The weekend had however been allocated to non-railway activities - you will recall that my father was cremated last September, well up to now his ashes had remained inside a green, screw-topped container in a Chapel of Rest but we needed as a family to finish the matter and Sunday being both Father's Day and his wedding anniversary, had been deemed appropriate. I headed off on Friday to collect the container from the Undertakers (I always find this term strange - we "undertake" to do lots of things in our daily lives, why has the word taken on such a specific meaning in relation to death? OK, "Cremation Contractor" or similar might offend our sensibilities, but surely there is another, more specific word, (and I do not include the American 'mortician') that summarises the functions of someone who stores and disposes of our deceased?) and Steph, Jennifer, Andrew and Gareth joined me in Eastleigh on Friday night.
But Saturday was "free", and hot on the trail of our successful Father/Son tour of Railfest, we headed over to Amberley. I have been to Amberley once before - about 1987 I think, when the 2ft gauge line was incomplete - well an awful lot was incomplete. But here we are nearly a quarter century later and if there is still much to do, much has been achieved. We rode the n.g. train - a single ex RAF carriage that I first met at Brockham all so many years ago, hauled by a 60hp Simplex, seen here buffering up at the top terminus "Cragside".
The line has two distinctly different sections. The upper, broadly flat and semi-circular navigates the top end of the former quarry and surrounds the running sheds and museum, the latter an interesting collection of locos and rolling stock.
The other half, after the "Brockham" station, is a twisting shelf line descending along the side of the worked out face and reminiscent, in a greener, Sussexy sort of a way, of archetypal Welsh 2ft. It is all rather impressive for a line carved out by volunteers, but couldn't we please have a fixed bar coupler rather than a 3-link chain that snatches? There is also a yet-incomplete s.g. section, replicating the former loading sidings by the restored lime-kilns. Several wagons stand under the loading area and the shed in the middle distance (below) hides a s.g. Simplex.
Sunday: After we had laid the last remains of my Father to rest in a quiet place in the New Forest, Andrew and I dashed up to Hollycombe. The Hollycombe steam museum is custodian to one of Andrew's locos placed there in 2006 on a 7 year agreement that included Hollycombe painting it, and vac-braking it with their exhauster and valves that Andrew had free-issued. Being 200+ miles away we had never much opportunity to see how they were doing, but our visit yesterday shocked me. I spent considerable time and money on that loco getting it running in 2006. Its paintwork was not brilliant (it was how it was after coming out of service with Ford at Halewood) but did afford reasonable protection to its superstructure. Here it is, shortly after arrival with Andrew at the controls:
And here it is yesterday, after Hollycombe volunteers took all the paint off and got no further than red-oxide. Now paint only works as waterproofing when the gloss coats are applied, as they contain some element of varnish. Red oxide primer is not waterproof, and in consequence rust has taken hold. Indeed the buffer beam at the front has had nothing applied at all - and the nose cone immediately below the grille (for example) is now holed through from corrosion.
All in all, we were very upset and angered by the neglect. This week is due to see "Tom" move from Telford to Rowsley where we can get the work finished on returning it to working order - as usual, there's always something going on.