Spinney Light Railway Archive News
Summer 2016

5th November 2016

Cold (as everyone will vouch for) but dry day, traditional end of running season marked with Fish and Chips followed by Fireworks.

“leaves “leaf

Everyone felt the cold and if possible huddled around a steam locomotive or hands around a cup of tea just to thaw out a bit, a day for wearing thermal and fleece lined clothing. Thank you June, Louise and Eric for helping in the catering department and for assisting with lighting during the fireworks. The railway was tidied up as can be seen in the pictures and Scott Line encountered a leaf or two on the line (suffering as per full size). Dave MB and M successfully cleared the line using leaf blowers whilst Peter made many trips to the bonfire. Alan S, Peter and Dave MB cleared the carriage shed floor, moving bricks and brushing out the water that had accumulated. Hopefully this years winter project will involve getting the roof built and this will keep the floor area dry. Plan was to run trains to 4pm where we would have tea, clear up then have the usual end of season fish and chips followed by fireworks. Bob T was unable to visit due to illness (we wish him a speedy recovery) and at tea his cakes from previous visit proved to be very popular (if you can not make next time, can you send more in the post?). David D also went home early due to not feeling well and the cold (sitting next to a nice warm fire sounds the answer). Mike H was nominated controller for the day, which he did not relish until informed there would only be one train running for most of the time and that could look after itself (easy job). David G was away sunning himself - did I mention the cold!!!

Loco news

“elsie “mick
nick robin at dingly “jamie

Four locomotives on track today and were Standard 78054, Scott line, Class 20 and LMS 7163, two steam and two electric. Scot Line ran for the first two hours as ‘one engine in steam’ and therefore was given free running before being joined by the others at 3pm. Picture shows Dave M daughter, Elise driving which she thoroughly enjoyed apart from Dave who sat there and got cold (no train heating!). With only four trains on the railway, we were able to run longer trains, and Scott Line ran with four coaches and 78054 had three.

S & T news

Four signal boxes, three signalmen (sometimes two) - Richard covered Baytree and sometimes Dingly whilst Mike H had a drive, Mike H was in Dingly and Robin covered Spinney. Old Oak became TMO (Train Man Operated - full size terminology) where the driver would operate the levers to run the train round the coaches then gave two on the the token instrument machine to let Spinney know they were on their way back. This worked very well, and used the large token for this purpose. At the previous running day, Richard took home the banner repeater usually found between the two tunnels for maintenance, did any driver notice it was missing or even report it missing?

Other work


Picture shows Tom welding together a wagon chassis for Nick, using the back of his pick up as a work bench, an unusual working practice. When finished, the wagons will be a six wheeled tank variety and will hopefully complement the Spinney wagon fleet and the wagons Dave M is constructing. Looks like the carriage / wagon shed needs extending before it is built!!!

End of summer season

red signals

Picture shows red signals at Baytree which I thought summed up the end of the running season, all stop. It is very rare to see the railway operating in the dark and therefore rarely see the signals lit up. The last two years have seen rain on this day, but thankfully rain fell the previous day and we were able to have the usual end of season fish / pie with chips and fireworks, although all sat there bearing the cold elements, (possibly a taste of future maintenance weeks). Some of the fireworks were a bit bland and we had to watch ours and listen to the fireworks from neighbours to gain full effect, however, Peter bought along a firework called ‘Empire’ and this was a true firework packed with action and noise. Well done Peter for that one, more of those next year please.

Next time

Start of winter maintenance, clean and pack away signals so many hands please to make light work as they say, then start winter projects. June and Robin have produced a list of items that need maintenance / renewing.

22nd October 2016

k9 baytree paul old oak

Last running day of the year, new four legged friend, busy day. David G was not present and his excuse was that he was celebrating his 50th Wedding Anniversary - excuses!!! - congratulations.

Eileen and David say 'Thank you' for the card and the good wishes from the team
And now a second card signed by all the team! Thank you once again.

Congratulations to Alan S who celebrated his birthday a week previous and kept that quiet. Mick C was controller with Peter W in tow learning the ropes on what was thought to be a quiet afternoon with six booked guests. Mick states there were no reported incidents, so how many unreported? With good weather we were able to run many trains, both for passengers and for learner drivers. Lefthand picture shows June holding the new arrival, Millie who came for a train ride. Sophie refused to get on, we could have run a K9 special, I wonder if the signallers have a bell code for that one? As can be seen, three dogs and were all well behaved. Righthand picture shows Paul on his back, possibly due to Robin and Richard cracking a joke or he just leant back too far, whatever the cause, we rushed to help him once we had stopped laughing. Cliff's Grandson Kai managed to get stuck in the toilet as the key broke in his hand. Rescue was provided by passing mole grips through a window and turning the shaft.

Loco news

scottline dave mb dave m std 5

nick baytree

A good turnout of locomotives today with eight in operation and were Scottline, L94, Kate, Scot 6109, Holmeside, 73115 Standard 5, Clan line and Spinney electric performed some shunt moves in the locomotive yard. The slight chill in the air made the steam locomotives very atmospheric but difficult to drive and observe signals at times. Many locomotives were driven by learners which they thoroughly enjoyed but this meant that passengers had to wait a long time for a train, observing trains that did not stop - just like full size.

S & T news

robin bob baytree

Richard Garland in Dingly, Adrian in Spinney, David D in Old Oak and Bob in Baytree which was unusual but he said he wanted the variety. Signalmen were kept busy, at one point, Spinney had trains on all lines in the station and in the tunnel. Old Oak also became very busy, often with three trains in the station and run round line. Old Oak 7B points continued to be problematic but are part of the winter maintenance programme and also Baytree number 5 signal caused the signaller to come out of the box to wave a green flag, fault unknown at present.

Next time

Next meeting is a pack away day and followed by fish and chips and fireworks, weather permitting.

