Saturday, 30 November 2019

Supplementary Report Saturday 30th November 2019

Dear All,

Today marks a significant milestone in the development of our railway with the launch of our new website. The format makes use of state of the art graphic design and is driven by a robust 'back office' which guides the visitor gently to a point of sale. We have developed comprehensive 'bolt ons' so once a person has bought a ticket for a meal on the Derbyshire Countryman train they are offered gifts to purchase to enhance their experience such as flower bouquets , champagne  as well as custom decorations to personalise their experience.

Keep an eye out too for our new V.I.P. evenings when we introduce the luxurious 'Ryedale Saloon' for special events and private hire together with new 'taster' experiences which will create more opportunities for members of the public to take the controls of one of our diesel locomotives.

Visitor feedback informed us that the majority of people who visit our railway for the first time, view our website prior to their visit. Our website is our shop window and as such we feel the high definition graphics and pictures together with its intelligent back office and on-line ticketing purchasing ensures it will showcase the railway at its best as well as increase our commercial activity.  I am grateful to Leigh for all his his creative energy and hard work together with Dominic Ainsworth for his guidance and advice with the website structure.

You are most welcome to make suggestions on any additions or modifications you wish to see to either Leigh or myself.

Compliments of the Season,

All the best, Tom

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Progress Thursday 28th November 2019

Dear all,

Another wet day in the valley saw Henry Ellison prepared for tomorrow's book launch. The book has been written by the late Vince Morris and his colleagues and so is appropriately been launched here. Apparently the television may be coming so the brass bits have had an extra polish. A start was also made on deconstructing No3 for exploratory work on it's overhaul.

The new toilet project has taken a leap forward. We're not quite flushed with success just yet but good progress for one day. Following a delivery of components yesterday, the first couple of toilets have been installed in the Gents. The attached photo was taken at lunch time but there has been more progress this afternoon as the waste pipes have been plumbed into the toilets and a start has been made on running the fresh water too. It is surprising how much there is in somewhere like that with waste and fresh water plumbing for toilets, sinks, urinals etc as well as electric for a hot water boiler and hand dryers. On top of that I guess it is most important to construct cubicles too! I did want to take an end of day photo but I couldn't get in so maybe tomorrow.

The Santa train was taken for a spin this morning as all vehicles have been under maintenance recently with one of them being lifted too.


Sunday, 24 November 2019

Progress Sunday 24th November 2019

Dear all,

A most enjoyable day today as we hosted 29 Taiwanese delegates from Taipei who are over in this country looking at heritage railway with a view to setting up their first full sized one. There were some government officials, rail experts and marketing people making up the party and were most interested to learn about things required when running a tourist attraction - museums, toilets, cafes and also products you can offer such as dining and driving experiences. Following a short presentation, they boarded the 11:00 Shottle Special and enjoyed a nice spread during the journey served by the catering department, before having a lengthy tour of the yard and maintenance facility. They were lovely people and very interested and complementary of our railway. Lots of photographs were taken by the visitors, we felt like celebrities! I'm told a group photo shall appear at some point.

Elsewhere, work to finish off the overhauled toilet compartment on class 101 50170 continued ahead of Santa and the Derby Lightweight trailer car received further interior attention.

Today's photo shows the atmospheric Shottle Special in the platform, taken by Chris Nesbitt.


Saturday, 23 November 2019

Progress Report Saturday 23rd November 2019

Dear All,

Another rainy day at Derbyshire's favourite branch line did not deter our visitors too much and a reasonable number of passengers for a damp, cold November's day travelled on the penultimate Shottle Steam Special.

In the station cafe Helen Hills, our Catering Manageress and her team, laid on a fantastic spread in gratitude to the volunteers for their hard work and dedication and it was great to see such a good turnout. In the maintenance shed Faraday's radiator cowling and bonnet were refitted following corrosion repair. Tim will appraise you later of progress on the Duke.

There was a surprise visit from the big man in the red suit today as a number of video  vignettes were shot for marketing purposes. Last week I mentioned our new Derbyshire Railwayman Dinning Train which will debut next year and we have already taken on-line bookings. A very good omen indeed! Keep a look out too for our new website which will be live very soon.

Today's service was supported by the museum, cafe and booking hall staff. Thanks also to the engine crews and train crew who ensured our visitors were looked after and the trains ran to schedule.

All the best, Tom 

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Progress 19th to 21st November 2019

Dear all,

A strangely quiet week in general this week, possibly due to the time of year. I'm not sure!

There was a good turn out on Tuesday for the construction of our new marquee which will have a starring role as part of our Santa trains which are rapidly approaching. It took eight people all day to construct and somehow seems larger than the old one even though in theory it isn't.

The PW gang ballasted some more of the new Road 5 in the yard which provides some more useable siding space and have also assisted the contractor in the periodic lifting equipment inspections that have to be done.

Further work has taken place on the LMS Brake Third coach with the newly constructed tables receiving their vinyl covering. Very nice they look too! The exterior paintwork is also progressing.

