Monday, 30 November 2015

Progress Report Monday 30th November 2015

Hi all,

And here is today's weather forecast:

0940 - heavy rain
Well as much as possible done again despite all the water that was
thrown at us.
1040 - heavy rain
John B was in arithmetic mood again but today had additional help from
the wall heater to prop up his writing desk. Having finished and walked
to site earlier, I volunteered to run John back to his warm abode in
town, to which he gratefully agreed.
1140 - heavy rain
It was much too slippery underfoot for any 'Komatsu' races today so Mike
B attended to the cab heating system which required a new thermostat as
the present one is diverting all the hot water elsewhere than via the
cab heater! Our local supplier could not furnish him with a suitable
model unfortunately. Therefore copious amounts of antifreeze were
applied to relevant places, so that the heater, when working again,
doesn't freeze up.
1240 - heavy rain
Mick K and the VCT team went to Duffield first (where earlier it wasn't
raining apparently!) to collect some donated timber. Successfully loaded
this was delivered safely into store at a secret location. They then
travelled to Wirksworth to load some 'sheep netting' so that we can
refrain more sheep from trespassing. The fence at Jebbs Lane was
reported to be in very fine fettle again after reconstruction by
contractors. VCT will allow them to come again if they wish.
1340 - heavy rain
High water mark of the day was a visit by prospective purchasers of the
class 31. Tim, Chris and Joe duly started up and demonstrated the loco
around the yard and incline to its full potential. I will personally be
sorry to see this leave, hopefully to a place where it can be
rejuvenated once more.
1440 - heavy rain
I survived by keeping myself out of the rain in our workshop
reconstructing more of the BSK window frames. For those of a technical
nature 2BA, 4BA, 3/16W etc.
1540 - heavy rain
Dan completed a much needed task by cleaning up the back of the
maintenance facility. This work provides much needed additional space
during the frenetic winter maintenance period. This is when we get
larger jobs done on a variety of operational vehicles as well as
providing additional space for planned new motive power resources. Some
heavyweight tasks were involved here but Dan as usual retired the winner.
1640 - heavy rain
Cup of hot tea
1740 - bxxxxx this I'm off home!


Derek M

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Progress Report Saturday 28th November 2015

The magic of Christmas lights helped make Wirksworth station a festive delight despite the atrocious weather that descended upon Derbyshire's favourite branch line. We welcomed visitors from as far away as Southport, Liverpool and Northampton with Iris near to capacity on the last run of the day. Down the yard the Chief DMU elf could be found repairing the leaking roof of 57505. The rest of the DMU elves finalised the work on Santa's train including the toilet leak and checking heater functionality together with all water and fuel tanks filled. Santa's Helpers John and Julie could be found having a ball finishing the Christmas decorations in the North Pole Express and ensuring all the carriage floors are 'spick & span'.

Our catering team too were in festive mood putting the final touches to their gleeful Christmas trimmings in the Pullman Buffet and modifying our menus to provide increased gluten free choices. The lone LMSCA Elf focussed with great determination on essential duties, tidying up around 'Cathryn' and a Merry Tim Oakes could be located gainfully employed in his stores van. A group of volunteers was found sheltering from the rain in the booking office reflecting upon this year's successes as the final service train of 2015 pulled into Wirksworth Station.

Finally, my thanks must go to today's train crew who ensured all our guests were well looked after and our trains ran to time despite the inclement weather.

Compliments of the Season,


Friday, 27 November 2015

Progress Friday 27th November 2015

Dear all,

We were getting into the Christmas spirit today as the 14 foot tall real Wirksworth Christmas tree was man handled into position and decorated. This taskette is not to be under estimated as it took most of the day. Also decorated was the Santa train itself once it arrived from the engineerium, the Pullman and coaches, platform shelter and interior of the Booking Office. We have a newly donated tree in the Booking Office which looks great although I haven't come across one which takes 6 plug sockets up before… Many thanks to all who helped with this decoratathon.

There was only a small number of other people on site, with the Mark 1 chaps continuing with the BSK work.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Progress Tuesday/Wednesday 24th and 25th November 2015

Hi all
Tuesday saw our last weekday service until early February, which was easily handled by IRIS
The main activity of the last two days has been the PWay team who completed turning the upside rails at bridge 11 and changing rails in platform 1
The steam team split themselves into two teams, one preparing Brian Harrison for a repaint and the other fixing the brake hanger brackets to the mainframe and cleaning the second piston cylinder
Wednesday saw the cleaning of the Santa Train which this year sees the  three car green Met Camm in action
all for now
Mike Evans


Progress Thursday 26th November 2015

Dear all

Reasonably mild for the time of year allowing the PW team to complete the rail changing exercise in Wirksworth Platform 1. The Santa train can now be parked up there!

