Saturday, 31 December 2011

Progress New Years Eve 2011

Dear all,

The final report of the Duffield opening year. It was a mild day with some rain and some sunshine with a few volunteers on site.

The DMU Group split into two. One half worked on preparing the service train for the New Year Trains and Fizz event tomorrow, with particular attention being paid to 51360. The other half continued where they left off yesterday in the class 119.

The passenger department also prepared for the event tomorrow primarily making sure there was enough Fizz in the Bucks.

The Pullman painter attended this morning with a view to varnishing the No.1 side but found that the weather conditions were against him with it being cold yesterday and mild today. When this happens, a 'sweat' occurs and the body side panels become damp which in turn means that painting cannot take place.

On the way out all of the gates were manhandled into place to close 2011.

Happy New Year,


Friday, 30 December 2011

Progress Report Friday the 30th of December 2011

Dear all,

A day which gradually got colder and wetter here in the Centre of the
World, known to the locals as Wirksworth. Down the yard, the railcar
team began fixing new pieces of Formica to the vestibule area of class
119 railcar number 51073 (see ), which
is now beginning to receive major attention as a serious and important
restoration project. The class 119 is in many ways quite a unique
vehicle, there are very few of them left and the one we've got is the
first class end. On the same siding, but in the shed, single unit
railcar 55006 continued to receive welder's attention to its wasted
parts and we look forward to its return to pristine condition in due
course. Also in the shed the GLV "Pullman" buffet has received its
Lancaster Cream paintwork on the up side and is now looking altogether
rather special.

Some tidying up took place around the station and car park. The two
gazebos which had recently been blown up by terrorists / eaten by
immigrants (depending on whether you read the Mail or the Express), but
which had of course been despatched by high winds, were recovered and
filed. Or more exactly, those parts which could be found were recovered
and filed, under the bookshop. The town gardeners were present on the
equally windswept hillside which is the Community Garden, and this was
today being extended to encompass the planned "wild garden", which will
be where bees and other such wild and ferocious creatures will be kept.

At Duffield, an extensive litter pick took place, the New Year's banners
were put out to attract the passing hordes, and the paint was delivered
so that Rodney can finish painting the Mess Room when the weather improves.

On Sunday, New Years Day trains will depart from Wirksworth at 11.20,
13.20 and 15.20 (returns), and from Duffield at 12.10 and 14.10
(returns) and 16.10 (to Wirksworth only). An additional 15 minutes will
be added in the down direction for a stop at Windley Meadows for the
service of seasonal refreshments to passengers.

All the best,

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Progress Thursday 29th December 2011

Dear all,

Horrendous weather conditions in the valley today with driving torrential rain and gale force winds. Indeed, the LMSCA platform gazebo took the worst of it, with parts being flung across the platform and track! A small amount of volunteers still managed to move our enterprise forward.

A small but armed P-Way gang headed for Shottle where they cleared an area to make way for the loop line.

In the engineerium, a first coat of cream was applied to the No.1 side of the buffet. Rumour has it that the vehicle may be "finished" by next week if all goes according to plan and the vehicle will emerge as the Pullman Buffet! Next door work continued on the bubble car bodywork with an area around the guards door receiving a full days attention.

The Booking Hall prepared for Sundays New Year Trains and Fizz event.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Progress Tuesday 27th December 2011

Dear all
A report tinged with a little creativity as I have man flu and retired hurt in the late morning relying on the restorative powers of Scottish products to keep me going. However, I am grateful for the team of Patrick, John Evans and Richard Buckby to tend to our charter train customers and it is gratifying that we picked up a few extra passengers to swell the coffers. John Saville looked after the Booking Hall and ensured Wirksworth station was open for business.
The Bubble Car and Buffet Car received further attention and this week should see the finalisation of the Buffet Car's exterior renovation. A small dmu team continued their restoration work and it was good to see a flying visit from Phil Tarry who took the opportunity of a whole line tour.
Today saw a lone Permanent Way Team member as no one responded to his offer of post indulgence work outs.
A gentle reminder that site security over the remaining days of the holiday period requires vigilance and all gates to be locked. Visits to all parts of our empire are encouraged as part of the deterrent to any unwanted guests. 'Tis the season of stealing!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Progress Chistmas Eve 24th December 2011

Dear all
Our Santa Train season was brought to end today with another most well received visit to the North Pole. Everyone involved should take a bow as all the planning, present gathering and on train staffing has seen the best financial result in our short history.
At Wirksworth there has been a little other activity by the 8F Group and dmu car W51073 has had some serious work towards its restoration.
I would ask those of you who live near any part of our Railway to try and take a look over the next few days to ensure that any unwelcome visitors are detected. Over our nine miles we are quite vulnerable in these peculiar times but between us we can provide a deterrent.
I wish everyone a most pleasant Christmas and time to recharge the batteries for renewed effort next week.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Progress Thursday 22nd December 2011

Dear all
An amazingly productive day given its proximity to Christmas with the PWT enhancing the harvest of redundant assets at Shottle for sale in the New Year that will aid us to achieve the projects we have set ourselves when there is little alternative income. Saturday's final Santa train has been serviced including a check on the heaters that are all now working efficiently. With some difficulty LJB has been shunted to the pit road and work has commenced to strip down the area of the defective water pump. As ever, this is proving a complex task which seems to involve the oil pump, alternator and errant water pump. LJB seems to have not designed ease of maintenance when he put the locomotive together!
After a false start yesterday due to weather conditions John was able to apply the umber undercoat to the Buffet Car's east side today and, conditions permitting, will apply the gloss tomorrow. All being well, the interior fitout can commence in January presenting quite a challenge to John Birkinshaw.
The Bubble Car is also coming on in leaps and bounds with the floor in the Guards compartment receiving attention today.
The VCT tended to an area north of DJW6 before retiring to the luxury of The Railway Hotel at Shottle for their Christmas Lunch. This unique team has achieved tremendous work and well deserved their annual celebration with a full turnout of 10 members. They really do ensure our passengers have delightful views of the Valley and that the sightlines at our many accommodation and footpath crossings minimise the risks of incidents. Their continued efforts to repair some 18 miles of fencing using the minimum of bought in materials does not go unnoticed. A delightful team that just gets on with it!
The Booking Hall dealt with the remaining Santa bookings for this Saturday and there is a gentle take up of advance sales of our Day Rover as a stocking filler for Christmas.
Another good day.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Progress Wednesday 21st December 2011

Dear all
Many of you will know that today is Hanukkah and we have celebrated this day with a variety of activities that included the visit of Moonki Cho and Nanda Marri who are both studying for their masters degrees at Birmingham University's Railway Engineering department. When quizzed about the Christmas period, which you would think makes little sense to them, they and their fellow students from around the world including Indonesia and China had prepared a Christmas meal at the University featuring the cuisine from their native lands. I find it most encouraging we are part of this world of railways and we hope that our two people today will come up with a solution that enables us to pass trains at Shottle within a budget we can afford. At home we have a Hanukkah bush that closely resembles a Christmas tree.
The PWT set sail for Shottle with their Tool Van attached to the rear of a two car dmu following the failure of LJB and this is now safely berthed at Shottle having had its security beefed up and any valuable tools transported away from the vehicle. The team achieved a further three cuts in the former long welded section and accumulated some 3 tonnes of scrap for fundraising.
The Buffet Car received more attention to the doors on the east side that enables them to be opened for ventilation in warm weather, if you can remember that, but further painting was defeated by today's weather conditions. Another attempt will be made tomorrow. The bodywork repairs continue on the "Bubble Car" and an accommodation has be reached between the tow restorers.
The lone carriage cleaner was at work on the Santa train to ready it for its final task this Saturday and the son of the lone carriage cleaner has completed the repainting of the Mess Hall except for the skirting board and floor.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Progress Tuesday 20th December 2011

