• Depot News – week ending 21-Feb-21

    Another week of lockdown and another week of highly variable weather. The Webcam capture below shows some of our locos being lashed by rain driven by the gusty wind, with temperatures in double digits! Compare this to the scene last week (see previous depot news article).

    Wet and windy weather can be seen on the Williton North webcam on 20th February 2021, courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR ©

    WSR Operations Manager and DEPG member Paul Fleet attended at Williton last Tuesday (16-Feb) to run D6575 and he reported a minor issue with a control switch that will need some attention. Hopefully the weather will be good enough so that Ian will be able to attend to inspect and hopefully resolve the issue. Paul took the opportunity to move the loco further along the platform, to the extent allowed by the signal, to allow easier access to the bogies and underframe for inspection (as shown in the webcam capture above).

    Paul also attended at Bishops Lydeard last Tuesday to run the Class 09 shunter D4107 and our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048). No issues were reported with either locomotive.

    This coming Tuesday (23-Feb), DEPG member and Maybach specialist Bob Clegg and a small team will attend at Williton and perform checks on the Maybach engines that are installed in our ‘Hymeks’ and in our Class 52 ‘Western’ D1010. Terry will also attend to run a check over our Paxman-engined Class 14 D9526.

    Around half of our regular volunteers have now had their vaccinations, so there are continual signs that progress is being made. We can’t wait to get back to Williton and get on with the work!

     

    LOCO NEWS: Other than that reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.


    Last week, we covered the 44th anniversary of the “WESTERN REQUIEM RELIEF” railtour that ran from Paddington to Aberdare, Merthyr and Treherbert at the heads of the valleys of South Wales with our very own D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ doing the heavy hauling.

    The ‘relief’ railtour ran one week before the main tour, meaning that it was 44 years ago TODAY that D1010 hauled the actual “WESTERN REQUIEM” railtour over the same route as covered by the ‘relief’ … well, that was the plan …

    Unfortunately, D1010 developed a coolant leak from her ‘B’ engine somewhere between Paddington and Reading, resulting in the engine shutting down. The loco battled on with only one engine running, losing time, until she arrived at Cardiff, where she was removed from the railtour. The tour continued, but under the control of a dirty Class 37, number 37 179 until the ’37’ was herself replaced at Pontypridd on the return leg by 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ – much to the delight of the fans !

    Here’s a photo of 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ at the head of the return leg, at Pontypridd:

    Class 52 number 1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ takes over the return leg of the ‘WESTERN REQUIEM’ railtour at Pontypridd on the 20th February 1977. Photo by Barry Lewis via Wikimedia Commons © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The photos that are available on Wikimedia showed that the steam heating boiler of D1010 was working well on the outbound leg, but I wonder if the ’37’ that took over at Cardiff had an operational boiler, given that it’s normal duties were working freight around the South Wales area. Does anyone know the answer to this question ? Perhaps this was another reason why everyone was so delighted to have a ‘Wizzo’ back on the front for the long haul back to Paddington ?

    This railtour, and others, will be covered in detail in our forthcoming booklet “D1010 – from Merehead to Minehead”.

     

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  • Depot News – week ending 14-Feb-21

    Last weekend, Ian and Tom performed an ‘A’ exam on Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057). The ‘A’ exam is a check-and inspect process that would have been performed once per week in the days when the loco was running on the mainline. For heritage railway usage, the check gets performed every 50 hours based on the engine run time. Because several days could pass before the loco is next put to use, the driver performs additional checks before starting up the engine and moving the loco.

    D6575 required a top-up for the cooling system, so a quantity of pre-mixed water and anti-freeze solution was pumped in to make sure that the level was correct and to maintain the strength of the anti-freeze.

    Williton yard is sprinkled with snow on 13th February 2021 with D7017 facing, D9526 behind the ‘Hymek’ and D6575 standing in Platform 1 alongside. Photo by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

    While on site at Williton, Ian performed a battery condition check on all of the locos in the DEPG fleet by measuring the voltage across the batteries and comparing against the standard value of 100 Volts. Here’s the results of the check:

    Loco Off-load voltage Action
    D1010 96V Full day charge required (planned for 23-Feb-21)
    D7017 92V Full day charge given, now OK
    D7018 100V No action required
    D9526 100V No action required
    47 077 96V Half-day charge given, may need more (check on 23-Feb-21)

    If the batteries are allowed to remain discharged for long periods, they will lose their capacity to hold a charge, so it is important to keep an eye on these important parts to ensure that a loco can be started up whenever the need arises.

