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Friday, 30 August 2013

Don't Look Down

  The ledge is wide enough and I am daft enough.   Please be assured I am harnessed up and tied on.   Polyurethane floor paint is being applied to the course of stone immediately below the tank in preparation for replacing the failed seal between the tank and the stone.

The new sealant will not adhere to stone unless it is first primed and sealed - hence the high level paint job.

This was a definite two man task - one doing the painting and the other seeing to safety and keeping up the supply of paint.   Peter Bennett who took the picture did a splendid job on the latter tasks - to the extent that we were able to do a circuit of the tank ledge in just over an hour.   I think we did three laps.

The removal of the failed sealant and its replacement will be trickier but when done the place will be a lot drier in driving rain.
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Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Wagon has a Floor

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The completion of the chassis has meant that floorboards could be laid.   They are Siberian larch and at this stage have just been loose laid, for proper fixing when the wagon sides are built.   We have left a trap door in the middle of the floor.   Underneath are the snatch-blocks in the centre of the wagon's drawbar.   The top picture shows the two snatch-blocks, or shock absorbers.  Thesetake the strainwhen the weight of the train passes through the wagon.   Clever stuff and not something we wanted to hide beneath the floorboards for ever.
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Cats and Dogs

This is Purrcy the cat.   After an altercation with son-in-law's seriously large black Labrador Gunner (below) the cooking fat went missing on 6th August.   Despite much calling, posting of missing cat notices and Facebook appeals Purrcy strolled back three weeks later - flea ridden, thinner but glad to be home.   He has done a lot of sleeping and purring since.

Gunner the Labrador, the cause of the cat's disappearance, was sent to the Langliffe kennels to reflect on the meaning of life and to sort out his cano-feline relationships.   He and the cat are both at the water tower and are receiving counselling.

Gunner has been told that if he behaves we might remove the poncey yellow flower and purple ribbon from round his neck - placed there by Lancliffe Kennels as part of their 'think holiday camp, not prison' initiatives.  The flower is doing nothing for Gunner's street credibility but it is probably giving the cat some degree of comfort and amusement. 
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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Bless this House

We had a surprise visit today from the Right Reverend Graham Dow who was until recently the Bishop of Carlisle.   He and his family took the opportunity to see the tower when they came to Settle to see and photograph this morning's Cumbrian Mountain Express race through Settle - bound for Carlisle, hauled by the steam locomotive Duchess of Sutherland.
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Since his retirement, Graham Dow has been a hard working trustee of the Settle-Carlisle Railway Trust, as was his predecessor Bishop of Carlisle Ian Harland.   What IS it about clergymen and trains?

Graham was kind enough on leaving us to slip back into Bishop mode and to Bless the Settle Station water tower.   I wonder if this is another first for a water tower?   We agreed that the risk of our being hit by lightning had been reduced.   Oh, but then, there was York Minster.   Hey ho, back to the drawing board.

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Here is the Duchess of Sutherland bursting out of the north end of Blea Moor tunnel.

Friday, 16 August 2013

You're Quite Famous

Especially in summer Settle station is a popular place for tourists, by the coachload.   Working around the wagon in front of the tower means that people are tempted to shout across from the station drive.   Daily there are cries of
"Saw you on Grand Designs"
"Regards to Kevin McCloud."
"Is George Clarke as nice as he seems?"
"No telly here today then?"

A lady on one or today's coach parties made me chuckle:
"You're quite famous.   In Leicester."

Better not let that go to my head.

Power to Spare

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This quirky image is for sale on e-bay just now.   It was taken near Long Preston.   Date unknown.   If nothing else it proves that at least one low sided goods wagon was hereabouts.   It looks empty and there seems to be more than enough power to move it!

I like that hut in the background too.   Looks a bit like a navvy hut to me.   It's not there now.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Rebuilding the Wagon Body

Our wagon was seven planks high, which gave it a carrying capacity of 13 tons of coal.    In the context of the water tower it did rather dominate the scene and partially blocked the view from some windows.   Having consulted with the Strathspey Railway who donated the wagon we have decided to re-build the wagon body to roughly half its original height.

Four plank wagons were quite normal and still looked the part as this picture shows:

They had a capacity of 10 tons.