Dear all
The count down to Christmas has commenced with the DST announcing that they will be in evidence next Wednesday rather than their normal Tuesday. Steam obviously needs more recovery time after the season's excesses but, nonetheless, they have achieved a few moments today with a frustrating hydraulic test of No3 requiring more work and further attention to Kathryn.
The VCT achieved a magnificent four fires in the Barnsley Lane area and managed the shipping of debris from 40 Steps to the burning area. They were assisted by Mike the Flail to move some of the heavier material before he tackled the area north of Idridgehay.
The last day of activity on the long running S&T van saga saw the fitting of "domestic comforts". The mind boggles.
The LMSCA organised the disposal of waste products from the fire and the Booking Hall gathered the accounting necessary from the past seven days. The PWT transposed five rails on the former Gorsey Bank line releasing good rail for the planned Shottle loop.
We had the first meeting of the Duffield Toilet Team (DTT) which crystallised the options to us there. I always find it interesting that the areas of thought necessary to running our Railway seem to involve anything other than running trains.
Dorothy marked the Christmas period with a magnificent green Christmas Tree cake and sundry supporting cup cakes. All most appreciatively received and not a crumb left.
PS - To follow up the October 1940 Derby departure and arrival sheet I can report the donor was Peter Stowell. With an heritage on the railways until 1968 he commenced his travels to Australia, South Africa and Australia again. He is now volunteer resident Station Master/Signalman at Menzies Creek and drives steam occasionally on the Maldon and Castlemain Railways in Victoria and South Australia. The travels of this artefact are now assessed at a staggering 30,000 miles.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Progress Sunday the 18th of December 2011

Dear all,

Today's principal activity was Santa, and a very jolly time was had by
everyone involved. The trains were busy, North Pole was thronged and
Santa and the elves were kept on their toes all day. I am sure we spread
a great deal of happiness, especially among the smaller persons
attending, and this is right and proper.

Around the yard, the LMS brake van received a stove capable of roasting
a turkey inside, and we look forward to its ceremonial lighting. In the
shed (sort of) the welder ran out of gas but spent the day on the
grinder to make up for it. The DMU team slapped paint around the first
class seat frames destined for unit 51505, and then retired to the Mess
Room to try the hot spiced apple juice: no happier bunch of slappers
could be found for miles around.

Traditionally as this is my last report of the year, I extend my very
grateful thanks to all at the Railway and beyond who have contributed to
such an astonishingly successful year as we have had. None of this could
be achieved without the complete and thorough dedication to the Railway
which all exhibit, and of which we are tremendously proud.

My colleagues and I will extend a considerable toast to you all and the
Railway this evening at the Whore and Trumpet (A Marston's House) into
whose welcoming arms we are about to descend, and we shall no doubt be
all present and sober, or as sober as could be demonstrated without
excessive falsehood, in the morning.

A very Merry Christmas to one and all.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Progress Saturday 17th December 2011

Dear all,

Apart from a flurry in the afternoon, the promised snowfall didn't materialise which meant that round 3 of the Santa Specials could go without hitch. Most of the activity around the railway centres around this. Many thanks to all who helped out with this.

Down the yard, 55006 saw much attention to the bodywork areas that have gone rusty over the years. This meant stripping out some interior panelling in the guards van.

Members from the 8F group and the LMSCA were also in attendance.

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 16 December 2011

Online Rolling Stock Guide

Evening all,

We are pleased to announce that the stock list has had a total revamp. The PDF version had become very large and very cumbersome as the railway has grown and so we thought it was time to come into this decade!

The PDF version has been replaced by a much easier to maintain Online Rolling Stock Guide which can be found under the Enthusiasts section of the website (or at All of the previous information is on there and we hope to add more images and information over time to build it up. John Stokes remains the contact for maintaining the information. 

We hope you like it, we certainly do!



Progress Friday 16th December 2011

Dear all
Great progress with the Buffet Car with much remedial body work achieved to the east side which has turned out to be the worst aspect of this vehicle. The application of small steel sheets, much filler and sanding down has pulled the vehicle round.
Attention has been paid to the security of the Tool Van so that it can be left at Shottle without being denuded of its contents. Many thanks to Anton and Eric who hosted a visitor from East Midlands Trains in the form of Wayne Kyte, their Leicestershire Route Manager.The more product knowledge EMT have the better!
51505 had attention to it's interior cab and the Booking Hall received quantities of refreshments for the upcoming weekend's Santa trains. Some of our key people have been struck down by severe colds and any help that can be given, particularly on Sunday, would be most welcome.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Progress Thursday 15th December 2011

Dear all
One step forward and one step back I'm afraid as the problems on LJB prove to be more serious than thought. It would seem that the water pump has failed and this is a large lump of equipment underneath the locomotive. The next step is to remove the pump and see whether it can be refurbished or replaced. We therefore have no shunting loco available and will have to tailor are next few weeks around this circumstance.
On the up side the VCT continued their work and the PWT completed the repairs to part of the aged pointwork at the north end of Wirksworth Yard. The dmu team concentrated on keeping the Santa train up to scratch with particular attention to the heating essential to this enterprise.
OB Design are holding their Christmas party in the Royal Saloon as I write this and they should be credited with the production of the iconic poster displayed at East Midlands Trains stations this year and have said that new version may emerge from today's fumes to excite us in 2012. In a spirit of co-operation the Station Garage is being provided with access to our internet facilities with thanks to Chris Ralls. We hope that this will benefit their activities which, in turn, will ensure our modest rental demands will be paid.
Again, much activity in the Maintenance Facility on both the Buffet and Bubble Cars with a feeling that there is now a modest competitive energy. The two experts involved are jousting which seem to involve John's hand being pop riveted to slow him down.
PS - Maurice Jordan has facilitated the acquisition of a most interesting artefact comprising a Derby arrivals and departure sheet published with effect from 28th October 1940. He and his wife have funded it's framing and preparation for display in the Museum coach. The donor, whose name I will publish next week, was a former Derby railway employee who spotted the sheet in a skip in the 1960s. He then took the £10 package to emigrate to Australia, only to return to the UK after his then wife could not settle, left the UK for a period in South Africa, returned to the UK and emigrated yet again to Australia. He is now a Station Master on the Puffing Billy Railway. This arrival and departure sheet has accompanied him on all these journeys so has travelled 20 to 25 thousand miles. Through his friendship with Maurice he has donated it for our collection.
The sheet shows departures to Wirkswoth at 6.55am from Platform 2 for "most" stations to Wirksworth, 12.45pm Platform 1 Saturdays Only All stations to Wirksworth, 5.l7pm All stations to Wirksworth (except Nottingham Road on Saturdays) and 7.58pm Platform 2 Saturdays Only for All stations to Wirksworth except Nottingham Road. The arrivals side show 8.30am Platform 4 All stations from Wirksworth, 2.34pm Platform 6 Saturdays Only All stations from Wirksworth, 6.38pm Platform 6 All stations from Wirksworth and 9.14pm Platform 6 Saturdays Only All stations from Wirksworth. Wonderful stuff!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Progress Wednesday 14th December 2011

Dear all
A bitterly cold day warmed by a flurry of Santa bookings ably handled by Leigh in the Booking Hall. It is interesting that nearly two thirds of these bookings are on line and it is a credit to Leigh and Robin that this is now possible. My thoughts turn to how we might increase the product range accessible in this way.
The PWT had achieved their track patrol partially yesterday and completed the task today. Another unsung but vital endeavour that ensures the safe operation of our trains. With LJB disgracing itself yesterday the remainder of the team tackled much needed remedial work to the north end of Wirksworth Yard as these assets are showing their great age.
In the Maintenance Facility great progress was made on both the Bubble Car and the Buffet Car. This first undercover area for our Railway is really proving its worth allowing work to continue in the worst of our weather.
I interviewed a student from Derby University who will work with us for three months as a result of JHT's presence at the student fair in the Roundhouse a couple of months ago. She will provide a little youth to the Booking Hall on Saturdays from late January to late March and I am sure will be made most welcome.
The lone Carriage Cleaner gave the Santa Train a good do and ensured the Mess Hall is hygienic for a few days.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Progress Tuesday 13th December 2011