8th October 2016

dave mb l94 lunch baytree

We are nearing the end of this years running, one more running day, and the weather has started to turn a bit chilly so the smoke effects from the steam locomotives are picturesque apart from the constant steaming up of glasses if you wear them, however, the whole day was very relaxing and enjoyable. The new addition was always present, Sophie, checking Alan S brick laying and always around for food which is not a problem if we can get to it first. Dave MB was the controller, his first time in this role and was a very good sport as he received many puns relating to his vocation especially via e mail on the run up to the day. Some of the comments are listed here:- Diverted due to bad weather I expect. - Don't need instructions, it's done as a matter of course! - I assume Dave MB will be showing us the location of emergency exits in the traditional fashion. - Presumably they will have instructions to put all the trains in a holding pattern round and round the main line before allowing a glide path to Old Oak (when you really wanted to go to Dingly) - Will passengers please note that they can only leave the Cromars from the first door on the left - If it's a windy (turbulent) day will seat belts have to be worn until the "Captain" turns the warning light off? - Will there be a duty free area? Cheap Items I can buy with no use - Correct, only 100mls of water, which must be in a clear (sealed) plastic bag. However once on site you will be able to purchase any amount of bottled water at great expense. - Will we need to be scanned or frisked? - Please bring passports, life vests and ensure your table and chairs are in the upright position ready to run the Spinney Light Railway. Dave MB took the comments in good faith and joined in with the replies, it really made the lead up to the day quite entertaining and the day itself was very relaxing and enjoyable, well done Dave.

Once we had checked in, the stock was bought out of the tunnel to Dingly where upon the rolling stock ran over the water hose pipe supplying water to Alan S brick laying activities. Luckily no damage to either the rolling stock or the hose but demonstrates the need to check the line is clear before pushing / propelling rolling stock around the railway. Cliff arrived so we stopped for lunch. A great day, very relaxing and friends doing tasks that were different to the norm, which lead to confusion and fun in some cases. Dave M bought along his daughter Lillie who had a great time helping with signalling tasks, i.e. handing the drivers the branch token and driving both Spinney Electric No 1 and Scott Line, with Dave M, Jamie, Heather and Myself supervising and the various signallers in Spinney signal box. After tea we packed away as the sky appeared to blacked as if to throw a down pour. All away before any rain. Thanks to Dave MB, Richard and Cliff for their contributions to the news and of course June for the tea and coffee.

Loco and wagon news

dave mb l94 dave m lillie scott line

nick testing wagon

Five Locomotives on track today and were: Spinney Electric No1, Scott Line, L94, Eileen, class 20, and Jamie bought LMS 7163 back to Spinney but did not steam, received a clean up, so possibly next time!! Nick's wagon has a fault where the wheels touch the wagon underside so he changed all the springs but to no avail and he has now taken the wagon home for modification work. Picture shows Nick testing the suspension in the loco yard by free wheeling over the point work, a rough ride experienced. Dave MB (Controller) drove L94 and mistook the non operational steam brake for the operational vacuum brake which caused a stir approaching the red signal on the exit of the tunnel (easy mistake to make inside a dark tunnel, why it is red most of the time, no one knows). It was feet down for an emergency stop, unfortunately tripping the overlap however no damage done or injury. A good learning curve for all. As mentioned earlier, Lillie did very well driving the electric locomotives and had a smile on her face as can be seen in the picture.

S & T news

Quite a lot to report and some of it quite amusing but unfortunately no pictures. Bob remained all day in his usual location, Dingly, but the other signal boxes were covered by Mick, David G, Cliff and Grandson Kai, Peter and Robin all rotating, swapping signal boxes as and when!! So Peter, Cliff and Grandson Kai, were learning new tasks and signal boxes sometimes under supervision from Robin and Richard. It is rumoured that Kia thought signalling would mean sitting still all day and able to play games on his mobile, but he found out this was not to be the case and it involves a high degree of concentration and multi tasking. Cliff reports that he is better at Baytree than Spinney, and his time there during the traffic build up was relatively uneventful, and lots of communication from adjacent boxes telling us what was going on, and none from drivers who decided to go backwards without authority and not checking that the point behind them had been adjusted for the next move. Kai and Cliff switched to Spinney when the old hand there succumbed to an ageing bladder and left his post. There they racked up a record of ten recorded signalling errors in an hour. The worst of these was trying to send a train down to Old Oak forgetting that they had accepted one coming up the single line. The signalling equipment, and a supervising old hand, prevented the conflicting move. The real cause - no blame here - was that Cliff's memory is shorter than the time it takes rookie drivers to raise steam for the climb up the branch. Forgetting that they had switched boxes to the Spinney, Cliff continued to answer the phone with a very clear "Baytree box". This was intended to be helpful but totally confused Dingly who apologised twice for ringing the wrong number and then started to doubt the telephone system, which is of course maintained by the same folk who do the signalling, - highly amusing situation, reminds me of the 'Detectives' programme on the TV a few years ago. There were some signalling issues, Old Oak number 7B points continued to cause a problem by not throwing fully and required manual adjustment (kick) to allow safe travel over them. Bulbs hanging out of their holders, no.16 signal at Baytree showing off when point no. 4 was in reverse, no. 5 points at Spinney not detecting in the reverse position so we seem to have plenty of winter work on our hands. Railways are and will always be heavy maintenance.

Richard says, the controller was good (as they all are) - as air traffic controllers are paid more than pilots perhaps we should adopt the same approach to the signallers! Peter did very well at Old Oak despite a gaggle of varying instructors. One gentleman tended to forget to pull off before giving train entering section and then wondered why the signal would not clear and also signallers need to check that signals have gone back on as Old Oak 10 can stick as it did in the off position, luckily I spotted the points did not reflect the signal or where I wanted to go. As an aside there has been a second major derailment in New York within a week so SLR is better than New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Railroad.

Carriage shed news

alan bricklaying

Alan S spent the day brick laying and has finished the last side. The front still requires attention to build above the doors to shape the roof line. Discussions are amidst as to whether to run the existing siding next to the carriage shed up to the turn table, or come off from a set of points from the existing run round line or to leave it as a siding. This can be discussed further during the winter maintenance program.

