Saturday, 31 December 2016

Dropping The Fire - The BIG Review of 2016...

"Sragi Sugar Steam Duo" - Pic by G.Cryer (April)
Hi everyone. As 2016 draws to a close I've sat down to write the review of the year. There have been fires, whistles and mishaps aplenty but all in all it has been a good one. Including this one the blog has managed 91 posts during the year; a figure lower than usual but one that I believe has resulted from the lower frequency of 5" gauge and garden railway posts. It has been a very busy year and so I will just sum up a few of the highlights and of course round off another year at my volunteering locations. To start with, we must go to Tyseley Locomotive Works. A further twelve months volunteering at the former 84E shed has been a real eye-opener. I've learnt a lot and enjoyed it immensely. The engines of Tyseley are always immaculate and a visit to the works on whatever basis is always interesting. You can walk down the shed rotating in awe at the various pieces of engineering excellence just arms length away. I've now joined the Support Crew at Tyseley and in 2016 went to Carnforth to the base of West Coast Railways for my PTS course. In 2017 I hope to do more main line trips with Tyseley's main line operating arm Vintage Trains, helping with 4965 & 5043 to name but two...
"4965 'Rood Ashton Hall' Gets Ready For The Shakespeare Express" (July)
Regular readers will know that the Tyseley railtour posts tend to take a more 'story-like' view of proceedings. A day out with main line steam is always an adventure and taking a beautiful engine like 5043 along the "Welsh Marches" was great. The noise of this four cylinder, double-chimney marvel was immense...
"5043 In The Jewellery Quarter" - Pic by G.Nuttall (August)
Tyseley held open weekends in both June and September. At the June weekend I had a go on both of their resident pannier tanks, spending the Sunday on 9600. During the September do the works welcomed the worlds most famous locomotive - 60103 "Flying Scotsman". I spent the three days of the event on the footplate of 9600 and had a great time. This is a wonderful pannier tank...
"Footplate of 9600" (September)
It was lovely to see the visiting A3 Pacific fresh from overhaul...
"The W7 Peckett Sizes Up To The A3 Pacific" (September)
I look forward immensely to volunteering with Tyseley in 2017. Its always an enlightening experience and until I started attending I didn't realise how much I didn't know about steam engines. Its a great place. Moving on from one great place to another, 2016 saw us once again attending the wonderful Statfold Barn Railway. We did all three of their enthusiasts days as well as attending a training day for the new signalling. The April open day was spent aboard the elderly Krauss 0-4-2 "Sragi No1", a surprising engine with bags of power hidden away. Former Shack companion 'Eddie the Late' was on with me for all three open days this year, much to his bewilderment...
"Crewing Sragi No1 with Edwise" (April)
Two weeks after our pleasant day with the Krauss 74 miniature traction engines and steam lorries descended on Statfold Barn for the railways first 'Miniature Steam Rally'. This came about due to my ever growing list of contacts that I retained from my three events at Market Bosworth. The event went off very well and will be returning as the "Giant Miniature Weekend" over May 6th/7th. This time we hope to welcome over 90 examples of engines in 1.5" - 6" scales as well as many related displays. Its an event that steam enthusiasts of all ages can come along and enjoy as well as being Statfold's only family steam event. The line-up this year looked most impressive...
"Miniature Engines Parade At Statfold" - Pic by M.Ranieri (April)
Following the miniature steam weekend there were two further enthusiasts days - June and September. For the June event myself & Ed were rostered aboard my favourite SBR loco; the 1945-built Tongaat Sugar Bagnall "Isibutu". "Isibutu" is a large 4-4-0 side tank and is a pleasure to drive and fire. We had a great day on the High Level railway and I was actually sad to leave the engine at the end of the day...
"Driving The Bagnall" - Pic by M.Waldron (June)
Eddie: worn out from a week crewing on the Bure Valley: elected to do the firing at the June open day, allowing me sole control of "Isibutu". I must admit I had no complaints over this! I wouldn't complain if every day on any engine was on "Isibutu"...
"Eddie Bangs In Another Round" (June)
I'm already looking forward to the three Statfold events of 2017 and of course the additional "Giant Miniature Weekend" which is already well in the planning stages, more so than that I would say actually. Also in 2016 I did 5 turns at the 15" gauge Evesham Vale Light Railway in Worcestershire. This railway always offers a pleasant day on the footplate and I've driven all three of the EVLR residents this season...
"No312 'St Egwin' Simmers At Twyford" (March)
Later in the year I had a very wet day aboard the wonderful 0-6-2 "Dougal"...
"The Rain Falls For 'Dougal' At Twyford" (October)
As I say the EVLR is always a pleasant and stress-free experience and I'm grateful to Adrian & Sandra for their continued hospitality. Moving on to things I didn't expect. I certainly didn't expect to be driving and firing the NRM's T9 4-4-0 at The Battlefield Line this year. Regular readers will know that I did finish there in September last year but have now returned to help with the odd turn here and there. During December I had two very pleasant turns aboard this Southern veteran, with JB & David respectively...
"The T9 Slows For The Hedley's Slack" - Pic by A.Weaver (December)
I suppose we should now move onto the almost forgotten small engines and CMES. I've only attended Ryton Pools a mere couple of times in 2016, mainly due to time and other railway related commitments. Both the Maisie and "Achilles" have only been out once or twice each this year, with the former going to the Midlands show in October. Since then neither have turned a wheel but I do hope to have them out during 2017. I never seem to have a lot of time spare but as I read back through my own blog I tend to see why! I did take "Achilles" to Ryton for the July steam day...
"The Ryton Double-Header" - Pic by D.Strapps (June)
As I say I hope to take the engines out a few times in 2017. As I write "Achilles" is out of ticket, has been since about a week after the above picture was taken! My laziness is unforgivable and I should sort the engine out. She's fine and ready to go, just needs testing. The Maisie is in ticket and is also just waiting for a chance. We'll see. Finally, as there is nothing to say about either the LEGO set-up or the 00 gauge garden railway, we'll move on to Days Out. I've managed quite a few little outings in between everything else this year including the following (pictures and captions only). 