Dear all
Firstly I must heap praise on everyone who delivered the first weekend of our Santa trains. They were extremely well received and have attracted many expressions of praise. Well done everyone!
Today saw a return to the more mundane but equally necessary to our future. The VCT concentrated on an area around milepost 136 1/4 on the Up (east) side creating more large fires and vistas that our passengers will enjoy. The PWT also ventured into the area between Shottle and Duffield clearing off the remaining sleeper changing in this section. LJB disgraced himself again with a failed water pump seal resulting in the rest of the week for the PWT being spent in Wirksworth.
The DST prepared No3 for hydraulic boiler testing, made further progress with Henry Ellison's lubrication and released more parts to allow Kathryn's boiler to be examined.
The S&T van revealed its new LED lighting system whilst the team enhanced its storage capabilities. The pot bellied stove gently provided warmth of the S&T team and I have run out of descriptive for a basic four wheeled van!
The Bubble Car, M55006, is coming along nicely with a great deal of the rotten areas of body being dealt with and it would seem that, with the aid of the Young Offenders Team, we can move on some of our waste oil to a better place.
The Booking Hall wrapped up the final financial contribution of the first Santa weekend and began ordering the commodities for the next adventure.
Another good day.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Progress Report Sunday the 11th of December 2011

Dear all,

Well, if yesterday was cold, today was wet in the deepest Peak District,
or at least that part of it which extended as far the North Pole. Santa
duly arrived having struggled with various challenges during the week
including stripping Derby of its entire tinsel supply, all the mulled
wine for miles around, and enough bags for presents to supply most of
western Europe. After a brief tussle with the chimney Santa plonked
himself down at the end of the Mess Room table and searched for his
Morrisons Bag. After some grunting and pulling, the Reindeer were also
extracted from the chimney and parked in the Pullman Buffet, where John
Allsop will be surprised to find them tomorrow morning. Down the line,
to the sound of ticking engines and the coughing of the heaters, the
North Pole Express pulled into North Pole, to the deep joy of all those
who could sing in tune, and to the considerable surprise of the
residents of Idridgehay who were wondering why the entire village
strangely smelled of mulled wine and why good King Wencleslas could be
heard on the radio when it was turned off.

Back at base, the carpet fitter arrived to lay the first class carpet in
railcar 51505, but the adhesive wasn't up to the job and the entire DMU
team were deeply disappointed not to get laid this weekend. The carpet
fitter has promised to return next week, having got over the shock of
having to lay a carpet in a train, and promised to bring the kind of
glue that we won't be able to get off without a hammer and chisel. The
Duty Conscript damply litter-picked his way up to Ravenstor; the class
119 began to receive attention to its interior window frames and the
main footgate was repaired. Meanwhile the Reindeer had escaped and were
eating Dan Smith's chips.

All the best,

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Progress Saturday 10th December 2011

Dear all,

A freezing cold day with lots of ice around this morning saw day one of our Santa Special days. There were many happy people seeing Santa in his new on board grotto. Santa has gone home for a short rest before another load of presents are delivered by Express Polecels in the morning for tomorrow's passengers.

Down the yard, the 8F group were in attendance and work progressed on the LMS Brake Van.

The DMU team worked on the cab desk in 51505 and bodyside repairs continued on 55006.

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 9 December 2011

Progress Friday 9th December 2011

Dear all
You may have noticed that I ascribed the 9th to yesterday's report and I have now aligned the temporal vortex such that today's date is correct.
Most of the energy has been applied to Santa Train preparation with more attention to the North Pole destination and continued work to ensure Duffield enters into the Christmas spirit. Supplies of the commodities to entertain our passengers were sourced by Angela and delivered to the train today. To get ahead of the game the Santa Train was fuelled and berthed ready for departure tomorrow. Tremendous effort falling on the few that concentrates minds on what we might achieve in 2012.
The Pullman Buffet Car saw the roof painting completed and the final application of black gloss on the west side to the bogies.
For those of you attending the Railway over the next three weekends please remember that the Santa Trains are the first priority no matter which department you work in and I echo Anton's comments that orange must not be seen other than "on track" essential work.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Progress Thursday 9th December 2011

Dear all
Another most unpleasant day with high winds and sharp downfalls of rain. Nonetheless, the strong character of the few kept the show on the road. The PWT multitasked by taking Duffield Christmas tree to site, managed to change a further 4 sleepers between Shottle and Duffield and return to base with a half load of logs. As there were only three of them this was quite an achievement. The VCT battled on with clearance near Barnsley Lane with the aid of one large fire that also consumed the redundant timber from the old raised platform at Idridgehay. Again, they were working in the worst of conditions and deserve special praise for this.
At base the Santa train received a great deal of attention to ensure it will work faultlessly during its starring role and it now boasts six working heaters which will be much appreciated by our guests.
Deep in the Maintenance Facility the Buffet Car had the east side of the roof undercoated, bogies painted and preparation for repairs to the lower body. On the adjacent track the Bubble Car had many repairs to its bodywork that is beginning to restore the vehicle to its former self.
I also need to mention the continued good efforts of the Filing Fairy last Tuesday reflecting great credit on Dawn who is not enjoying the best of health and, during my absence yesterday, the lone Carriage Cleaner gave my office a good do finding things that I had long forgotten! It all goes to show that there remain many unsung heroes amongst us that, collectively, make the whole enterprise work.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Progress Wednesday 7th December 2011

Dear all,

A raw day with many heavy showers, some with snow and hail, and a strong biting wind.

Today mainly involved preparation for the forthcoming Santa weekends. Several stations received more decorations and the Santa train itself saw a good clean, from the Lone Carriage Cleaner who for once was not lone - being joined by the odd member who would normally be doing permanent way work. The Booking Hall continued to process a good number of "late" bookings. Please note that tomorrow afternoon is the last time you can book for Santa trains this weekend. This is because it takes a long time for a booking to get to Lapland and the elves have to have time to prepare the presents before Santa departs for Derbyshire late Friday night in time for Saturdays specials!

In the engineerium, preparation work was done on the other side of the Pullman Buffet Car roof ready for it to receive some paint tomorrow. The bubblecar's body side repair work progressed as well, with sections at the bottom being attended to first.

Contractors Amey spent the morning concluding their work on the bridges of the Valley for the time being.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Progress Tuesday 6th December 2011

Dear all
A grim cold and wet start to the day caused the VCT to stop work after an hour or so and I thought I would have to report they achieved nothing at all for the first time in eleven years. However, some brave souls returned to their duty and continued to cleanse the Barnsley Lane area reporting one large fire that has certainly saved their reputation. Mike the Flail also visited Barnsley Lane to move a very large tree root and then went on to flail the area between Willow Crossing and Shottle to produce a sculptured hedgeline there.
The bridge inspections entered their penultimate day dealing with Barnsley Lane and Jebbs Lane together with a number of other locations accessed by van. My thanks go out again to Tom Tait who has hosted this vital activity.
The PWT deserve a special mention today as they achieved an heroic performance with just four of them. They emptied the Lowmac of "smalls", recovered "garden" quality sleepers from the former Gorsey Bank line and unloaded them to the stack in the Car Park. They then returned to load some 80 reusable sleepers onto the Sturgeon, which is quite a height from ground level, and deliver them back to Wirksworth. All this was hard manual work which would have reduced lesser men to jelly.
The DST investigated and started to remedy a fault with No3's regulator, continued piping up the lubricator of Henry Ellison and made progress in preparing Cathryn's boiler for lifting.
The LMSCA continued the sad task of stripping out the Third Open and progress was made at Idridgehay that will allow a power supply to Santa trains whilst berthed there.
The S&T van, gleaming in the watery sunshine during the mid-morning, had its stove christened and white smoke rose above the vehicle (Just like the Vatican). The underframe was pressure washed and looks as built but the interior lighting, flat screen TV etc. was set back by the incorrect parts being ordered. A further attempt will be made at these essential accoutrements as the week progresses.
The Booking Hall dealt with the quickening pace of Santa enquiries as well as achieving further decoration of the Santa train.
Not a bad day.
PS - there will be no PW activity tomorrow so if you can reschedule to Thursday it will be most helpful. Anyone who can help with station and train decorations tomorrow and Thursday will be made most welcome!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Progress Monday 5th December 2011

