Sunday, 13 March 2016

"St Egwin": Driving at Evesham...

Evening all. Today was another pleasant little outing, driving at the 15" gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway in Worcestershire. After two days up at Statfold, I was raring to go again this morning as I left home at just after 7am. The run to Evesham is a fairly easy one: through Coventry and down the A46. There was; as readers have no doubt come to expect; the traditional McDonalds stop on route: a must when on the footplate. I arrived at the EVLR's base of Twyford Station at around ten past eight, leaving enough time to enjoy my breakfast whilst admiring the morning sunshine as it rose slowly above the Vale...
The railway's owners: Adrian & Sandra: soon arrived and we all signed in before opening the shed to reveal the engine for the day. Exmoor 0-4-0 No312 "St Egwin" would be my steed for the day and she was soon outside and awaiting preparation...
Being single man operation, you're very much left to it at Evesham. The first job: as per practise: is to check the water level in the boiler - 3/4 of a glass. Then its time to look both in and around the firebox and in the smokebox for any signs of leakage. If everything is OK then its time to break up the remaining ashes from the previous fire and clean the grate. On Evesham engines, the ashpan is then emptied and the footplate swept before lighting the fire. The paraffin-soaked rags were soon roaring away on the shovel before being thrown onto the grate ready for wood to be added...
The wood for todays lighting up was partly soaked in paraffin too and thus it went up like nobody's business. By now, No312 had the compressed air line attached to her smokebox, thus providing a gentle draft to draw the gases from the embryo fire through the tubes and aid their lift skywards via the chimney. Once the fire is crackling away nicely and has taken hold, the coal can be added. The coal aboard "Egwin"s tender was the open cast Welsh stuff from Ffos-y-Fran which we used to use at Shack but when drawing hard we found it had the tendency to melt fire-bars. Here though, it seems to do OK as the draw through the grate is for shorter periods and isn't half so intense. Coal added, with a plume of smoke rising from her chimney, "St Egwin" was soon singing away to herself...
Once the engine is lit and happy, the next job is to set to with the cleaning: Peek for the brasses, Pledge for the paintwork. It was a very pleasant morning on shed today: the birds were singing, the sun was shining and a very enjoyable day was in prospect - it was all just very poetic! Sandra kindly brought me out a welcome cuppa' whilst "Egwin" raised steam and by 10am the 0-4-0 was almost ready for the off...
The final job before leaving shed is to do the oiling and greasing. Exmoor engines were designed with ease of maintenance in mind and thus most of the bearings are roller bearings with grease nipples. There are a few trimmings and oil ways on "Egwin" but not enough to take up a vast amount of time. With a pip on the whistle and a hiss of steam, the 0-4-0 moved gently off her shed road with the sun continuing to shine. Having blown down as normal at the shunt limit, the engine was reversed gently back into Platform 1 road ready to couple up to the waiting 3-coach train...
"First Train Of The Day"
The first train would leave at 10:30am as normal, with only a few passengers aboard. "Egwin" steamed easily out of Twyford with a light, bright fire and it wasn't long before the regulator was shut for the descent towards Evesham Vale. The first two trips were most pleasant and No312 was in good form...
"Egwin Waits With The 11:30 Train at Evesham Vale"
Climbing Twyford Bank with the returning 11:30 train, we see a view of the road ahead and a clear blue sky above...
Loadings were very good today, with the train having to be strengthened to the 4-coach variant just before lunchtime. One departure from Twyford even left slightly early as every seat was full - that certainly made "St Egwin" bark a bit on the stiff climb of Fishers Bank! Though a day on Evesham Vale metals is fairly easy and stress-free, you do seem to be kept on the go! It doesn't seem like two minutes since the previous trip and you're off again with another outing. The day goes by very quickly and "Egwin" is seen below ready to haul the 2:30pm departure from Twyford...
One great pleasantry about the EVLR is the daily provision of tea and cake on the footplate. You arrive back at your gleaming loco having just checked the doors to find this on the engine - most civilised...
Later in the day, with the weather still on our side, "Egwin" climbs towards the top of Twyford Bank with the 3:30pm train, bound for Evesham Vale...
During the short layover at Evesham Vale, a lot of passengers tend to come up and see the engine. The fire is always a great talking point...
"Egwin" was still in good form as she awaited the return of the penultimate train...
The last train of the day on the low season timetable is the 4pm. "Egwin" was watered just before this train, to save doing it when we returned. The tender does hold a surprising amount of water, though I kept it topped up by filling it every three trips...
A quick footplate view of "St Egwin" ready for the final climb home of the day...
Steaming homeward throwing white steam over her shoulder with the final train of the day, "St Egwin" watched as the sun gradually settled lower in the sky. Having been uncoupled and turned after her last run, the engine was returned carefully to the shed. The creaking point-work groaned beneath her as the chunky 0-4-0 backed cautiously onto her shed road with the fire dying slowly. It was then time for disposal and a good clean before I drove No312 the final few feet back into her shed for the night. It had been another most enjoyable outing at Evesham and a pleasure once again to be at the regulator of "St Egwin". Thanks for reading all: Cheers, Sam...

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