Besides being more in keeping with the site at Settle it will enable us to make better use of the surviving ironwork of the wagon body.   We shall keep the unused components so that anybody who wants to restore it to full height in the future can do so.

Four or five plank wagons were common in this area as they matched the height of the loading platforms at the local lime kilns and quarries.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Great Marquess

The sight of main line steam engines passing your door at speed is a privilege indeed.   During the summer there are regular weekly steam trains - the Fellsman every Wednesday and the Waverley on Saturdays.   Today's Fellsman was hauled by The Great Marquess - see picture below.  This was one of a very small class of LNER engines designed for use in the Scottish Highlands.   Relatively small engines, they were low geared and therefore quite slow.   They were also designed to cope with steep gradients and sharp curves as on the west Highland line.

The S&C is something different - no sharp curves but very long gradients.   When the Great Marquess was first used on the S&C there were doubts that she would have enough puff to make it to the summit at Ais Gill.   Judging by today's performance there was no doubt at all.   She stormed through Settle northbound this morning and back again this evening bang on time.

What a sight.

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The Fellsman and The Waverley have been sell-outs this year, due in part no doubt to television coverage of the Settle-Carlisle line.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Waverley and the Water Tower

This splendid picture by Martyn Garrett has been posted on Facebook by Heritage Railway magazine.   It shows the locomotive Scots Guardsman bringing The Waverley southbound through Settle on Saturday last.

Several interesting things in the picture - not least our water tower on the right.

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Monday, 12 August 2013

Reflections on the 8th Police Special Course

The previous posting may have intrigued some - the police Special Course.   Nowadays every other recruit to the police is a graduate.   That probably says more about universities than it does about the police.   In 1969/70 there were just two graduates on our Special Course - and only one woman.

43 years on we will have all retired - the standard police career was just thirty years.   I retired at 52 - hardly life's scrap-heap.   I have not followed the careers of all of my co-Special Course 'flyers' of 1969/70.   One became a knight of the realm.   One at least became a Chief Constable - but he died in post.
One went to Cambridge and got a starred First.   One went to prison.   One became head of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad.

Every one of us will have faced danger, terror, ridicule and abuse.   Also supreme reward and satisfaction of a job well done or wrongs righted.

I suspect that all of us are glad to be out of it.   We all paid in 11% of our salaries towards our pensions and probably begrudged it at the time.

Now is pay-back time.   Time to enjoy water towers, family and railway trucks.

One VERY Smart Wagon - Which Moves

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During the past weekend we had the pleasure of the company of the Morgan family from Wales.   Family patriarch Richard Morgan and I met when we were both on the police Special Course at the Police Staff College, Bramshill for a year in 1969/70.   Richard was in Dyfed Powys Police and I was in Bradford City.   We, along with a couple of dozen others that year had survived a rigorous national selection procedure, designed to find the future leaders of the police service and to teach them how not to eat peas with their knives.   There is friendship in adversity and we have been friends ever since.

Richard and Marilyn's grandchildren, Callum (8) and Josh (17 and six feet three) were with them and between us we were able to fit the brake mechanisms back onto the truck.   That done, we had a safe, braked, rolling chassis and I can report that young Callum was able to push it along the line unaided.   Callum also helped me as an On-Train-Guide, selling £54's worth of line guidebooks to vulnerable passengers on the 1348 to Carlisle on Saturday.  Man-mountain Josh meanwhile lifted the heavy brake gear into position whilst Richard and I inserted the bolts.   All that training at Bramshill was finally paying off on something useful.

The pictures above and below show how the wagon now looks.

How different from a few days ago: 
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Sunday, 11 August 2013

A Nostalgic Day for Derek Soames

Derek Soames (83) is one of those people it is a privilege to know.   He spent his entire working life on the railway - mainly on the Settle Carlisle line as a signalman.   Even in retirement he works hard as a volunteer at Settle's immaculately restored signal box, entertaining countless visitors and showing them how the job was, and still is, done.

Today was special for Derek - it saw a re-run of the famous Fifteen Guinea Special.   The original ran over the S&C on 11th August 1968 and Derek was on duty in the S&C's Horton in Ribblesdale signal box.    It was meant to be the very last steam train to run on Britain's railways.  45 years on and Derek was again in an S&C signal box, this time Settle.    Dressed in his Sunday best he had opened the box specially.