Dear all
Quite a shock to wake up to snow this morning but this didn't dampen the spirits of Amey who fielded a very large team to continue the examination of our over bridges. Their road/rail vehicle was again ably hosted by Tom Tait and the day shortened as they gradually move closer to Wirksworth.
Mike and Graham came in specially to perform specific shunting that transferred the Buffet Car from one side of the Maintenance Facility to the other so that the east side can receive attention and move M55006, the Bubble Car into its place for much needed bodywork repairs. The S&T van and Tim Oaks LMS brakevan have been removed into the fresh air with the first vehicle now being complete after a major makeover and the latter in a water tight condition. We emulate the Pullman Car Works at Preston Park setting new high standards of course!
The Booking Hall dealt with a range of enquiries including the relocation of a pigeon loft and LJB had the antifreeze treatment. Again all these activities took place in most inclement weather testing anyone's resolve in their hobby.
A couple of photos support another great leap forward.
PS John Snell attended a meeting of DVLCRP on our behalf which should result in a leaflet highlighting the two heritage railways served, an invitation to provide material for another display at St Pancras International and a review of the disabled access at Duffield (main line).

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Progress Report Sunday the 4th December 2011

Dear all,

I'm sure there's a Christmas song that goes "the weather outside was
shocking...", well, it was pretty shocking this afternoon and we got
quite wet. The DMU team spent the morning painting the interior cab of
unit 51505 a choice shade of maroon. At lunchtime, fortified by some
sausages, they went out and carried the Christmas Tree into the quad,
and spent rather a lot of time getting it up. After this herculean
effort they went back down the yard and sanded the first class seat
frames prior to painting, and these will presently grace the first class
compartment of unit 51505.

Also down the yard, or more accurately in the shed, the LMS brake van
received its felt roof and is now watertight, to the considerable joy of
all concerned. The Duty Conscript assisted the necessary routine
inspection of the yard sump and then assisted with the cleaning of the
Santa Train. I extend my most grateful thanks specifically to John and
Yvonne for the two days of huge effort which cleaning, preparing and
decorating the Santa Train has involved, not counting the packing of
presents which is taking place even as most of you read this report.

Now that we have reached the subject of Santa, the following further
notes are pertinent. Volunteers are required on Tuesday to fit out,
prepare and decorate the refreshment area of the Santa Train and
complete the decoration of Wirksworth Station which was unfortunately
interrupted by today's weather conditions. Volunteers are also required
on Wednesday to prepare and decorate Idridgehay Station. A tree has been
obtained for Duffield.

Finally, a note for staff who may be new to our railway this year and
who may not have seen Santa in action here. Passengers and guests pay a
significant amount of money for an enjoyable experience, an experience
which requires tremendous work and effort from us. Please note that
hi-vis clothing is confined to trackside activities and safety issues
only: please do not appear in the middle of any Santa activity on any
platform in hi-vis clothing at any time. Any non-Santa operating request
must be approved by the General Manager on Santa operating days.

All the best,

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Progress Saturday 3rd December 2011

Dear all,

A very chilly day in Wirksworth which saw the last of our Winter Timetable days for a while. Santa next week!

The passenger department spent the whole day decorating the North Pole Express for next week. The red bulbs in the grotto really finish it off!

Down the yard, the LMSCA were in attendance and work continued on the LMS brake van.

The DMU team rekindled memories of a few years ago as the Class 119 was rolled on to the pit for the restoration to commence. This vehicle was last touched 23 months ago, but last ran in 1993!

A good day,

Mike Evans

Friday, 2 December 2011

Progress Friday 2nd December 2011

Dear all
Another departure today as we rationalise our rolling stock. Santa's former accommodation, a BR standard brakevan, has left us to go to the Ribble Railway at Preston as he can now luxuriate in the warmth of a diesel multiple unit.
Dmu maintenance continued with 51505 being prepared for receipt of its new first class carpet tomorrow. I am sure the end product will be wonderful.
The Buffet Car has been varnished on the west side and front end ready for is movement on Monday so that work can start on the east side. The preparation work is quite involved as there are great areas of rust and deterioration to be dealt with before any paint is applied.
Anton visited Idridgehay with an ingenious pair of platform lights powered via a solar panel and battery as part of the preparations for the immanent Santa season.
Christmas trees were delivered to Wirksworth that will grace both Wirksworth and Duffield.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Progress Thursday 1st December 2011

Dear all
Today saw the conclusion of four exercises conducted for East Midlands Trains. These have not been broadcast via this medium before as the participants should not be aware of the plot beforehand! Basically East Midlands Trains have invested in training courses for their staff on how to deal with an emergency and how their customers will feel about the information or lack of it. The scenario was that the train had stopped suddenly and passengers needed to be detrained. The "incident" took place at Hazelwood each time and there was a degree of play acting to simulate the reaction of passengers and train crew. The EMT team were fulsome in their praise for our participation and today's activities were overlooked by Rail magazine. My thanks go out to our Railway train crews that participated each time and that no information leaked before the concluding event today. I am very pleased that these activities continue to cement relations with EMT.
At base the Buffet Car has had the top coat of Fing Umber Orient on the west side and, weather permitting, this will be varnished tomorrow. You will gasp in amazement when you see this vehicle.

The PWT, who have had a strange week, released Pan 11 chairs from sleepers on the former Gorsey Bank line and loaded then to the Sturgeon during the morning. In view of the EMT activities they were confined to Wirksworth Yard this afternoon and provided some most useful shunting of stock including the preparation of the Works Train for next week.
The Shark, a ballast plough fitted brakevan, departed for the Foxfield Railway after being declared surplus to our activities as the Komatsu can accomplish its work much more effectively. The VCT had a road borne day due to the EMT requirements but cleansed an area around Barnsley Lane with one very large fire reported.
I am most encouraged that the additional Christmas Eve Santa train gained its first 6 participants today and the Booking Hall uploaded web revisions to reflect the planned timetable and events for 2012. A look at the catering page, also revised, will see the Pullman brand coming to the fore. All great stuff!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Progress Wednesday 30th November 2011

Dear all
A return visit by Amey and their road/rail machine visited two bridges DJW4 and DJW6 ably hosted by Tom Tait and it is apparent that these inspections are most thorough that will mean the results will be interesting or quite frightening. Amongst the bridge exams the PWT conducted a full line track patrol including, this time, Ravenstor and the truncated Gorsey Bank line. No horrors were reported but steady routine maintenance to occupy the team for evermore.
The Buffet Car had more Fing Umber Orient gloss applied to the west side and there may be a further illustration of this tomorrow.
The S&T van received a cleansing and reorganisation of its interior and the new Idridgehay raised platform area was drawn to a conclusion. The other half of the permanent way team turned their attentions to despiking baseplates recovered from the former Gorsey Bank line and, after conclusion of the bridge examination work, were able to take the Works Train down the line to recover some 100 base plates and 24 reusable sleepers.
The lone Carriage Cleaner with an younger assistant was intent in making up for the hours lost last week through illness, an example to us all, and continued to achieve a makeover of the Mess Hall. Some of this activity transferred to several coats including mine! The Carriage Cleaner also managed to cleanse the Training Room and declare her willingness to assist with costume design and manufacture for the Santa season.
Leigh has published an expansion of the Santa programme following the acceptance of the key player jetting in on his most busy day of the year. I attach a photo of the headboard that will grace his trains splendidly constructed by Alan Taylor who has provided a wide variety of headboards to support our various activities.

