Monday, 22 April 2019

Progress Report Monday 22nd April 2019

Dear All,

The final day of the Easter Bank Holiday and it was more of the same. More sunny weather, more visitors and more fun. Wirksworth Station had lots of children enjoying the party workshop, the miniature and narrow gauge railways carried more passengers and the cafe was again very busy. On the incline there was a footplate experience before passenger services commenced and the Association shop received more visitors.

Catering and Commercial team members met with a customer to plan a special summer event and following this meeting held an impromptu gathering to begin to explore this year's Santa format which was quite surreal in this hot weather. The Easter holiday activities have been an unqualified success with a significant increase in revenue compared to last year.

Finally as the coaching stock was shunted into platform one for servicing, news came in that there was a line side fire south of Idridgehay Station. A number of volunteers from the Diesel team came forward to offer their help and a trio of Joe, John and James set off to deal with the incident. I later discovered they had to cancel their evening meal booking due to attending this incident. This dedication is a great example of how lucky we are to have such a group of devoted volunteers.

All the best, Tom

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Progress Report Sunday 21st April 2019

Another glorious day at Derbyshire's favourite branch line ensured we played host to visitors from near and afar. A slightly slower start to the day compared to yesterday but by lunchtime our Easter  attractions were in full swing. The Family Circus proved even more popular today with families who visited yesterday back for more fun. The miniature railway exceeded expectations and carried the same amounts of adults as children. The locomotive 'Wren' apparently  a big  hit with Dad. Down the yard the narrow gauge also was very busy and it was good to see 'Lenny the Lister' back in traffic after many months of inactivity.

The queue outside the cafe suggested our cafe staff were kept very busy through out the day and the Association shop enjoyed a number of visitors. Today's photo features the footplate team of 52322 which brought together two drivers who were based at Peak Rail many years ago. Our very own Mike Thomas and Martyn Ashworth now based at the Great Central Railway.

Over on platform two you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an episode of 'Jackanory' as Fred Court spent time between the incline services recounting his numerous and amusing tales of by-gone BR days to groups of interested passengers. 

Again, my grateful thanks go to everyone who gave up their Easter Sunday to support our railway by volunteering in whatever capacity. Your contribution is of great value and helps ensure we can maximise our revenue earning possibilities together with offering a range of activities that helps makes us a tourist attraction that people want to visit regularly.

All the best,


Saturday, 20 April 2019

Progress Report Saturday 20th April 2019

Dear All,
What a fantastic day! The glorious weather brought out the crowds of which many were visiting Derbyshire for the Holidays and had chosen to spend Easter Saturday with us and they weren't disappointed. The Family Circus (pictured) was a most popular attraction with our younger visitors and both the miniature and narrow gauge railways were in operation and enjoyed record numbers of passengers. 

Our catering staff were kept busy throughout the day and the demand for ice cream was so high that an extra trip to the suppliers is scheduled for this evening to replenish stocks.

My grateful thanks to all the train crews who ensured our services ran to schedule and a special mention to the cafe staff who provided our footplate crews with a constant supply of water to keep them hydrated in uncomfortably hot conditions. A further thanks to our diesel shunters who stayed late to shunt the stock to platform one enabling the steam crew to dispose of the engine as soon as it finished the last service.

Here's hoping for more of the same for the rest of the holidays!

All the best,


Friday, 19 April 2019

Progress Friday 19th April 2019

Dear all,

A stunning day for the first day of steam operation in 2019 and there was a real buzz around the railway. 33103 operated the first return which is somewhat of an experiment but happily it had a respectable number of passengers on it, before 52322 took over. The locomotive was off shed within plenty of time and sat posing in Platform 1 for a while. The day was slick and calm and I would like to thank today's crews for their efforts along with supporting teams in the catering and on the Miniature Railway. Henry Ellison operated the incline starting with a steam experience before doing rides.

Further work took place on the Class 73 and various items were cleared and tidied from the car park in order to improve capacity.

Here are a few nice photos from today.


Thursday, 18 April 2019

Progress Thursday 18th April 2019

Dear all,

Usually the day before a 4 days Bank Holiday weekend is a bit of a let down but to be fair today was quite positive. The sun was shining and the "bubblecar" was barely capacious enough.

Some final preparations were taking place for this weekend including tidying up in the car park, water the coaching stock etc. Locomotive 52322 was steamed and received a through fitness to run examination ahead of entering service tomorrow. A small light engine test run to Idridgehay after service exercised the axle boxes. It will be interesting to see how the weekend goes, especially the early 09:40 diesel service which happens before the steam loco takes over.

As I was leaving, Reid Freight were arriving in convoy with two coaches - one is a Pullman car for contract restoration and the other is a Mark 1 SK that is almost ready to run and will come in mightily handy for the steam event later in the year.


Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Progress Report Tuesday 16th April 2019

Dear All,

Our class 122 known as the 'Bubble Car' provided the traction today and the 11:15 service  departed Wirksworth station with standing room only. It was great to see the train full after moderate passenger numbers last month.

Down the yard there was much activity with the arrival of the first of our visiting steam locomotives. (pictured). Also pictured is the arrival of another steam locomotive named 'Wren" which will be featured on the miniature railway over the Easter weekend. The steam team were in attendance and Barclay locomotive Brian Harrison was in steam being made ready for a boiler inspection.

Rob was busy performing fitness to run examinations on the final two coaches that will form the consist for the summer trains. The new station building is progressing well with further roof tiles being fitted as well as work on the new toilets. The station cafe team were in creative mode and have come up with an exciting new product for the summer.  Watch this space!

Supporting today's train service was the Association shop, the station cafe,  miniature railway and Booking Hall staff.

A most enjoyable day.

All the best, Tom

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Progress Report Sunday 14th April 2019

Dear All,

It was bitterly cold down the valley today which did little to encourage visitors to our railway. However, passengers numbers improved through out the day as the threat of sleet diminished. The day started with the class 73 journeying to Duffield to pick up the water tank as preparations for the start of our summer of steam hauled services and forthcoming diesel gala intensified.

Down the yard there was much success with the completion of the CK and cleaning of the class 33 batteries together with work continuing in the Derby Lightweight driver's cab and the 'Bubble' returning to traffic following gutter cleaning.

Down at Duffield a meeting was held to explore improving our passengers' experience and it is rumoured at Wirksworth the Commercial Manager was sporting a large grin due to a significant increase in on-line sales. Today's service was supported by the miniature railway, Association shop, Station Cafe and booking hall staff.

Finally, special mention must go to John Stokes who's multitasking skills know no boundary. Yesterday it was the installation of a new CCTV system at Duffield Station, today it was a faulty ball cock in the ladies loo at Wirksworth Station!

All the best, Tom

Progress Saturday 13th April 2019

Dear all,

After a steady start it turned out to be a reasonable day, handled by the Class 119/107 hybrid DMU. Many seemed to enjoy their first class upgrade!

The usual array of Saturday groups were in, including the guys working on The Duke and the LMSCA. Work continued on the Class 73 to get that ready for service in a fortnight's time and the Derby Lightweight trailer car restoration moved forward with further cab wiring.

A duo worked at Duffield with a new CCTV system being installed there.


Friday, 12 April 2019

Progress Thursday 11th and Friday 12th April 2019

Dear all,

Both of these days have been fairly similar. Cool and dry with trains running as it is the Easter holidays in some places.

Yesterday we waved goodbye to the test vehicle that had been on site for nearly a week. Coach examinations ahead of their requirements starting a week today have been continuing apace and will be completed all being well early next week. Further progress has been made on the Derby Lightweight trailer car inside too.

A further milestone occurred today as the toilet block part of the new station building began rising from the ground. This portion will initially be separate but will be integrated into the rest of the building as funding allows.


Saturday, 6 April 2019

Progress Saturday 6th April 2019

Dear all,

A better day on the trains today than recent weeks with a good loading on the first train especially. Early doors a group arrived just for a tour round the yard which Richard duly enjoyed.

There was plenty of activity elsewhere as an extra camera was added to our CCTV system. This job doesn't sound very big but involved mounting aerials and access points along with running various cables. It took all day!

A contingent popped in from the ELR to fettled the Class 14 which leaves us for a little excursion to the GCR in the coming week before returning for our own diesel gala at the end of the month. Another contingent also came from our test customer to fettle the machine ready for Monday.

Final fettling of the Class 33 took place ahead of our own gala and running season and welding work recommenced on TSO 4440 after a hiatus (welder engaged on the Class 108).

The usual array of 8F group members were here too continuing their work on The Duke. The LMSCA are relieved to have stopped stuffing their new seats.


Friday, 5 April 2019

Progress Friday 5th April 2019

Dear all,

A better day weather wise than yesterday saw further coach examinations continue.

Henry Ellison underwent a steam test after winter slumber to Shottle and collected the water tank for refilling. The water tank provides a back up water source for steam engines at Duffield during the summer.

Work continued on the Wirksworth Station Building project with the tiles being loaded on to the scaffold ready for a start to be made.


Thursday, 4 April 2019

Progress Thursday 4th April 2019

Dear all,

Hopefully winter's last laugh today as it was bitterly cold and very wet but not to worry, still plenty of progress both down the line at the Shottle work site and in the engineerium.

Coach examinations ahead of their season start in a couple of weeks time is forging ahead apace and shunter "Tom" was also resurrected today.

The Signal and Telegraph department worked on maintaining the Incline ground frame.