The Branch Line Society


Bury Bubble II
Saturday 2nd April 2016

Report by David Hill, ELR Guard and BLS member

Arriving at Bury in ample time to check the tour details with Bury South signalman, (the same one coincidentally as for our 19 July 2015 tour - a good sign), a small tweak was made to the published method of operations to ensure full platform coverage at Bury. Parking by the steam shed, there was one problem on arrival; 34092 City of Wells was stabled over the pit outside on steam shed road 5! Having been defeated last year in trying to access the steam shed which was then blocked by the 'Manitou' used for coaling, thoughts turned to moving 'Wells'. A polite word with the steam shed foreman and he moved it to adjacent road 4. He also happily stepped into the breach to drive the Class 08 as the booked driver was off sick.


The end of the coaling line in Baron Street Yard, unless anyone had a spade!
[© Kev Adlam 2016]

After a quick team photo in front of bubble car 55001, it departed to pick up participants in Bury P4. Prompt boarding enabled an early start with coverage of carriage sidings 2 & 1 to the limit of stabled stock. Belle Vue crossover onto the through siding followed, then the approach to Buckley Wells C&W. Unfortunately the points and track are too tight for passenger stock beyond Belle Vue Terrace.

Ramsbottom; a train of domestic coal for Rawtenstall on 21 May 1975.
[© Ian Mortimer 1975]

A short wait followed for the cameo appearance of 08479, which once attached, took the DMU for a 26ch run through to Castlecroft Slot via a photo stop in P3. Detaching the 'gronk', the DMU performed the 'tunnel shuffle', so that all track and crossovers were covered ending in P4. After a short break awaiting the service train, it was off to Rawtenstall non-stop (well nearly, there was one at Ramsbottom's outer home signal until 33109 arrived). At Rawtenstall the normal (longer) platform was covered to the buffer stops. Next was the run round loop, the 'van' headshunt next to the platform (required by all traincrew on board so must have been good!), the bay platform and the recently realigned signalbox headshunt. Excellent work and communication by all parties ensured all available track was covered here within the tight timings, without holding up any other trains.

The BLS 'Bury Bubble II' in the rare bay P1 at Bury Bolton Street.
[© Kev Adlam 2016]

A genuine non-stop run was made back to Bury P2 for a well deserved lunch break and an opportunity to visit Bury Transport Museum whilst an ECS shunt took place into P1. Controlled boarding (due to the gaps between the train and the platform and the facing points halfway down it when accessing Bay P1) meant an ECS shunt and passenger departure was the only way of securing this extremely rare section of track. Departure via the Inner Curve to the Metrolink bridge for reversal via the Outer Curve into P4 covered more elements of the quite complicated Bury station layout. The next couple of hours were spent exploring Baron Street Yard south end with the focus on securing sections not covered on the 2015 tour and repeating track as time allowed. Baron Street Road 7 was covered first, then Steam Shed Road 5. The movement of 'Wells' in the morning enabled the DMU to run into the steam shed, but only after the Guard (myself) had alighted. Due to volunteers working in the shed and the sighting by the doors, the plan involved me walking by the side of the train to ensure a safe passage in and out of the shed. Rapturous applause broke out once inside the shed, obviously a rare piece of track gratefully appreciated by those on board (thankfully not required by the guard!) Other steam shed apron roads were traversed in descending order to the maximum safe limits and then the same at Baron Street Yard south end. Roads '0' and '-1' were not possible (unlike last year) due to point problems. Then it was back to Bury P2 for a run to Heywood, and the Hopwood Ground Frame, noting the former Heap Bridge paper mills branch (left) after the M66 underbridge. The DMU returned via Heywood Run Round Loop to Bury P3 for a break before the finale. Baron Street Yard North end sidings were then covered from Road 6 to 1, before arriving back into Bury for the last time and terminating in P4 where it had all begun around 7 hours and incredibly 32m 43ch earlier. Near the NR boundary. [© Kev Adlam 2016]

Another thoroughly enjoyable and successful trip which, in conjunction with our 2015 tour, has covered virtually all available ELR track.

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