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Here is Derek in the early evening sunshine waiting for the train, listening for the tell tale whistle.   "She's here" said Derek long before the crowd of photographers on the footbridge had raised their cameras.

And presently, there she was - double headed by two Black Fives, just as 45 years ago.   Derek waves at the train as so many times in the past but this time with added reason.   Besides rejoicing at the continued presence of main line steam, Derek believes that his son Martyn (52) is the fireman on the train engine as it hurtles past.   In fact Martyn could not fire the engine as he had hurt his wrist but Derek was not to know that.

Old habits die hard.   Derek checks that there is a tail lamp on the back of the train and that all is well.
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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Suits in Settle

Today was going to be messy - preparing and repainting the iron components of the wagon's brake gear.   I dressed accordingly - paintiest torn trousers and paintiest worn shirt.   By the time the 1146 for Carlisle pulled in I had reached that stage in a paint job when you wish you hadn't started - paint beginning to dribble down the brush handle, via hands to forearm.

I heard the 1146 depart - bang on time too.   A minute or two later I saw three ranks of sombre suited men walking down the station drive in silence.    I recognised some local worthies in the second rank.   In the rear, at a respectful distance was a minor media scrum.   I recognised Steve Garnett from the Craven Herald and thought I recognised Nigel Harris - editor of Rail magazine. 

I could not resist it and broke off from my painting and addressed the group who so obviously needed cheering up.  "I've never seen so many men in ties in Settle."   There were nervous chuckles from some and worried looks from others.  Is this a local eccentric about to cause trouble? 

A jolly looking chap (above) in the middle of the front row broke ranks and shot up the grass banking alongside the drive to the fence.   Beaming from ear to ear he thrust out his hand and said "I saw this on the telly.   It is absolutely fantastic.  Jolly well done.   I'm Patrick Mc Loughlin, Sectretary of State for Transport by the way."   In fact I knew who he was - the Settle-Carlisle bush telegraph is in fine working order.   "I'm Mark, the daft bugger who lives here", I replied.   We had a very nice chat about the tower and Restoration Man, of which programme he is a dedicated follower.   On my remark about ties he said how much he envied my attire.

We shook hands enthusiastically, said our farewells and he rejoined the group.

I do hope the paint wore off his hands during the course of what was obviously going to be a busy day.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Do NOT Read This if You are of Delicate Disposition

Slightly off topic but justified because our daughter Lorna and family are visiting the Water Tower for a few days.

Lorna confessed over lunch that she had nearly crashed her car when approaching Settle this morning.

James, 8 and our beloved grandson suddenly announced "Mummy, I know what the real name for front bottoms is".

Regaining control, Lorna said, "Really James, what is it then?"

She was mightily relieved when James announced that the Sunday best name for front bottoms was vagina.

Lorna:   "How do you know that James?"

James:   "It's in the dictionary".   "William from school showed me"

Lorna (who is very careful about things like dictionaries around the house):  "Which dictionary was that James?"

James, quick as a flash,  "The one at school.   It's on page 322, column 3, line 2"

The Chassis Finished

  Here's me and Ged congratulating one another on a huge job well done - the completion of the woodwork repairs and replacements on the wagon chassis.

Ged has refused any payment for the work he has done - so much has he enjoyed doing it.

He, like others, has warmed to the wagon and is just glad to be able to help in its preservation, which would be an immensely costly business if it had to be done at commercial rates.

From above, the extent of the new woodwork can be seen.   Over half of the original chassis wood has had to be renewed.   The headstocks, or buffer beams and the main longitudinal member at the top of the picture have also been replaced but are painted black so do not look new at a first glance.

We have also had immense help from Settle Coal, Timberworks and from Wonder of Wood.    Settle Coal, besides bringing the truck from Aviemore and craning it into position, have been very generous on the hardware side of things.   Their collossal resources of engineering supplies and specialist tools have been made freely available.   Wonder of Wood have supplied much of the chassis replacement wood free of charge, and the remainder at well below cost.

It is quite humbling how Settle has taken the water tower project to its heart and is glad to be associated with it - in very practical ways.

Besides the enormous help in kind there is a constant stream of visitors saying how much they enjoyed the TV programmes.

All very encouraging and rewarding.