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Bluebell matters

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by Jamessquared, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    As the NEP is steadily drawing to a close, I thought I'd start a new thread for general Bluebell matters. I'll continue to put things specifically about the northern extension in the [thread=34788]appropriate thread[/thread], as well as the [thread=38273]Gala[/thread] and [thread=33437]motive power[/thread] threads, but we can use this thread for any other more general matters.

    Tom
     
  2. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    As far as I am aware, the local planning authority are fairly relaxed about development on the east side of HK, but not anything on the west side that would block the views to open countryside.

    The new carriage shed will be a single story affair, similar in outline to the existing carriage works extension. So to a very large degree, it will be screened from the platforms by the existing building - it will of course be visible to passengers on trains arriving from the south; or from the station approach road, though the positive is it will tidy up that approach from its somewhat ramshackle appearance.

    And yes, rows of Stroudley and Billinton engines in the back sidings waiting their time in the works would be nice, and a 100% accurate portrayal of the station!

    Tom
     
  3. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    Well, the Woodpax site was about £3m (including about £400k for land purchase and the redeveloped museum and up side buildings, new washout pit and above workshop facility), and this is a bigger building.

    As for OU4, it is more than a 4 road shed - there is a fifth road for maintenance that will also be covered, and I assume will need pits, hard-standing for bogie changes etc. Even the trackwork is significant: if you think of five roads each 6 coaches long, that is about half a mile of new track and four new points. I'd imagine that would come from new track on the mainline and cascading of old track to the carriage shed, but it still has to be paid for. Plus, as Ploughman notes, services etc. The cost of £1.25m comes from the work the team has done already to get this far, which includes appropriate surveys etc: I'm not sure what the ground conditions are there (beyond basically being fairly level) but to have got as far as they have, the team certainly know and therefore know what level of foundations etc are appropriate. The quoted cost also includes ancilliary buildings for storage of various items, replacing the disparate containers currently residing in the down yard at HK.

    Tom
     
  4. cct man

    cct man Part of the furniture

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    Thanks for the reply , however with all due respect this is not to be a maintenance shed, just somewhere to put them to bed at night.

    I remember Martin Lock spent a fraction of that cost on the carriage works extension and that included all the ancilleries that went with it. I do understand that costs have risen since then though the works extension was managed by Martin as a volunteer and 90% percent of the work was done by volunteers in stages with some financial help from the Trust.

    The way of the world now of course is to have everything done by outside contractors.

    Ho hum

    Chris:
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    Chris

    Firstly, I think you are probably missing the size of what is planned. Take a look at this block plan:

    http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/pde/photos/plan_6189h.jpg

    The bit labelled "existing carriage sheds" is old C&W works and the new (early 2000s) carriage works extension. The bit labelled "new carriage shed extension" is the proposed development: it is probably at least twice as big as what currently exists. Or to put it in terms of the Sheffield Park building: that building is 3 tracks * 6 coaches (nearly); the proposed new building is 5 tracks (with gap making the real width about equivalent to 6 tracks) * 6 coaches - in other words, about twice the area of the building at SP.

    Also, the other building marked "new storage shed" on the plan is also included in the cost.

    I think the materials also cost significant amounts, which volunteer labour won't do anything to keep down. Given figures I have heard quoted for track, the plain line alone, at new prices, would be about £150k for rail, sleepers and ballast, and that is before you have factored in five sets of points. The building itself I imagine will be largely pre-fabricated off-site and then erected with relatively few people but a lot of machinery (cranes etc), certainly if the SP carriage shed is anything to go by. So again, there is a fairly limited saving to be made using volunteer labour in the construction, I would have thought. I'd imagine the project management will be volunteer rather than paid.

    Finally, just a slight clarification about your first sentence: the planning permission is for a building for the "storage, restoration, repair and maintenance" of carriages. I think in practice, at least initially, it will mainly be for storage, particularly of vehicles waiting their turn in the restoration queue. The fifth road (the one that sits separate to the other four in the block plan) will be for maintenance, the kind of tasks that currently take place in the open air, such as bogie swaps, steam heat testing, brake adjustment etc. We may keep some "service" vehicles undercover, but it will tend to be shorter rakes, since the headhunt won't be long enough to draw out a full length 6 coach rake, so it won't be an easy shed to use as a carriage running shed (which is what the SP building is used for).

