The Branch Line Society


The Barn Stormer
Saturday 14th October 2017

Report by Howard Everitt

62 members made their way to rural Staffordshire, north of Tamworth, to travel on our suitably named 'Barn Stormer' railtour. Following registration, ticket distribution, safety briefing etc our party was divided into two groups, 'Plymouth' and 'Simplex', as two train running plus the tram would be the order for the day. (The 'miles' table and ticket are thanks to Jim Sellens. At the foot of this report is a marked up map of the latest layout - with the new tramway - thanks to Martyn 'Map Man' Brailsford.)


Reflecting the diesel hauled theme, the 'Plymouth' party set off to Statfold Junction P1 to board the two mainline coaches with brake van to cover the mainlines behind green Plymouth diesel No.7 'Tiny'. The 'Simplex' party boarded the two coach set stabled on the (very) multi-gauge turntable to traverse the Garden Railway, engine shed area and associated yard, bits and pieces behind Simplex MR9976 'WD Charlie' resplendent with specially made acrylic BLS headboard and a bowler hatted driver.

'Plymouth' No7 'Tiny' leaving Statfold Junction station with fully working signalling on the second Statfold Railway mainline tour of the day, Sat 14 Oct 2017.
[© Ian Mortimer 2017]

During the morning session 'Plymouth' comprehensively covered all available main line components through a multitude of shunts, run rounds and directionality moves. Cogan Halt headshunt and both separate entrances into the Museum building as far as stabled stock or as safety permitted were two highlights. (The two Museum lines cross each other by a right angled flat crossing - 'perpendicular overlap'?). The shed road entry onto the turntable road was very tight past the coaling container.

The return loop past Cogan Halt, note the sleeper width from mixed 2' and 2' 6"gauge days.
The 2' 6" gauge single rail was removed and reused for the new tram track.
[© Ian Mortimer 2017]

Despite the museum building (at Oak Tree Halt) being under refurbishment, to meet formal Museum designation standards requiring lift installation for example, it was possible to view and photograph the impressive collection of locos and enormous collection of railway signs etc. After a brief visit it was back to Statfold Junction for a lunch break and to compare notes with the 'Simplex' group.

On the section covered with the Simplex - seems like good advice though the 2' 6" gauge has largely gone now.
The approach to the yard in front of the loco shed with a tiny fraction of the extensive collection of lineside items in the background.
The very high, consistently smart standard to which the railway, garden, grounds and farm are all maintained is evident.
[© Ian Mortimer 2017]

The two groups then swapped over. Afternoon coverage was also comprehensive with Loco Shed roads, Paint Shop siding to the shed door, turntable spur and both Carriage Shed sidings to the shed doors all ticked off. Good use of the mainline headshunt was made to shunt stock from and back into the turntable spur using maroon 'Plymouth' loco No.8 'Tim'. From reversal on the mainline headshunt, (quite a steep downward gradient) the Garden Railway was accessed - this connection along with much other track we did cannot be done on running days due to the sheer number of locos (18-20) in operation. Two clockwise circuits (the rare direction!) were made with a diversion into the brick built carriage shed (our loco and one coach made it inside).

The 'Simplex' used on the tours of Statfold Junction and the unashamedly 'Garden Railway', with special headboard, but it's a good job it was a dry sunny day…!
[© Howard Everitt 2017]

Returning back onto the main lines, the Future Branch spur (a ¾ mile long line with a rack incline section planned round a field to Cogan Halt creating a large circuit) was taken across the flat crossing on the new mixed standard/3ft gauge Tramway (perpendicular overlap achieved!) to the railway boundary gate for the short walk to the tram shed.

The tram shed and tram. Running left to right along the bottom is the link to the future incline
and field branch crossing the tramway on the level (off picture bottom right).
[© Howard Everitt 2017]

Then a highlight of the day for most participants. Outside the shed, immaculate in maroon and cream, was 'wireless' Burton & Ashby Light Railways Tram No.14 ready on the non platform siding. (What else would you expect on a BLS visit?) The morning party had helped the Statfold volunteers unlock the points to access this siding, possibly its first ever use. The tram silently glided down to Oak Tree terminus where we passed the unused 18" gauge spur line cleverly incorporated into the tramway trackwork. The 'Plymouth' train also passed by. An odd tramway experience perhaps with no wires or sound but the climb back up to the shed end was more like it as the battery powered motors whirred nicely while we rattled along. At the tram shed platform the top deck participants then had to move downstairs to avoid decapitation and complete safe running inside the shed for final disembarkation.

Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves; the tight clearance of the shed doors behind can be appreciated. A maximum of 16 people are permitted upstairs.
[© Ian Mortimer 2017]

Rejoining the Simplex and vehicles it was straight back to Statfold Junction where a Society cheque presentation was made to Statfold's Alex by our Chairman and the Fixture Organiser. The funds will go towards restoration of the local church roof where the lead has recently been 'removed'.

With formalities completed the 'Plymouth' mainline set returned into Statfold Junction P1 where an extra main line run was organised behind 'Plymouth' No.8 'Tim' along with a second museum visit option for those who were still trying to fill in stock list gaps. With return back into P2 it was an ideal way to finish on what had turned out to be a pleasantly warm and remarkably sunny autumn day.

The superbly restored tram at the other end of line, Oak Tree Halt tram stop. Does 'Railways' suggest possible further future expansion?
Anything is possible at Statfold Barn!!
[© Ian Mortimer 2017]

In response to queries from participants, Oak Tree crossover is inoperable (welded OOU and no point levers) and P3 headshunt is disused as it is considered too dangerous to use. The railway now 'top & tail' all trains from P3 on open days to avoid having to swap locos out of the headshunt.

From left to right is the 3' 0"/4' 8½" mixed gauge tramway, the 2ft main line (out from Statfold Junction) set in concrete and the 2ft main line returning to Statfold in ballast. Right is the Museum turntable branch that was traversed, The Second Plymouth trip is seen approaching.
[© Ian Mortimer 2017]

In conclusion, an excellent fixture with special thanks to our organiser, Gary Lonsdale, Statfold Barn Railway and the fixtures team volunteers who provide both the visible and invisible support for fixtures like this. Also, thank you to our loyal membership for continuing to support these outings.

At the end of the main tours on P1/2 at Statfold Junction station our Chairman, John Williamson (left), presents our donation to Alex (middle) from Statfold railway.
On the right is the fixture organiser, our inimitable member Gary Lonsdale with the bespoke headboard.
[© Jenny Williamson 2017]

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