Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048) has been busy, running crew training specials and also moving Empty Coaching Stock (ECS) so that the newly-painted coaches are positioned at Bishops Lydeard in readiness for the restart of public services on Saturday 22nd May 2021. Here’s a great view of Castle Hill, just south of Williton, resplendent in Spring colours, showing D6566 (33 048) at work:
On Saturday 1st May 2021, D6566 (33 048) has just taken over from sister D6575 (33 057) at Williton and now works the return leg of the crew training special past Castle Hill and towards Bishops Lydeard. Photo by Adam Hiscock © CC BY-NC 3.0
This loco is in action again this weekend, working on Saturday and Sunday afternoon between Bishops Lydeard and Williton on crew refresher training specials. To keep up to date with our diesel loco workings, sign up to our DIESELGEN email bulletin service.
There has been more progress at Williton, mostly directed at 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ and Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518. We again managed to have volunteers on site for four days out of the last seven, minimising risk and making better use of facilities.
47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ – After running some tests, it soon became clear that the batteries were beyond redemption, so a decision was taken to place an order for new batteries at a cost of almost £5,000 for the set (48 in total). This expenditure will allow reliable starting for the next 10 years.
The batteries are housed in four separate compartments, each holding 12 separate cells that are wired together. Each cell is larger than a heavy duty car battery! Each compartment will now need to be cleaned out in readiness for the new batteries to be installed. The battery box doors were removed, cleaned and painted last Sunday and the rest of the task will be tackled this weekend.
Other attention focused on correcting an issue that had existed since the loco had her vacuum braking system re-instated by Brush at Loughborough in 2007. The strainer that is used to protect the vacuum exhausters from dirt and debris had been installed at an unusual angle and was difficult to clean. After many hours of wrestling with pipework in the very cramped and crowded equipment room, our Chairman Martin Howard succeeded in removing and correcting the pipework and refitting the strainer so it now takes up its correct position and is easy to maintain.
The Davies & Metcalfe exhauster strainer (the large grey object!) now re-installed in its correct position in the equipment room of Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ at Williton Depot on 4th May 2021. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0
At the other end of the locomotive, attention was given to a cleanup and repaint of the number 2 cab, the photos below show the work in progress. There’s a lot of detailing still to do, but the ‘office’ is looking very much better already.
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518 – The ‘Tuesday’ crew continued work on the wheelsets, filling and sanding the surfaces to provide a good smooth surface for painting. The photo below shows the wheelsets have now reached the primer stage, getting closer to the gloss black finish that will signify completion of the task.
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 – no change this week.
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 – no change this week.
Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ – this loco is undergoing an assessment of the work that needs to be done before she can be returned to service. The work has to be evaluated and costed because this loco will be the subject of a fund raising campaign to raise money to cover the cost of the work. The revenue generated by our new booklet “D1010 WESTERN CAMPAIGNER – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD” will go into this fund, along with revenue from sales of pre-owned books, so please help the fund grow by buying from our online store. Thanks !
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 – this loco is waiting for an opportunity to run to Bishops Lydeard so that she can go over the pit at Westridge shed and have an underframe examination. After that, she will be ready for service !
Many thanks to all of our volunteers who are hard at work maintaining, restoring, managing and fund raising for our fleet of heritage locomotives !
BOOK REVIEW – This week, a magazine article has been brought to our attention by Neale Long because it celebrates the 60th anniversary of the unveiling of the first of the brand-new Type 3 diesel-hydraulic locomotives that were built by BEYER-PEACOCK (HYMEK) LTD to satisfy an order for 101 machines for the Western Region of British Railways. These locos subsequently became known as the ‘Hymeks’.
RAIL EXPRESS magazine May 2021 edition 300 features a 6-page article entitled ‘HANDSOME HYMEKS’ and presents a well-balanced account of the class throughout its short life in BR service. All four preserved ‘Hymeks’ are pictured, with D7017 shown working the ‘QUANTOCK FLYER’ on the West Somerset Railway on 19th March 1977 being the first to haul a service train in preservation.
To whet your appetite, the final two pages of the article are pictured above in a purposely low-resolution shot to respect copyright. The article is well worth reading, so try and get hold of a copy if you can.
ON SHED: Last week, we featured Ebbw Junction depot (EJ) on the western side of Newport, South Wales, with a decent coating of snow after some unseasonal late-April weather. The presence of a Class 03 shunter at EJ raised significant interest and several readers have sent information that can be shared this week. Here’s the picture again, as a reminder:
FORTY YEARS AGO – 37284 rests at Ebbw Junction (EJ) depot on the morning of Sunday 26th April 1981 along with 03382, a loco that was destined for use on the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley line in West Wales. Low bridges on that route meant that the 03 needed her cab cut down, so for reasons unknown, that task was allocated to EJ. The loco had come from Bristol Bath Road and hung around the depot for months before being modified and then heading west. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
DEPG Treasurer Julien Weston commented:
“Before it left Bath Road, 03382 was regularly employed as the outstationed Lawrence Hill yard shunter in Bristol, where it also worked the former MR Avonside Wharf and did one mile main line trip workings to Stapleton Road Goods Yard to transfer scrap metal wagons between the two yards. It was usually to be found stabled next to the shunters cabin immediately under the old MR mainline overbridge at Lawrence Hill.
