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Saturday, 18 October 2014

RSB trip to Swanage railway

David.T and Jamie on the train -David Canning
Today, a group of members from the project spent a day on the Swanage railway, enjoying steam travel and looking at the signal boxes (of course). After the success of the Ropley/St Albans trip, they were keen to do more regular trips to other preserved railways/projects which is how this trip came about. With Dick at the minibus wheel, Jamie, Dave.T, Tom, Matthew, Dale, David & Marion.C,  PeterDavid, Janet, James and Ben climbed in the back and set off for Norden, the first station on their trip.
Photo exchange, Corfe Castle
- David Canning

Upon arrival the members were welcomed by Roger and they divided themselves up into 3 groups. The groups would take it in turn to go into each of the three signal boxes. It was a great experience to be in a real working signal box seeing the signalman going about his duties and watching the steam trains go flying past. The added excitement for this trip was the chance to go on the steam trains! To get from one station to the next the members did the obvious thing of traveling by rail.

Harmans Cross - Jamie Brooker
Harmans Cross - David Canning

Harmans Cross - David Canning
Harmans Cross Signal box houses a Stevenson's frame similar to that at Romsey. This box is the most modern out of the three and is currently waiting for brass instruments to replace the current Bake-o-light ones. Even without the glimmering brass work it gave a sense of what it would have been like operating a war time box. Unlike Romsey, Swanage work using single track operations which means the exchange of a key token, this means the signalman is often busy running in and out of the box to retrieve/give the token from/to the driver.
Met 1 - Jamie Brooker
The members were also in for a treat on the day because the railway were running one of the old London Underground steam engines, Metropolitan 1. It was great to see this historic engine steaming through the station as it should be. Along with this there were regular double headed and goods trains which were also an added interest.

Corfe Castle - Jamie Brooker
Corfe Castle is the second biggest box on the line with 30 levers, but with only 18 currently in use. It was originally controlled by the 12 leaver Stephenson's frame that was in use when the station shut (and is still in place).
This was the second leaver frame to
Corfe Castle - David Canning
Corfe Castle - Jamie Brooker
be used at this station, the first would have been the size and in the location as the one currently in use after being rebuilt. The reason for having so many spare levers is so that the line can be extended from Norden to the main line station so that the Swanage railway can run a regular service and have visiting locomotives. This part of the line would be controlled by Corfe Castle, but there would be a token exchange at Norden crossing box (not an actual signal box) to meet signaling regulations. The old lever frame is currently in the process of being converted into a simulator to give visitors the chance of oporating the signal box.

Swanage Box - David Canning
Swanage Signalman - David Canning
Finally, Swanage box is the largest of the three with 40 levers. This is the busiest of all the boxes on the steam gala weekend with trains always on the move and little time for the signal man to sit down. The Signal box has 2 king levers to allow the box to be switched out on days when running DMUs so that only one signal man is needed at Corfe Castle. After we had had a good look around we decided to get out of the signalmans way and went for lunch.

Swanage Frame - Jamie Brooker
After our sea front fish and chips, we split up and went our own ways. Some had a look around the engine sheds at Swanage, others had a look around the museum at Corfe Castle and later, the members had a look around the mining museum at Norden. Before leaving, the members waited for the rest of the group to meet at Norden, and watched them arrive being hauled up by the Met 1 underground loco. Before the day was up, the members had a visit to the Norden crossing box which will eventually be used to control the crossing gates until CCTV is added when it can be controlled by Corfe Castle. The box will then be solely used as a token exchange point where a complex system is in place so the signal man at Corfe is in complete control of both of the token machines at the crossing and on the main line platforms.
Norden Crossing Box - Jamie Brooker
Met 1 approaching Norden - Jamie.B
I think I speak for everyone when I say a big well done to the Swanage railway for all their hard work and preservation efforts to get the railway into such a good state. It will be great to see historic DMUs running regular services to the main line and bringing in more visitors. Everyone had a great day and we look forward to our next group visit.

The trips are open to all members of the project and if you would like to attend please contact us for more details of our next trip when information becomes available.

The Group outside Norden crossing Box - David Canning


Sunday, 5 October 2014

October work day

Many different tasks were fulfilled on today's open day. Ben continued to work on the railway boundary marker, James started to renovate our GWR signal that we found amongst some of our metal work. This will eventually be linked up to our GWR ground frame with GWR ground signal to show the differences in railway companies. Neil continued work on our ever improving gardens, clearing the vegetable patch and weeding various other areas.
Gavin and Jamie worked to clear the hawthorn tree that was growing over the fence and risking damage to our new fence, this was completed by the end of the day. Tom worked on renovating the phone box at the bottom of the distance signal. And how could we forget Dave, he was our supervisor for the day after recovering from an operation, never the less, his style was not impeded. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

For such a quiet, cold open day, the members were pleased with the progress made today.