In the shed, roof leak repairs have been carried out to DMU centre car 59303 ready for the coming month.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Progress Report Saturday 16th November 2019

Dear All,

We did enjoy a little respite today from the rain thank goodness. This must be the worst November weather we have experienced since the Duffield line opened. That said we did have a steady stream of visitors to enjoy a steam hauled trip to Shottle. At Wirksworth station the Commercial Department were very busy finalising next year's brochure which looks superb together with updating our ever increasing number of gifts/ experiences to purchase online. Final additions to our new website too means a more slick looking 'shop window' for the railway. We are also finalising our on line shopping section on the new website which is scheduled to go 'live' in December. People will be able to directly book meals on our new 'Derbyshire Countryman' dining train together with various product enhancements to make their time at the railway even more memorable. If your looking for a special gift for a friend or relative, look no further!

At the miniature railway, Ron and Kyle were busy preparing 'Wren' for transporting to its annual boiler inspection. It is planned to complete the installation of a turntable as well as further extend the line towards Gorsey Bank during the winter break. Down in the maintenance shed there was much activity which Tim will appraise you about later. Today's service was supported by the museum and shop, station cafe, booking hall staff.

All the best, Tom

Friday, 15 November 2019

Progress Friday 15th November 2019

Dear all,

Another Friday and another track inspection following further heavy rainfall, this time by road-rail Land Rover. Once again drainage down the line is working well even with the river running very quickly nearby. A fallen tree was discovered blocking the line near footpath F4 but fortunately the team were able to deal with it using equipment already on board. It wouldn't have affected passenger services this weekend as they're only booked to Shottle but it would have affected Monday's testing customer so a good discovery made. In the process, the Christmas decorations were also delivered to Duffield.

At Wirksworth, we hosted the Branchline Society who solely wanted to travel on the Miniature Railway. Thanks to Ron and Tom for hosting them.

The Maintenance Team carried out further work to the Santa DMU in preparation for the start of those and the batteries were charged on the recently arrived Mark 3 sleeping car.


Thursday, 14 November 2019

Progress Thursday 14th November 2019

Dear all,

Yet another day of extremely heavy rain dampening progress. The PW were down the line checking drainage and probably getting soaked, but there weren't many at Wirksworth. The Maintenance Team were in the shed working on the DMU for Santa, replacing a piece of formica panel which had broken.

You may have noticed the delivery of a Mark 3 sleeping car fresh from the Caledonian Sleeper service. This coach belongs to the Ivatt Diesel Re-creation Group, who rent the garage, and it will allow for both their volunteers and our volunteers to book accommodation on site once it is commissioned. Most railways have some sort of volunteer accommodation for those who come along way or have early starts and late finishes so this will be a most useful addition as we grow.


Sunday, 10 November 2019

Progress Sunday 10th November 2019

Dear all,

Finally some sun! Today we continued with out Shottle Specials steam and diesel top and tail combination. Three return services to Shottle operated, with the first slightly retimed by 5 minutes to allow the railway to fall silent at 11:00. Thereafter, the sunshine brought out good numbers for the time of year for a ride. The Cafe was also quite busy, with most things sold old. I am told stocks of Mars bars are critically low!

Down the yard, work continued on the refurbishment of Faraday and the restoration of the Derby Lightweight. Further ceiling panels have been plimped up in the latter.

I attach a couple of photos. One is of HE about to set off across Gorsey Bank Crossing yesterday sent to me by Stuart Graves and the other is of 08605 "GR Walker" shunting the stock back into platform 1 this evening.


Friday, 8 November 2019

Progress Friday 8th November 2019

Dear all,

Following the heavy rain over the past 48 hours or so the decision was made to traverse the entire route of our line by DMU this afternoon to check for any issues with flooding and trees. It really is a testimony to the efforts of our PW gang there are no flood waters in site anywhere down the line and the entire route is clear. The River Ecclesbourne is higher and flowing faster than normal but is still well away from the track. The sight of the fields the other side of the main line at Duffield though reminded me of the sea. We dropped off one volunteer who was going home by train and fortunately managed to catch the last train to Derby from Matlock before services were suspended.

Volunteers were still hard at work back at Wirksworth with work continuing on reinstating the toilet compartment on 50170 hopefully ready for Santa's visit. A start was also made on the fitness to run on the recently arrived teak coaches. 08605 also had some fettling ahead of services this weekend on the Shottle Specials.


Thursday, 7 November 2019

Progress Thursday 7th November 2019

Dear all

A quiet day on the railway today with torrential rain all day putting most people off. Trains aren't running during the week at this time of the year which allows lots of admin and planning to take place. A meeting was held with the plumber to get the next phase of the toilet project underway.

The PW braved the elements to traverse most of the line checking it was clear and free from flooding. A blocked drainage channel south of Shottle was causing water to block up but this was temporarily remedied by hand to keep things flowing for now.


Friday, 1 November 2019

Progress Friday 1st November 2019

Dear all,

The final service day to Duffield until 28th December has been and gone and it was an acceptable day for the time of year. The Shottle Specials start tomorrow and Henry Ellison was warmed through in anticipation. The coaches were also cleaned and readied too.

A delegation from Lancashire were out in force hammering and banging away at the Class 14, with the owning group using down time over winter to do some much-needed TLC. Both vacuum exhausters were removed for overhaul and they were still hammering away at a stuck nut on the rods in the dark, as they are being removed for rebushing. This should help the ride quality no end next season.