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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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  • D7017 is 59 years old today!

    Our BEYER-PEACOCK (HYMEK) Ltd. Class 35 diesel-hydraulic number D7017 entered service with British Railways at Bristol Bath Road depot on the 8th of January 1962, so she is 59 years old today !

     

    Way back in 1975, D7017 was the first loco that was acquired by the DEPG (known as the D+EG in those days) straight out of service with BR at Old Oak Common depot. The loco was moved to Taunton to await onward transfer to Minehead on the fledgling West Somerset Railway and became the first diesel locomotive to haul a service train on the WSR in 1977.

    The D+EG’s first acquisition: ex-BR Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 waiting at Taunton in 1975 for onward transfer to the West Somerset Railway. Photographed by Barry Gay (c) CC BY-NC 3.0
    DEPG ‘Hymek’ D7017 seen at Mineral Line Bridge near Watchet on the 7th of May 1978. Photo by Steve Edge (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    Since that time, D7017 has become a firm favourite of both regulars and visitors to the WSR and has covered many thousands of miles in service in various guises. She has also appeared as a guest loco at other railways and attended at several mainline depot open days.

    DEPG Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 passes Dunster with the 13:30 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard service on the 23rd of September 2017. Photograph by Gary Lemon (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    Currently “stopped” for replacement of her bogie springs, we expect to see her back in service in time to celebrate her 60th birthday along with sister loco D7018 in 2022.

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  • D9526 is 56 years old today!

    Class 14 D9526 takes a rest at Minehead between passenger workings on 1st September 2018. Photo by Terry Deacon (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    BR-Swindon built Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 working freight through Williton station on the West Somerset Railway. Photographed on 21st July 2018 by Terry Deacon. (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    Our Class 14 number D9526 entered service with British Railways at Bristol Bath Road depot on the 6th of January 1965, so she is 56 years old today !

    Looking every bit as good as new because of the care and attention given to her by her dedicated team at Williton, this loco is equally at home on goods or passenger workings and is a very useful member of the DEPG fleet.

    In April, we will be able to celebrate 41 years of this loco being based on the West Somerset Railway, so let’s hope that we can get her out and about for everyone to see.

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  • DIESELGEN 29-Dec-20

    Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048) on the left and D6575 (33 057) on the right after inspection over the pit at Westridge Shed, Bishops Lydeard, on 2nd November 2020. Photo by Martin Howard. (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    As a result of Somerset going into Tier 3 on 26th December, the WSR had no choice but to sadly cancel the “Winter Steam Journey’ specials that were booked to run on 29th and 30th December and also cancel the staff specials that were booked for the 31st.

    This disappointing situation shows the importance of the ongoing fight against Covid-19. We all need to remain vigilant and take all necessary precautions to minimise the risk of spreading the disease.

    Some movements have been planned by the WSR Operations Department for Thursday 31st December, as follows (timings are approximate):

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057):

      10:15 BL arriving WN at 10:50 (light engine)

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048):

      12:45 WN arriving BL at 13:20 (light engine)

    Between these two light diesel engine movements, there will be an Empty Coaching Stock move from BL to MD, hauled by ex-BR(W) 4-6-0 No. 7828 ‘ODNEY MANOR’ and a light engine move of visiting ex-GWR ‘Large Prairie’ No. 5199, also from BL to MD.

    Please note that the stations are closed to the public and trespassing is not allowed. During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the best way to view these workings is via the webcams at BL and WN.

    BL: http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-bl2.htm

    WN: http://www.wsr.org.uk/r-cam-wn2.htm

    Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing these webcam services.

    Take care and stay safe!

  • DEPG 2021 calendar

    The first batch of DEPG 2021 calendars sold out really quickly, so we have ordered another batch to give everyone a chance of obtaining their own copy. Stock will be available next week, in time for New Year.

    This glossy 14-page A3-sized calendar (double that of A4) has been printed in “landscape” format to make the most of the high resolution images that have been so kindly donated by our members. Here’s the overview of what is included in the calendar:

    Dimensions : 297 mm high, 420mm wide (A3), 14 pages in total.

    Priced at £12 plus £3 p+p, this calendar is great value at £1 per page and is definitely not to be missed!

    How to Order:  email staff@depg.org to get a calendar allocated to you, then when you get confirmation, use the DEPG payment options for electronic payment. If you prefer to send a cheque, please send it to our registered office address.

    We have already received many messages of appreciation, so we are certain that you will not be disappointed. Being a fully-volunteer-run organisation, all proceeds (after printing costs and VAT) go directly to our locomotive repair and restoration fund.

    Many thanks for supporting the DEPG !

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  • Depot news – week ending 20-Dec-20

    This is going to be the last “Depot News” update of 2020 so let’s start by saying a massive “thank you very much” to our volunteers for their tireless work in far-from-ideal circumstances this year.

    As if dealing with Covid was not enough of a challenge for our group, we have also had to endure the diversion of effort caused by the roof of the Old Goods Shed reaching it’s own limit of endurance. The building has now been cleared and the many Class 14 items from D9518 that were undergoing restoration have now been distributed amongst the various other spare part stores and inside our main loco shed as well. All far from ideal, but driven by necessity.

    View inside the Old Goods Shed on 12th December 2020 by Martin Howard (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    The above photograph from 12th December 2020 shows the inside of the Old Goods Shed after the Heritage Centre has been removed. The floor is the surface of the loading dock and the little doorway now revealed is the entrance to the office for the Goods Clerk. The black post on the right acting as a ladder rest is the central pillar of the original goods crane. Photo by Martin Howard (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

     

    Scaffolding has now been erected around the building to ensure that there is no danger from falling debris, the next step being a structural survey to quantify the work that will be needed to restore the building for the next phase of its life. The WSR have reinstated the ‘Williton Strategy Group’ to determine if the building could take on a different role in future, as part of a wider-ranging review of the entire Williton site, and the DEPG will be fully involved in this process.

     

    The photo below shows the scaffolding protecting Platform 1 at Williton while our Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) stands at Platform 2 with the return leg of the 1100 “SANTA EXPRESS” service from Bishops Lydeard.

    Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) ready to depart Williton for Bishops Lydeard with the return leg of the SANTA EXPRESS on 12th December 2020 by Peter Nicholson (c) CC BY-NC 3.0

    As mentioned last week, although the “SANTA EXPRESS” is steam hauled, the first service of the day is “top-n-tailed” to make light work of the climbs to Crowcombe Heathfield, even on a wet and slippery railhead.

    Some tickets are still available on these Covid-secure services and the WSR are planning to run some additional services after Christmas to cater for the pent-up demand, so please use the following links to find out more:

    https://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/events/detail/santa-express

    https://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/events/detail/winter-steam-journey

     

    CONGRATULATIONS to the WSR and all of the volunteers from so many support groups within the “WSR family” who have worked so hard to re-open the railway and bring revenue-earning trains back again. Great job !

     

    Trains are running both before and after Christmas, so keep an eye on the DIESELGEN posts on our website for dates and times of diesel-assisted services.

     

    No update about the status of our fleet this week –  this is because our focus continues to be on the Old Goods Shed, so all other work has had to be suspended for the time being. Effort will be re-focused to our loco fleet after Christmas.

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