The thirtieth anniversary of the first train from Kidderminster Town Station took place on 30th July 2014. The date passed without very much special celebration, but I made up a poster board with photographs of the construction of the station in 1984 and subsequent landmark improvements to show what has been done over the years. Thanks are due to Barry Geens who took most of the photographs!
The fact that so much time has passed since the station opened was brought home to me very firmly by a senior member of station staff (no names mentioned to avoid embarrassment) who asked me if the 'King and Castle' was already there when the railway took over the site. He immediately realised that it could not have been, as it is incorporated in the heritage design of the station, but the point is that the station's history isn't obvious, particularly now that the building has a mature and somewhat weathered look. To take the illusion a stage further, the local free newspaper, the Kidderminster Shuttle, produced an article about Comberton Hill, on which the station stands, pointing out that there are many interesting Victorian architectural survivals, more so than in most streets in Kidderminster, and by way of illustration produced a photograph of the SVR station. At that time our station was in fact the newest building on Comberton Hill!
On a completely different subject our thanks go to Mr Melvyn Thompson of the Kidderminster Carpet Museum who has kindly donated two carpet samples baskets formerly belonging to Brintons Carpets Ltd. These large, strong baskets were used many years ago for sending carpet samples to outlets and now serve to make interesting loads for our platform barrows.
We have had a number of generous donations over the years from Brintons Carpets Ltd via Melvyn, which are most appreciated. He also arranged donation of surplus workshop equipment and steel bar to the Droitwich Canals Trust, invaluable to their (now completed) canal restoration project.
Steve McCabe kindly donated a gas lamp top to the 'Friends'. It is similar to the standard G.W.R Windsor lamp. Many thanks! It has the same general square shape but tapers to a larger square at the base than the Western sort, and does not have the fancy corner 'ears' at the top. It was painted maroon (several coats) and I am pretty sure it is of L.M.S origin.
We do not have a project ready for it yet, but a suggestion was made to produce a bracket for corner-mounting it to a building and incorporating a hidden security camera in the bracket. This could rid the station of at least one very nasty modern plastic camera. The dazzling white security cameras on the front of the concourse roof look absolutely awful and could not possibly have been made more prominent.
A web site that is worth a look is www.railmaponline.com. You begin with a map of the whole of the UK and can zoom in and index to the area you are interested in. The routes of lines back to year dot are shown together with roads and road names where applicable, when fully zoomed in. There is a 'little man' icon which can be dragged onto the road and will bring up streetview of the spot so that you can view stations etc. from the roadside as they are today. This is a useful site to take a look at an area before visiting, doing research, or just looking up old haunts to see what they are like today.
Take a look at Blaenau Ffestiniog when you try it out!
In the last Newsletter we didn't have much to report that was particularly exciting. It seems that this newsletter will, unfortunately, be much the same.
Over the years there has been little maintenance of the station, now thirty years old and showing its age in places, so we have taken on a bit of maintenance to help the Wednesday Gang spruce the place up. This, of course, gets in the way of 'restoration' and recreating the heritage scene which is supposed to be our main aim. Maintenance doesn't make for interesting reading, but it is essential work none-the-less
First on the agenda was to make up racking for inside the 813 Fund grounded wooden van body on the bay platform. It consisted of proprietary warehouse racking which originally was purchased from Nu-way by the Class 50 Diesel Fund and some was surplus to requirements. They agreed to let us have enough to do the job (many thanks) and as mentioned in the last Newsletter, Bob Brown and I cut it about to fit the van body exactly. The job has now been completed by cutting shuttering ply to make the shelf tops and loading box upon box of Paddy's old magazines thereon. A good job the racking is really strong!
We also constructed more racking, this time for inside the Special Events storage shed. This is another behind-the-scenes job, but it is scarcely worth a second glance anyway. It does, however, provide useful off-the-ground storage for smaller items and will prevent fragile stuff from being trampled underfoot. The first rack was again courtesy of the Class 50 Fund and went together very nicely. The second row of racking was rescued from scrap with the permission of Trevor Davies. (Many thanks.) The bad news was the shelves and the uprights were not compatible, although they certainly looked it, and had to have a bit of a touch with a grinder and a big hammer to get them to fit together. 12mm bolts through the joints made absolutely sure they were safe and secure. The uprights needed cutting to length and had feet welded on so they can be bolted to the floor. Needless to say this work took Bob Brown and myself a few days to complete.