    Tom
     
  6. Freshwater

    Freshwater New Member

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    The 'Changing Trains' building currently being constructed at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is four roads, each holding four bogie coaches, plus a fifth road under a lean-to roof. It is essentially an agricultural-type building and is costing just over £1million so £1.25 million for the shed at HK sounds about right!
     
  7. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill Well-Known Member

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    These plans for the line sound interesting in particular the ones surrounding Sheffield Park. I had seen somewhere that there was a plan to move or replace SP signal box to help the signalman on busy days as its current location restricts the view (I think thats what I read) but hadn't heard about moving the footbridge. A shame the current one can't be adapted to look like the ones that were at Newick and Chailey, the original one at Sheffield Park and West Hoathly.
     
  8. dan.lank

    dan.lank Member

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    Sorry-just making sure I've got my facts straight-is the plan to get absolutely everything under cover eventually? Will Phase 4 do that or will there still be bits outside? Not really sure of the numbers of carriages awaiting restoration...
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    The carriage stock list is here:

    Bluebell Railway - Stock List of Carriages and Vans

    Broken down, that list (including vehicles in traffic, those under restoration and those awaiting restoration) is - if I haven't miscounted:

    - 15 pre-grouping four or six wheelers
    - 20 pre-grouping bogie carriages
    - 13 SR Maunsell bogie coaches
    - 9 SR or BR(S) Bulleid coaches
    - 6 Pullmans (plus a seventh pre-group pullman I've included in the pre-group bogie carriages)
    - 14 Mark 1s.

    In addition there are 3 LMS Sleepers, a Wagon Lits sleeper and four Mk 1s used as sleeping carriages for volunteers, the carriage shop or other non-traffic purposes.

    According to the Bluebell website, the combination of the Sheffield Park Carriage Shed, OU4 and the current space in the carriage works will be sufficient to "enable us to put virtually all the pre-Mk.I carriages under cover". That means 63 coaches that could be classified as pre-Mk 1s. That sounds more than the 41 spaces in SP Carriage Shed and OU4, but remember many of the pre-group coaches are considerably shorter than a Mark 1 (for example, the four Mets are about the same length as two and a half Mk 1s).

    In the even longer term though, we will still need more under cover space: even allowing for two or three locos in the workshop at any one time, more than half the loco fleet lives permanently outside, including out-of-traffic engines, and we have 64 wagons (all but half a dozen or so ballast wagons of which are considered to be part of the heritage fleet) and 20 items of non-passenger coaching stock, several of which are over 100 years old. So OU4 will basically solve the problem for carriages, but we need to think about more space to protect the engines, wagons and vans. Various ideas are kicking around, including a roundhouse (quite a common LBSC design for engine sheds) for the smaller engines; or a large exhibits museum / storage facility, but nothing is definitively planned yet beyond OU4.

    Tom
     
  10. David-Haggar

    David-Haggar Active Member

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    Will there be provision in the new Phase 4 shed for a dedicated wagon restoration/maintenance area? It seems such a crying shame that not too long ago we could boast two sets of vintage wagons, one Pre-Grouping fleet of about 4-5 and one SR set about 9 strong with a couple of BR wagons included, and yet for a number of years now most of these wagons have been dumped up at Kingscote. The 2007 Goods Train Weekend was a prime example of what a magnificent set of vintage wagons we had available, I think around 14 at the time, and yet whilst we have a much smaller number of vintage wagons working now it's nothing compared to what we did have a few year's ago. Below are three slide scans from previous Goods Train galas that demonstrate my point.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/105454...llRailwaySGoodsTrainGalas#5762805481998642386

    https://picasaweb.google.com/105454...llRailwaySGoodsTrainGalas#5762808414697856210

    https://picasaweb.google.com/105454...llRailwaySGoodsTrainGalas#5762802925997427714
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    I think the main desire to move the SB is just part of an ongoing desire to return the station to closer to its original appearance, as far as that is possible with all the subsequent development. The current placement of the SB also tends to restrict passenger flows from the entrance to the platform up to the north end, especially on busy days, meaning that - particularly for non-corridor trains - they are sometimes overloaded at the south end and near empty at the north end.