The DMU team did a bit of a shunt to shuffle things round in the yard and the Mark 1 team continued working on the BSK.

The admin teams were in full flow too.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Progress Report 23rd November 2015

Evening all,

Monday comes around once again and sure enough loads of people turn up
at Wirksworth. Where were the rest of you, not shopping I hope?

At the break of dawn, the ARC lads were heard making spade and ballast
shuffling noises from the region of the narrow gauge.

Long standing customers (they didn't stand for very long as it was too
cold) arrived early and in Joe's capable hands resumed much testing for
the '1530'. However, with satisfaction assured it was all over by 1330!

John B was at his arithmetic best with the signing on sheets and was
doing well adding up the list of hours producing a total voluntary
effort. Until that is some idiot came in and asked him if he wanted a
cup of tea, whence he forgot his total and had to start all over again -
er sorry John.

Now that John S restored the telephone in the mess room many calls were
answered. Amongst those included requests for the General Manager, Santa
train tickets and sales of disability magazines. One lady from
Manchester sounded quite chatty and offered me a meal no less. However
she immediately cut me off when I told her that I was the wrong person
to talk to, how rude.

The VCT had a Wirksworth day today as their Landrover sprung an oil
leak. Whilst this and an errant oil switch were being fixed, the group
set to and cleared up much vegetation to the rear of the maintenance
shed. All being well, they were later observed on their happy way back
to base at Hazelwood.

Meanwhile not far away was our own intrepid Mike Billings charging up
and down the incline on his steed (Komatsu) annihilating all undergrowth
which did not have the general manager's authority to be there.

Earlier today in the Pullman TSO, EVRA trustees were present for their
latest trustees' meeting. The meeting was reported to have been a
complete success, with no blood spilt on the carpets.

Martin M visited to meet a customer with a booking for January in mind.
He was later observed at rest in the office, with a large smile on his

Dan started the sign writing on the Grampus wagon and despite the Arctic
cold managed to finish the number and tare weight sections. Seriously
now folks, may we request that no one take any photos of this please as
Dan would prefer to publicise it when all the sign writing is completed.
Thank you.

Me, while all this was going on, I was trying to keep warm in our well
insulated, therefore absolutely freezing container despite a slight rise
in temperature outside. An essential but boring task sorting through and
identifying the many fasteners and seals required to reconstruct the
four window frames for the BSK. I'm still thawing out lol.

All in all another productive and worthwhile day at the headquarters.


Derek M

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Hi all
The mess room was connected to water and electricity today and it  seems a much lighter building now one side  is not against a wall
Wirksworth was very quite with the PWay team down at Bridge 11 between Idridgehay and Shottle cutting rails ready for turning tomorrow
The booking Office started to receive more Santa bookings and the LMSCA were cleaning the removed BSK windows 
All for now
Mike Evans 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Progress Tuesday 17th November 2015

Hi all
There were some lost souls this morning wondering where to sign on duty due to the mess room being relocated next to the training room. The Pway team spread stone on the entrance to avoid mud being taken inside and began connecting services
The persistent drizzle made working outside miserable but the DST made headways with Kathryn inside the Maintenance facility replacing cylinder covers, assembling reversing gear and continuing with the axle boxes
Both CIS keys on Iris were replaced by Ben before todays service and the DMU duo completed a fuel point exam on newly out shopped Met Cam 50253
All for now
Mike Evans

Supplementary Tuesday 17th November 2015

Dear all
Hat's off to everyone who successfully moved the Mess Hall to its new location allowing the new Booking Hall to be exposed to daylight. The Permanent Way Team were involved in the finishing work to allow the Mess Hall to be accessed and connected to the services. Not exciting photographs but a significant event which will result in a much more presentable station frontage and, much more importantly, allow Fred and Iris to resume their cleansing routine.
PS - Jack London Square, Oakland, in California resembles the Weymouth Quay tramway on steroids. 4 tracks down the town's main street with a constant procession of freight and passenger trains - wonderful! - a very brief look in January 1998 - where does the time go?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Progress Report Monday 16th November 2015

Hello there,

Mondays are quiet, soothing days at Wirksworth, not much ever happens.
At least the weather was kind to us, unlike last week.