    Many thanks to Ian and Tom for braving the cold weather to get this work done. The photo below shows the relatively luxurious surroundings that are provided to the batteries in ‘Hymek’ D7018:

    The 48 batteries for ‘Hymek’ D7018 have been relocated to a purpose-made frame that is located in the former steam generator compartment, seen here during restoration work on that loco in 2016. Photo by Graham Perry © CC BY-NC 3.0

    WSR Operations Manager and DEPG member Paul Fleet will be attending at Williton during the coming week to run D6575 and he will also attend at Bishops Lydeard to run Class 09 shunter D4107 and our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048). The engines are run for long enough to maintain their battery levels at full strength without the need for separate charging, while checks are performed on the ancillary machines such as compressors, exhausters and blowers.

    DEPG member Bob Clegg has organised a small team to check the Maybach engines that are installed in our ‘Hymeks’ and in our Class 52 ‘Western’ and to perform pre-heating and running of the engines where possible. This work is planned to take place on Tuesday 23rd February and such attention will keep these irreplaceable machines in good working order. Terry will also attend to run a check over Class 14 D9526.

    Around half of our regular volunteers have now had their vaccinations, so there are continual signs that progress is being made. We can’t wait to get back to Williton and get on with the work!

    LOCO NEWS: As stated above, the locos that received attention last weekend were D6575 (33 057), D7017 and 47 077. The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

    This weekend is the 44th anniversary of the “WESTERN REQUIEM RELIEF” railtour that ran from Paddington to Aberdare, Merthyr and Treherbert at the heads of the valleys of South Wales with our very own D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ doing the heavy hauling. The railtour route was via Gloucester to Cardiff then to Pontypridd and onward to the very end of three of the valley lines, reversing at Pontypridd each time.

    D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ in charge of the “WESTERN REQUIEM RELIEF” railtour, pictured at Treherbert in the Rhondda valley on the 13th of February 1977. Photo by Kelvin Lumb © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The “relief” ran a week before the main tour because of the very high demand for tickets, and both tours were a sell-out. This fantastic image of D1010 at the headshunt just beyond Treherbert, just over 1000 feet (302m) above sea level at the head of the Rhondda valley in South Wales, was captured by Kelvin Lumb on the day of the relief tour, and shows the admiration of the those who had travelled independently to this remote spot to pay homage to the Class. The loco was then uncoupled from the train and ran round the coaches to re-couple at the south end and haul the train back into Treherbert station. Many thanks to Kelv for sharing his photos with us. 

    This railtour, and others, will be covered in detail in our forthcoming booklet “D1010 – from Merehead to Minehead”.


    WSR NEWS: The WSR have introduced a requirement for all competency records to be held electronically within HOPS. The Heritage Operations Processing System (HOPS) is an on-line facility that is used by many heritage railways to handle the complex business of staff (both paid and voluntary), operations, training, competency, rostering and a host of other useful things.

    The DEPG is well prepared for this, due to work that has been done in the background by our Martin Howard and Simon Purvis, and it is great to see that the WSR is one of the leaders in the adoption of HOPS and will benefit from the ‘one system process’ that is now mandatory across the WSR family of organisations.

    In practical terms, it means that our volunteers need to demonstrate competency and have records maintained to verify competency before performing any kind of work on our locomotives. This may sound like ‘a load of red tape’ and it will no doubt cause frustration to some, but considering that our locos are irreplaceable, these are the obligations of the DEPG trustees and we need to be able to demonstrate that our locos are being looked after in a professional way, in addition to being critical from the viewpoint of safety.


     

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  • Depot News – week ending 07-Feb-21

    More good news this week as we have been advised that more than one third of our regular Williton volunteer team have already received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. This bodes well and suggests that it will not be too long before we can get back to work.

    Our priority this weekend is to perform an ‘A’ exam on Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) to ensure that she is kept available for use on the WSR engineering trains. The ‘A’ exam is a regular check-and-inspect process that is performed at 50-hour intervals, measured in engine running time, and covers safety items such as wheels, brakes, lights and windscreen wipers, then moves on to the basic maintenance items such as oil and coolant levels, fuel and batteries.