    When originally built, SP (like many LBSC passing stations of that time) had two signal boxes - the main one was at the south end of the "up" platform, and there was a smaller 10 lever box at the north end of the "down" platform. This was because of a Board of Trade regulation that meant signals could not be more than (I believe) 180 yards from the levers that operated them. Hence physically long stations needed two boxes, though often one was technically the main block post, and the second a subsidiary ground frame that was unlocked by the main box. At some point early in the twentieth century, the BoT stipulation was relaxed, allowing 350 yards between points and the levers that operated them; thereafter the LBSC (and no doubt many other railways) closed surplus boxes. Often that was done by closing one and concentrating functions in the other (as happened at HK, where HK (North) was closed and signalling was concentrated in the then HK (South)) but at Sheffield Park, both boxes were closed and the levers grouped in an open-to-the-elements location under the canopy. This served from the 1930s to the early 1960s, but the pressure of passenger numbers in the early years of the Bluebell saw the levers enclosed in a new wooden box under the canopy: that is the arrangement that exists today. I must admit, while I can see the logic of moving the box, we will lose something, because the current arrangement is a rare (for heritage railways) example of where the public can clearly see the signalman in action.

    The footbridge was a covered affair, unlike the current one. It went in 1949 (and I assume wasn't replaced, passengers thereafter crossing using the foot crossing).

    There's a photo here showing the North box and the footbridge in the early days:

    http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/pics/sp_north_box.jpg

    This must be very soon after the line was opened, because not many years after opening, the top stories of all the station buildings were hung with tiles in an effort to weatherproof them rather better than they had originally been. This photo also shows the down platform canopy at its original length, and which it is planned to be re-instated back to (count the pillars and compare with this photo: Bluebell Railway Photo Gallery - Sheffield Park). Fundraising for this task (which will be about £40k, including some money to renovate the existing canopy and provide new zinc sheeting) is currently underway, and stood at £22k last time I heard.

    Tom
     
  12. Steve B

    Steve B Active Member

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    There is a picture of the SP lever frame on the platform before it was enclosed by the Bluebell in the early 60's here. The block instruments I believe were in the booking office.

    Photograph Reference: 1-44-7

    Steve B
     
  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    On the other hand, since 2007 we have gained into traffic the SECR 4 wheeled wheelchair saloon, the LSWR 3rd brake and the SECR birdcage brake into passenger service.

    I doubt OU4 will be used for wagon restoration - the main purpose is storage, except the maintenance road which I think will mainly be for scheduled maintenance, not restoration. Unfortunately, wagon restoration will also be the "poor relation" of carriage restoration, for the simple reason that wagons don't earn revenue except for occasional photo charters. Covered vans can at least be used for storage, which gives a vested interest in keeping them tidy and waterproof (which is why, for example, the SECR van 153, prototype for the classic design SR utility vans, is always kept neat; and at SP the Maunsell Soc van 2186 which is very nicely restored, though it seldom moves from the loco yard), but open wagons don't even have that reason for keeping them. So once again the long term future has to be getting such vehicles under cover where possible. That is probably a task for OU phase 5 or later phase, whatever they might eventually be. Also worth noting that, to a much greater extent than loco or carriage restoration, I get the sense wagon restoration is really very dependent on manpower rather than cash, so a few extra volunteers would have a disproportionately big impact on what could be achieved.

    Incidentally, worth noting that when the SP carriage shed was planned, there were fairly stark warnings that we either needed to get the stock under cover - or else budget £100k per year for contract repairs of rolling stock over and above the C&W in-house capacity. That was at mid 1990s prices, which I guess gives a sense of how much work is essentially "wasted" by leaving things outside. The commercial business case is pretty clear, though the issue as always is still capital raising and also - for phases after OU4 - just where they might be sited, as we start to run out of obviously suitable land that doesn't have a detrimental impact on the appearance of the stations.

    Tom
     
  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    That's a good find!

    Tom
     
  15. Steve B

    Steve B Active Member

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    The Bluebell's museum pages have a lot of photos, which although small and with the copyright banner on them, still have much to offer if you're happy to spend time looking - fascinating stuff.

    Concerning moving the signal box - back in the early 70's I spent some time clipping tickets at the barrier next to the signal box on the platform, and chatting to the signalman in the quiet patches between trains. He was saying then that he and others were concerned about visibility from the box if the platform was crowded, and it didn't take much for that to happen. The gap between the box and platform edge is rather narrow when busy - having more toddlers than I have hands was interesting. (Now they have toddlers!). Then there was (and presumably still is) the difficulty of getting the token to a train in the far platform, particularly if there was a long one in the near one. This was before track circuits and the changes to the layout at the south end had taken place. Although moving the box from the platform back to the north end may lose the view of the signalman at work, operationally and from a safety point of view (and history) it probably makes sense.

