idridgehay line primarily for the benefit of the guests, however these were also surprisingly well used by other visitors, despite the services not being advertised. Inbetween the runs to Idridgehay, Driver Allsop put his "Breeze" head on and gave the guests a run to Ravenstor. The Drive a Diesel crew did some shunting before also having a run down the line.

In between fixing various things the DMU team worked on the 108 guard van ceiling, whilst a few steps away, the LMSCA worked on seat frames for their TO coach. Some of the LMSCA also worked on tidying the interior of the to-be-restored Mk1 BSK. The newly arrived 8F group worked on tidying up after various things had scattered themselves around on the A6 yesterday. A new volunteer who saw us during a volunteering show at Derby University last week had a full introduction - he has recently moved to Derby and fancied up-scaling from his previous railway, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway!

Some work was done on the brakevan in preparation for Santa trains next month.

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 5 November 2010

Progress Friday 5th November 2010

Dear all
A pleasant start tom the day that deteriorated through the afternoon to a typical Bonfire night evening. However, the day was successful and quite exciting as Austerity locomotive "The Duke" arrived from Rowsley having followed a support coach from the 8F locomotive group down the Station approach. We welcome both these new arrivals and their teams which will fulfil a most useful addition to our own Dream Steam Team.
"The Duke" is from the same mold as the J94s that were used in the latter days of the Cromford & High Peak Railway and will be capable of working steam hauled trains between Wirksworth and Duffield. The locomotive has been put into the Maintenance Facility for a quick cosmetic repaint with a view to it being a static feature on display during the Santa train period. Restoration will start in earnest in 2011 alongside the continuing work on Henry Ellison.
The decision of the 8F group to relocate to Wirksworth brings a whole wealth of new skills, and manpower, to enhance the work of Bob Gibbens and his team which will make Wirksworth a continuing centre of excellence for steam locomotive restoration. The iconic maroon liveried 48624 is unlikely to visit us in the near future with existing commitments on the Churnet Valley Railway followed by a contract at the Great Central Railway but there is the tantalising prospect of occasional visits when we have more of the infrastructure necessary to support its operation in place.
In order to deal with these arrivals and put them where they are required there was much shunting and many thanks are due to Mick Thomas and the dmu team for orchestrating the necessary moves.
The funeral of Lady Hilton took place this afternoon and John Blackmore kindly represented the Company and members. The remainder of the day is left in Anton's hands as we support the Stone Centre's fireworks evening.
Quite a day in the development and growth of the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Progress Thursday 4th November 2010

Dear all
A quietly productive day with the Duffield Platform area having a general tidy up to make work on the remaining section a slightly easier task. Sundry surplus stone and tree roots were loaded to the Rudd for transmission to a site where they can finally rest. A further 30ft of track bed was prepared south of the buffer stop to give a longer headshunt which aid the movement of materials for the general development of this area. The south ground frame received adjustments to fine tune the lie of the points.
The VCT reported a successful conclusion of their fence repairs along side the Chatsworth Estate and a splendid three fire day to cleanse the lineside. The team move to the Duffield area next week and will be supported by the PWT on Tuesday and Thursday.
Some exploratory work commenced for the proposed shelter over Ferrybridge No3 with the proviso that it has to accommodate coaching stock passing through and visiting slightly larger engines. Mathew gave two of our MyTestTrack Landrovers an exterior clean and had a further go at the Class 20. A lone Permanent Way man patrolled Wirksworth Yard but was largely defeated by the inclement weather.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Progress Wednesday 3rd November 2010

Dear all
A repeat of yesterday with a fine morning followed by a very dismal afternoon. Spirits were not too dampened as the Permanent Way Team continued Operation Hoover as they cleansed the lineside of surplus material covering a further quarter mile section south of Hazelwood. Mathew was in loco cleaning mode and has much improved the Class 20 and Lynette made further progress with the station garden.
The Duffield platform project benefited from further fill from the previously accumulated mole hills with around half the remaining area topped up with this base mix of soil and spent ballast.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Progress Tuesday 2nd November 2010