Next time

Mick C is the controller with Peter shadowing to learn the ropes and also we expect to see a second dog to keep Sophie company and help with tidying up the crumbs.

24th September - Ladies Day

A glorious, gathering of gorgeous girls graced the railway today
If only your editor had the imagination to gather them all together!

Sue Sarah
                            Sue                                                          Sarah, with dad
Robyn Archive June
                          Robyn                                                 June, with the controller


Not forgetting new arrival Sophie, who got a few tit bits a tea but has yet to learn the gastronomic significance of that occasion.

The weather was kind and we played trains. Events :
ROBIN DROVE AN ENGINE Is this a first? - sadly he escaped the camera.
Tim adds "Robin was pictured driving on 27th July 2013 (see 2013 summer news), obviously an event that only happens every three years."
David Daines bravely tackled Bay Tree signalling,
your editor fell over his driving truck and sent his glasses into the bushes (thank you Alec for finding them),
Dave MB continued his struggles with Brunel (the grate went in),
and lots of learner driving.

David Daines in Bay Tree EG with long freight
Alec on Clan Line Sarah's Rob

The last picture on the right is of Sarah's boyfriend Rob.

Locos running : Clan Line, Eileen Grant, Kate, Nick's Holmside and the Class 20.

Controller Jamie, after a brilliantly managed day, did not appoint a controller for next time, so you might be getting a phone call from him!
Finally, another special thanks to June, our attentive host even though Alan was away.

9th September visit to Cockcrow railway

lillie at hardwick dave g at hardwick

Dave M was invited to run his Standard 5 locomotive 73115 at this years Cockcrow gala on Friday 9th September. Also present was Jamie and the left hand picture shows Lillie (Dave's daughter), who drove for two laps. Dave G is also pictured at Hardwick. Once again a picture of 73115 without the owner driving.

4th September visit to Ted Martin Railway

group ted martins

king crossing

Dave M and Andy G together managed to get us an invite to the late Ted Martin's railway and as can be seen by the group photo we had a good turn out and most wore our Spinney shirts. Like Spinney, tea, coffee and cakes were provided, at one point even with waitress service to the passengers on the trains. Plenty of seating where you could watch the trains and Henry watching the fish in the pond, which kept Jamie and Anika on edge (kids and water!!).

Four GWR locomotives were in steam and ran in pairs (double heading) with one four car coaching set out on the line. On arrival at the station, the locomotives would be detached and run to the yard whilst the other locos attached at the other end for the next circuit. Therefore the locos only worked every other train and had time to coal and water as required. I did note one train service ran with a locomotive at each end and the locomotive at the rear ran in reverse, watch out for those tight clearances. We were also allowed into the workshop area where there was a King locomotive receiving maintenance. With the cab, boiler and smokebox removed we were able to see the 4 cylinders and intricate motion gear. The righthand picture shows the diamond crossing to access the yard. The track is all laid on concrete and has some very close lineside features. Only two signals were observed and these were at the station and normally displayed a red aspect and a vertical white line. Therefore, with no other signals there are no signalmen to converse with or signal boxes to shelter if it rains, but for the S & T minded people there were two points fitted with detailed mechanical facing point locks, worth looking at. Thankfully a dry day after the down pour we received at Spinney the previous day and a great day had by all.

3rd September 2016

robin hammer

Heather was controller today and this is the first time I can recall a female controller. Prior to the day, a plan was e mailed stating check list and the intended numbers of friends, signallers, locomotives available and guests. Just like any plan this immediately went out the window as guests were unable to attend, locomotives stayed in the engine shed as the sky looked like opening up at any moment. We had tea earlier than usual at 16.00 and then decided to pack up early but we still got drenched in the heavy down pour. However all went well for Heathers first time as controller - Its OK Alan, the railway is still in one piece. Heather would like to thank everyone for their help. We send our condolences to June and Alan who sadly lost Phoebe to old age, she will be missed by all especially at lunchtimes.

Righthand picture shows Robin, our highly skilled engineer with his unique universal Manchester adjustment tool (available in many sizes) looking at the track which he has re ballasted after a previous track fault (see previous news).

Loco news

dave and mick class 20 paul and grandson
dave steve tim 73115

Five Locomotives on track today and were: Spinney Electric No1, Standard five 73115, Jesse, Class 20 and visiting 0-4-2 tank named Stephen. This locomotive was operated by father and Son. Pictures of Stephen (loco) can be seen in the S & T article and can be viewed in the pictures section.

The Electric number 1 locomotive made a rare outing round the railway, normally seen only in the engine shed area. Paul took his Grandson round (See picture) and followed with Jamie and young Henry. Mick also bought a guest, Dave (a retired BR driver) who enjoyed himself driving Mick's class 20, which he did for most of the afternoon. Dave has a garden railway in 'O' gauge. Cliff decided not to run Clan Line but instead ventured out with Jesse, whilst I had a very enjoyable drive on Standard five 73115. 73115 also driven by Andy G and Joe so another locomotive where it will be difficult to get a photo of the owner driving it. We had a visit from the Henley family including grandchildren who also bought along Stephen (locomotive) 0-4-0 tank locomotive. After a few trips piloted by Dave M, Steve and Paul enjoyed running around the railway and with so few trains out on the track, almost had uninterrupted journeys. Also thanks to them for pulling all the coaching stock to the tunnels when we packed up in the pouring rain.

S & T news

alan and david baytree token exchange

At the beginning of the day, Old Oak number 7b points received adjustment as they were not throwing correctly and caused problems last time, all fixed and no repeat occurrences. Left hand picture shows Alan S in Baytree signal box under instruction from David G. Alan S can be seen reading what he thought was a menu but turned out to be a list of bell codes. Bob was in his usual location - Dingly, Mike H back in Old Oak, Alan S and David G in Baytree and Robin at Spinney.

Next time

Jamie will be controller.

