Saturday, 25 March 2017

Statfold Barn: A Glorious Day On No19...

Hi all. Today the award winning Statfold Barn Railway held its first Enthusiasts Day of 2017. A grand total of 20 locomotives were planned to be in steam and the event would also see the debut of the recently restored Burton & Ashby tram and the Peckett "Liassic". I was rostered to drive the lovely 0-4-0 Hudswell Clarke saddle tank No19, built in 1914. I couldn't make the usual prep day yesterday due to work commitments and so arrived at Statfold at 5:40am this morning. Already several of the crew members were in attendance and had begun busying themselves with various tasks around the shed. No19 was found in the centre road, sparkling from a days polishing yesterday. Fireman Max was already on the footplate, lighting the fire with a good round of dry wood. The atmosphere on shed at Statfold during these early morning light ups is always enjoyable...
"No19 Steams Up Behind 'Diana' Whilst 'Max' and 'Howard' Look On"
With so many engines in steam today, most services would be double-headed. No19 was paired with the visiting Kerr Stuart Sirdar Class "Diana", usually found on the Bala Lake Railway and owned by SBR Driver Phil Mason. Myself and Max prepped No19 in readiness for our 8:00am move off shed. The 0-4-0 carries the very accessible Walschaerts valve gear, with all of the components on the outside. The usual queue for the oil drums was enjoyed with several Drivers desperately willing the lethargic cylinder oil to show itself. No19 carries a mechanical lubricator on the drivers side for the cylinders. Most of the points require motion oil (a much thinner viscosity than the cylinder oil) with only the mechanical and the steam brake lubricator needing the latter. As you go round with your oil cans and your rag, the general make-up of the engine is also checked. You're looking for any pins, cotters, nuts or bolts that may be loose or even missing. The drivers eye is always keen to find something out of the ordinary...just in case. Thankfully, No19 was in good health (as per) and the morning prep went without hitch...
A day at Statfold generally starts with a very busy morning, followed later in the day by a very busy afternoon. These generally consist of the countless shunt moves required to get everything into place for the commencement of services and then getting it all ready to put away again in the evening. The actual 'running' part during the day is probably the most relaxed! When the call came for us to move, "Diana" hissed gently forward, tugging us into movement. The two engines descended the bank to the signalbox with their steam brake exhausts whistling away. We were then given the disc signal to steam up into the platform and couple to the waiting stock on Platform 2 road...
"Coupled Up & Ready To Go"
Once in position, the attentions of the Duty Officer turned to the next move on the traction list. We would be stationary now until around 9:30am. The usual Safety Briefing then took place outside the loco shed, with the general arrangements for the day set out in full. After the briefing we decided to go and get our traditional SBR breakfast: a cuppa' and a cob. This was enjoyed upon our return to No19...
The first passenger train of the day left slightly before us, hauled by 4 locomotives. This system eventually works out to get the token system up and running. Our pairing would be the next out, hauling another passenger set. The green double-act of "Alpha" and "Liassic" would tail us for the first trip of the day...
With a "Right Away" from the Guard and the correct signal given, we were "on the move". There was much hissing as we departed... 
"Leaving Statfold" (Pic - J.Evans)
"Diana" led us neatly out of Statfold and into the fields. Coasting downgrade into Oak Tree, the staff for the Statfold section was given up and a green flag received from the crossing. We would now proceed into the next section. "Diana"s driver Phil then turned around and said "need some help here, Sam" as his pressure slowly decreased. My reply came swiftly whilst opening the regulator on No19: "My god Max, can you believe it? Talyllyn men down the nick already and we're not even half way there!". There was much amusement which was captured by Ian Whitfield as we departed Oak Tree. One thing about footplate days is the good humour. Without that, it wouldn't be half as much fun...
"Leaving Oak Tree" (Pic - I.Whitfield)
Steaming away from Oak Tree we descended the bank before heading to the balloon loop at New Road. We were held on the approach by a red flag, allowing the "Goose" railbus to depart along the High Level line...
With the "Goose" out of the way, our ensemble made some row as we got the train moving again into the balloon loop. Low Level trains are held here to allow the previous service to depart on the token. The train stabled in the platform at Cogan Halt will then wait for the next train to come down from Oak Tree before departing...