Dear all
The day started with mild pleasant weather that deteriorated by the afternoon into a wet, bleak dark ending with dusk falling at around 1530hrs. Nonetheless, a veritable kaleidoscope of work was achieved. Very black people emerged from the Dream Steam Team as they winterised Ferrybridge No3 proving that steam locomotive maintenance is a dirty business. The Komatsu received repairs following an attack by a tree branch at Duffield a couple of weeks ago. On completion the flail was attached and the machine driven to Duffield for use on the Platform project through the rest of the week.
The VCT continued their efforts on the boundary fence north of Derby Road No4 bridge where we abut the Chatsworth Estate. Much clearance of vegetation achieved and it became a three fire day with a five man team.
The PWT had a most productive day with the scrap rail at Shottle released for collection and eventual export. This activity was followed by a start being made on the cleaning of pre-owned sleepers from the area of VCT work which revealed more scrap and a quantity of garden quality sleepers which were stacked at Shottle. A wagon load of logs was collected up and placed on the Shottle siding for sale.
The LMSCA cleaned out the Mark 1 BSK ready for renovation work to commence and the LMS Third Open moved forward with vestibule ceilings fitted and an assembly of steam heating parts. The woodwork for the seats was in mass production and it was good to see Derek back at work after a period of rest with gout.
The station planters were readied for the winter and the Booking Hall continued to process Santa Bookings.
A very good day.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Progress Sunday the 31st of October 2010

Dear all,

A foggy start in Wirksworth resulting in the rest of the kingdom being
cut off from civilisation. However, the day cleared and small groups of
volunteers emerged from the murk to carry the railway forward once
again. The passenger service had a modestly successful final timetabled
day of the year and the Day with a Driver guest, from London via
Sheffield, was happily satisfied with his experience.

In the yard, work proceeded on Ferrybridge No3 and the ashpan was
removed and the firebars were scrapulated. On our other steamer, Henry
Ellison, the foundation ring was cleaned and the bottom edge of her
firebox was ground with a grinder. The other grinder (powered by the
Passenger Dept bicycle) was used on the doors of the class 108, as
eloquently described by Leigh yesterday, wherein the old paint and
Formica was removed by several members of the DMU Team wearing small
round white hats. The doors on this vehicle are now finished, to
considerable rejoicing, as well as dancing round the bicycle.

It being a day of doors, Team Bramson took another of the faulty GatEx
doors to pieces, greased it up to its cotter pins and several other
parts and returned it to working order: only one more to go. While the
doors were being fettled, the middle yard gate received a modest repair,
which, while not quite as railway-like as one might hope, will at least
stop it scraping along the ground and giving us a hernia trying to open it.

The Duty Conscript was once again delegated to the shed drain effort and
this is coming along nicely, if not especially quickly. Meanwhile,
Higham Enterprises was engaged in fulfilling the recent request of the
LMSCA to have BSK 34625 (a BR mark 1 brake corridor coach, little noted
to date in these historic annals) cleaned, in readiness for the start of
its repairs. Said BSK was tidied up, swept and mopped, much to its surprise.

Meanwhile, as Mr Tarry has now left the building, an application has
been made to the Department for Transport to have the Mess Room
re-franchised. A new franchise will start as soon as the 15 year
fast-track tendering process is complete, at which time the Mess Room
will be renamed the "Characterful Leisure Area". It will receive a new
livery, double the number of seats in the same space and have all the
windows removed, so people don't waste their time looking out of them.

All the best,

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Progress Sat 30th October 2010

Evening all,

The final weekend of timetabled passenger services began today with reasonable loadings. The Day with a Driver and three Drive a Diesel guests all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. 

In the yard, the LMSCA furthered the TO coach and the DMU team continued working on the class 108, with further refurbishment of door backs; a continuation of yesterday. A door back consists of the wooden surround pieces and a Formica panel in the middle and at the top. Refurbishment involves removing the wooden surrounds and sanding the old orange paint off so that they are nice clean wood again. Then, the components are stained with a Walnut wood stain using a sponge! Whilst that is drying, the relevant parts are covered in new Formica, which involves removing the old orange and damaged Formica, cleaning up the board behind, measuring and cutting a new piece of Formica and then gluing it to the board. This piece is then put back on the door along with all the rest of the parts and they are given a coat of clear varnish for a shine. This takes about 3 hours per door and there are 6 to do on the vehicle. It is a long process so next time you open any door in a railway vehicle on our line, consider what it takes just to make it look nice!!!