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) departs Crowcombe Heathfield for Williton on 5th December 2020 on a crew refresher training run. Photo by Peter Nicholson © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Our vintage locos were designed in an age when a lot of maintenance was ‘normal’, but modern locomotives still have regular safety checks, even though they can run for a lot longer before needing attention. All of these checks are in addition to those made by the driver whenever the loco is started up. All checks have to be completed satisfactorily before the loco can be moved.

    We will explain more about ‘A’ checks, ‘B’ checks and so on, in a later article.

    LOCO NEWS: The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

     

    DEPG NEWS: The next edition of our quarterly newsletter has been delayed by two weeks so it is now expected to be mailed nearer the end of this month. We will be mailing it to all members, so if you are not already a member of the DEPG, then join now to make sure that you get your newsletter.

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    In addition to our range of clothing and collectibles, new merchandise is coming soon including mugs and coasters featuring each of our locomotives along with additional items in the clothing range. DEPG membership can be purchased or renewed from the shop pages and most importantly, donations can be made as well. Our surprise best seller so far has been our D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ hat!

     

     

    If you would like a hat that is specific to your favourite DEPG locomotive, let us know because we will be getting some on order. Colours available will be maroon, green, blue or black. Hats with the DEPG logo will also be available in these colours.

     

     


    WSR NEWS: The WSR have publicised vacancies for several key staff positions, as follows:

    • Director Mechanical Engineering
    • Director Infrastructure Engineering
    • Operations Lead

    These vacancies have arisen because of the expiry of the 6-month contracts that are currently in place until the end of March. Also advertised recently are vacancies for a Safety & Compliance Lead and a Volunteer Manager.

    For details, click here: http://www.wsr.org.uk/news.htm#2262

    Ensuring that these important positions are covered beyond March is a clear declaration that the WSR intends to be ready and waiting to re-open as soon as conditions allow.

    Finally, click below to get a glimpse of the excellent progress being made with the track relaying on the Doniford curve:

    http://www.wsr.org.uk/cgi-bin/snap.cgi?h=Snapshot&p=2021/02/027

    http://www.wsr.org.uk/cgi-bin/snap.cgi?h=Snapshot&p=2021/02/026

    Many thanks for your support !

     

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  • Depot news – week ending 31-Jan-21

    With lockdown still preventing progress at Williton and elsewhere, we can report that a positive step has been taken with the springs from our fully disassembled Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ number D9518. All six springs have been sent to a locomotive spring manufacturer for the purposes of refurbishing and testing. Upon their return in a few months from now, our volunteers will then be able to build up the “rolling chassis” and then start to re-install the major subsystems including the brake frame that was restored last autumn.

    BR-Swindon built (1964) Class 14 number D9518 (aka NCB Ashington No. 7) being dismantled for a full and thorough restoration. Seen at Williton on 11th December 2014. Photo by Graham Perry © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The springs for a Class 14 are identical to the springs of a Class 08 or 09 shunter, but the way that the springs are fitted to the frames is different. We will go into more detail and explain the differences when the springs are ready for re-installation. The below photo shows the frames with the old springs still in place.

    Step back in time to October 2018. While being stripped down to her basic frame, D9518 rests on trollies in the ‘Swindon’ Shed with her springs still in place above the horn guides (the rectangular cut-outs where the axle bearings would normally be). The DEPG’s Class 47 D1661 ‘NORTH STAR’ looks on as she awaits her turn in the paint shop. Photo by Terry Deacon © CC BY-NC 3.0

    We will be setting up a campaign on JustGiving to raise the funds that will be needed to return D9518 to service on the WSR so that she can work a passenger train for the first time ever !

    NCB No. 7 (aka D9518) had five more years of work ahead of her when seen operating at Ashington Colliery in this photo dated 25th May 1981. The cars parked on the left give off shades of beige that were favoured in the ‘seventies but were definitely going out of fashion by the time that this photo was taken. Photo by DEPG Class 14 team member and driver Colin Girle © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    LOCO NEWS: The two Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) were started up by WSR Operations Manager and DEPG member Paul Fleet and run for a while to re-charge their batteries and ensure that they remain fully serviceable and ready for the WSR to use on engineering trains.