20th August 2016 Friends and Families day

thank you card

It was another one of those summer days where the forecast was dreadful, heavy rain on the way over, then it cleared and became fine & and enjoyable.
Many friends and families, plenty of motive power, signal boxes busy and the day ended with a BBQ. David G was controller and prior to the day, e mailed a list of jobs for individuals to get the railway looking spick and span. Coaches were washed, Carriage shed area tidied, signals checked, offending vegetation pruned back and a last minute PWay job at Spinney.

During the day we received a super wedding 'Thank You' card from Amanda and Nick for the railway day we provided the day after the ceremony. We were only too glad to do it!


bbq chef

The day ended with BBQ with master chef June doing the cooking, also thank you for the tea and cakes, and another thank you to Chris (pictured behind June) who waited on us. There was a very large turnout for this as can be seen, note once again the summer outfits. First time I have seen a BBQ this well patronised with people looking for a spare seat (whilst occupier was at the food table). The day seemed to pass very quickly as it would when everyone enjoys themselves. David G says "Thank you to all the team; we had a good tidy up beforehand then a busy day. I think we made our visitors happy whilst showing the Railway in its best light."

Approximately 24 guests arrived, car park full, and trains available shortly after 13.30 as booked, so far so good.

Loco news

mike h spinney mick c spinney

victoria spinney

Locos on track today were Clan Line, Kate, L94, Scott Line, King Jack and the Scot. It should also be noted that after returning Clan Line from Cockcrow and steamed up at Old Oak, Cliff was the first in Steam with Clan Line, a rare event.

As usual we ran passenger trains at the start of the running session and then as time progressed the demand slowed and we were able to provide for driver experience sessions for our guests, L94, King Jack, Kate, and Clan Line were used. Mike H spent most of his time away from Old Oak box and as can be seen, enjoyed himself driving Scott line.

S&T News

richard spinney

No shortage of signallers today and were:- Old Oak - David D, Dingly - Bob, Baytree - Adrian Allum and Richard Garland and Spinney - Richard with help from guest, Jim Snowdon and Richard Garland, friend, (both from Cockcrow and Network Rail employees) trying their hand at Spinney signalling. David G reported a Track Circuit (TC) failure for Baytree 3 & 5 Signals but when he turned up with his voltmeter the fault disappeared only to be followed by another Track Circuit (TC) fault at Dingly which will need attention before next time.

In Dave G's (controller) e mail was a suggestion that the signallers might rotate to relieve the boredom. Cliff got David D to do a 360 degrees turn in front of the instrument at Old Oak. He appeared just as excited afterwards as before, possibly not what David G had in mind but was in the instructions!!! it added to the fun of the day.

Workshop news

water valve bracket alan std5 tender

dave wagon top

I am very pleased with the response so far for this article and I have had offers of other work to be submitted for next time, it all looks very interesting and hopefully we can keep this section going. Top left picture shows my 9F water valve bracket and the former I made to bend the mild steel as shown. Alan A has been progressing with Dave M Standard 5 tender, this is made from brass and will replace the steel tender he currently has. Bottom picture shows the progress Dave M has made on his fruit wagons. He has scoured the wooden sides and fitted the metal straps, the sides and the ends have been done.

Next time

Heather has been nominated to be controller next time so we had better watch out or get a forfeit!!

Back to Spinney 6th August 2016

boeing 747400 alec birthday

At the end of last Spinney news, a picture was added showing me apparently at work - Not true. Actually taken on my way to Las Vegas (holiday) on a Boing 747-400 and kindly shown the cockpit by Dave MB our resident pilot - Thank you very much for the hospitality, see 16th July postscript news at the end. It was good to see those who visited Cockcrow had a very enjoyable time, unfortunately I could not get there as the M25 was impersonating a car park and local roads very busy and one road closed so I turned around and went home. When collecting Clan Line for transit move to Cockcrow, Cliff managed to get stuck in the Spinney toilet, today Peter has made a temporary / permanent repair to the toilet door lock, using of all things - Bluetack - it seems to have worked successfully. I also sent out an e mail explaining that I would like to add a new section called workshop, see below. Dave M and myself have started in this issue. I did try with a history section but not much came forward, so hopefully we can keep this section going, remember it is your web site so promote what you are doing.

It was good to see Alec return with his Father, Alec Birthday was the following day (Sunday) and he provided a Birthday cake (Only one candle and we struggled to find a match!!!), hopefully we will see more of Alec in the future. Mick C was controller today, who took over from Alan S who was busy today, (see carriage shed news).

Carriage shed news

carriageshed14 carriageshed16

David G son, Jon, made a return visit and once again helped with his professional bricklaying skills. The results can be viewed in the pictures, a very good job done. Jon's family also came and can be seen in the following pictures with David G, having a good time. Peter once again came to the rescue and using his trailer, made two trips to collect the sand required for todays bricklaying. Alan A and Alan S also joined in and helped lay bricks as can be seen by the pictures.

Loco news

david and grandson david and grandson at spinney
heather at baytree 73115 at baytree

Locomotives on track today were, Kate, 73115, King, electric loco and Jesse (shunting in the loco siding and did not venture out). David G provided driver experience for his Grandsons who drove the electric but declined the offer to drive a steam locomotive!!! 73115 suffered injector problems and this was traced to a faulty pipe connection which involves the loco being taken home and repaired - the joys of owning and maintaining a locomotive. We had a few guests today and with a very hot afternoon and few trains, they had a very enjoyable uninterrupted ride around the railway. Unfortunately, Kate derailed twice at Spinney, with the leading driving wheels coming off and this was put down to the track expanding and the reverse cant being too much and derailing Kate twice. Also noted, it only happened when I was driving - not saying any more. Track was dug out and cant was alleviated.

S&T news

pete and mick in baytree

We were once again short of signallers, however with planning we managed to run trains. Old Oak branch was closed to trains except for loading and unloading of locomotives. This was due to signaller not available and the area converted to a construction site with bricks being cut with an angle grinder (dust) and cement mixer working etc, not suitable for trains. Bob manned Dingly as usual, Peter and Mick controlled Baytree and Richard controlled Spinney. Baytree became the busiest box as Spinney had the wagons parked in the loop so only had to signal trains up and down. Dingly operated as usual but with fewer trains.