Christmas Eve Santa Special

Dear all,

By popular demand, we are pleased to announce that an extra Santa Special train will run between Wirksworth and the "North Pole" on Christmas Eve 24th December 2011 at 11:15.

This can be booked online, alongside all of the other Santa Specials at .


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Supplemental Tuesday 29th November 2011

Dear all
Having pressed the send button I realised a grave omission! The PWT were in action recovering materials from the former Gorsey Bank line, again in the most miserable of weather, and loaded some 123 reusable sleepers and 250 base plates and chairs. Quite an achievement resulting in great dampness and well earned baths and tinctures tonight.

Progress Tuesday 29th November 2011

Dear all
Another day of excitement and a legion of activities. In the south Scott Wilson had been charged with inspecting the A6 bridge at Duffield (DJW1A) and were ably assisted by Chris and John who ensured the scaffolding was transferred to site from Chapel Lane, due protection put in place and the event derigged at the end of the day. Unusually this is the only bridge on the line owned by the Highways Agency happily releasing us from the responsibility for its maintenance. In the north Amey had been charged by Network Rail to commence a detailed inspection of all our other overbridges and two were dealt with today with the help of Tom Tait who looked after their every need. Today's photo is provided by Tom showing the road/rail machine and the Amey team clearing some ivy off the Wash Green bridge at Wirksworth.
In amongst all this vital work the VCT were able to head for the "racing straight" reporting the task of dealing with our neighbours activities nearing completion with one large fire to burn the brash. Mike the Flail concentrated his attentions to the area around Derby Road 3, or Old Lane bridge, until a burst hose brought events to a stand. The machine was returned to Hazelwood and the offending pipe repaired with not too much loss of hydraulic fluid.
The DST piped up the lubricator on Henry Ellison, removed the cladding from No3's boiler and loosened bolts on Kathryn declaring themselves content with the day's work.The S&T van entered its final phase and hopefully the paint will harden off before it is released into the wide world again.
A new hand wash was fitted to the staff toilet after the previous one developed terminal leaks and the Booking Hall brought its accounts up to date, continued planning for 2012 and developed another attractive ticket in response to encouraging on line sales of day rovers.
All this was done against of background of atrocious weather and it is a credit to everyone involved that they didn't just pack up and go home! A slight note of joy is that I have now had confirmation form the Department for Transport that we can use the brand name "Pullman".

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Progress Report Sunday the 27th October 2011

Dear all,

A bright morning saw us tidying up after yesterday's much applauded
Thames - Ecclesbourne Express, with a little gentle shunting to put
everything away. The Booking Hall dealt with a leisurely flow of
interested visitors and added a modest amount to the weekend's income,
for a Sunday. The station staff also inspected Ravenstor and the very
outlying parts of our empire, indeed as far as the waymarking on the
High Peak Trail.

The National Union of Railwayman (Wirksworth sub shed) held a meeting in
the Training Room during which the 2011 and 2012 timetables were
carefully compared side by side.

In the shed, work proceeded on the LMS brake van, and reached such a
pitch of endeavour that it may well be possible to get the roof felted
next week and hold a dance inside it. Also in the shed the back door was
attended to, and it is now possible to open and close the door without
getting a hernia. Outside the back of the shed, the Duty Conscripts
raked an area and built a path for ease of movement towards the Cemetary
Lane headshunt.

In railcar 51505, a Flange of Fitters engaged in the varnishing of
several parts, as well as clearing away assorted grunge and generally
tidying up in readiness for the laying of the first class carpet. In the
Mess Room, the painting of the interior proceeded apace, and its effect
can now be smelt throughout the site.

All the best,

The Thames-Ecclesbourne Express

Good morning,

This report should have come to you last night but I fell asleep in front of my laptop!

Arriving at Wirksworth Station at 06:30 to collect precisely 37 breakfast bags (not 36, not 38), courtesy of Leigh and Anton, I was gratified to see our two-car DMU waiting just to the north of the yard trap points.  The train had been prepared by Mike Evans (04:00 start from Ashby-de-la-Zouch) and Tom Tait (another silly start from Alfreton) and as it rolled into Platform 2, it was well-lit, warm and inviting.  While I loaded the breakfast bags, John Evans was busying himself with ensuring the windows were clear of condensation so our passengers could see out.

Departing precisely at 07:15 after I had checked my passenger lists (thanks again to Leigh), Richard Buckby acted as Third Man to open and close the crossing gates as we headed towards Idridgehay where our final three passengers boarded.

Arriving at Duffield was an extremely pleasant experience.  The first thing we all saw were three magnificent Midland Railway station lamps illuminating our platform.  Saved from the scrap man by Laurence Knighton and kindly donated to us earlier this year, the lamps were illuminated by David Newby had worked to a very tight timescale to install their heads with them being switched-on just the afternoon before!  Rodney Thorne had opened-up the station in preparation for our early arrival and Eric Boultbee was present on the platform to meet our transferring passengers.  Thanks to an on-time arrival, our passengers were able to savour the warmth of our train for around ten minutes before walking over to the main line.

On the bridge at Duffield, Michael Webb from East Midlands Trains greeted passengers and handed-out EMT ‘goodies’ to us all.  This was a very nice touch and it was also good to have some assistance with boarding on the presently shortened platform on the main line.  The London train arrived promptly at 08:07 and it’s worth remembering that EMT started this train at Chesterfield rather than Derby just for us.

The weather in London was excellent: around 12 Celsius (54 degrees in pounds, shillings and pence) clear skies and a moderate breeze and 37 passengers departed in different directions to enjoy the sights.  The Ferguson-Lee party visited the British Film Institute on the South Bank and the British Museum, with a splinter faction visiting Harrods and Liberty.  Pizza Hut and Starbucks managed to get in on the act too…

Back at St. Pancras, EMT’s front-of-house team allowed us to board the 18:25 before the madding crowd, thus ensuring that we all managed to find comfortable seats.  The journey was delightfully uneventful and an on-time arrival was achieved at Duffield where our return train was waiting on platform 3.

Greeting us were Rodney Thorne with torch to help passengers down the old Down Slow platform, Pat Lidgett (Driver), Chris Beale (Guard), the full-of-stamina John Evans and two new faces, Peter Chambers as trainee Third Man and Ben Hendley acting as ‘Trolly Dolly’ serving extremely welcome teas and coffees for the returning travellers.

Arriving at Wirksworth, the passengers dispersed merrily into the night, full of praise for the joint organisation of the EVR and EMT and after your correspondent returned home, more time was spent putting the train to bed and closing-up the station.

This was an extremely significant event for our railway.  Ten years ago, I recall the excruciating embarrassment of our then tiny team of volunteers being caught-out by the visit of a brass band to Wirksworth Station as part of the town’s Christmas celebrations.  A decade on, I have mentioned fifteen names in this email and I know that there are at least half a dozen more in the background, not to mention three or four people at East Midlands Trains who arranged special stops and even, as mentioned above, the early start of one of their London expresses from Chesterfield.

Importantly, the passenger complement was a mixture of our own people supporting the service and “civilians” who have no real interest in railway restoration but wanted to use our service for a day out in the capital without having to drive to Derby and find a parking space.  let’s hope there will be many more.

All in all, a great day and one acting as a pretty important indicator as to how our railway can grow in the future.