    DEPG ‘Crompton’ sisters D6566 (33 048, nearest) and D6575 (33 057) captured while repositioning at Williton during a bright and sunny moment on 31st December 2020. Photo by Class 33 loco manager Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.


     

    DEPG NEWS: The synopsis of last weeks’ Board meeting has been made available to all who have signed up for our weekly roundup e-newsletter and a hard copy will be mailed to all members along with their next newsletter. In the spirit of open governance, redactions have only been made where absolutely necessary.

    We are making good progress on the next edition of our quarterly newsletter and it is on track for mailing in mid-February, so if you are not already a member of the DEPG, then join now to make sure that you get your newsletter.


     

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!

    In addition to our range of clothing and collectibles, new merchandise is coming soon including mugs and coasters featuring each of our locomotives along with additional items in the clothing range. DEPG membership can be purchased or renewed from the shop pages and most importantly, donations can be made as well.


     

    WSR NEWS: Last Thursday, the WSR hosted a Zoom session where Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt gave a detailed update on the status of the WSR including finances, infrastructure and future plans. Over 60 volunteers joined the call and several engaged in a healthy Q&A session that followed the news briefing. In my book, the WSR get top marks for this initiative because it brought people together and re-ignited the spirit of the ‘WSR family’ and showed that we are all so eager to get back to work and get the railway back to normal operating status as soon as we can.

     

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  • Depot news – week ending 24-Jan-21

    With lockdown still in force at Williton, we can at least report some positive steps that were achieved during this last week. The first is the commissioning of the replacement Fork Lift Truck for use by the WSR Restorations team and the DEPG.

    Former Tui Flight Engineering 7.5 tonne Fork Lift Truck in use at Williton on 22nd January 2021. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The 7.5 tonne capacity truck was formerly owned by Tui and was operated at one of their Flight Engineering centres. It needs a repaint and some attention here and there, but is generally in good condition and will no doubt prove to be most useful. The driver training course for this FLT was conducted last Thursday under strict Covid-19 precautions, so all we need now is an opportunity to put it to work.

    After completing his FLT training, our Chairman Martin Howard attended at Westridge shed in Bishops Lydeard, to investigate a coolant leak that was reported on Class 09 shunter D4107. Although D4107 is not a member of the DEPG fleet, a Class 08 or 09 shunter is an essential piece of equipment for the WSR and needs to be kept in good working order, so the DEPG are pleased to be able to help with this work.

    Class 09 D4107 stands over the pit in the steam shed at Westridge, Bishops Lydeard on 31st December 2020, keeping good company with Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 alongside. Photo by Ian Robins ©CC BY-NC 3.0

    To assist with maintenance of diesel locos at Westridge shed, the DEPG is going to move a 110V battery charger from Williton so that loco batteries can be kept in good condition, especially during periods when the locos are not in regular use.  

    110V battery charger at Williton, awaiting transfer to Westridge shed at Bishops Lydeard. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    An unusual sighting at Williton recently was a portaloo that appeared alongside the Old Goods Shed, as seen in the below photo …

    A Portaloo had been placed outside the Old Goods Shed by a person or persons unknown. Photo taken at Williton on 13th January 2021 by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    The mystery surrounding this essential amenity was solved when the following photograph was posted on the wsr.org.uk website a few days ago …

    Track relaying well under way at Doniford Halt – with a portaloo visible at the Williton end of the platform ! Photo taken on 22nd January 2021 by John Crocker © CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    In addition to solving the portaloo conundrum, the photo shows just how much is going on at the WSR, often in places such as Doniford that are out of sight to the general public. Top marks to the WSR and all those involved in this major piece of work.

     

    LOCO NEWS: The status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

     

     

    As stated last week, the next DEPG publication to be released in the spring will be “D1010 – From Merehead to Minehead” where we will describe the preservation of our own D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’. Here are the cover photos to whet your appetite …

    Cover of the forthcoming DEPG publication “D1010 – From Merehead to Minehead”. © DEPG CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Our appeal last week for photos and stories about D1010 in both BR days and in preservation resulted in a number of very helpful responses, but we need MORE – as follows:

    On 7th May 1966, D1010 with an Ian Allan Special Train (6 coaches) broke 3 records. Paddington to Penzance 5h13m, Paddington to Plymouth 3h19m and Plymouth to Penzance 1h36m.

