Summer 2020 : The year the virus struck
A minor news story in December 2019, of a virus in China, turned our world upside down in 2020. The virus reached the UK in February and by March
hospitals were becoming full of very sick people. The government response
was to declare a 'lockdown'.
Most workplaces were shut and people were only allowed to leave their homes for essential tasks. However, a plus was that the Carriage Shed was effectively completed when Alan A made the doors during his lockdown.
Obviously the Spinney Light Railway was not 'essential' and we did not meet until June when the lockdown was relaxed. Even then meetings of groups larger than six were not allowed so there was little running in 2020.
Two long standing friends of the railway passed away
Joy Brice, on the left was originally nanny to the Ballantine Dykes family but eventually became much more, living at The Spinney as part of the family until Mary
Richard Stokes was a long standing and faithful member of the team. You can read longer accounts of their contributions in the Archive News of 2020.
Here are the links :         Joy's Link        and        Richard's Link
During the first lockdown Alan A used the time to finish the carriage shed doors shown here.
This pretty well completed (at last!) the project started five years previously in 2015.
No celebration in 2020! Hopefully a proper celebration to mark the event will be a part of 2021
Most of the rolling stock is now stored here leaving only a few wagons in the short tunnel. This makes a bringing the railway to life much easier and spontaneous running might be more frequent. Stock no longer has to be dispersed to empty the running line through the tunnels.
In a typical year we would run trains on more than ten occasions with half a dozen or more locomotives running each time.
In 2020 we ran trains only three times with a maximum of four locomotives running on these occasions.
The picture on the right shows Kate, steamed to blow down in October, and the only engine running that day.
Role of honour :
Counting days the locomotive was active:
Scott Line 3 days
1470 (Paul) 2 days
Clan Line 2 days
Kate 2 days
Class 20 1 day
Eileen Grant 1 day
The signalling just about survived! Our signalling system is more advanced than might be expected on a typical garden railway; points all checked fully home by microswitches and every bit of railway with a separate track circuit to detect a train; no signal will come off and no point will move unless these checks prove it safe.
However, a system like this demands competent technicians and ours have been Bob and Richard; Bob has not been well and lives in far off Wales so he attended only once in 2020 and Richard managed only a couple of visits before he fell ill.
It looks as though some of us will have to learn the skills of the signal engineer in 2021 !
Over the summer virus infections declined but in autumn, as the population spent more time mixing indoors, the number of infections increased significantly
and a second 'lockdown' was imposed in November with only a few days' notice.
Thankfully, a small team of exactly six (Robin, Peter, Cliff, Jamie, Dave D and Dave MB) was organised and they made a weekday visit to the Railway before the lockdown started to gather the signals and remove the vast quantity of leaves that covered the track.
No fireworks in 2020 !
The Whole Story
As usual, the full story of the year can be found in the Archived News of 2020 thanks to our hard working reporter Tim.
The Archived News is a copy of the 2020 News and presents events backwards.