Sunday, 7 September 2008

Shackerstone(?) to Statfold (?):-How Simpl...icity(!) Can You Get?!

....I said this wasn't to be the last I saw of "Emily",and it wasn't!(Above Pic-"Emily" is readied for service).The day after the glorious Shackerstone Flash Floods(!) we were to prepare the 3-ton Wallis & Steevenson Steam Roller for her homeward journey.After starting at 7:30am,myself, Joe & Phil began to ready "Emily" for her 13-mile long stint.Her fire was lit just as the heavens opened and our lovely polished brass was marked with raindrops once again.Oh well,can't be helped.By 9am we had a bit of steam and were getting ready for a prompt 9:40am departure.By the way,"Emily" had been sent to attend the Shackerstone Festival but as this was rained off she had no reason to remain at Shackerstone.So it was decided to take her home today (Sep 7th).Anyway back to the story...
"Emily" was ready on time and at last (!!) our final crew member,Chris,arrived.The trailer (a relic in itself being bought from Swindon Works!) was attached and as soon as we were aboard "Emily" steamed out of Shackerstone for the last time,for now at least!Once out of the drive the roller barked up and over the Shackerstone "Big Dipper"/Humpback Bridge before decending into the village and then out into the countryside.Phil drove whilst we three trainee's took it in turns to steer.Chris went first and took us to the small school at Congerstone. Meanwhile,myself and Joe were hiding under one of the rollers' sheets to shelter from the rain!At the school,I swapped with Chris who joined Joe in the trailer as I tried my hand at steering.It is good fun(!),if you get the chance then have a go!From the school we ambled at a steady 3mph through the small villages of Bilstone and Little Twycross.At around 11:50am we reached Twycross.Hear the water supply had to be replenished and the following pic shows us there:-
Once refilled,our journey continued,myself and Joe now having swapped steering duties at Twycross.Chris and I sat in the trailer as the sun revealed itself for the first time that day! We were now on the A444 and after a little while we passed Twycross Zoo on the left. A few pink flamingo's and the odd elephant could be spotted for the trailer and even a waving zoo staff member! A bit further up this busy road we turned off to the left in the direction of Austrey. From here the journey grew quiet once more,besides the sounds of "Emily" roaring across the countryside of course! Just as a note,the other engine that had been at Shackerstone coutesy of Statfold was Marshall Traction Engine "Mary".She had left 20 minutes after us but we saw nothing of her throughout the journey!Back on the Wallis,we had reached the steep hill which took the road down into Austrey village itself.Here the handbrake had to be screwed down and the drain cocks opened as well as Phil having to use the odd bit of reverse to slow the engine down!Myself and Chris also walked alongside the engine with "chocks" to hand.However, once the downward slope had been conquered,we reached the "Bird In Hand" pub...After enjoying a refreshing drink in the now very warm sun we set off again for the village shop which of course,like all good shops,had closed just before we got there! It was now 2pm and Phil said we were probably halfway to Statfold.We continued to Newton Regis with Chris now back at the wheel with Phil continuing in his role as our only driver!Myself and Joe leisurely lay in the trailer as we continued steadily towards Newton.Once there,Phils work associate Richard arrived to help him out.So,from Newton, Richard drove and I steered.We steadily made our way ever-closer to Statfold but it would still be well over an hour before we actually managed to get there!At the last village before Statfold I swapped with Joe and he steered us down to the main road which was the final stint to Statfold. From there to the end,Richard and Phil manned the engine...
After another 20 minutes or so,we triumphantly rolled into Statfold with a good old blast on the whistle! We had made it!(Above Pic-Joe,Phil & Chris at the Bird In Hand).It was now around 5pm!It had took over 6 hours to make our merry way from Shackerstone but it had been a good run and a good achievement.We were all very tired but we still had to uncoupled "Emily" from her trailer,dispose of her and put her to bed. Once all this was done,Chris left.But myself and Joe were given a lift back to Shackerstone by Phil and his wife.Its surprising really...it took 6 hours to cover 13 miles by steam roller, and around 20 minutes to get back again! "Emily" was put to bed by just before 6pm and at the back of the shed stood the Marshall looking like she hadn't even been anywhere! They must have got back alot faster than we did! Oh well, a good time was had by "Emily"s crew and probably "Emily" herself too!

Just a bit of history info for you..."Emily" was built in 1927 and is a "Simplicity" roller. The inclined boiler was designed to not take us as much space as a horizontal boiler,giving her a much tighter turning circle.Her boiler pressure is 130psi and she is a 'single gear engine'.She is also a single cylindered engine as apposed to a compound.One of her original jobs saw her work for Parry's of London and there are memories of her steaming through the narrow london streets on route for more work!But now the hard work is over and "Emily" remains a beautifully preserved Steam Roller.

So thank you Phil and thank you "Emily"...We had a long,tiring but fantastic day!

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