    Did you ride on or witness the IAN ALLAN SPECIAL in May 1966 ?

    Did you ride on or witness the “WESTERN REQUIEM” railtours in February 1977 ?

    If yes, please contact us and provide info, stories, photos, whatever possible to help us with this booklet, the proceeds from which will go directly to the D1010 restoration fund.

     

    DEPG NEWS: A Board meeting was held yesterday, the first to be held entirely via Zoom. We will aim to provide a synopsis of the discussions and decisions in the next roundup. We are working on the next edition of our quarterly newsletter and it is planned for mailing in early February, so if you are not already a member of the DEPG, then join now to make sure that you get your newsletters.

     

    DEPG WEBSITE: Our online shop is all set up and ready to go – we only need a validation step to be completed before we can go live with it. Several of you have informed me that you are ready to place orders and make payments, so please keep an eye on our site because it will carry a notification banner as soon as we go live.

    We will be offering our forthcoming booklet “D1010 – From Merehead to Minehead” and this will be available for pre-order, with a planned publication date of 31st March 2021.

    New merchandise that is coming soon includes mugs and coasters featuring each of our locomotives along with additional items in the clothing range. Please let me know if you have ideas for a product that we could offer that would help us raise funds for the DEPG.

     

    WSR NEWS: The DEPG has submitted an article for the next edition of “The Platform” newsletter and we will be providing regular updates going forward. Being invited to contribute to the WSR newsletter is further evidence of the mutual support links that exist between all members of the “WSR family”. Such links will ensure not just the survival but the long-term prosperity of the WSR, which is of course the permanent home for the DEPG.

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  • D7018 is 59 years old today!

    We have another birthday to celebrate, this time our second ‘Hymek’ D7018. This loco entered service with British Railways at Bristol Bath Road depot on the 18th of January 1962, so she is 59 years old (in locomotive terms) today !

    Above: D7018 seen arriving at Bishops Lydeard on a dull October day in 2019 after working a Diesel Driver Experience Course from Minehead. Video clip by Natalie Royal (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    View a summer 2019 departure from Williton on Twitter by clicking on the icon.

    The DEPG’s Beyer-Peacock ‘Hymek’ D7018 stands resplendent at Crowcombe Heathfield on the 8th October 2019. Photo by Martin Howard (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Having returned to service during the WSR’s “Diesels to the Seaside 2019” gala event after a thorough overhaul that lasted 24 years, she is in fine form and we can’t wait to get her out and about again. Here’s some photos of this loco in earlier years:

    In late January 1962, just a few weeks old, D7018 is seen hauling a Gloucester to Swindon working, passing Standish Junction. Photo by Roger Smith (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    D7018 carrying the livery that she wore for the first two weeks of January 1962, before having the small yellow warning panel applied at Swindon Works. Pictured at the Old Oak Common open day in 1985 by Gary Lemon (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

     

    As we reported last week, sister loco D7017 is awaiting bogie spring replacement therapy (as soon as the depot re-opens) and hopefully she will be repaired in time to commemorate her 60th birthday along with her sister, ideally with a special event on the WSR in 2022. Can’t wait !

     

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  • Depot news – week ending 17-Jan-21

    Lockdown has brought progress to a stand once more, but special permission was given last weekend to allow a tarpaulin to be placed over the leaking container that is used as a store for Class 33 spare parts. This temporary solution will last until we are able to repair or replace the container.

    BRCW Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) was moved from No.1 road in the South Yard to Platform 1 at Williton Station last Monday to allow the WSR’s infrastructure team to occupy more of the South Yard. The materials and equipment in the South Yard at Williton are in support of the track relaying work taking place at nearby Doniford.

    The below capture from the Williton webcam shows the loco in her new position. The Road-Rail Vehicle (RRV) can be seen at work, moving heavy loads in the south yard, just to the left of the loco.

    Class 33 D6575 (33 057) now stabled at Platform 1 at Williton on 11th January 2021. Webcam capture by Railcam UK and the WSR (c)

    Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for the major benefit provided by these webcams.