So -

VCT were again at large, first job was to check all line for possible
storm damage, here there was nothing to report, which is good! Then back
to Jebbs Lane to finish off last weeks fencing, necessary because of its
removal for structure inspections. However the contractors said they
would renew the fencing so that which had been done temporarily was
removed and cleared. Thank you contractors. A one fire day.

Mike Billings was also riding his trusty steed 'Komatsu' and managed to
flail from Rowlands Crossing to Derby Road bridge, BOTH sides, that's
about half a mile in total. Weeds you have been warned, beware of this man!

Tony Watts went to Duffield, but I have no further info' here. But I'm
sure it would have been for good reason.

Dan adjusted the brakes and painted more of the Grampus and then later
started removing more ceilings in the BSK.

Kevin came over from the other side of the hill and continued
refurbishing the BSK's steam heaters.

Rodney was painting at Duffield too as well as drilling 12inch holes in
concrete - don't ask

John B was rescued early from his static position near the quadrangle
and moved to the warmth of the mess room where he attended to the
arithmetic duties associated with the signing in book.

The ARC lads were out and about knocking four bells out of and shouting
at some ballast up the yard.

And me? After the BTK door fell off, I had to mend and oil it ( I
actually employed ''). Success, now tomorrow's
contingent can continue with their BTK tasks undisturbed.

So you see, as I said, nothing much happens on a Monday does it? Do you
want to come along to increase the workforce on Monday then?


Derek M

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Progress Report Saturday 14th November 2015

Some miserable weather descended upon the Ecclesbourne Valley today but it did not deter a surprising number of passengers who still chose to travel on our railway. The train crew coped admirably in the conditions ensuring our passengers were warm and dry and enjoyed their visit.

Down the yard Tim Oakes et al attended to fitting new doors on their supply coach. The LMSCA continued with the glass cleaning in the BSK. The DMU team split into three groups. The first group fitted a new heater to 50170 to help ensure our Santa train is nice and warm. Team two could be found working under the Pullman Buffet fitting replacement batteries to the second class to help guarantee that its only the Christmas Tree lights this year that will be twinkling in the Buffet. Finally Iris's electrical fault received some vital attention.

Interestingly our railway is described as a Derbyshire tourist attraction 'not to be missed' in a feature in the Daily Express and I attached a link to the full article. Its great to see all our hard work being acknowledged in this way.

All the best,


Friday, 13 November 2015

Progress Friday 13th November 2015

Dear all,

A voodoo for some, Friday 13th passed without drama. Nathan did another splendid job painting in the new Booking Office and the rest of the foremen began hanging the fire door at the back. Others worked on preparing the mess room for moving, including taking down the flagpole.

We hosted more volunteers from the Poulton and Wyre Railway to do another driver experience day and they were particularly complementary about the soup served in the buffet at lunch.

Dan painted his wagon wheels and Derek continued with the BSK.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Progress Thursday 12th November 2015

Dear all,

Still unseasonably mild and for the large part it was actually sunny. This enabled some wood treatment work to be done on the fence which lines Platform 1, instantly improving the vista. Work began on preparing the actual mess room cabin for moving shortly. The groundwork, water and power supplies etc have already been dealt with for the new location and with the move looming, a start was made on removing the boards at the bottom of the metal cabin. These boards are mostly decorative although they do have the added bonus of stopping the wind howling underneath helping to keep it warm.

Derek was rejoicing at finally taking the last 2BA screw out of the aluminium window frames from the BSK. These are all being cleaned up and generally overhauled so you won't recognise them once they're finished. Similarly, the wagon which Dan has been refurbishing is nearing completion with some black paint being applied.

The DMU team focussed on the Santa set, trying to make sure everything is good for the forthcoming festive period. The set could cover 486 miles prior to Christmas. That should help 'run in' 50253 which hasn't long been in traffic! Speaking of Christmas, Rodney reported digging the new Christmas Tree hole in the lawn at Duffield. Things you have to do to make sure the tree is properly upright...

The PWT have pretty well sorted out the new cant on the Wash Green headshunt. Another string to the bow!

The administrative departments continued to administer whatever needed to be administered, although of course, the most important thing to make sure is properly administered on a Thursday is the chip order.