Upon our restart from Cogan Halt we struggled to get the engines to move. Both had near enough full pressure but the weight was just hanging back solid. A quick nudge from "Alpha" got us underway in the end, though we felt a brake had been left on initially. Leaving New Road, the climb of the bank to Oak Tree was, shall we say, "fairly audible!". No19 and "Diana" really tore into it with probably their heaviest train of the day. Two dead engines on the back makes for some real weight! Soon enough we were waiting at S9 signal: the Statfold Outer Home: for a green...
"Waiting At S9 Signal" (Pic - M.Waldron)
After a pleasant first run, our pair were uncoupled and turned on the table. As "Diana" doesn't have the usual Statfold choppers, a special coupling was joining her to No19. No19 then became the coupling engine so we had to run with the Kerr Stuart leading all day. This was no issue to us. Once turned we spent a little while on the shed before being signalled down into the headshunt adjacent to the garden...
"Max" and the Corpet soon came down on top of us...
There was such a wonderful array of locomotives out today: so much to see. "Max" is passed here by my favourite SBR engine; the beautiful Bagnall 4-4-0 "Isibutu". The green 4-4-0 is seen departing Statfold with the ex-L & B stock...
At this point we enjoyed yet another cup of tea. The tea was certainly flowing today, during every stop at Oak Tree and every stop at Statfold. Well done to the Tea teams! Our second trip was another passenger run and we soon found ourselves at the balloon loop awaiting our next path. Ben Joseph caught me looking for the next train...
"Waiting The Road" (Pic - B.Joseph)
Returning to Statfold once again I was caught checking the time...
"The Big Hand Points To..." (Pic - I.Whitfield)
The third train of the day was a freight working. Max drove this trip with me having a go at chucking the coal in. I was having a brilliant day...
"Around The Loop With The Freight" (Pic - M.Waldron)
We were soon arriving back and surrendering the token once again. I tell you what, we couldn't have asked for better weather for the March open day...
"A Beautiful Day at Statfold" (Pic - J.Evans)
Statfold days go so quickly. As well as driving & firing the engines you spend your day drinking tea, watching the world go by and of course gassing with the countless people you seem to know. I spent my day chatting to almost everyone that passed by the engine. Max commented that I seemed to know everyone...I don't know what he means! We were soon back on shed after our third outing of the day...
After the third trip we did wonder if that was it for the day but at the last moment we had a final passenger working. Julian Birley: owner of "Alice" and "Winifred" at Bala: joined us on the footplate for this final trip and we had a pleasant chat about all things steam. The train is captured at the balloon loop. Max was on the handle for this run...
"Final Trip at New Road" (Pic - Mark of SBR)
Returning to Statfold after the final run, we were uncoupled and then moved (via the turntable) into Platform 1 road behind most of the rest of the engines. We were now awaiting the 5pm Cavalcade and Whistle-Up. This was performed near the Tram Shed before the engines dropped down to the Roundhouse ready for disposal...
A gang of fitters then took over the engines ready to dispose them. Us crews were sent off for tea...can't say fairer than that! All in all it had been another fantastic day at Statfold Barn. I must thank Max for his company aboard No19 and Phil for being such a good sport with "Diana". I must also thank all at Statfold Barn Railway for another great opportunity to volunteer with them and of course the various photographers who have kindly sent in images for use in this post. I am very grateful to you all. Roll on the next Statfold do which it just so happens is our "Giant Miniature Weekend". A family event aimed at all ages with well over 80 miniatures in steam plus plenty of action on the railway and other attractions too. Tickets available here for the May 6th/7th "GMW"

In extremely sad news, I am sorry to round off this post with the news that John Tomlinson: a young, keen SBR volunteer: passed away during the weekend. John's family are the owners of the Fowler Traction Engine "Elsa" which has been featured on here many times before. John was a very pleasant, knowledgeable and enthusiastic young man and it is extremely sad to say that he has left us at age 14. Whenever I saw John at rallies I was always impressed by his confidence with road engines, particularly for his young age. His love and passion for "Elsa" was also clear. My thoughts go out to John's family during this awful time. RIP John.
Thanks All, Sam

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