I have uploaded some images of the day here:

Kind regards and sincere thanks,


Neil Ferguson-Lee

WyvernRail plc

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Progress Saturday 26th November 2011

Dear all,

History was made today! We ran our first ever cross-platform excursion in conjunction with East Midlands Trains, taking an excited band of passengers from Wirksworth to Duffield where they changed for a specially stopped East Midlands Trains express service bound for London St. Pancras International. The Thames-Ecclesbourne Express departed Wirksworth in the twilight drizzle at 07:15 and rolled into London St. Pancras International bang on time at 10:07. Hopefully everybody had a great day out, even though, as I write, we are still awaiting their return trip to arrive from London. The second crew of the day are, right at this very moment, preparing to return to Duffield to collect them (after a large indulgence of home cooked food at the Red Lion up the road of course). Fingers-crossed that there will be many more of these in the future!

On top of this, our regular winter timetable ran with reasonable numbers and there was a very satisfied Day with a Driver guest. The on train trolley steward sold a few drinks and things, even if his products weren't quite as exciting as the breakfast bags prepared for the London passengers.

Down the yard, the LMSCA continued working on their various assortment of vehicles and the 8F group continued to tube the boiler of Henry Ellison.

The DMU team continued the refurbishment of 51505, cleaning and returning the luggage racks to the walls and putting up the light shades in the First Class area.

The Class 20 Association were in attendance working on D8001. At one point, a paint brush was spotted!

Back at Wirksworth Station, the passenger department began the daunting task of erecting this year's Christmas decorations. This is a thankless task which has grown considerably since last year with 3 stations and the Santa train to decorate this time. At Duffield, work continued on the repaint of the staff mess room to make it more presentable.

Quite a busy day actually, specially for November!

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 25 November 2011

Progress Friday 25th November 2011

Dear all
The Class 20 Association had a maintenance and training day for their own members and a refresher for our drivers. Opportunity was taken during the day to load the components for the new raised section for Idridgehay platform and deliver to site. A permanent way trolley required for a bridge inspection next week was delivered to Duffield making productive use of this exercise.
The lamp head project at Duffield moved forward leaving a little fine tuning outstanding for electrical connections. 51505 received much attention during the day and the Booking Hall prepared breakfast packs and information sheets for tomorrow's Thames-Ecclesbourne Express. I would like to record my gratitude to the trains crews that will work most unsocial hours at the beginning and end of the day to ensure this exercise is delivered with our customary efficiency.
The refurbishment of the Buffet Car moved forward again with a second coat of Lancastrian Cream applied to the west side and the first example of the gloss Fing Umber Orient being applied. A further taste of this vehicle is attached together with a sample of the delightful lamp tops at Duffield. Our thanks go out to Lawrence Kinighton who initially saved the lamp posts many, many years ago and very kindly donated them for use at Duffield.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Progress Thursday 24th November 2011

Dear all
Another most satisfactory day of endeavour with the VCT setting off first for a most productive day on the "racing straight" as they continue to cleanse the products of our neighbours tree felling activities. On the return back to Wirksworth they dealt with previous tree felling at 49 steps and declared themselves content with the day's activities which included the customary large fire.
The dmu team had a rewarding day as they serviced and fuelled all machines in service over the remaining parts of the year. They also washed the down "west" side of the three car unit and it  now sparkles, together with applying antifreeze to the toilet in the centre car so that we can be sure it is usable over the Santa Train season.
The PWT were somewhat hijacked into looking after potential customers this morning and achieving a great deal of shunting during the afternoon that included putting the remains of No3 back under cover and releasing D8001 for its working day tomorrow.
The Duffield lamp heads that had been the subject of restoration work by David Newby were fitted and it is reported that they look splendid. Their first task will be to illuminate the progress of passengers this Saturday who will enjoy the Thames-Ecclesbourne Express.
33035 received further attention from the Pioneer Diesel team as they work towards restoring its ability to supply Electric Train Heating. The Buffet Car had its first coat of Lancastrian Cream and a taster of how it will look is attached.
The Booking Hall continued to process Santa bookings and clocked up the first sale of the advance opportunity to buy a Day Rover ticket for 2012. I also received a welcome offer of help for the Santa Train programme.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Progress Wednesday 23rd November 2011

Dear all
Quite a significant day as we just achieved the 40% mark on Santa sales and I was pleased to receive one volunteer as a result of my comments yesterday.
Work continued on the new raised platform section for Idridgehay and Mike the Flail dealt with vegetation around the former erosion site and along the straight south of Hazelwood before a fluid leak brought matters to a halt. To be fair to our well used Komatsu this is the first failure for some time and fitters will attend tomorrow.
The PWT worked to the Thomas instructions to achieve 6 sleepers changed of the 18 specified between Shottle and Duffield and the remaining 12 have been dug out for ease of completing this task whilst the sun beats down on Hawaii.
It was good to see Mike Jacobs tending to 33035 and he reported that he had introduced "solvent into the generator". Not totally sure what this means but I will listen and learn when he returns on Friday.
John Allsop rubbed down the filler previously applied to the Buffet Car but was defeated by the weather conditions in his objective of applying the first Lancastrian Cream Gloss. He will try again tomorrow.
Our lone Carriage Cleaner reported in sick today and I am sure you will join me in wishing her a speedy recovery. After all she is the only person to accept this daunting challenge.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Progress Tuesday 22nd November 2011

Dear all
Lots of people clustered around the S&T van which one suspects was a more preferable occupation than sleeper changing. Nonetheless both teams made progress as the van now gleams from the loving attention given to it and the reduced PWT changed six sleepers on the straight south of Gorsey Bank alongside Bournebrook Avenue. It is fair to say the PWT were significantly delayed shunting No3 to a place where the water tank could be lifted that, as ever, involved moving a host of other vehicles out of the way.
The VCT returned to the "racing straight" to make further inroads to the tree felling  from our neighbours activities reporting one very large fire to consume the products of their endeavours.
The DST supervised the removal of No3's water tank and commencing servicing the various equipment on the locomotive as part of the annual maintenance programme. Henry Ellison enjoyed the manufacture of adaptors for the gauge glasses and completion of various pipe runs. Cathryn also benefited from further investigation into its condition including the loosening of the cylinder covers.
The LMSCA sheeted the remains of the Third Open after another potential repairer had surveyed the restoration required. The Filing Fairy had another productive day and the Filing Fairy's assistant operated the track recording gadget between the Station and Gorsey Bank. We await the results with interest.
The Booking Hall and Accounts Dept. were in full power as the cash from recent activities was dealt with and a new accounting system introduced for the current financial year.
Yesterday saw the small, but perfectly formed, dmu team repairing the guards door on 51360 and the three car unit had its braking system checked. The Bubble Car, 55006, now has a cab heater offering yet more luxury to our driving team.
The Santa season approaches and whilst this is a significant earner for most heritage railways we really have never achieved the volunteer support for our programme that gives certainty to market a season more aggressively. Bluebell's normal take from these activities is £200,000+ whereas we have barely topped £4000 in previous years. If there is anyone who reads this who would like to get involved please get in touch as what we offer will depend on who is prepared to participate. Please use the wirksworth_station@ to indicate whether you wish to be involved as we can't continue to try without the will to make it work.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Thames-Ecclesbourne Express

Dear all,

The Thames-Ecclesbourne Express is nearly up on us! If you would like to be part of this special first excursion, the first of what we hope to be many, then please ensure that you have booked before lunch time on Thursday as this is the last opportunity for us to process your booking in time for Saturday morning.

Bookings can be taken quickly and easily online ( and tickets will be made available for collection on the day as it is now too close to post reliably.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Progress Report Sunday the 20th of November 2011

Dear all,

A day of much fogness here in Wirksworth. Little groups of volunteers
pottered around looking for each other and trying to find the teabags in
the murk.

