2011 News Archive
Santa Springs into Action (11th and 18th December)
The forecast was for heavy rain in the North West on Sunday the 11th and on this occasion, the met office prediction was absolutely correct. Unfortunately, at Springfield Park this meant that the preparation and ‘putting the lights up’ gang got a bit of a soaking and the expected passengers for the Santa Special were perhaps not unsurprisingly, conspicuous by their absence. Consequently, come lunchtime, the members unhindered by passenger demands, were able to sample the mulled wine and tuck in to a superb buffet prepared by Ann Uff, wife of secretary Len, who informed the assembly that Ann had been busy making the sandwiches shortly after 5.0am that morning in order to ensure that everything was as fresh as possible. Our thanks as always to Ann, her efforts are much appreciated and contribute an unmeasureable amount to the pleasure and success of these social occasions.
Shortly after lunch, the rain abated and to the members’ relief that all had not been in vain, like magic the passengers appeared, not in crowds but in sufficient numbers to enable Father Christmas to do what only he can do best, a genuine welcome and rapport with the smaller children. Good old Santa! The music at the station and in the clubhouse was perfect and the illuminations and decorative lights on the locos looked great, so much so that all who were present on the day hoped that the following week would be an equally successful occasion.
The coming of daylight on the 18th for Santa Special 2, revealed a generous covering of overnight snow which must have initially threatened cancellation of the event. However, by 10am the leaden skies had cleared revealing a made to order clear blue aspect and pleasant sunshine when, as expected, passenger demand gradually increased throughout the early afternoon, families no doubt also taking advantage of the sledging opportunities offered by the hilly terrain portion of Springfield Park. Unlike the previous week when the precipitation prevented its attendance, Santa had been given the added luxury of his own Grotto complete with illuminated Christmas tree and dancing Gnomes, much to the delight of his younger devotees.
A lunchtime buffet, again prepared for the members by Mrs.Uff, was thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed, particularly the fruit cake – if you were lucky enough to get there before Santa!
Evidence of the hazardous road conditions were clearly demonstrated with numerous cars sliding about on the icy surfaces of the park roads, particularly when a contingent of the members were called to add some additional ‘oomph’ to the rear of an ambulance that had come to grief on the gradient whilst attempting to attend a casualty at the nearby gymnasium premises. It was gratifying to note that the return journey of the ambulance down the hill took place without further incident.
As passenger demand tailed off in failing light, dismantling of all the effects put an end to Springfield Xmas 2011 but not before it was agreed that the two events had been an unmitigated success and well worthy of the effort by all involved.
SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD TO GET AWAY
The 13th August 2011 was the Saturday of the Leyland SME Open Weekend and on such occasions it is the perfect opportunity for members of other societies to visit a track other than their home base and experience something a little different. So it was that a member from the Rochdale Society decided to make the journey to Worden Park for the first time since his initial visit to their Open Day on the 23rd June 2002.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then. On that occasion, a 5 year old 3½”g ‘William’ 2.6.2T performed adequately for quite a while but eventually its driver began to struggle and found it difficult to cope with the nightmare scenario that sometimes falls upon drivers visiting foreign parts – the embarrassment of the locomotive being unable to maintain satisfactory boiler steam pressure. Why is it that Murphy’s Law always seems to make its presence felt at the least opportune moment?
The locomotive was subsequently withdrawn from service and on return to the steaming bay area it was surrounded by those whom know best about these things. Their diagnosis was as swift as it was painful to ‘William’s owner. A failed superheater element was attributed to be the cause of the trouble which resulted in the locomotive taking no further part in the afternoon’s proceedings and its driver, on the way home, contemplating the appropriate action that would need to be undertaken to remedy the problem before the loco could be returned to service. That was then, this is now 2011when after making himself known to the Leyland officials and being made to feel very welcome, the engine and wagons were unloaded and the car parked up. Following a splendid buffet lunch at the invitation of the hosts, it was down to business with attention focussing on the 5”g Midland Railway Johnson 3F standing on an arm of the host’s superb covered roundhouse steaming bay area. It was perhaps not un-natural that deja-vu was on the mind of the 3F’s driver as the steam raising procedure was taking place in readiness for the right-away to collect its loose coupled freight of seven wagons, ready and waiting on an adjacent siding. Fortunately, the fears were unfounded and the locomotive performed perfectly during its venture onto the unchartered territory of Leyland’s 1600ft of 5”g elevated track.
