The Branch Line Society

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Chesterfield Area Fixtures
Saturday 31st May 2014

Barrow Hill Roundhouse: 23 members attended the 3rd of our complementary visits, when the 24 road roundhouse was unusually but deliberately emptier than normal. Starting from the recently extended bay platform the brakevan trip ran over the normally occupied new track to the buffer stops before completing one of the three lines required for our visits in the preservation area, the Preparation Pit Road. We then moved onto the highlight of the fixture, our circular tour traversing half (12) of the roundhouse roads, most completely and much to the amusement of the general public looking round (!). It was probably the most roundabout route ever taken by a BLS fixture. Then another first and much sought after line, the inclined coal stage road.

The train was then sent away to the NR limit at Signal S1010, when participants realised the former Midland Railway Springwell Colliery (Barrow Hill) branch was formerly double track and is quite steeply graded. Along with the mainline connection it is used most days. Meanwhile the operating staff repositioned a number of point clamps for a tour of the commercial area. The main highlights were traversing the two roads to the Rampart Shed and the HNRC shed. In summary an excellent visit with 16 new sections of track (for one of our tours), including 10 roundhouse roads.

Thanks to the organiser, our committee member, BLS cartographer extraordinaire and prominent figure at Barrow Hill, Martyn Brailsford for an excellent visit. He is now scratching his head as to what to do there next as the map is almost red all over.

Chesterfield & District Model Engineers, Hady Hill: 23 members spent just under 3 hours using various steam, internal combustion and battery locomotives to explore efficiently and comprehensively this intricate railway. Tea was available on arrival and, after a very brief talk from Ian, our obliging host, the fun began! Four trains allegedly followed each other around the main ground railway circuit (well, that was the plan!), each time selecting a different line or connection (there were many) in the station area. An alternative was the woodland extension and various return lines back to the station. After about 45 minutes all four trains had completed all the through lines, including all platforms, loops and links. The party then rode the elevated railway, a simple but interesting multilevel steeply graded folded loop - trains reaching a good speed and offering driving opportunities. Interestingly it has automatic signalling; laser beams across the track are interrupted by trains instantly changing the signals. Meanwhile our hosts prepared for phase two of operations…

Back on the ground level railway, in small groups members rotated between three areas: the stabling and turntable area, the carriage shed and the locomotive shed to traverse the tracks. The (real) kettle was boiled again for more tea and biscuits from our obliging hosts whilst we waited for our turn. Finally, the first ever passenger train up the steep branch to (and into) the workshop, only recently laid!

A thoroughly enjoyable and comprehensive afternoon on a lovely railway, where our hosts were up for everything we suggested and admitted they had as much enjoyment out of the fixture as us! One of them may even join our society!

Queen’s Park Railway: 19 members (plus three unexpected latecomers particularly welcomed as the fixture then covered its costs) were treated to a BLS charter at 17.30 after public service. Driver Eddie had never experienced anything like it (or been privately hired before)! The normal fare for this 10¼" gauge line is £1.60, participants paid £5 a head so the organiser obtained value for money by arranging 4 laps of the 550 yard circuit round the lake behind Puffin' Billy a Severn Lamb 1988 built steam outline 2-6-0DH loco with 3 open carriages. Just as some were becoming bored with their circular tour and observing the changing score at a nearby cricket match we reversed at the station and propelled up the lengthy shed branch over two (internal park) level crossings. Running to the end of line in the right hand shed road, two coaches were stabled. Then the party similarly covered the left hand road with two runs using the remaining coach before it (and engine) were stabled there for the night. An interesting point is that the extremity of this branch was the site of the Midland Railway shed on their Chesterfield Brampton goods branch (this section CG 1964).

A most enjoyable finale to yet another great cohesive day of fixtures with travel on three different gauges in close proximity to each other.