    LOCO NEWS:

    D7017 – A complete set of replacement helical primary suspension springs has been ordered as part of a bulk purchase arrangement with the Diesel Traction Group (DTG). The purchase of the much more expensive triple-row elliptical secondary suspension springs has had to be postponed to protect funds during the lockdown.

    Both the primary (helical) and the secondary (elliptical) suspension springs are visible in this view of D7017’s bogie. Photographed at Williton depot on 11th October 2020 by Andrew Royle (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    We hope to make use of two of the four springs that were recovered from an old set of bogies and have so far tested OK, to postpone the day of financial reckoning. If this plan does not work out, we will be opening an appeal to raise money to get D7017 back into service for the 2022 season.

    The status of our other locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown.

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  • Chairman’s Update – 12-Jan-21

    Yesterday, DEPG Chairman Martin Howard provided an update message that went out to those members and supporters who have signed up to the weekly roundup email service. As Martin’s message contained information that could also be of interest to our wider readership, we are releasing his statement in its entirety.

    Update from the DEPG Chairman – 11th January 2021

    Since the imposition of the current Lockdown measures, there has been a considerable amount of adverse comment about various activities taking place on the WSR. Some of this comment is implicating the DEPG in a negative way and I wish to counter this with an explanation of what is actually taking place.

    The WSR Board has had a close look at how the latest lockdown measures affect them and were quick to issue guidance for their own staff and volunteers. The DEPG Board has decided to follow suit and adopt the spirit of this guidance. In brief, this means the Railway is closed to the public, many paid staff are working from home and volunteer attendance is discouraged – but it does not mean the Railway is completely closed, far from it.

    You will recall that the WSR was fortunate to receive a large Heritage Culture Recovery Fund grant which is aimed at keeping the business afloat and paying for works that are either necessary due to the coronavirus or have been delayed because of it. It is important to remember that this money has to be spent by 31st March 2021. There is much work to be done on the Railway that cannot be done from home and so the WSR has decided that certain activities must therefore continue where it is safe to do so and provided appropriate Covid-secure measures are implemented.

    The DEPG Board has decided to take a similar stance and not to allow our volunteers to attend at Williton Depot unless the task to be undertaken is either essential to WSR or DEPG operations or urgently required to secure our assets or make something safe. This allows us to authorise and undertake such work as may be necessary on a case-by-case basis.

    As you know, we have had to vacate the Goods Shed because of the poor state of the roof and so since the end of November and throughout December, several DEPG volunteers were engaged in removing and securely stowing our assets from within it. It was important for us to get this done quickly to minimise any risk to our staff and so this job was clearly an urgent one. I am pleased to report that this task has now been completed.

    Inside the Old Goods Shed at Williton facing south – showing the railway and roadway either side of the central platform. The loading gauge still hangs in position (below the light fitting), to warn the staff against over-height loads on wagons. Photo by Martin Howard (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    During this process we discovered that the container housing Class 33 spares had developed a leak and water was now threatening the spares inside. Last weekend was the first opportunity we had to cover the container with a tarpaulin to prevent the rain getting in.

    Class 33 spares container at Williton Depot showing signs of water ingress on 27th December 2020. Photo by Ian Robins c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    Throughout January, February and March, the WSR Permanent Way Gang will be engaged in various tasks to help bring the railway itself back up to scratch. There is still trackwork to be completed at Doniford from when it was interrupted by the first lockdown in March. There is also urgent work at Blue Anchor and of course there are the new barriers to be installed at Seaward Way in Minehead. There are also many other jobs to be done along the whole line that can still be done in a Covid-secure way. In support of these activities, engineering trains may run at any time to transport materials and equipment to where it is needed.

    The WSR RRV moving sets of pressed steel sleepers in the north yard at Williton on 24th November 2020. Photo by Chris Lawton c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    On Monday 11th Jan, Class 33 D6575 will be started up and moved to the Down platform at Williton. This will free up space in our yard for the two RRVs to manoeuvre as they need to in support of the work at Doniford to complete the track repairs that were interrupted by Lockdown 1. Both Class 33s will be started up on a regular basis to maintain them in a serviceable condition and ensure they are ready for use at short notice. This is being done by WSR staff on our behalf.

