Friday, 31 August 2018

Progress Thursday 30th August

Dear all,

A sunny day which saw the two car DMU in operation. It was pleasantly loaded for most of the day, further boosted by a coach party from Scotland who enjoyed a ride preceded by afternoon tea in the Station Cafe.

A test customer made use of the incline all day and the PWay were up at Wirksworth sorting out materials for the new turnout in the yard which is to be laid shortly.

It is nearing the end of August which means Santa is now on sale at


Monday, 27 August 2018

Progress Monday 27th August 2018

Dear all,

I think the least said about yesterday the better. Whilst commercially it wasn't too bad in the circumstances, we were all cold, wet and fed up by the end of the day after enduring continuous heavy rain for hour after hour and the odd power cut as well for good measure.

Back to today though and it was much better, even though it teased us with some early drizzle. It was pretty busy today with the Class 73 running alongside the Jinty, which was on it's final day with us. I can't believe the summer season has literally passed in a flash. Scary really! Today was operationally good and there was a nice atmosphere at Wirksworth as people enjoyed the entertainment. The incline seemed quite popular too.


Sunday, 26 August 2018

Progress Saturday 25th August 2018

Dear all,

Our 1950's mixed traction bank holiday weekend got off to something of flying start as a mainly sunny and pleasantly warm Saturday attracted good numbers of guests to our many different attractions. Locomotives 47406 and 31601 both provided services on the mainline and Henry Ellison catered for trips up the Incline. The Jinty is operating its last weekend with us and has indeed provided a lovely sight as it travels long the valley during the summer season. The miniature railway was running to the delight of our younger guests and the catering department and bookshop all had a steady stream of visitors.. A display of 1950's memorabilia attracted allot of interest on platform one, the jazz band proved popular as always and several of our guest entered into the spirit of the event arriving in period dress. At the top of the yard the sounds of distance shunting could be heard as a move around in the Engineerium was completed

Later in the day things took something of a sinister turn as we set sail at 7pm for a murder mystery tour. The initial stages of the story were set out on the platform at Wirksworth, then the team of actors travelled the train with clues and morsels of information as we journeyed south. The crime took place at Shottle, not previously noted as the crime capital of the Ecclesbourne valley, as one of the actors was found slumped against the guards van door. We continued to Duffield where over a 100 budding crime busters contemplated the relative merits of the case over a bag of chips after which each of the actors allowed some questions to ensure the correct guilty party was brought to justice . As people left the platform after having the plot fully uncovered their smiling faces and warm words of thanks confirmed a great evening was had by all. During the afternoon I spoke to a couple who had travelled from London for a weekend in Derbyshire the highlight of which was their murder mystery excursion with us, they do indeed seem to be very popular.

My thanks to everyone involved in another successful day many of whom are never seen by our visitors such as the train crews, Shottle signalmen, crossing keepers etc. The 1950's event and mixed traction are in operation for the rest of the bank holiday weekend.

I leave you with pictures of our main line locomotives looking pristine in the sunshine and scene of the crime at Shottle, don't have nightmares !



Friday, 24 August 2018

Progress Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th August 2018

Dear all,

There must be a bank holiday weekend coming up, it is raining! Yesterday's DMU service ran well with the addition of a coach party enjoying a ride and afternoon tea in the Station Cafe too. It was quite a strange day with the first and last trains being busy but the middle one being very quiet. It was happily busy enough though for a DMU day with the 3 car handling the service. The coaching stock was rearranged in the meantime to prepare for the weekend, which actually takes a lot longer than you would imagine.

Today was the final Friday steam service of the season and I am actually quite sad. They have been very busy indeed! Today was the busiest of the four days which surprised us slightly being the day before a Bank Holiday Weekend and the fact it was also raining on and off! The Jinty seemed to run well too. It has 3 more days to do with us and then it will be off back home to the GCR. 

Down the yard today, work continued on stripping down the rear of Class 108 53599 which is undergoing metalwork repairs to the body end and corridor connection.


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Progress Saturday 18th August 2018

Dear all,

Today followed on from the end of the Diesel Gala last weekend, with a running weekend for a particular locomotive. This was based on the success of the same idea as last year where there was a running weekend for the visiting Class 26. This year there wasn't a visiting locomotive for the event because there were plenty of locomotives making their debut anyway. One of these locomotives was Class 31 31601, which had been resurrected after being withdrawn from the main line last year. It therefore seemed appropriate to run this locomotive for the enthusiasts for an additional weekend. Happily it was a busy day with plenty of enthusiasts visiting.

It wasn't just enthusiasts though, there were quite a few happy families as well as two prebooked parties for on train Afternoon Tea. In addition there was a coach party from Warwickshire to top it off. The incline steam also added an extra area of interest for visitors, along with the miniature railway.

In the engineerium, work continued on The Duke and also on the Bubble Car vacuum fault. TSO 4440 received further bodywork welding.

Trains continued into the evening. We were asked by the enthusiast community if we would be able to run an additional train with 08605 because there was a clashing event in Belgium last Saturday when it operated for the first time. We obliged not really knowing who would come. Happily it wasn't too quiet as can be seen in the photo!


