On Wednesday November 4th, at last, clearance of scrub for this winter’s drainage improvement work alongside the trackbed was completed by Bob and Toby – who managed to burn the results despite steady rain. Everyone is very pleased to see the back of that job – although there’s quite a bit more to be done before tree work stops for birds’ nesting at the end of February. That day was also the first with four simultaneous teams of volunteers at work for SRT. John R was sorting out the charging circuit on Peter Nicholson’s Motor Rail loco, Sean and James were brush-cutting for our new access road, and another team, led by Chris, was at our new rolling stock storage area, finishing the building of a couple of panels of three-foot-gauge track to house Coach 7 (the staff mess). The coach weighs 6.5 tonnes, so the track has to be of high quality.
In other news – the AGM lunch is completely sold out – it’s gratifying that so many members want to come, on what will probably be a dark and cold day. Perhaps they are attracted by the promise of an open discussion of all matters SRT, which will follow the meal (or perhaps they are just hungry). The Trust’s collection of original SR artefacts is increasing all the time – from paperwork to track, from sleepers to point rodding, and from signage to locomotive parts – but if anyone out there knows of – say – a small part of an SR coach (even a door handle would do), then please let us know. The Heritage Train is also moving on – the Van 40 roof ribs are almost complete, and, with them, the SOLD workshop can permanently erect the frame, ready for the T&G boarding to roof and sides. The gauge alteration to the underframe of Open Wagon 41 is done. With the completion of the design for Sharp Stewart 2-4-0T “Blyth”, quotations will be sought to complete the locomotive build. The SRT Board decided that the next twelve months will see an effort markedly to increase Membership – and an extra category has been added – “Group Membership”. For the usual adult rate of £15.00, any organisation or charity which is sympathetic to the Aims of the Trust can join as a group, and all the members will be entitled to join in with the SRT on whatever activities they wish. The Trust hopes to attract as many like-minded bodies as possible, to counter the impression (given by the opposition) that everyone is against the railway re-construction.
The nasty weather – and hard work – has meant that no-one has had the time to take many photographs of all we have done – so here are two pictures of the Bluebell Railway instead: as you can see in the photos, that heritage railway has, of course, completely ruined the natural environment in Sussex (or so our opposition would have you believe).