In the shed, the LMS brake van moved on apace with its roof receiving
new planking and this proved so satisfactory that there remains only a
modicum to be done over the next couple of weeks before it can emerge in
all its many complete and amazing parts.

The DMU team were engaged in a frenzy of trimming in unit 51505, but
this was temporarily held up because they only have some poor sad
worn-out wobbly tools. Fortunately, the Passenger Department came to the
rescue with some of its fine, carefully looked-after tools, which are
oiled and polished every day, so that the Passenger Departments' tools
can often be seen glowing in the dark. Thus equipped the DMU team was
able to complete their trimming, but now need a new chair.

A magistrate of conscripts plus our most capable cadets applied ash
ballast to the down side of line 1 where the point had recently been
renewed near Cemetary Lane bridge. The supply of ash is now exhausted
but a fine walkway now exists all along the down side of line 1, as the
opportunity was taken to clear the ballast shoulder of accumulated tat,
all the way to the LMSCA container.

The back shed door was repaired somewhat, though it needs adjusting, and
a start was made on the interior refresh of the Mess Room, which will be
mostly gloss white, so making it easier to clean.

Will Duty Managers please note the Gents is currently locked, the lock
being adverse to the application of the key. It will be attended to in a
very soon moment.

All the best,

New Stock List Available for Download

Dear all,

A new version of the stock list is available for download from the "Enthusiasts" section of the website. Notable changes at the moment include the removal of a brake van and the Shark.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Progress Saturday 19th November 2011

Dear all,

After a chilly start it was a glorious day in Wasserville with many groups going about their business. The passenger service ran as per the winter timetable and some more Santa bookings were taken. This was in between fixing a leak in the roof of the Platform 2 waiting shelter and applying paint to various things at Duffield.

Down towards the Engineerium, the LMSCA continued work to strip out the Third Open coach and the 8F group worked on tubing up the boiler for Henry Ellison. Work continued on the LMS Brake Van with parts of the roof sections receiving attention.

The DMU team split in two with half finally completing work on the centre car's heaters so that the visitors are warm for Santa, whilst the other half managed a first gloss on the ceiling in 51505.

Mike Evans via Leigh

Friday, 18 November 2011

Progress Friday 18th November 2011

Dear all
Dmu maintenance featured with the Bubble Car being readied for tomorrow's services and the heaters were replaced in the centre car of Santa's train. Interior work continued on 51505.
Two third of the Buffet Car roof has received its top coat and the Head of Gardening was in evidence in very fetching headwear.
The Booking Hall also prepared for the weekend ahead and dealt with more Santa enquiries.
I was pleased to receive the generous donation of a bottle of Chateau Chaumet Demi Sec in response to my appeal for something suitable to launch the restored S&T Van. "I name this van ??? and bless all who will toil in her"

Thursday, 17 November 2011

New Product in the Online Ticket Office

We are pleased to announce that you can purchase advanced Day Rover tickets for the 2012 season from the Online Ticket Office ( If you are stuck for Christmas ideas, these make perfect gifts!

Progress Thursday 17th November 2011

Dear all
Another most productive day where the VCT completed their fencing renewals at bridge DJW6 (Derby Road 4) and cleansed the area between Postern Lodge and Hazelwood of various rubbish and scrap. A three man team today as two members were at Broomfield College being introduced to the joys of chain saw operations.
The PWT set off for Shottle where some 13 tonnes of scrap rail was despatched for eventual use in China or India and then tackled the unloading of the Sturgeon and its 20 rails from the former Gorsey Bank line. An Oaks Grampus was returned to Wirksworth to eventually receive a spare set of wheels for the 8F project that will be shipped to Shottle for long term storage.
There was significant progress with the Buffet Car roof and application of a top coat, "Ash Grey", commenced to the S&T van which should be relaunched by a bottle of bubbly - we await your donation.
After receiving all the necessary components a start was made on the new raised platform for Idridgehay. The Booking Hall continued to receive Santa bookings and it is quite interesting to note that there is a 50/50 split between postal and personal bookings against the online opportunity. This is the first year that online bookings have been possible and I thank Leigh and Robin for making this all happen. We are already discussing what other products may be made available through this medium.
Not a bad day.
PS Dorothy has detected more knowledge concerning the whereabouts of Martin Bromley. He is temporarily residing in the Marlstones Day Centre, Aldgate Close, off Rock Street, Bulwell, Nottingham, NG6 8UQ. Tel: 0115 927 0629. Anyone who can visit would be welcome as Martin's family seem to live quite a long way away.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Progress Wednesday 16th November 2011

Dear all,
Another day of great endeavour as the PWT divided into two parts the first of which dealt with the routine, but very necessary, track patrol coping with the whole line from Duffield to Wirksworth with the exception of the section from Callow Park to Wirksworth which will dealt with on another day. The other part of the team made a further five cuts in the formerly long welded section and fishplated them up. Good work from both teams that strides towards the obligations given to our Regulators.
The lone carriage cleaner attacked the "Bubble Car", Training Room and my sub standard doorway with her customary attention to detail. It was good to see Jane Brownson who had produced and published a book on Duffield's pubs then and now. This is a pleasant and informative read with availability in the Booking Hall at £3.50.
Mike the Flail concentrated on an area between Idridgehay Station and Old Lane bridge with the customary tidy end product and progress on the Buffet Car roof was most satisfactory. The S&T van has had a full undercoat applied and will be a great credit to the team involved when the gloss is applied. We had an afternoon Oaks who took delivery of more timber for his Brakevan restoration.
The LMSCA continued with their BTO project and some progress was made with the steam engine shed extension.
The Booking Hall caught up with the Santa and Thames-Ecclesbourne Express bookings and I am pleased to report that Santa has now passed 30% of the target revenue. After receiving 200 sleepers for the Wirksworth to Idridgehay section we need every penny we can generate. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Progress Tuesday 15th November 2011

Dear all
Another day with an amazing amount of activity at a time of year when normal folk are preparing for hibernation. The PWT collected 20 rails from the former Gorsey Bank line and restored the Hannages foot crossing to a single line. Numerous fittings were also recovered from unserviceable sleepers and brought back to base for safe keeping.
The VCT finalised their clearance north of Postern Lodge and made a significant impact on the fencing near bridge DJW6. Three fires kept the team of five warm through the day.
The DST worked on all three steam engines today with the tank on No3 being unbolted as it will have to be removed for winter boiler repairs. The mechanical lubricator on Henry Ellison together with its brake gear received attention as contractors dealt with the foundation ring. Kathryn also received attention as the smoke box was cleaned out after goodness knows how many years and research was done into how to access its mechanical stoking apparatus.
We welcomed back the Filing Fairy after a couple of weeks illness and Fred & Iris gave the Mess Hall their traditional weekly cleansing. The LMSCA continued their efforts with the Brake Third Open and further strides were made with the Buffet Car. Anti corrosive treatment was applied to the centre line of the roof and the south end was sanded and filled.
Three cheers to the EVRA contingent that fitted the new Car Park gate enhancing the security of the Wirksworth site.
We welcomed the second visit of the Clay Mills Pumping Station team to whom we have donated the three capstans that lurk at the north end of the former Dust Dock. After much effort they have released two of the three. These artefacts could not be illustrated to our visitors and it seems appropriate they go to a good home where the principle can be shown off to visitors.
The LMSCA have placed wood under the Mark 1 BSK to dry out that has originated from the fire damaged Third Open and this should not be construed as lighting up wood!
In a tentative move I invited a farm steel erector to price up the costs associated with extending and widening the present Maintenance Facility together with the associated ground works and cladding. This will give us a guide price to create a large secure area on site. You may be assured that a begging letter will follow once these costs have crystallised!
PS - Some of you will have seen the consequences of a runaway on the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway. Not a pretty sight but a reminder that our whole Railway is on a gradient including the visually level Wirksworth Yard. It reminds you that care has to be taken in all areas of our activities and inattention to this can bite quite hard.