The Churnet Valley Railway Steam Gala back in February...
A sunny ride behind Pannier Tank No6412 on the picturesque South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh back in May...
A pleasant day meandering through the countryside aboard Phil's immaculate Aveling & Porter F-Type steam roller "Louise" (June)...
A Spring visit to the 2ft gauge Amerton Railway where I was kindly invited aboard their Bagnall saddle tank "Isabel" for a couple of footplate trips...
In July myself and JB were asked to crew Statfold's vertical-boilered 0-4-0 "Howard" at the Welland Steam Rally. We duly accepted and had a great day...
In August myself and Maisie had a nice weekend away in Yorkshire and visited the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Grosmont. This was a great line and we also had a very pleasant evening out on the "Grosmont Pullman" dining train...
September saw me taking a short visit to the Chasewater Railway where I was kindly invited aboard the visiting Andrew Barclay "Rosyth" for a footplate trip...
The final highlight was our annual November visit to the Severn Valley Railway for our trip on their fabulous dining train. Another very pleasant outing...
As well as the above highlights there were visits to the Northampton & Lamport Railway, the National Railway Museum, Apedale and a few others. Its been another great but busy year and I must thank everyone involved. I must also thank the various photographers who have kindly sent in images for use in these posts throughout the year as well as of course thanking YOU, the reader, who keeps on trawling through this mindless dribble I keep writing year in, year out! Thank you. Well, with the review pretty much complete, all that remains for me to say is that I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that 2017 brings you everything you want. May your coal bunkers be full, your steam plentiful and your steeds in tip top condition. All the best everyone, many thanks, Sam...

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