Weekend Rails

what we do for our kids

Of sleeping beauty

11th March 2018

A busy week here at the Briddon Country Pile. Let me see what I can tell you of it.

According to the old fairy tale, a King & Queen had a baby daughter and invited seven fairies to the christening to be the baby's godmothers. But in a faux pas they neglected to invite an eighth fairy, who turns out to be a right party-pooper and casts a spell that when the princess grows up, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel needle and die. (Well haemophilia has occurred among the royals so statistically there was a fair chance). But the last good fairy changes the spell to 'fall into a deep sleep for 100 years' rather than die (wasn't it someone in the Hitchikers Guide that was spending a year dead for tax purposes?). Anyway, the princess grows up in a country where spinning wheels are banned, (bluddy Health & Safety demanding protective guards over sharp needles) so the first time she encounters one, she is so curious that she pricks her finger and hey-presto starts pushing up zzz's. Mater and Pater carry her comatose corpse to a chamber in the castle, and the last good fairy pops by, puts everyone there to sleep (a bad century for the HMRC) and makes the castle disappear behind an impenetrable wall of trees and brambles. Until a handsome Prince fights his way in, kisses the Princess and she awakes, probably to scream 'sexual harassment' and wonder just what sort of a party it was they had last night.

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OK, ok, so you think I've flipped. But once upon a time British Rail came up with a design of flat wagon, and built many, but once BR had finished working this one, it was allocated to the National Collection as an example to be saved for posterity. But instead it went to sleep on a siding, where the good fairy put other wagons asleep with it to keep it company, and an impenetrable wall of trees and brambles grew up to hide it from prying eyes.

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And then one day the men in charge of the National Collection were told that the owners of the sidings wanted it removed urgently, and as they had nowhere to put it, they offered it around and a handsome Prince Andrew offered to take its hand in marshalling.

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And here the fairy tale breaks down a bit. The handsome Prince Andrew should have broken through the impenetrable tress and brambles and brought the sleeping flat back to life nearly four years ago, but somehow the urgency to get it moved dissipated. So the sleeping flat slumbers on, and the impenetrable trees and brambles continue to grow and be well, impenetrable.

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Things are moving though, even if the sleeping flat isn't, and this week I met with Andrew and a DBS representative to take a look at it and assess how to get it out of the impenetrable trees and brambles. Yes, it will need a new deck, but it adds another useful wagon to the collection. Andrew will have further visits, with crane hire companies to determine the cost of recovery, but rest assured, it will go to the ball! Oh hang on, wrong fairy tale.

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Saturday was supposed to be an IDRPG working day but the numbers dwindled until just the faithful Charles arrived to continue painting 1382. On Friday though Steph and I had been over to collect grandson, so Andrew was occupied with him, and late on Friday night Andrew Curle, who is building a 2ft gauge line at Blennerhassett in Cumbria, arrived to collect a point lever that Andrew had offered on e-bay, and ended up staying the night. So first thing Saturday I brought him back to the shed to collect his lorry and showed him around the collection before he set off back to Cumbria. (Or rather, he went for a ride on Peak Rail and ate in the Rowsley cafe before driving back north west).

Most of my day was occupied with making up some parts for a locomotive customer who has had a breakdown that I need to fix pronto, but I also had a visitor in the shape of the man who has bought the old Briddon van. On the basis that the warranty was my standard one of five minutes or out the door, I think we can say that chapter is over, though I'll admit to a tear in the corner of my eye as it drove away, and a grimace as I heard him racing the engine getting used to where the clutch bit.

I was back down again Sunday, again without Andrew (who had dashed down to the Quorn swapmeet), waiting for man to call and collect the Ramsey winch that Andrew bought a couple of years ago. Regular readers may recall that at the time I referred to Andrew's long term plan - as it then was – to buy a low loader, and here he was buying the winch ready for a trailer rather than getting the trailer and then buying a winch. His enthusiasm for installing this winch has been curbed by the realities of time and cost – complete winches, though much more money, are guaranteed, require no engineering input from us and are 'off the shelf'. So he stuck it on e-bay to recover his money and the floor space it was taking up. While I was waiting I decided to tackle the last of the initial snag list on the electrical installation: the fact that I had 3 wires to the PIR in the doorway which for about two inches had no secondary insulation. I had picked up a fresh larger enclosure a few weeks ago, so powered down the lights, removed the old junction box and re-mounted the new one so that it protects these wires as they came through from outside. I was nearly finished when the man arrived, and between us we sack-trucked the winch out and into his pick-up. Considering he told me he was only 51, he seemed to be less able and less fit than me, at sixty-something and asthmatic. Once he was on his way, I wrapped up the jobs and headed home for a late lunch and a snooze. Well I said I'm sixty-something, didn't I?

There are two bits of important news from the Peak Rail front this week. Firstly, let's hear a statement issued by Grinsty last Monday...
'In March 2017, Grinsty Rail applied for an injunction against Peak Rail plc in order to secure unobstructed access to the Rowley Engine Shed which was its right under the terms of a licence. Peak Rail plc admitted breaching the terms of the licence and gave an undertaking to the Court promising to allow free and unobstructed access. Despite this, Peak Rail plc went on to defend the claim and raised a number of misconceived arguments. The matter has now been settled by consent with Peak Rail plc agreeing to pay Grinsty's costs of the action. Together with the costs still outstanding from the previous court case, the total legal costs payable by Peak Rail plc amounts to a considerable five figure sum.'

So what's this about? The brief story is that it appears Peak Rail management attempted to coerce Grinsty into ending legal action by preventing the despatch of a carriage to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. Grinsty applied for an injunction, which typically costs upwards of £15,000. Peak Rail capitulated.

The second piece of news was a letter came out to all shareholders and association members signed by Peter Waterman in his new role as President of Peak Rail, which came as a surprise to all of us. Either way, the letter contains a number of inaccurate statements which will be dealt with by legal professionals, so I am not going to comment further at this stage. I have however received a number of phone calls and e-mails from supporters of the Peak Rail Action Group urging me to continue.

So that's about it for this week. We're due back at Colne Valley to finish the A exam on 14 901, and Andrew tells me that we need to get Ludwig Mond ready. Ready for what? That will have to wait. Drop by next week and maybe I'll tell.

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