    Oh, and while I think of it, once again Tom I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to thank you for your very informative posts, and the manner in which you make them - Thank you.

    Steve B
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    The gap between signal box and platform edge at SP is quite narrow; you particularly notice it when a heavily laden long train comes in, and if you are in the last couple of carriages, it is quite a wait until everyone funnels through. So I'd agree with Steve that, on safety grounds if nothing else, movement of the signal box to the north end of the platform makes sense. It won't be a direct replacement of the original, since that (as the smaller of the original boxes) would be too small, but according to the draft LTP, it will be a box of Saxby and Farmer design. I think there is a box currently on the national network that has been lined up as suitable, once the mass closures of southern signal boxes takes place in the next few years. It is also planned to "resignal the station with period appearance equipment". I wonder if the down distant will suddenly sport a red signal arm and Coligny-Welch reflector? I somehow doubt it, but maybe there will be some changes to the current Westinghouse shunt dummies at the south end of the station.

    It's also planned to extend the platforms north by one coach length to allow seven coach trains (the rest of the line has platforms at least that long, but train lengths are effectively limited by the platforms at SP). That'll be a tight squeeze given the location of the river.

    The draft LTP also calls for "reconstruction of the original LBSCR footbridge to improve visitor experience and to provide an all-weather crossing that will assist visitor circulation on busy days". That can only mean new construction to match the 1880s photo I linked to above; it can't mean simply moving the existing footbridge, so I'd imagine that will ultimately become surplus to requirements. Maybe it will find a home at Ardingly or West Hoathly :)

    Finally, just to complete the cosmetic changes at SP not already mentioned, the plan suggests various changes to paving textures on the platforms and the station approach drive to give more of an 1880s feel; and the replacement of various SR and BR(S) small features in the station with LBSCR appearance features where possible. I think that probably refers to various cable runs, guttering etc.

    Should add that technically these are aspirations until such time as the draft LTP gets approved by the BRPS.

    Tom
     
  17. Dan Hill

    Dan Hill Well-Known Member

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    Blimey Sheffield Park already is a fantastic looking station but with all these long term plans it sounds like it will be even better yet almost unrecognisable to how it is now let alone how it looked in 1960.

    As you mention possibly finding a home for the footbridge at Sheffield Park at West Hoathly should a new station be built as I think you've mentioned before (or I saw somewhere else) could that be used as a possible long term future home for the Billingshurst signal box if there's .

    What other things are listed in the long term plan as well as the stations if your able to tell us Tom?
     
  18. dan.lank

    dan.lank Member

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    I quite agree that it's a shame that passengers will lose the sight of a signalman at work if the signalbox moves, but it does seem to make practical sense. Besides, the new box attached to the museum will make up for the loss somewhat. Incidentally, was the box at SP modelled on anywhere in particular? I seem to remember seeing a similar box at Falmer, but it's been 10yrs at least since I saw it...
     
  19. Luke Bridges

    Luke Bridges New Member

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    Personally I think it would be a shame to rebuild the original bridge at the expense of the station as is.
    Sheffield Park is a beautiful station as is and the current footbridge fits in nicely. I do think that the old bridge rebuilt would make the station look and feel "too" big.
    I know it is now alot bigger than it was anyway because of the engine, carriage sheds and the workshop/yards, but the north end of the platforms are a lovely place to go and watch trains leaving and arriving because its so open and light, whereas the current bridge seems to be in proportion to the rest of the station buildings. I know its not "original" but so what, the current Sheffield Park is far from the original station and is better for it.

    Just my opinion, but whatever the Bluebell chooses, they will do it properly and it will always turn out well even if the atmosphere of the station changes ....
     
  20. Orion

    Orion Well-Known Member

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    I can remember proposing, on the BB Yahoo Group, that the signal box be moved back its original position and the furious response was pretty unpleasant. I can also speak of personal experience of the difficulties of pushing a baby buggy and shepherding an additional child pass the group of station platform volunteers who always congregate in that area and make life difficult for the paying customer.
    So a change would be welcome on that front (in many ways) but I do disagree with the proposed change to the footbridge. It's an historical article in its own right and the LBSC footbridges, with the roof, always seem to be out of scale in these country stations.

    Regards
     

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