Shine on the rails – after 88 years!

Many apologies for the hiatus in this blog (again) – there’s no excuse except for pressure of work.  SteamWorks moves on apace (if never quite fast enough for us):  visitors have been invited onsite over several weekends now (open days continue through August, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and BH Monday between 10 and 4) – and almost everyone has commented on the pace at which the SR is moving, and the achievements so far.

Mells arrives

Now onsite, to join Peckett “Scaldwell” and SR Van 40 are the almost-completed Open Wagon 41 (just the drop-sides to do now) and Peter Nicholson’s Motor Rail H-class “Mells”.  The latter has been buzzing up and down the track, providing a moving attraction for the public, and enjoyment for our volunteers:  once we have had our fun, it will go into the stock shed for painting, and some final fettling of the drive system.

Testing the BVLR (almost a test-to-destruction, as you can see!)

Meanwhile, the Blyth Valley Light Railway, a 7¼” ground-level line owned by a consortium of Members, has been built around about third of the final circuit, and track fettling and staff training have reached a point where we can provide rides from time to time (but don’t be disappointed if it’s not happening on the day you come – training and certification are, rightly, thorough, and take time).  SR volunteers are gradually extending the line along the northern boundary of the site:  it’s a slow job, as it’s on a 800mm embankment – we have to scour the site for rubble, lay that down, cover with raked granite and type 1 aggregate, then terram, 10mm limestone chippings, and the rail panels, which then of course have to be levelled and packed.  And it’s all done by hand, like nineteenth-century navvies (well, we do have a wheelbarrow).  Next year we will have the whole thing done, and hope that locomotive-owners will wish to visit us to try out the new line (narrow gauge style stock, minimum curve radius 11m/12yds).

Unloading Wagon 41 (in the rain)

On Saturday 12th, we laid the last bit of decent rail we own (having to cut in half the last – odd-numbered – rail), so that the floor in the stock shed can be laid.  We need a couple of hundred yards more rail – and particularly pointwork (ideally 1 in 8 wye-points plus one three-way, ideally in 2’6” gauge for easy re-gauging, but almost anything would be considered).

Mells running (note the close-set sleepers, to support the lightweight rails)

With heavier rolling stock now planned, we have uprated the weight of rail that we need:  40lb, 45lb or 50lb per yard would be ideal, if anyone knows of any that might be available.  And to pay for it we are starting a “Sponsor-a-Sleeper” fund – each 8” x 4” x 72” sleeper is £35, but, unusually, that sponsorship also includes everything else on that 28” section of track – rails, fittings, ballast, and terram – so you can have your name on a complete section of the SR, in perpetuity.  Contact James Hewett, via this site, for a form.

More stock arrives, and a small railway grows: rail needed