Supplementary Thursday 12th November 2015

Dear all
Whilst taking a new potential customer around Wirksworth there was time to view the progress the Permanent Way Team were making with the extension of the Gorsey Bank siding to meet the demands of our test customers. A really spendid job to achieve the desired 200mm cant requested.
PS - a little more of the unusual track geomentary in Lisbon -

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Fwd: Progress Tuesday/Wednesday November 10th and 11th 2015

-----Original Message-----
From: mrailcar <>
To: wirksworth_station <>
Sent: Wed, 11 Nov 2015 19:31
Subject: Progress Tuesday/Wednesday November 10th and 11th 2015

Hi all
The warm temperatures and dry weather have certainly assisted the PWay team to jack and pack the Gorsy Bank cant extension.
Today Martin hosted a group from the Wensleydale Railway who were interested in the construction of our wooden platform extension
The DMU group completed an FP exam on Iris and our Santa Grotto railcar 50170 ensuring the heater worked.
With only three weeks to go to the first Santa train the group once again find themselves working to a timetable  
No other Heritage Railway uses railcars for Santa Trains but we have managed to use them to our financial advantage 
Network Rail have employed a vegetation clearance company to remove vegetation from all our bridges and culverts to enable engineers to examine them. This should be completed over the next couple of days
All for now
Mike Evans


Progress Tuesday/Wednesday November 10th and 11th 2015

Hi all
The warm temperatures and dry weather have certainly assisted the PWay team to jack and pack the Gorsy Bank cant extension.
Today Martin hosted a group from the Wensleydale Railway who were interested in the construction of our wooden platform extension
The DMU group completed an FP exam on Iris and our Santa Grotto railcar 50170 ensuring the heater worked.
With only three weeks to go to the first Santa train the group once again find themselves working to a timetable  
No other Heritage Railway uses railcars for Santa Trains but we have managed to use them to our financial advantage 
Network Rail have employed a vegetation clearance company to remove vegetation from all our bridges and culverts to enable engineers to examine them. This should be completed over the next couple of days
All for now
Mike Evans


Supplementary No 1 Wednesday 10th November 2015

Dear all
It was most pleasant to welcome a working group from the Wensleydale Railway who wished to understand how we constructed the wooden platform extensions at Wirksworth and Duffield. They looked at Wirksworth and Duffield and met Mick Thomas who had masterminded the work. The Permanent Way Team were at work creating the new work that will accommodate a new requirement for canted track for our test customers.
The photos show our guests with Mick explaining the planning and implementation of our structures.
PS - very much off topic is a look at San Fancisco's cable cars where I ticked off one of my "bucket list" objectives. The time is January 1998 and as we boarded the flight on 1st January it was announced that California had gone no smoking that day. Even a visit to Alcatraz was greeted "this is a no smoking island"! Happily for an addict it was not enforced with any enthusiasm.

Supplementary No2 Wednesday 10th November 2015

Dear all
I forgot to say one of the Wensleydale team was an enthusiastic follower of our blog posts and knew a lot about our enterprise from these views. The reason for this additional post is the delightful work achieved by Dan on one of our GRAMPUS wagons. The wagon fleet often looks quite neglected and it is most pleasing to see a vehicle receiving some well deserved tlc.
So many thanks to Dan and I am sure you will endorse praise for his ministrations on this now elegant vehicle.
PS - just so as you have something to look at there is a return to Belper where I had a little time waiting for Specsavers to mend a pair of glasses!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Progress Report 9th November 2015

It definitely wasn't raining when I left home, but at 0920 Wirksworth
time it was raining, and hard.

Lots of progress today all the same.

Mike Billings had a full tank of fuel and the PWT (thanks) had fixed the
flail onto the Komatsu so off he went happy, flailing from 49 steps to
Rowlands Crossing in the rain, not venturing out of the cab even for
lunch! BTW it took Mike 2 hours to get back in the afternoon. Such was
the adhesion available.

VCT toiled around Jebbs Lane at the cattle creep replacing a fence
required after hedge clearance. Half done, the rest on a dry day
hopefully! They managed to dry out later by having a small fire beneath
the bridge!

By 1130 it was raining buckets.

Dan abandoned the Grampus wagon and kept busy getting ready for BSK
welding work also tidying up more of our working site and ridding us of
more scrap.