Happily, this time on the drive home, with the invitation of the hosts to make a return visit at any time still fresh in the mind, the 3F’s owner was feeling very pleased and thinking more on the lines of repeating the experience and possible future trips out to the likes of the Ribble Valley; Wigan, Southport; Fylde; Leicester; Sheffield; Lancaster & Morecambe and the other tracks where ‘William’ had years earlier, feared to tread. All in all, a good days steaming and an exercise to be thoroughly recommended.
Teddy Bear's Picnic
At the conclusion of the proceedings at the East Lancashire Railway’s ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ held in Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom on Bank Holiday Monday, the dozen or so members who attended to support the appearance of the society’s portable track and mini exhibition, could feel justly satisfied with regard to the effectiveness of the prior planning arrangements and an incident free and successful operation.
The weather was fine at the start of the day, mainly cloudy but with brief sunny periods, the welcome effect of the latter being lessened by the presence of a cool blustery wind. From a relatively quiet period following the scheduled 10am start, passenger numbers gradually increased until the presence of frequent short queues between noon and 1.0pm, probably indicated the busiest time for the train crew and exhibition stewards.
Dual motive power for the occasion was provided by Roy Holt with his much modified ‘Sweet Pea’ and the society’s Charlatan electric 08 which was driven by a number of willing members, especially those later in the afternoon who chose to challenge the elements and ignore the rainfall as by 2.30pm the showers had deteriorated into a steady rainfall.
The effect of the latter was as swift as it was predictable. The temporary population of Nuttall Park quickly dispersed, the other alternative attractions equally failing in their attempts to retain some degree of custom. When the organiser’s representatives paid a visit and announced that the refreshment marquee had now closed with the consequential effect that tea supplies were no longer sustainable, the members decided to call it a day but were pleased to reflect on a very successful venture and a positive response from the East Lancashire Railway.
Edward Bennett 8th July 1929 – 2nd October 2010
Late President and Past Chairman - Rochdale SMEE
With the passing of the President the society was sad to lose one of its most respected, colourful and long serving members. However, on Sunday, the 14th August, as the society’s special guests, members of Ted’s family arrived at Springfield Park at 1.0pm and with a number of society members, gathered at the clubhouse to mark the unveiling of a seat which has been provided as a lasting tribute to Ted’s memory.
In a typically informal ceremony, Mrs Minnie Bennett, Ted’s widow, was invited to unveil the seat, with its appropriately worded brass plaque, which has been positioned on the raised decking at the end of the clubhouse, a prime location for viewing the comings and goings of the railway traffic.
Following a photo session of the family sampling the vista from the comfort of the seat, the guests retired indoors where the society chairman, Larry Quinn, presented Mrs Bennett with a bouquet of roses and a framed photograph of her husband driving his electric locomotive at the track.
The guests were than invited to partake the tea and cake refreshments prepared by Mrs Anne Uff, the wife of the society secretary, as a prelude to a ride on a three carriage train prepared and waiting for its passengers. With Mrs Bennett at the controls and with three of Ted’s daughters, Elizabeth, Caroline and Helen, together with several of their respective families on board, (Youngest daughter Margaret and family live in Melbourne, Australia), the train made a short journey before being reversed back to its starting point whereupon the passengers were treated to several circuits of the 2000ft Springfield Park track with driver Phil Humphreys in charge of his Class 20 electric locomotive.
After watching the usual Sunday afternoon activities for a little while, Mrs Bennett and family members then left the park, hopefully with pleasant images of a memorable occasion.
RSMEE Portable Track
After a less than busy day on a wet Saturday on the 20th June at the annual Shaw Parish Council Family Fun Weekend in Oldham, it was all change and an extremely hectic time for the portable track crew the following day when normal summer conditions prevailed at the Bury Metropolitan Borough Country Fair event staged at the Burrs Country Park when passenger numbers exceeded 350+.
The portable track’s next outing was an appearance at the 80th Anniversary of Limeside Primary School, Oldham when it was back to school dinners for four members of the society on the 20th July.