Workshop news

I thought it would be news if we included all the manufacturing done at home. Dave M and myself have started this section with our projects so please let me know what you are building or repairing.

dave wagons

injectors on bracket

Dave has made these frames and in total is making 7 wagons. Currently the wagons have wheels attached and Dave is making the wooden body shells and we look forward to seeing them at Spinney and hopefully up date progress here in the news. I have silver soldered an injector bracket for my 9F and am pleased with the results. Does not look much but has taken me ages to plan and construct. If anyone has a project please let me know.

Next time

Friends and families day, lets hope we have good weather like today.

Visit to the Great Cockcrow Railway, July 23rd

The Glasgow Highlander at Cockcrow

We went visiting! David G arranged a visit to the Great Cockcrow Railway, just for the Spinney team. We brought 6 locos, but with a mile of railway to disappear into there was plenty of room.
David steamed the black five he keeps at the railway to join in the fun, Bob took over Hardwick signal box (the terminus) and Robin had control of Everglades box which controls the colour light network comprising most of the railway.
Almost all the team were there, plus their visitors although as it was Alan A's birthday we missed our president.

Now let the pictures tell the story :

Jamie oiling up Class 20 turns
Standard 5 at Everglades Clan Line at Everglades Junction
Jamie departs Hardwick Alan S at Hardwick
Andy's N Class Waiting

Mike H's Hymek - just

Apologies to Mike Hack

I took no photograph of his Hymek running.

The best I have shows his loco waiting at Hardwick while Alan S reverses The Glasgow Highlander into Hardwick.

If anyone else took pictures and has one of the Hymek in action it would complete the collection.

And the Signallers
Bob in Hardwick Robin and Nick in Everglades

Thank you to the GCR team who were there in support

Several members of the Cockcrow team visited during the day but particular thanks must go to Harry Richardson (DG's right hand man), Jim Snowdon (in shorts, supporting in the signal boxes). Chris Kauth (supporting Mike Hack), Scott Strudwick (pilotman for several locos) and of course our own Richard S who also supported in the signal boxes.

I have invited these valiant gentlemen to visit Spinney before the end of the summer.
I know we will make them welcome and give them the same opportunities at Spinney that we enjoyed at the GCR.

Finally, I received emails from the team thanking me and the GCR team. Modesty forbids their reproduction here but it was good to know how much the team had enjoyed the experience and to have my efforts acknowledged. The brilliant weather helped!

16th July 2016

Controller Cliff

Cliff was our controller for the day and organised a timetabled Freight Day. After the event he sent the following to your News editor:

One day in 1996, it was my turn to meet the Queen. She was visiting Bedford, a Thameslink station, and I was to be part of the welcoming line up on the platform. Special workings were published in the weekly notices, and a special stop inserted into an HST on its way to Derby. All the dignitaries stood with me on the platform, Lord Lieutenants, Mayors, Councillors etc.etc. with great expectation. Railtrack (the company at the time responsible for controlling the signals) had specific and special instructions that the weekly rubbish train - containers of London's best consigned to fill up the Bedfordshire brick quarries, was to be held outside the station on the slow lines. There were good reasons for this - operationally it turned round in the platform we were stood on, and that represented a delay risk, but the big one was IT STUNK. However, for it to be held on the slow lines it had, at some part of its journey to be routed on to them. This bit someone forgot, or ignored because they were anti-Thameslink or a republican, or both.

So with less than 10 minutes to HM arrival, we discover that the rubbish train is on the fast line in front of Elizabeth and Philip, plus equerries etc. etc. Either it has to turn round in front of us, or HM's train cannot get into the platform, and she would have to use the footbridge!! As if! As it pulled in to puzzlement and alarm, I rushed to the loco to politely ask the driver if he would forego his usual cup of tea/ visit to the station loo/bookstall, get his loco coupled on the other end PDQ and B****r O**. The stink was in my nose for well after the pleasantries with HM, but we did not delay her arrival for which I probably deserved an OBE or similar, I am still waiting. The relevance of this story to today's news is that it shows it is very difficult on a railway to get anything to happen at all, even if there is a good plan. Ask Greater Thameslink who cannot even get Guards to do a bit less and NOT open the doors.

Mick on the turntable

So it proved on our Freight day, and my thanks as Controller to June who was her reliable self with cakes, cold drinks (for it was hot) and tea on time. This was about all that happened in accordance with the plan. A few freights did run, and the plan to have two massive shunting sessions, one at Dingly and one at Old Oak, almost worked. My thanks too to those folk who predicted their activities on the website with some relevance to what they intended to do on the day, this made the Controllers job really easy. A special note of thanks for Mick who stood on the turntable for 5 mins (photo) because that is what the Controller asked him to do. He left his loco in the way, of course. Another special thanks to the ageing gang of signallers who were very flexible, listened to suggestions even though genuinely deaf, and despite failing eyesight managed to read the big print instructions, instead of burning them up. Thank goodness Alan Stephen is controller next time, he is probably going to try a timetable day? It was fun though...... Cliff

And the facts : For the first time this year the weather was HOT. Only a few visitors, some with Peter and some neighbours who had provided parking at Amanda's wedding so a few passenger trains were mixed in with the freight.
Team : Alan, June, Mike C, David D, David G, Jamie, Dave M, Dave MB, Cliff, Nick, Robin, Alan S, Richard, Bob, Peter, Tom and we welcomed back Mike Hack.
Locos : 1369, Class 20, Clan Line, Brunel, Nick's Holmside, Kate, Scot, Jamie's 7163.

Mike and Kate Clan Line and Tom
Nick and Holmside Dave and Pannier
Richard prepares Brunel Jamie at Old Oak

David under the Scot

Alan Stephen captured this picture of David G removing the grate from the Scot

Removing the grate completely gets rid of all the ash and slag but the process is less than easy and the operator (victim?) gets deluged by the mess as it falls away whilst reclining on the ash left by previous locos.