MRX Technology ventured out of the office after lunch to test their
'walking stick' between Wirksworth and Gorsey Bank. Only for about 20
minutes though as the rain persisted whilst they were doing so.

By 1430 the Wirksworth Northern Lake filled up nicely and it continued
to rain just in case some of it might drain away!

I continued working on and cleaning the BSK window frames, carrying
buckets of water (what else!) from the mess room.

Tony Watt abandoned his trip to Shottle for one to Idrigehay instead,
river bank erosion investigation apparently. So Tony goes to site,
pre-drenched, only to stand in the river, well done mate!

I think John was the only member of staff to remain warm and dry today,
but never the less keeping an eye on all comers from the safety of the
booking hall.

Only by 1630 it had actually stopped raining as the grey clouds were by
then empty. Not a damp squib of a day at all really, more progress
despite the weather man's inaccuracies. Atishoo!


Derek M

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Progress Sunday 8th November 2015

Dear all,

A miserable wet and windy November day with 7 or 8 volunteers on site only.

The primary areas of activity was with the DMU team with Iris receiving an A exam yesterday and today to ensure that is fit for service. Another portion of the team began looking at the 119. There's a couple of issues that need addressing. Firstly there is a leak at the front which has required a certain amount of interior panelling to be stripped out to find and secondly an electrical fault which reared its head a few weeks ago. Nothing disabling, just irritating.

Derek continued with the BSK window frames and Dan nears completion of the wagon refurbishment.


Saturday, 7 November 2015

Progress Report Saturday 7th November 2015

Today was the first Saturday of the winter timetable and we still attracted a fair number of visitors despite the early inclement weather. The Commercial Department were in go mode today meeting representatives of Derbyshire's Children's Holiday Centre to assist in planning a number of events here to celebrate the Charity's 125th Anniversary. Also meeting today was the railway's Association who held their annual general meeting at a well known local hostelry. 

Down the yard the LMSCA continued their work on third open and the Duke's restoration was also attended to. The DMU team had a busy time with electrical problems being the theme of the day. The centre car's dynamo was successfully tested in preparation for our Santa trains and the EVR's very own 'Red Adair' AKA 'Ollie' sprang into rescue mode to diagnose and rectify the electrical fault with the lights in the Pullman Buffet's second open carriage much to the relief of our Catering Manager.

Today's photos are of the Royal Class 119's new commemorative plaque fitted today.

All the best,


The Denby Dawdler

Dear all
A delightful contribution from Bob Gibbens showing the Denby Dawdler on the Denby and Wirksworth branches including view from the leading cab. Quite a revelation with our Railway looking very bleak and unloved. Wirksworth branch starts around minute 32.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Progress Friday 6th November 2015

Dear all,

A wet and miserable but mild November day was perfect for further painting progress in the new Wirksworth Booking Office. The brown beams were done first, followed by the wooden wall which was sanded down yesterday.

Whilst all this was going on, John and Richard ably hosted a Bronze Drive a Diesel Day with the royal DMU featuring in the morning followed by actually making history in the afternoon. It was the first time a Class 25 with it's distinctive Sulzer tones could be seen (and heard) between Wirksworth and Duffield since BR days.

Work continued on the BSK with more window and electrical work taking place.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Progress Tuesday/Wednesday 3rd and 4th November 2015

Hi all
This week is the start of the winter timetable where we only run three service trains on Tuesdays and Saturdays
Today we hosted Story Contracting who used our test track facilities to get the necessary certificate to work on network Rail metals. The greasy rails on the Incline caused them some problems
The PWay team commenced constructing an extension to the Gorsey Bank cant which needs increasing  to conform  to the 1530 test regulations
All for now
Mike Evans

Supplementary 4th November 2015

Dear all
Another day with a test customer ably hosted by Tony Watt. The rail conditions on the Incline really did test the capability of the machine but that's what testing is all about. The Permanent Way Team started to position the additional track panels that will form the additional canted track required by new test specifications.
Short video of today's test vehicle.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Progress Report Saturday 31st October 2015

No ghostly goings on to report today as our scheduled service pottered up and down from Wirksworth to Duffield with a fair number of visitors. Down the yard Tim Oakes's team of restorers continued work on with the Duke and the DMU team were gainfully employed on a range of tasks including assisting with the winterisation of the class 25.

John Ball ran a first aid course in the training room and the booking hall dealt with more santa bookings.

All the best,