Friday, 17 August 2018

Progress Friday 17th August 2018

Dear all,

The third Friday of steam haulage on the Duffield line went off without a hitch and was once again happily busy, boosted further still with a coach party on the last train. They also enjoyed an afternoon tea in the café. The timekeeping was also aided by Arran who sat at Gorsey Bank doing the crossword all day.

Down the yard, tidying of the stores was in order as well as investigating a phantom fault from yesterday on the 3 car DMU.

This evening saw an unusual one... A DMU charter for 46 passengers on a single to Ravenstor! We aim to please.


Sunday, 12 August 2018

Progress Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August 2018

Dear all,

Our busiest event of the season this weekend being the Diesel Gala. The weekend even surpassed the same event last year, which was also the busiest of last year. It was by far the most operationally complicated event we had put on and even though we only managed 5 locomotives in the end, it was still a great success. The double heading Class 08s to Duffield may be a little strange but was certainly enjoyed by our visitors, as were 31601 and 73210 which were making their debuts with us this weekend.

My thanks go to everybody involved in helping to put on the event. Many hours of effort go in to such an event both on the day and also in the preparation of the locomotive beforehand.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Progress Friday 10th August 2018

Dear all,

Our second Friday steam day and it was even busier last week. 116 happy passengers enjoyed the first train this morning and even the new wheelchair space was occupied. The locomotive was driven today by Bob Gibbens who has decided to retire from driving. Bob first started driving steam locomotives the same year England won the World Cup! 52 years later and he has bowed out having also been visiting Poland to drive there regularly for 20 years! I'm sure he won't be a stranger as he works to get Cathryn back in service.

Down the yard it was a case of "if it starts, move it" with alot of shunting, fettling, polishing etc to prepare for the Diesel Gala tomorrow!


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Progress Thursday 9th August 2018

Dear all,

It is really difficult to predict the loadings at the moment but I am pleased to say it was really good today. It was boosted by three pre-booked parties but there were plenty of other happy people too, supported by the buffet and Miniature Railway.

There was much gala preparation going on in the yard, with the entire rake of Mark 1 coaches being completely shuffled round into a new order. It doesn't sound much but it takes all day! This was partly to facilitate the introduction of BSK 35006 which is looking most pleasant. It has had a conversion to create a nice wheelchair friendly area with a comfortable Mark 1 cushioned seat for family members too.

Also for the gala, the final locomotive of the line up, 31206 was confirmed which takes it up to the anticipated six locomotives. The biggest and most complicated event we have undertaken!

The Jinty was being warmed through as I left, ready for service tomorrow.


Sunday, 5 August 2018

Progress Report Saturday 4th August 2018

Dear All,

The glorious weather continued today down at Derbyshire's favourite branch line. We had a disappointing start this morning with '47406' failing again and it won't be available for tomorrow's service either. This had a knock on effect too for the Ravenstor service as pit access was restricted for a while resulting in a late start on the incline. That said class 33 'Swordfish' undertook the Duffield-Wirksworth service and the incline steam service proved popular throughout the day. Down the yard much preparatory work was taking place to ensure our diesel fleet looks at its best for next week's gala.

Our catering team played host to a number of afternoon tea guests and the Ecclesbourne Way continues to grow in popularity with a large number of walkers enjoying a walk before a return journey by train. We had a cattle ingress near Hazlewood which did delay the 13:20 service to Duffield but a quick response from the farmer together with the sterling efforts from the train crew meant this had a minimal impact upon our timetable by the end of today's service.

Today's service was supported by the EVRA shop, miniature railway and Booking Hall staff.

All the best, Tom

Friday, 3 August 2018

Progress Friday 3rd August 2018

Dear all,

It is certainly somewhat of an experiment operating Fridays in August, something which we haven't attempted before. Today, at least, I am happy to report that the experiment was very successful with many happy passengers visiting for a ride through the valley. Fingers crossed the other Fridays are as busy as this one!

Down the yard, the Derby Lightweight had further work done to the bogie frames ready in preparation for them to be fitted. The diesel team were working on the rods on 08704 ahead of the Diesel Gala next weekend too.


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Progress Thursday 2nd August 2018

Dear all,

Another pleasantly sunny and warm day which saw activity at Shottle with infill ballast arriving for the base of the Shottle signal box, formerly at Oddingley. Work is progressing on the box which will allow us to run a better and more regular train service going forward.

In the Maintenance Facility, work continued on reskinning TSO 4440 which has recently had most of the south end's structure renewed. The Jinty was prepared for service tomorrow over the other side of the yard. It is somewhat of an experiment to run these Fridays with steam during August so we'll see how they go.

The services started slowly but turned out to be reasonable by the end of the day, boosted by a coach party as well. Today's driver was Rev Patrick Lidgett who has driven his last rostered turn today, deciding to hang up his handle and spoon having built up 3800 hours of driving over 14 years. Patrick was amongst the first small group of DMU drivers on our railway, gaining a ticket back in 2004 when we had a solitary 'bubblecar' and just a twig of a passenger service from Wirksworth Station to Gorsey Bank Crossing. He has certainly seen the railway grow and has filled in many mid-week turns over the years. I would like to thank him for all of his efforts and hopefully he won't be a stranger!