Doesn't David look elegant!

Further pictures of this day are on the site Pictures => Summer Running => Running 2016 (2). The first five pictures.
Or, for the idle
Click here for these pictures

Tim driving

Postscript :

You will have noticed that Tim and Heather were not here.

Apparently Tim was at work driving.

Dave MB somehow got hold of a picture.
Can anyone recognise the locomotive Tim has charge of?

25th June 2016

Guests booked, reduced number of friends and some very heavy down pours of rain and hail stones at the beginning, so much for flaming June, but with odds against us we managed to pull the magic out of the bag and staff all signal boxes and run steam and electric trains. I was controller and thank you to all that made it happen and for the news contributions from Alan A and Robin. For the record it rained heavily when I was controller for the High Wycombe visit - not my fault.

laying sand

Due to a situation beyond my control my arrival at Spinney was subject to retiming which was noted as Cliff was already there. With such heavy rain during the week, the railway required some tidying up before running trains. We had five guests from Malden, Mick C invited five guests and Dave MB invited one. This meant there were more guests than friends operating the railway and looking at the web attendance page, the statistics did not add up and we were short of signallers and only three locomotives booked to run. Thankfully after an email the friends attending rose to Nine (see S & T news) and five locomotives available, mainly because the weather slightly improved, up until then I had felt like a roster clerk, now it was time to get things moving. At times when the sun came out there was steam radiating from the roofs of buildings, track and coaches which at one point looked like they had steam heating - very authentic. The branch became slippery so to improve the adhesion, we laid sand using a plastic tub with a hole to dispense along the head of the rail. The day became brighter and we ended the day with a BBQ, joined by the three remaining Malden guests and Tom from the Echills Wood railway, who joined in with the conversations.

Loco news

mick friends heather amanda nick

alan s 6109

Five locomotives made an appearance in the course of the afternoon and were:- Scott line, Class 20, Kate, Holmside and the Scot 6109. Cliff worked on Clan Line, again with lubricator issues, but did not run as he helped in Baytree signal box. Nick also stopped running his Holmside to help in Baytree. All locomotives ran well and with the damp air the steam locomotives produced a lot of smoke / steam to fill the air and tunnels. The pictures show everyone wearing their summer outfits. It is true to say that in Great Britian we have 9 months of miserable weather, then we have winter.

S & T news

robin and peter in spinney

Awful weather at times, which made the signal boxes very good places to be and were suffering from over crowding, but then the trains had stopped as well. Due to David G and Richard both away, I put out an e mail requesting signallers and Mike H very kindly volunteered to step in and return to his old haunt of Old Oak, it was great to see him again. Bob also replied as he had returned early and was now able to attend where previously this had not been possible, that was 50% of the signal boxes covered. Robin and Peter ran Spinney whilst Cliff controlled Baytree until tea and then Nick took over. Two signal faults to mention, Spinney colour light distant number 6 signal (SY6R) was not able to show a green aspect and Spinney (SY1) was missing a white light in the junction indicator and will require attention next time, no other issues were reported.

Next time

Due to the lack of friends towards the end of the day, no controller was selected so it will rely on someone VOLUNTEERING before being volunteered (who has not done it for a while?)

11th June 2016


Firstly, sorry for the late publication but I am extremely busy at the moment and thank you for the mass of information and photos sent to me by Alan A, Richard, Dave M, Dave MB and Adrian. I have added the remaining photos into the pictures section.

The day was forecast for rain, however it turned out to be dry and humid which made a very enjoyable day especially as we had guests from, South West Trains, Little Western and Quainton Road resulting in the lower area looking like van city. I have been asked to pass on their thanks and quote 'We all had a good time and were well impressed with not only the railway but the people who ran it'. The picture on the left shows a very excited small person (Reuben) which sums up the atmosphere of the day and how we can give pleasure to the guests. Rueben has been telling everyone about his day driving trains, and as per picture, a smile that is normally found on a Wallace and Gromit production.

We had two birthdays on the actual day, firstly David G who managed to get to the Spinney without his Hertfordshire colleagues knowing and was presented with a card and a cake which was shared at tea time. The other Birthday belonged to a visitor and was also presented with a card, this has a picture of a Fairlie at the Ffestiniog railway.

Visiting locomotives and coaches

blue class 20 rod
kate spinney 31873 & 73115 baytree

pullman coaches

The pictures above show a few of the visiting locomotives and with so many it kept the signallers busy. The owner of Kate (Mike) (Blue narrow gauge above) has recently bought this locomotive and is new to the hobby. Mike has only steamed it a couple of times and this was his first outing so he is still learning the ropes, one tip is that a steam engine often requires matches to light the fire... We hope you have many hours of enjoyment with your locomotive and the banter that went with it. ROD - is owned by Rob Fidler from Little Western and is normally seen running at Amnerfield, Reading. Rod (Picture top right) is a model of one of eleven such locomotives that were painted this colour and GWR sent them to France for the WW1 effort. Bob bought along his class 20 which is painted blue and it was hoped to pair this one with Mick C green class 20 but this did not happen. Two class 20's coupled nose to nose would have been realistic, made an interesting photo and to spot the differences.

Adrian is in the process of purchasing two Metropolitan Pullman coaches from Little Western and the photo on the left shows them on their very first run at Old Oak. They are destined to run at the Acton works railway. As per their prototypes, they are not numbered, but they carry the names "Galatea" and "Mayflower." When the Met introduced them, they were in traditional Pullman livery, but this didn't look too good after a trip through the tunnels, so they were repainted quite early on. Both coaches are vacuum braked.