    Commercial deliveries are still being made to the Restorations workshop at Williton which is continuing with contract work to bring funds into the WSR. As far as we are aware there are no rail vehicles being moved in or out by road, but some vehicles in the North Yard are likely to be moved to suit the workshop plans. There are likely to be further deliveries of Permanent Way materials to the South Yard from time to time. Forklift training is planned to be taking place in and around Sherring’s Yard on 21st January. This is to re-certify operators on the new 8-ton forklift.

    Some of you are frequent watchers of the Williton Station webcam and it is reassuring to know that your interest is helping to keep an eye on our heritage diesel fleet. You are not slow to let us know when things are happening! By the same token, those of you that have access to HOPS should be aware of planned movements through the publication there of the Weekly Engineering Notices. Please do not be surprised or alarmed when these or any unplanned movements are taking place.

    Martin Howard

    DEPG Chairman

    11th January 2021


    Martin makes reference to a loco re-positioning movement that was planned for Monday 11th Jan 2021. It did take place and Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) is now stabled at the north end of Platform 1 at Williton station. This ensures that the loco remains available to the WSR even when the yard itself is blocked by materials for the permanent way projects.

    Class 33 D6575 (33 057) now stabled at Platform 1 at Williton on 11th January 2021. The WSR RRV and the infrastructure team are at work in the south yard. Webcam capture by Railcam UK and the WSR (c)

    This capture from the Williton webcam shows the loco in her new position. The Road-Rail Vehicle (RRV) can be seen at work, moving heavy loads in the south yard, just to the left of the loco.

    Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for the major benefit provided by these webcams.

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  • Depot news – week ending 10-Jan-21

    Going back to the last movements of 2020, our ‘Cromptons’ D6566 and D6575 were swapped over so that D6575 ended up positioned at Williton and D6566 ended up at Westridge shed in Bishops Lydeard. This swap was made because D6575 handled most of the “Santa Express” diesel duties, so she is now due for an “A-exam”, when circumstances permit.

    Both Class 33s performed admirably throughout December, and the following photos show the changeover that took place on the 31st December:

    Classic vehicles at the West Somerset Railway – an Iris Blue MGA from 1958 waits while BRCW Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) dating from 1961 heads in the opposite direction (toward Williton) on 31st December 2020. Photo by Robin Moira White (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (in the yard, just south of the Swindon Shed) and D6575 (alongside the Swindon Shed on the ‘down’ line) manoeuver to change places on 31st December 2020. Captured from the Williton North webcam, courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR (c)

     

    Class 33 D6566 (33 048) departs Williton for Bishops Lydeard with DEPG Chairman Martin Howard at the controls while being monitored by Class 33 loco manager Ian Robins and DEPG “team Crompton” volunteer Tom Courtney on 31st December 2020. Captured from the Williton North webcam, courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR (c)

     

    DEPOT NEWS – Major progress was made on the clear-out of the Old Goods Shed last year and the building is now empty and ready for remedial work to begin, when circumstances permit. The photos below show the internal layout of the  building, with the central platform that facilitated transfer of goods from wagons to road vehicles (horse-drawn wagons in those days, of course). The black column seen in these photos is the central pillar of the goods crane that would have been used to assist in the transfer of heavy loads. Thanks to our volunteers and to Matt Brewer from the WSR for getting this major task completed and thanks also to Martin Howard for providing the photos.

    Inside the Old Goods Shed at Williton facing north towards the Goods Clerk’s office – the central platform allows road vehicles to approach from the left for easy transfer of goods to and from the railway wagons that would have been on the right (see next photo). The black column is the central pillar from the crane. Photo by Martin Howard (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Inside the Old Goods Shed at Williton facing south – showing the railway and roadway either side of the central platform. The loading gauge still hangs in position (below the light fitting), to warn the staff against over-height loads on wagons. Photo by Martin Howard (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Sadly, our depot has had to close again, for all except those tasks that are considered as being both urgent and essential. This weekend, we have a very small team attending to deal with a rainwater leak that is affecting one of our spare part storage containers. The spares for our heritage fleet are precious and irreplaceable, so they must be protected. The short-term fix is to apply a tarpaulin, the longer-term fix will be to replace the container, but that will have to wait until restrictions are lifted.

     

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