The next job was the repainting of the 'Henley Building' on the parcels bay platform. This is a G.W.R wooden shed with a corrugated iron roof which came from Henley-in-Arden about fifteen years ago, when it was extensively repaired by 'the Friends' before being craned into its present position. About ten years ago it had a repaint, but due to lack of time and access difficulties the roof was left. We are now paying the price. The woodwork only needed rubbing down, priming on bare places and then painting with undercoat and two coats of topcoat but the roof needed scraping back to remove all flaking paint, priming with special galvanised steel paint before the normal painting could begin. A big job made harder by difficult access and the hot humid weather during July.
There is only a small window of opportunity in the summer when the exposed woodwork gets a chance to dry out properly ready for painting, but this is generally coupled with blazing hot sun! However, the results are worth the trouble. As well as looking respectable from the station concourse, the building will now be able to stand up to the weather for a few years more. But the important lesson to learn is not to let the old paint begin to peel before repainting! It doubles the amount of work necessary and exposed wood and metal begin to deteriorate rapidly.
This highlights the urgent need for painting doors and windows on the station, the dagger boards on the concourse roof, the Porters Shed, the catering building next to the museum etc. etc.
Another 'building' in need of a paint job and recently tackled by 'the Friends' was the grounded van body: the one where we installed racking.
This is a G.W.R wooden van body of 1885 which has been extensively repaired by Mike Walker and mounted on brick plinths to provide a storage facility.
Using old van bodies for storage was a trick that the Great Western used along with other railway companies, and in this form they would be painted (often black), but obviously not lettered out as they had been when in normal use as a wagon. This left us with a problem. The only identification this very historic van carried was its original number 37150 together with the 25" GW, its load and tare, hidden under coats of paint received during its use as a farm building. Once stripped and repainted it would be easy to lose the van's history, so with permission from Paddy Goss we painted the van its original brown and lettered it on the side nearest the main line car park and on its two ends only, so that it looks correct as a grounded body from our platform (its blank side) yet still preserves its identity. Please note this was deliberate and not laziness on our part!
For wagon enthusiasts there is a photo of an identical van in the book 'GWR Goods Wagons', Plate 482.
Restoration work has taken a back seat for a while so we decided to complete a job which has been waiting in the wings for ages: the Water Bowser. It is of Great Western origin and was formally at Bewdley.
The hose support frame was repaired and a guard fitted over the gear wheels that drive the pump. In the old days such a safety feature was considered unnecessary! With a final coat of paint the bowser was ready for display and possible use.
It holds about 50 gallons of water and is designed for replenishing the water tanks on carriages. At Kidderminster it has been rendered obsolete by the provision of a series of standpipes in the 'six-foot', but who knows...
The bowser will be kept on the restaurant car bay platform, in public view, but away from children who like nothing better than whizzing a handle around as fast as possible to see if they can break it.
Work progresses on the Scammell Dyak G flat trailer. In order to make the tailboard, which was missing, it has been necessary to fabricate special hinges. They are not particularly straight-forward and we had to fabricate them from two parts made on my little lathe. The first part was shaped like a bolt but with a cylindrical head rather than a hexagonal one, the second part was shaped like a beer barrel with a hole for the hinge pin running from one end to the other. These two parts were welded together to form a shape rather like an eye bolt and dressed up with a grinder and file to the shape of the originals. These hinge parts are fitted to the back of the trailer. The tailboard hinge is completely different being a folded piece of plate with a loop for the hinge pin to go through. Needless to say the original parts were made by mass production methods but making them by hand and as accurate replicas took some time and thought.
We have bought a tyre and inner tube for the large wheels of the unit and for the trailers. Until now our only spare was off a scrapped trailer and is on a very rusty rim. Water had penetrated the tyre and almost certainly completely rusted the inner tube, tyre and rim together making it of doubtful further use. A second wheel from the same source had a split tyre so we decided to dismantle this one to fit our 'new' tyre. This job was easier said than done and after two days trying to drive the tyre from the rusty rim with wooden wedges and by squashing the tyre with a jack placed under a railway wagon we conceded defeat and cut the tyre off. It was scrap anyway. The rim was de-rusted and painted and the replacement tyre, tube and rubber ring fitted ready for further use.
With the 'new' wheel and tyre now fitted to the front of the Scammell unit we have a spare for all eventualities.