Friday, 11 November 2011

New Year Trains and Fizz

Dear all,

We are kicking off 2012 with festive trains running on New Years Day. Passengers can enjoy a gentle excursion down the Ecclesbourne Valley with a service of Bucks Fizz and a mince pie. Children get orange juice and a mince pie instead.

Tickets are priced at the usual fares (£10.00 adult, £9.00 concession, £5.00 child, £25.00 family) and are valid for one return journey of your choice.

For the first time, we are pleased to announce that you can pre-book your tickets online by visiting our online ticket office ( Pre-booking can only be done online and not by post or telephone for this event but tickets are available on the day regardless. Online pre-booked tickets will not be posted, they will be available for collection on the day.

So join us for a beautiful ride down the valley this New Year and start 2012 in style!

Progress Friday 11th November 2011

Dear all
A dank, grey day but there was a warm, Wirksworth welcome for our Group Drive a Diesel Day guests who were most ably hosted by Lewis and Richard. During the morning there was an opportunity to put LJB through its paces with some productive shunting. Additional the participants had the chance to drive LJB up and down the Incline. It is satisfying to report that the loco behaved faultlessly suggesting that the niggling intermittent fault has finally been cured. Angela provided the lunches and the team then joined the Bubble Car for the afternoon session.
There was more good progress with the refurbishment of the Buffet Car with the front end being sanded down and more filler being applied to the doors that normally open as the entrance to the vehicle. A glimpse of the west side will give a clue to the eventual end product.
The Tool Van has been resecured with an heavy duty lock and further modifications will be added next week to allow the vehicle to be safely stabled at Shottle when necessary. Steel plate was delivered for the new raised platform at Idridgehay.
PS Some news has been received of the whereabouts of Martin Bromley who had disappeared off the radar. He has spend some time in hospital with an ulcerated leg and is now in a care home for a few weeks before returning home. Two friends are assisting with Martin's affairs as some renovation of his house is necessary. I have passed on our best wishes and anyone who wishes to enquire about Martin's progress can contact Gavin Lake on 07970 282 611 for an update.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Progress Thursday 10th November 2011

Dear all
Another most productive day which started out damp and miserable and lost the damp through the day. The Buffet Car exterior refurbishment is proceeding at lighting speed with undercoat being applied today that gives a clue to its eventual appearance.
A four man VCT team achieved a number of significant jobs where they have closed off the cattle access at F4. These courageous beasts have travelled most of the south end of the line and, hopefully, we have eliminated their escape route. Some damage to the fence in the area of MP 134 has been patched and the sight lines at F7 improved. The fencing work at Travis Folly has been completed and one fire dealt with the resultant brash. This team continues to make a most valuable contribution to our enterprise.
The PWT coped with the long journey to and from Shottle with our stalwart Faraday. The end result was some 12 tonnes of scrap rail is now ready for collection which will go some way to pay for the 200 sleepers ordered for the Wirksworth to Idridgehay section and are scheduled for delivery next week.
The S&T van had paint applied but the anticipated grey paint delivery turned out to be blue. The LMSCA continued with their BTO project and our finest mechanical engineers believe they have bottomed the problems with LJB. We intend to use the loco intensively tomorrow to verify that the problem is finally resolved.
The Booking Hall continued to service Santa bookings and we are gently approaching 30% of the target revenue.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Progress Wednesday 9th November 2011

Dear all
Another day of intense activity with spectacular progress being made on the exterior refurbishment of the Buffet Car. The S&T van also has moved significantly forward with yesterday and today preparing the vehicle for repainting so it will make a startling contribution to the presentation of the Works Train.
Much action also with the Stanier BTO reflecting the determination of this team to overcome their previous setbacks. The PWT, with Faraday as motive power, set off for the lengthy journey to Shottle where more scrap rail was cut for disposal and a further three cuts made in the former long welded section as we work towards the first stage of cutting it into 240ft lengths.
Mike the Flail set off for more vegetation control south of Shottle with another solid day of progress. The boiler of Henry Ellison had a riveting day with the foundation ring receiving the attentions of Israel Newton.
The Booking Hall had quite a selection of Santa and Thames-Ecclesbourne Express bookings to process making the goals set for these two products gradually coming into focus.
In the errors and omissions section I did forget to mention that Dorothy had a sense of occasion for our eleventh anniversary by providing cake for all active volunteers yesterday.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Progress Tuesday 8th November 2011

Dear all,
A day where there were 50+ volunteers on our extended site which is not at all bad for a damp, miserable Tuesday in November.
The VCT mustered some seven participants that tackled the fencing north of Postern Lodge on the Up (East) side between the crossing and the bridge over the brook. There is only 10 yards to go before this valuable work is completed and two large fires dealt with the resultant brash and redundant fence materials.
The PWT pressed Faraday back into service to descend on Shottle to identify and cut scrap rail with further work to release important components from the life expired pointwork stored there. We hope that the financial result of this exercise will allow the purchase of more sleepers for the Wirksworth to Idridgehay section. Colonel Stephens would be proud!
At Wirksworth the DST dismantled the ash pan and firebox stays of No3 as part of the winterising process. They most helpfully released Cathryn for movement to allow the Buffet Car to progress more comfortably into the Maintenance Facility where work has commenced on its exterior transformation.
The LMSCA had their BTO (Brake Third Open) moved to the Weighbridge so that welding of vital parts can be accomplished. This quite involved shunt used LJB which had further repairs but expired at the end of the day causing much head scratching and a renewed attack on Thursday.
The Car park gate was removed and collapsed during the process. We received it by accident from a renewal of the Hull - Doncaster line some years ago and had reached its terminal stage with us. A rather conventional farm gate will be put in its place.
The Thames - Ecclesbourne Express received further two enthusiastic customers awaiting the Ecclesbourne-Seine Express which is promised for 2012 with, perhaps, the Ecclesboune-Rhine Express in 2013?
Quite a day!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Progress Report Sunday the 6th of November 2011

Dear all,

A delightfully sunny, though slightly chilly day here at our favourite
railway. Although there was no timetabled passenger service, a charter
nevertheless left Wirksworth at 2pm bearing Mrs Fischer and her party,
and this rumbled gently down to Duffield and rumbled gently back
accompanied by Chief Steward Lidgett on the trolley. At Duffield a
meeting of the Passenger Department took place, along with a delivery of
paint for the Mess Room. The final clearing of the former Booking Hall
was undertaken, ready for its conversion to quality toilets, the plans
of which are even now in my drawers.

Meanwhile at Wirksworth, the LMSCA continued clearing the Third Open and
applied some paint to its exposed parts. Down the yard the Steam Team
cleared a lot of silt from Ferrybridge No 3 and gave it a good washing
with a large hose. Nearby a magistrate of conscripts cleared the
carriage area walking route of accumulated debris, filed it in the
appropriate places and then raked the ground free of small rubbish. The
LMS brake van continued to receive its cladding and the LMS plate wagon
also received attention.

Across the yard, the sound of Fanny's doors being swung open indicated
the presence of the DMU team, who have removed a set of second class
seats from unit 51505, as part of its renovation, and have cleaned the
Formica in the front compartment, ready for the unit to receive a
charming group of first class seats. If anyone has about 4 x 3 metres of
carpet, it is hoped to carpet the first class area (please speak to
Leigh initially if you have something that might be a possibility,
naturally there are colour and other issues).

While on the subject of palatial facilities, the roof of the Training
Room was inspected with a fine tooth comb and a vat of heavy duty
bitumen paint was applied following the evacuation of enough standing
water on its roof to float a boat. This appears, on the face of it, to
have done the trick and the Cafe du Palais will be open for business
again next Saturday for the services of teas, coffees and light
refreshments, hopefully without the squelching.

All the best,