Loco news

line up

Plenty of motive power today with nine locomotives available, five visiting locomotives, Class 20 (Bob from Salisbury), 0-4-2 Kate (Mike from Salisbury), 4P 31873 (Joe from Quainton Road, 30926 Schools class (Andy from Quainton Road), ROD 5319 (from Amnerfield Reading) and resident locomotives were class 20, Clan Line, ScottLine and finally Dave M new loco Standard 5 numbered 73115. All locomotives ran well and at the end of the day we had a southern line up at Old Oak, with 4P 31873 (nearest the camera), 30926 (Schools class), 73115 (Standard five) and finally 35028 Clan Line.

Jamie had a successful steam test on his LMS 7163 whilst Tom worked on Brunel to free it as it has not moved for a while and it had seized. Piston covers removed to access the pistons and all back and moveable.

S & T news

Signallers were - Robin and Peter (Spinney), David G and guests (Baytree), Richard and later, Alan S ( I think this is the first time I have seen Alan S in a signal box) (Dingly) and Adrian (Old Oak). Richard has issued the following instruction for Old Oak signallers - Old Oak Advice to signallers - As a temporary arrangement the controls for No5 signal have been slightly altered. To allow a train to enter the yard No.7 points require to be normal to enable No2 signal to be cleared. After the train has passed No2.signal 7 points can be reverser and No5 cleared. If 7 are reversed before the train has passed No.2 No,2 will not clear.

Next time

I shall be controller and we have the Malden club visiting - signallers please.

26th May 2016

A fantastic sunny, warm and relaxing day with Richard S as the controller, many friends did roles that they normally do not partake. David D was not present and we wish him a speedy recovery. My last news contained so many errors I received many e mails pointing these out, and I have been to Specsavers. On the plus side it does show that so many of you actually read the news, not sure if it is for the content or to spot my errors but I put this down to either writing it at 04.00 in the morning or when I have have had too much falling down water, I will endeavour to improve in this edition and thank you for all your e mails, so here goes. The pictures section has been updated and David G has added some pictures from 1982 and 1983, it is interesting to observe the changes with todays railway. More bricks and coal were delivered and once again, Peter's trailer came to the rescue and moved these items down to storage area. Also thanks to June for the tea and cakes.

Loco news

jamie and henry heather and mick at old oak

bob scottline

Locomotives on track today were:- L94, 1369, Scott line, Class 20, Clanline and the Scot. Scott line was driven by Henry, Jamie, Alex and Emma, all of whom enjoyed their time at the controls. 1369 and L94 required a steam test and were both successful as expected. It was unfortunate that I was unable to capture 1369 on camera today, however I did manage to photograph all the other locomotives. I was lucky enough to drive the class 20 whilst Mick operated Old Oak signalbox. Many of us did things we do not normally get involved with and this added to the relaxing and enjoyable day. The pictures show Henry being propelled by Scottline, Bob also having a drive and Heather and Mick also in unfamiliar territory.

S & T news

david g and peter at bay tree mick at old oak

Signallers were - Richard G (Spinney), David G and Peter (Baytree), Bob (Dingly) and Richard S and Mick C (Old Oak). As today was a relaxing day, friends were able to take on roles that they could not normally do and today we saw Mick C operate Old Oak and Peter learn Baytree. Richard G operated Spinney which is very demanding and how he did this with bells and phones sounding simultaneously is a minefield, but well done to Richard G for keeping the trains running. One problem on the signalling was reported, number 13 signal at Spinney occasionally stuck and Richard S states this is a voltage problem. Peter operated Baytree under the watchful eye of David G, learning signalling.

Due to a shortage of friends to operate the signal boxes it was decided to wrap up the day and close the railway after tea which suited everybody, a very pleasant day.

Next time

I have some colleagues from work attending so I must improve my fire lighting and steaming skills. David G will be the controller for next time.

21st May 2016 Testing Std 5

Alan S and Dave M were at the Spinney today to test Dave M's new Standard 5 locomotive.

dave std 5 dave std 5 turntable

The pictures above show Dave's new Standard 5 which Alan S has been working on for sometime and it looks very smart. Alan S videoed the locomotive which most friends have now seen and commented with encouraging remarks but it will still be nice to see it in the flesh as they say.

Lastly a note from Dave about how the locomotive performed - Went really well. As expected some leaks from fittings.

15th May 2016 Amanda and Nick wedding special

Today was arranged that we would run on Sunday after Amanda and Nick's wedding, so that the guests could enjoy the garden railway. Robin was at the helm and acted as the controller and as the pictures show, a warm, sunny and enjoyable day. Quite a few pictures in this edition to mark the special event. On Thursday, Alan A, Robin, Dave MB, and Peter spent sometime at Spinney tidying up the site using the leaf blower, later joined by Cliff. Thanks for their time in helping make the railway a smart place.

wedding headboard carriage shed project
wedding train amanda and nick receiving present

Cliff made a special headboard and it was attached to King Jack and L94 was also decorated with the traditional white ribbon. The happy couple can be seen riding behind these locomotives. At Baytree, we presented Amanda and Nick with a card and present and wished them happiness for the future.

Railway news

myke marion baigent busy spinney

quiet dingly

About 50 guests were expected, fortunately not all wanted a ride at the same time. A few had a ride or two but most enjoyed watching the trains or having a driving lesson. Myke and Marion made a visit and it was nice to see them both. Marion had a ride around the railway with David G but as Myke is now wheelchair bound he continued to watch the train movements from Baytree. Myke has recently visited Guildford track so it is good to hear he still manages to get about. The pictures above show trains running however I was unable to capture guests riding on them, hence an empty Dingly Dell and empty trains at Dingly and Spinney. The signal boxes were covered by Bob (Dingly), Robin (Baytree) Richard (Spinney) and David D (Old Oak). Old Oak number 2 signal apparently had its moments but towards the end of the day functioned correctly. One of the Cromers seat has collapsed and will require some attention soon.

