Daily Archives: Monday, April 12, 2021

  • Depot News – week ending 11-Apr-21

    Last week, we provided information about the re-opening of the WSR on Saturday 22nd May 2021 and the subsequent expansion of workings through to the summer peak, where the BLUE timetable includes a regular diesel loco-hauled service that starts on Saturday 3rd July, running from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard and back, with an additional working between Bishops Lydeard and Williton. This gives us 27 days of running with 60 miles per day, so 1,620 miles in total during which the DEPG will be providing the haulage.

    In addition to this, we will of course be supporting the WSR with engineering trains, empty coaching stock moves and short-notice backup ‘Thunderbird’ locos in case of any issues arising with the steam locos that will be intensively working the majority of services.

    The logical choice for the diesel loco-hauled services are our Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) because these locos can be crewed by both WSR and DEPG crews, offering versatility and flexibility for the WSR’s Operating Department. This is especially important when changes to rostered services need to be made at short notice.

    However, to provide some variety and allow some of our other locos a chance to share the workload, we intend to have ‘Hymek’ D7018 and Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 available for as many days as possible. The reason that we are limited in the number of running days for these locos is because of availability of crews. The lack of running over the last year has prevented our trainees from ‘passing out’ and the WSR resources must be focused on training and passing crews in the most efficient way to address their own needs, so Class 33 drivers will be the priority.

    In the background, we will be working on ways to expand the use of the diesel-hydraulics and we will keep everyone informed via our website and also via our DIESELGEN email bulletin service.

    Last week, we wanted to bring attention to the major upgrade that is taking place at Seaward Way level crossing, just outside Minehead Station, so we had intended to include a photo of one of our locos approaching the crossing. However, the photo that we used was not at the level crossing – it was at Kentsford Farm crossing, which is between Watchet and Washford! Here’s the photo again, but this time with the CORRECT caption. Thanks to those eagle-eyed readers who reported this error (all such reports are welcomed, honestly!). 

    Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 puts on the power at Kentsford Farm crossing, on the climb to Washford on 21st June 2019. The loco had just returned to service after a thorough overhaul that lasted 24 years! See our booklet ‘HYMEK D7018‘. Photo by Mark Ireland © CC BY-NC 3.0


    To explain some more about the upgrade to Seaward Way level crossing, it is interesting to note that this crossing did not exist 30 years ago – it was built when the area was under development, as can be seen in the following photos (hopefully correctly captioned this time):


    An aerial view from 1991 of what was to become Seaward Way (depicted in yellow) with the level crossing under construction at the point of intersection with the WSR, within the red circle. Photo by Ian Chappel © CC BY-NC 3.0


    Construction of the level crossing was carried out well in advance of the roadway so that the WSR could operate as normal throughout 1991. This photo shows GWR 2-6-2T No. 6106 approaching the fully functional crossing in September 1991, with barriers down – but no roadway in place. Photo by Steve Edge © CC BY-NC 3.0



    The DEPG’s first locomotive, ‘Hymek’ D7017, slows to 10 mph for the Seaward Way level crossing with Paul Tucker at the controls and Dunster station visible in the distance. Photo taken on 24th October 2009 by Martin Southwoood. © CC BY-NC 3.0



    Driver’s eye view of Seaward Way level crossing from the cab of Class 47 D1661 ‘NORTH STAR’ on 26th May 2017. Photo by Robin Moira White © CC BY-NC 3.0


    Seaward Way level crossing, just outside Minehead station, with Class 14 D9526 halting traffic while she positions to couple up to her train on 22nd June 2019. The crossing is currently undergoing complete renewal and upgrading to a full-barrier type with CCTV facilities and is expected to be completed by mid-June 2021. Photo by Colin Harris © CC BY-NC 3.0


    The crossing is being upgraded to a full-barrier type with CCTV facilities to cope with the significant increase in both vehicle and foot traffic along this road. Changes to the signalling layout will also allow locos to run around their trains without having to cross the road, simplifying movements within station limits and reducing the disruption of road traffic. These changes will create a significant amount of re-training and familiarisation work for train crews and ground staff, but will yield benefits for train turnaround times and station operations. Click here to read more about this development.


    47 077 – Our ‘celebrity’ Class 47 has been getting the attention again, as we concentrate on completing the bodyside and roof overhaul and getting her ready to leave the confines of the loco shed. When ‘outshopped’, ‘NORTH STAR’ will be wearing a livery of BR blue from the late ‘seventies, when she was based at Cardiff Canton and carried the BR ‘double arrow’ logo in addition to nameplates with a red background (she ran without the BR logo for many years after first taking on the blue livery). Last weekend, the air filters that sit behind the grilles at roof level were cleaned and reloaded with fresh filter material, getting her one step closer to a test run. 


    DEPG volunteer Warren uses the filter casing as a template to cut out a square of new filter material for 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’, with many other filter cases piled up alongside. Photo taken at Williton on 5th April 2021 by Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0



    The reloaded filter casings are back in position behind the grilles, to protect the engine room from the dust and dirt of the outside world. Photo taken at Williton on 5th April 2021 by Ian Robins. © CC BY-NC 3.0


    Other than reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged this week, due to lockdown. Many thanks to all of our volunteers for their continuing dedication to keeping our locomotives in the best condition possible.


    ON SHED: Now that we have completed our booklet on Class 52 ‘Western’ D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’, we can now start to share the many photographs that were sent to us for consideration for inclusion in the new booklet. In the end, we had many more photos than we could fit in, but this is a good thing – so don’t be dissuaded, keep ’em coming !

    Here’s an atmospheric shot of D1010 at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot, with just over one year to go before the end of the Class on BR:


    D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ with only two digits remaining attached on her numberplate, stands at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot in January 1976 in the company of a Class 08 and a Class 03. Photo by Bob Tiller © CC BY-NC 3.0


    DEPG NEWS: The easing of Covid-19 restrictions is the main news this week and the Williton depot returns to ‘normal’ as from tomorrow, subject to a limit of 12 persons on site, so we can now restart work on ALL of our locos. Attendance at the depot needs to be booked in advance. New volunteers are welcome – simply email contact@depg.org or use the contact form if you would like to come along and help (remember to obtain or renew your membership first). There is something for everyone, but we do need to spread the attendance throughout the week to make sure that we keep within the limits of our facilities, and remember, all attendance has to be booked in advance.

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

    Our new booklet, ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD’ is going to be delivered to us during the next few days. This will allow us to get pre-ordered booklets out in the mail starting from April 14th so PLACE YOUR ORDER NOW ! This booklet covers our Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and its life in preservation, from Foster Yeoman’s quarry at Merehead to the West Somerset Railway to Minehead. All proceeds go to the D1010 restoration fund.

    WSR NEWS: The WSR will be operating crew training special services from next Saturday onwards as the big effort to renew staff competencies gets under way. Gradually, this refresher training will extend to other forms of voluntary work as the assessors get through their priority lists. The DEPG stands ready to support the re-opening effort as necessary and we are working on a campaign to get maximum patronage on the diesel-loco-hauled services that will run on the BLUE timetable.


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