Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tyseley Loco Works Open Day...

Hi all. A pleasant little day out today to Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham for their Autumn Open Day. Once a thriving steam shed, Tyseley is now a centre of Great Western steam excellence. Not only does the works lovingly care for its wonderful collection of locomotives and stock, they also operate main line tours through the operating arm of Vintage Trains Ltd, as well as offering the workshops and staff to carry out contract work on various locomotives country-wide. The works now opens twice a year after a spell of closure to the public. The site began in preservation as the Birmingham Railway Museum but, with the total success of its main line operations and contract business, the place has had to, quite rightly, tone site visits down slightly. The twice annual open days are however well worth a look and there is plenty to see, both in steam and under restoration. I arrived at just after 11am in the Birmingham suburbs and, having parked the car, immediately met up with 'Eddie the Late'; fresh from his outing with "Archie" (formerly "Willie") last night. We walked down Warwick Road to the Tyseley site where a 'Car Park Full' sign was causing severe anguish to the drivers of many vehicles. Heading in on foot, we purchased our tickets before heading into the site. Immediately before us stood an LMS preservation icon, No6201 "Princess Elizabeth" herself...
The 'undressed' (without cladding) Princess Royal Pacific has been undergoing heavy overhaul at Tyseley over the last 18 months or so. The 1933-built 150-ton beast was in light steam today and offered a bit of a work in progress look. It is anticipated that the massive red engine will return to the national network on revenue earning trains some time next year. I've never had the chance to yet catch a ride behind 'Lizzie' and I would like to one day. Network Rail firemen who we've met along our way have discussed the merits of the engine. Powerful and strong, but carrying an absolutely huge boiler, the engine is not a force to be reckoned with! Leaving the big red beast behind, we walked around the impressive turntable before arriving in front of Tyseley's pride & joy: Castle Class No5043. We were immediately invited up onto the footplate of "The Earl" by our good mate Phil. Alistair Meanley then arrived and discussed the various merits of the Castle Class. He is a man of great experience and has fired engines large and small, fast and slow. It is very interesting learning about the development of the locomotives. For example, 5043 does not have the traditional Hydrostatic Great Western Lubricator. Instead, she carries a mechanical lubricator with steam provided via the jockey valve to the atomisers, thus registering on the oil gauge as "OIL" rather than the red section of "NO OIL". To my mind, this is a much better way of doing things as you never seem to quite know where you are with a hydrostatic. The immaculate cab of No5043 is seen below: beautiful...
We left the beautifully kept No5043 and her friendly minders before walking around enviously into the new workshop. As you would expect, there were engines and boilers galore! The main names were the famous "Clun Castle", 5XP Jubilee "Bahamas" and the new build County class 4-6-0 "County of Glamorgan". There was also a nice looking Austerity coming along in the background. We then climbed the stairs of the viewing gallery, heading into the elder section of the shed...
In the elder shed stood another beautiful Tyseley piece: No4965 "Rood Ashton Hall". This engine has to be, besides 5043 anyway, the best kept engine in preservation. Everything about it just screams a mechanically and cosmetically perfect locomotive. She's a real beauty, she really is. 4965 is currently out of traffic and is having a partial retube I believe, before returning to the main line asap. We have a tour booked with her to Lincoln in early December. Hope to see her then...
Descending the far stairs passing a nice collection of elderly 'Henry Hoover's, we walked out into the rear yard in time to see Pannier Tank No9600 pass by with the 2-coach yard shuttle...
No9600, built at Swindon in 1945, slips by. I do like the Pannier Tanks; I have a real fondness for them. They are a real go anywhere, do anything tank engine...
Also in steam was the visiting 'Blue Plough', otherwise known as the A4 Pacific No4464 "Bittern". Much to Eddie's annoyance, I made several comments about the A4 which was "doing well to drag a full tender of water around". The big blue un' was looking well...
Phil was later seen working Tyseley Warwick Road's signalbox, taken from the Bristol area originally. It is a large, fully working GWR style box and is very nicely kept...
All movements pretty much had to pass the box, affording good views of the shunts. Here, No9600 comes down past the signalbox with the passenger shuttle...
Around 1pm it was decided that a mini cavalcade would take place on the running line, consisting of Castle Class No5043 and the A4. The unusual pairing were first shunted into position via orders from the signalbox, with No9600 and her short train being stabled elsewhere. The Castle was then given the token as it passed by...
The A4 and the Castle then made several storming runs up and down the yard...
"Bittern" and No5043...
Here, a short video clip I took is included to show the earth shattering performance put on by the double-chimney Castle. The ground literally shook beneath her: what a machine!...

Once the Castle and the A4 had done their bit, the Castle was returned to the yard area for stabling whilst the A4 ended up being turned and put on the passenger shuttle, top & tailing with No9600. Here we see a quick shot of the turntable area, with 5043, the Jub and 7752 sat around it...
The so-called Jub (one of two currently at Tyseley) is none other than Tyseley's own LMS stalwart No5593 "Kolhapur". "Kolhapur" (or 'Coal Hopper' as it is occasionally known) was built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow in 1934, and is one of Stanier's three-cylinder Jubilee class 4-6-0s. Initially an unsuccessful type, the Jub's later became good performers after the blast pipe and chimney arrangements were modified. 5593 herself made it into preservation as part of the Tyseley collection and is currently out of service awaiting heavy overhaul. Both of the Jub's currently at Tyseley double-headed gala services at Shackerstone in the late 1990s...
Across the turntable from the Jub, facing her with watchful eyes, stood No6201...
Alongside the Jubilee, and in steam, stood London Transport liveried L94 (Pannier No7752). Again built by North British, 7752 was constructed in 1930 and was withdrawn by London Transport in 1971. She, again, is part of the wonderful Tyseley Collection. Her and her shedmate No9600 do not get hired out to other railways. It is the Tyseley opinion (and quite right it is too) that the two engines receive better treatment just doing two railtours per year together and steaming at Tyseley. They only average around 4 or 5 steamings each per year, thus making their high standard of engineering last longer and reduce the spending required on them. Quite right too, as the Panniers are in beautiful nick...
Talking of Panniers, Phil was now driving No9600 about and invited myself & Ed aboard for a footplate trip. The trip didn't come for free mind...I had to fire the box up a bit!...
After a pleasant ride up the yard and back on the immaculate No9600 I took a final view of her before we left at around 3pm. I love the BR lined black livery against the tanks...
All in all, a good day at the brilliant Tyseley Locomotive Works. The team here obviously take great pride in what they do and the standard of the locomotives they care for certainly respects that. The engines are all immaculate and run like sewing machines. One that got away was the little Peckett 0-4-0 No1, of Peckett type W7. The engine was creeping about the yard with a wagon or two but I didn't catch a pic. I must thank 'Eddie the Late' for his company and we both, I feel, should thank our man Phil for the tour. We have known Phil for quite a few years now and he is the kind of engineman you can't help but respect. He has a wealth of knowledge of various engines, both rail and road, and in all different sizes. I'm sure myself & Ed can both say we're proud to know him...
Engineman of Various Preservation Hotspots Mr Bates on 5043
Well, if the creeping above doesn't bag us another footplate ride I don't know what will! Haha - only joking folks. Cheers to Phil and Ed for a great day anyway, and well done to Tyseley and all of their hard working team for putting on a great show. Keep up the good work. All the best guys, Sam...

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