Eight locomotives were out on the track today and were:- L94, Scott Line, Kate, Clan Line, King Jack, Eileen, LMS 7163 and Class 20, a good show of locomotives. Alan S took Karen home for an overhaul where the locomotive will also receive some attention to the paint work. Most trains only hauled one coach or ran as a light locomotive. King Jack required a patch for the smokebox which Alan S made the weekend previously and sent via first class post on Monday to Alan A (lucky to get it). Patch was immediately fitted it in time for today and ran well with this repair. Just after raising steam on L94, it suffered with a loose drain cock which involved dismantling the linkage and repairing the drain cock. All this was done whilst it over hung the loading ramp so as to get access to the underside and then ran as expected for the afternoon.

Driver experience

guests learning driver experience

driver experience

There were plenty of people wishing to drive or find out how they work. These pictures show Alan A explaining the controls and accompanying them around the railway. David G also allowed guests to drive Eileen Grant. There was a BBQ after we had packed up but unfortunately some friends were unable to stay due to work commitments the next day. Thank you June and family for providing the Teas when you also had guests to entertain.

Next time

It is planned to have some more bricks delivered so brick laying will be on the agenda as well as running trains for leisure, Richard will be controller.

30th April 2016

Another great day for all projects, an early start for some on the carriage shed project with some expert help, railway made presentable and some trains ran to test the railway. It was good to see Bob back after his medical condition but Dave M has now fallen ill, we wish them well. Mick C and his wife Sue popped in today after returning from a holiday cruise from the port of Southampton and Mick's one hour allowance seemed to have been extended somewhat!!!

white lining

Dave MB and Peter set about painting white lines on the platform edges at all the stations, however later in the day some gaps in the platform slabs grouting were filled with cement left over from the carriage shed project, unfortunately it may be necessary to paint the white line on the edges in places in time for the important meeting next time. The tracks were cleared of any debris allowing trains to run freely whilst the coaches received a wash and allowed to dry in the sun. Turntable pits were cleared of leaves and drains unblocked ready for the summer season. Water and compressor checked and all OK.

S & T news

Bob was to be found in his usual post, in Dingly Dell signal box, however when it came to running trains, he was spotted in Baytree signal box controlling trains as was David D who is normally in Old Oak. One of the block instruments was acting peculiar and whilst David D and Bob were on the phone to Robin, the fault cleared itself. Also BD track circuit at Baytree was showing occupied when it was not. David D went on to operate Dingly Dell leaving Bob at Baytree, a very rare occurrence. Signalling now tested with the running of trains and all signals and points seemed to operate as required.

Loco news

scott line depot shunting track testing

Four locomotives ventured out today, King Jack, Scott Line, Clan Line and LMS 7163. Scott Line made a rare visit to the loco shed assisting with depot shunting and stock movements then joined the others to test the signalling and track. Clan Line can be seen testing the new track alignment from the unloading ramp. Clan Line had a few issues with the front riding truck but had no issues when travelling backwards (tender first). Maybe Cliff should always drive tender first!!!!! The two new coaches also ran faultlessly, unladen, especially over the spring points where there was doubt about them being heavy enough.

Carriage shed project

david g and son jonathan carriage shed project
carriage shed project carriage shed project

The pictures show the progress made today. With an early arrival at 08.00 David G coerced his son Jon (suspect bribery somewhere), who is a bricklayer by profession, to help with this project and the tricky bits, i.e. arched doorways. With excellent expertise at hand we observed rapid construction backed up by an all important team supplying bricks and cement. Also observed laying bricks were Alan A and Alan S whilst Nick and Tom were in control of the cement mixer and cutting bricks to demand. Thanks to all those that made it happen and for June who supplied the many teas etc.

Next time

The big event of the year, Amanda's wedding to Nick and we will be running trains for the invited guests, clean Spinney shirts please.

16th April 2016 first running day of 2016

A wet start and end to the day, but kept fine for work to progress at the Spinney, including, continuation of brick work for the carriage shed, point checking and rolling stock annual inspection. With the impending Wedding not far away, an effort was made to get the site tidy, this included leaf blowing, any fouling vegetation pruned back and testing of the railway. Alan S experienced diagnostic trouble with his car and had to return home then travel to Spinney in David G's car, hopefully the fault has been traced and no further issues.

Operational railway

point repairs point construction
dave mb water tank annual carriage inspection oil

Bob is not well again and we wish him a speedy recovery. The track from the unloading ramp was ballasted and first to traverse the new track alignment was Scottline followed by L94 and all proved to be useable. At Old Oak the new points are in the process of having the point handle mechanism designed and continuation of point construction involved fitting of tie bars. Old Oak number 7 point in the yard was not fully traversing and this required a bit of attention to get the blades to throw fully. Dave MB can be seen checking the Baytree water tank which originally had no water but by the end of the day was ready for use after being cleaned out. He was also noted for his H & S skills!!!!! he was training for a circus act before I took this picture. All the coaches were checked and oiled where necessary and the Cromers were vacuum checked as well, all proving positive. All signal boxes had a spring clean, swept and all windows cleaned so you can now see out of them.

Loco news

ballast train

This was the first advertised running day for 2016, but unfortunately with so much work going on and a lack of water at Old Oak, only Scottline ran, and that was just to move stock about, test the track circuits, signals and points. Number 4 point at Baytree received attention this year and is now a very smooth running point. Steam was planned but in the event, no steaming today for one reason or another. Initially there was no water supply and this had to be rectified first, this proved to be more than a simple task of switching on the pump. Once water was available the pipes and tanks needed to be flushed out until the water looked clear. Cliff continued to work on Clan Line and hopefully his lubricators will work when the loco is steamed.

Carriage shed project


Tom kindly stopped off on the way to pick up another tonne of sand, which was unloaded in a convenient place, not too far from the cement mixer. All the bricks are now on the concrete base in order to help keep Old Oak in a presentable state for when the Wedding guests arrive. Brick laying concentrated on the back wall today, this involves an acute angled corner and in the middle, space left for a door, so plenty of brick cutting.

Next time

It is hoped to run some steam locomotives and Kate will need a boiler test. Robin has produced a list of all locos and when their tests are due.

The Archive NEWS for summer 2016 ends here.

You can find summaries of each year's activities in the section The Past