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 29 October 2010

Progress Friday 29th October 2010

Dear all
Phil's last day with us was very productive with a third session of radar detection testing involving the 2 Car Met-Cam set. The customer was content with the results after being ably hosted by Phil, Graham and Peter. There are indications we may see them again!
The LMSCA retrieved the machine tool delivered yesterday and stored it safely in their "workshop". Hylton test drove the Fitness To Run forms produced by the Class 20 Association together with David N and had a few observations to feed back that I am sure will be helpful in keeping this valuable machine road worthy.
DMU maintenance involved the addition of anti freeze to the Class 108 whilst, inside the vehicle, good progress was made with doors and the application of Formica panels.
We say our final farewells to Phil at tonight's Board Meeting although I suspect he will be back with us from time to time, if only to escape the mother-in-law!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Progress Thursday 28th October 2010

Dear all
After yesterday's excitements a more sober day ensued with the VCT renewing their renewal, or reconfiguration, of the fencing north of Derby Road bridge 4 that divides us from a little part of the Chatsworth Estate. A most inventive approach has been devised that produces a very adequate fence that is not quite as tall as it was and reuses the resultant materials in a most productive way. One very large fire was the end product of the less than useful material.
The Permanent Way Team depleted by too much enjoyment made significant inroads to the old sections of Duffield Tunnel track, all of which is only fit for scrap, located at Shottle enabling us to realise some value towards the cause. They managed to deal with around 50% of the material and will return to the attack next week. A helpful by-product was the release of some 16 reusable sleepers that will be applied to the extension of the Shottle loop.
A lone Silvester pointed a further 40ft of the Duffield platform wall, quite a magnificent effort that enhances this wonderful project.
We took our farewells of Bob Dixon, known as "Ashford Bob", who has endured the rather elderly caravan on the Wash Green dock during his regular visits. The costs of travel from Kent have defeated him and he is joining forces with the Folkestone Harbour Railway project.His experiences on the Ravenstor Incline should help and we wish him well for the future and he has promised to follow our progress from afar.
Enid reports that John Gratton is on the mend and may be home from hospital this weekend if all is well.
PS For those that have seen a little part of my cine film from 1965 I regret I was no Ivo Peters and the cost of standard 8 film plus the clockwork mechanism encouraged very short busts of activity and my income was around £6 a week! I know this was a fortune in them days! The first few seconds were from bunking Nine Elms - if only digital photography had been available then. I was great to meet the fireman on the 4F tour during the Steam Gala with Bellerophon and No3 - we are all very young at heart and will long remain that way.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Progress Wednesday 27th October 2010

Dear all
A day that exceeded all expectations and, in many ways, represented the culmination of the first phase of our project. The 10th Anniversary celebration was brought forward from its due date of the 8th November to combine with the accolades following Phil's decision to depart from the enterprise after 10 years involvement deeming his part of the adventure complete.
The day commenced at 1100hrs with Ferrybridge No3 leading a two coach formation on a through trip to Duffield with some 80 working volunteers who had made it all happen. A gentle and splendidly evocative journey took some 55 minutes before arriving alongside the newly reconstructed platform. There were many photo opportunities at Duffield as the locomotive took water and coal before running round the train. Many, firsts were accomplished including the first passenger steam train since 1965 (the 4F excursion) and the first steam locomotive run round in living memory etc. etc. Many local residents were in attendance to witness these momentous events.
The journey back to Wirksworth was more leisurely being all up hill with pleasant stops at Shottle where the owners of Peak Oil were surprised to observe our significant outing and at Idridgehay where no one was perturbed by our pause there. On arrival at Wirksworth, some 30 minutes in advance of the planned schedule, the appropriate speeches were made before anyone could attack the sumptuous buffet.
Opportunity was taken to indulge in some justified mutual back slapping on this most significant day. Peter Taylor thanked all concerned on behalf of the share holders and Mike Craft presented Phil on behalf of EVRA a delightfully restored Midland Railway chair together with life membership of the Association and the results of a collection resulting in a large number of garden centre gift vouchers. Phil responded with a potted history of his time with preserved railways but, strangely didn't mention time before the mast. Ann accompanied Phil and her contribution in the early days of the enterprise was gratefully acknowledged and perhaps didn't want to know about his lonely times on lighthouses.
Jeff excelled with the buffet arrangements and Dorothy organised the puddings together with two magnificent cakes, one to celebrate our 10 years and one to recognise Phil's "retirement".
I can only say that today represented our fledgling organisation at its best and the good will from all who participated created a very warm atmosphere. I am sure those who said some years ago "it would never happen" were revising their script to say "haven't they done well". I found the whole event pulled on the heart strings as we steamed up and down the valley - absolutely marvellous!
10 miles in 10 years, 5 new platforms, no bank borrowings, 8 to 160 workings volunteers - sheer genius.