Sunday, 1 November 2009

A Blustery Day at Shackerstone With The Eastern Lady...

Hello everyone! As today was to the last day of the Battlefield Line Railway's 2009 running season, it was only fitting that the beautiful B1 1306 "Mayflower" was rostered to haul the trains! I arrived at Shackerstone at around 10am in driving rain. After signing on I made my way down to the engine shed where I found the Apple-Green machine, simmering nicely but with the ever-falling rain running down her paintwork. The first thing I did was to clean out the indoor inspection pit, with the help of Gerald. I then admired 1306 and chatted to the crew. Following this, it wasn't long before the B1 went off shed, before-which I pulled out "No11" (the yard's ground-frame). With 1306 out of the way I replaced the ground-frame whilst the rain continued to fall. The first train of the day out of Shackerstone was the 11:45am, hauled by the 4-6-0 of course, and left in a cloud of white steam & dark smoke! I then headed back to the shed where I began making preparations for two big fires which we would later light in our two, technically named, "burning tubs"! 1306 soon returned after her first 55-minute round trip though she was no longer adorning the Poppy wreath which she had been when she left! It had been blown off down the line in the strong gusts! (Don't worry!!...it WAS found the next trip, near Shenton!). The B1 is seen below awaiting the 1:20pm departure from Shackerstone...
After seeing the 1:20pm departure leave, myself & my colleage Rich lit the first fire. Just to say, we weren't just making fires for no reason(!)...The steam department is currently undertaking a process of tidying up and a vast majority of our time is subsequently burning rubbish! (It is a much faster way of disposing of rubbish!). During the afternoon I also helped Steve remove "Mayflowers" spent-superheater elements from the '1306 box van'. These elements (24 to be precise) were very long, cumbersome and, most of all, very heavy! I felt like I'd done a days work even after lifting 5 or so! Anyway, we got that done and I then returned to burning the rubbish with Rich. On hearing "Mayflower"s whistle (currently her BR Chime), I returned to the platforms to catch another photo. This was the return of the 3rd trip (of four) of the day and arrived, unusually, into Platform 1. (This was done to allow "Mayflower" to take water in Platform 2 as normally the train rake blocks access to the water column). The shining B1 is seen below, being uncoupled in Platform 1...
The final train (the 4pm), soon pulled away from Shackerstone and 1306 was soon heard barking away, up the cutting towards Shenton. By now one of the fire's had gone out after burning down to almost nothing! However, the other one was still burning brightly as I placed the last few bits of rubbish of the day on-top of the furnace!...
Shed Update:-I just thought I'd include this for your interest! Peckett Saddle Tank "Sir Gomer", our current project, is still in the South End of the shed and will soon be receiving her boiler back from Llangollen workshops. (The locomotive's cab & saddle tank still remain outside on a flat-wagon). Various needle-gunning & painting jobs continue to be carried out on the frames, as they were today. Graham has been busy all day needle-gunning the brake blocks and side frames. The engine, still sporting her shiny newly-burnished rods, can be seen below and, I must admit, it will be fantastic when we finally get her back into steam!...
Opposite "Sir Gomer" is one of Shackerstone's hidden steamers: "Lamport No3". This powerful 0-6-0 Bagnall Saddle Tank has been based at the line for a number of years and was owned by the Leicestershire Industrial Locomotive Group. She worked in the Ironstone industry and can be seen in many archive film clips! (A famous engine!). The engine, according to Shackerstone crews, was always well-renowned for her reliability and performance. She was a very regular performer on the railway until her boiler ticket expired a few years ago. She continues to await overhaul in the locomotive shed. However, in 2010 she may see the light once again as we may decide to clean-her up, drag her outside and display her for the public during our steam weekend:-
Finally, Aveiling & Porter "Blue Circle" is currently without inspection-covers as she is awaiting a yearly-boiler examination. The Blue 2-2-0, though still, technically, "in traffic", is not sheduled to steam again until Easter 2010 (when the new season begins) so, until then, I'm sure she'll be enjoying the cosy shelter of the loco works!:-
A look through the main inspection hole on the side of the boiler (with mud-lid removed), showing clearly some of the tubes and rivets:-
The shining Aveiling & Porter dwells at the darker end of the shed with her work for 2009 now complete!:-
Finally, before we put "Mayflower" to bed, I caught this shot of the attractive Shackerstone Station building...
Once "Mayflower" was put to bed and the shed locked up, the day was done! The two fires had burnt down and were now just 'keeping their tubs warm'! (They'll be cold by early morning tomorrow!). It was then time to sign off (at 6:05pm!) and head off down to the village where I would be collected for my lift home! Finally, I managed to take some video today as well and you can see this below:-
So, the 2009 Battlefield Line season has passed as by twice as fast as the 2008 one did! (Where does the time go?!). The railway is now not running service trains, though the station (including the cafe) is still open at weekends. The 2009 "Santa Specials" are now taking bookings so please, "book early to avoid dissapointment"! The lovely "Mayflower" is rostered to work 6 out of the 9 "Santa Special" days. For your information, her steaming dates are the first three weekends in December. (Please remember that all "Santa Special" seats MUST be pre-booked in advance). The railway will also be running public services around New Year (see website for details nearer the time). But for now, thanks for reading folks! Evening All...

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