I took quite a few rides on it (and others) when I was a kid / teenager, but even it wasn’t allowed in Avonside Yard down by the river and had to “reach” the wagons over the Avon Road crossing (ungated, multiple tracks). It was said there had always been very old and insufficient track in that yard, which had long since disintegrated. The wagons actually used to run in the grooves left in the dirt!”
Many thanks to Julien for sharing his memories with us.
The Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Railway was built in the 1870s to serve the coal mines of the valleys to the west of Llanelli. The line was built to a very tight budget with lightweight track and minimalist earthworks. The bridges were very low and the line was also susceptible to flooding in places. Steam gave way to diesel in 1965 and the D2000 series 204hp Class 03 shunter was deemed the most suitable locomotive, with a modification being made to cut down the height of the cabs to clear the low bridges.
Eight locos were modified and were based at Landore (Swansea). Because of the steep gradients on the line, the 204 hp Class 03s were often used in multiple so they were modified to have multiple-unit control systems. In 1981, it was determined that one more modified Class 03 was needed to work the line.
DEPG Class 14 loco manager Simon Purvis shares the following information that was provided by Brian Penney:
“The modification to permit two 204hp Class 03 locomotives in multiple was developed in the mid 1960’s by Eastern region for a freight working between York and Harrogate. We could see that this arrangement would be particularly useful for working the BP+GV line, where three of these locos were used to take a train from Burry Port to Cwm Mawr, and in May 1967 I was sent to inspect the modifications at York and ride with the working to Harrogate.
Landore had an allocation of eight 204hp Class 03s for working this line. These had been modified with cut down cabs to meet the loading gauge restrictions on the branch and it was agreed that Swindon would fit them with the air operated multiple control equipment.
In 1981 it was decided that an additional locomotive, fitted with multiple connections, was required for the working, and Westinghouse were asked for the cost of supplying the valves and fittings. Apparently these items could not be supplied ‘off the shelf’ and would require special manufacture, with a consequent price well into five figures.
It was known that Eastern Region had withdrawn some of their multiple fitted Class 03s and some had been sold to outside parties. After some detective work, we discovered that one of these, D2260, had been sold some eleven years earlier, to Mill Pit, Kenfig Hill, only 20 miles west of Cardiff. A phone call to the pit engineer confirmed the loco was still at the pit and a visit arranged to inspect it.
Surprisingly, the locomotive was found to be still fitted with all the multiple control equipment, although this had not been used since 1970. The pit engineer said that he had no use for it and if we could send staff to remove it, we were welcome to take it away.
The selected additional locomotive was Bristol’s 03382, and it was arranged for Ebbw Junction carry out the work to cut down the cab, and fit the multiple control equipment. Ebbw Junction fitters went to Mill Pit to recover the equipment from D2260 and bring it back to Newport.”
Many thanks to Brian and Simon for sharing this information with us.
So, we now know why 03382 was at EJ for such a long time in 1983. It was all a bit pointless because the line was partly closed in 1984 and the remaining stub was worked by modified Class 08 shunters instead. The Class 03s were dispersed, 03382 being cut up at Swindon in 1986 and sister 03119 spending time on the West Somerset Railway in the care of the DEPG. The loco now resides on the Epping Ongar Railway in Essex.
DEPG NEWS: The synopsis of the last DEPG Board meeting is now available for the benefit of our members. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the CONTACT form to request your copy. The next Board meeting will take place on 22nd May 2021.
The next edition of the quarterly DEPG newsletter is in preparation. What would you like to see in this edition ? Let us know what you would find interesting. Do you have a story to tell ? Write your own article or alternatively, provide us with the information and we will write it for you.
For the last two weeks, we have asked this question …. which railway magazines do you buy on a regular basis ?
The results have been collated and the two leaders are RAILWAY MAGAZINE and RAILWAYS ILLUSTRATED although HERITAGE RAILWAY, RAIL and TRACTION also figure quite prominently. Apart from these mainstreamers, there are several other titles, too numerous to mention, so it is a hotly-contested media sector!
Many thanks to all of you who took the time to let us know your preferences.
Membership – is your membership up to date ? If not, please renew by going to our Join Us page and selecting the appropriate membership ‘product’. This is a quick and easy way to keep your membership current. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your membership number – we will sort that out for you.
DEPG WEBSITE: Our ONLINE SHOP IS NOW LIVE so go ahead and visit our store!
Our new booklet, ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD’ is in stock so get your copy 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 plus some interesting stories from the days when the loco was still working on the mainline. All proceeds go to the D1010 restoration fund.
WSR NEWS: The WSR have revised their timetable for the services that will run in the second week of re-opening, with services being extended through to Watchet where there will be a one-hour stopover to allow travellers a chance to stretch their legs in this lovely harbour town. See the BROWN timetable and the new YELLOW timetable for details. It is really important to support the WSR to ensure that these services are a commercial success. Please buy a ticket if you can.
Preparations for re-opening continue with traincrew training activities involving steam and diesel haulage this weekend. The weedkilling train ran along the whole length of the line last week, so this should keep the line looking neat and tidy throughout the season.
The Aquarius Land Rover powered weedkilling train operating at Crowcombe Heathfield on 6th May 2021. Photo by Steve Speck © CC BY-NC 3.0