After collecting and installing the portable track in the school yard and at the invitation of the Headteacher, the senior citizen members must have looked a little incongruous as they sat down with the children at their Lilliputian sized chairs and tables to enjoy an excellent lunch, the menu including a choice of roast chicken or fish fingers with fresh fruit or mousse to follow. (Unfortunately, I'm afraid, no 'Spotted Dick or Apple Pie and custard to choose from any more - The school is justly proud of its 'Healthy Eating' Award.). Nevertheless, none of the septuagenarians could recall a similar experience from their primary school days of the 30's and 40's.
After lunch, sporting an '80th Anniversary Special Express' headboard, the rostered 5"g locomotives, a Hymek and a Class 37, in turn, gave rides to 182 pupils, from the nursery and reception classes through to year 6, effortlessly treating the passengers to a couple of out and back trips along the 90ft length of track, the carriages taking 7 or 8 children at a time but a couple or so less as the size of the children increased with age and class year!
At the end of a couple of hours and an extremely enjoyable occasion for both the members and pupils, it was back to normality with cries of 'See you again for the Santa Special' still ringing in the ears!
RSMEE 2011 Open Day
Who says the forecasters never get it right, on Sunday, the 17th July they were spot on!!! The day started with almost incessant rain and by late afternoon, it was no better!
Nevertheless, it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the members and visitors who had decided to brave the weather and attend the RSMEE's Open Day at their Springfield Park track. A variety of locomotives, whose drivers challenged the elements, ventured onto the track and represented the Sale, Urmston, Ribble Valley, Wigan and Southport societies.
Much debate and reminiscences could be seen and heard taking place where shelter could be found, especially during the excellent buffet lunch period in the clubhouse, the refreshments again being prepared by Mrs Anne Uff, the wife of society secretary Len.
At the opposite end of the clubhouse, a group could be seen hard at work dismantling the club's compressor which, in strict accordance with Murphy's Law, had chosen that particular day to break down. Early diagnosis suggested a recalcitrant electric motor, but the subsequent examination eventually revealed a seized connecting rod little end for one of the pair of pistons. In order to maintain the compressed air service during the Open Day proceedings, a society member volunteered the use of his own compressor, which with rapid adaptation to piping and connections, saved the day.
Subsequently, after a good coat of looking at and the required dose of TLC by those who know best about these things, the compressor was rebuilt and 'declared fit for purpose' by one of the society boiler inspectors on the following Sunday afternoon.
In spite of the inclement weather conditions, a good time was had by one and all, patently indicating that "Some steam on a bad day is far better than a good day with none at all"
Thanks go to all those people who spared their precious time to ensure the RSMEE Open Day was a success.
Click here for more Photos of the Day
OUR WINTER PROJECT @ the rsmee
Model Engineering Clubs seem to have a “Winter Project” and ours is no different than the others apart from the RSMEE do theirs outside.
12 Ton of Cinders, 10 Ton of Limestone chippings, 500 Sleepers and a vast amount of Coffee Tea and Milk not to mention the odd lick of paint as well, ensured the 12 member “Winter Maintenance Crew” got the work completed before re-opening in April 2011.
The work commenced in January 2011 just after the snows, as they had difficulty locating just where to dig! They commenced by digging out a 1 metre wide, 4 inch deep channel where a weed suppresser was fitted followed by back filling with the 10 Ton of Limestone Ballast. The work took up every Sunday and Wednesday of each week until just before April when the next phase was started.
Some days a second pair of clothing was required due to the wet and the cold. The weather was not exactly in tune with our needs, but those northern lads continued no matter what was thrown at them.
The final phase required 12 tons of cinders being laid in the Station and Car Park, whilst wood renewal and paint work in the same area were cleaned or refinished in order to keep our station up to the expected standards. Even the concrete and surrounding walls were power washed.
The appearance of April brought out the gardening spirit and flower beds near the engine shed were tidied and replanted, whilst line side edges were trimmed to give a neat appearance before running commenced at the beginning of the month.
The RSMEE members not only provide a service to the public on Sunday’s, but can also find time to visit local schools to demonstrate model engineering skills and broaden the knowledge base of future generations.
Following the 2010 highly successful steaming of an example of the 2.6.2T 'William' design of Martin Evans, in connection with the 'Transport' studies of year 5 pupils at the Limeside Primary School in Oldham, a member again responded to the invitation and returned on the 17th February of this year. However this time he was surprised to find that his excited audience had doubled, as on this occasion the demonstration had been arranged for both year 3 and 4 pupils. I think the faces say it all.