Well there we are- Whitrope is a WORKING railway location once more!
How satisfying it was to see the wee Ruston trundling up and down our newly ballasted permanent way between the station and the Golden Bridge, especially when you remember that it’s not so many years ago that the trackbed at Whitrope was a wilderness of vegetation and detritus, almost unrecognisable as a former main line railway.
The first task was to shunt the Fowler from outside the house to the south end of the platform. Nothing of course goes to plan, and the brakes on the Fowler were found to be seized on. Duncan and his cohorts duly set to work underneath the loco, getting completely covered from head to toe in old oil and grease in the process. Once the brakes had been coaxed off, the Ruston found no problem pushing the Fowler up the hill, with Iain Mac driving and Alastair acting as shunter and communicating with each other via back to back radios. With the shunt complete, the Ruston then undertook a number of proving runs and all the volunteers had a go at driving (under appropriate supervision of course!)
The “six foot” fence was wired- up and finished off at the weekend, and the high standard of installation is a credit to Joe. This is a major safety improvement on site, and very timely given the start of loco movements. A vehicular gate has also been installed across the old “Up” formation adjacent to bridge 199 at the south end of the new fence: this will be shut when trains are running and will completely seperate our visitors (and the house owners) from the operational railway.
The track gang had a couple of good bonfires on Saturday despite the rain, disposing of all the remaining stacked vegetation up in the summit cutting. Again, this is a huge safety improvement given the number of visitors who enjoy the walk up to the tunnel, especially on the open weekend. Sunday was spent lifting and packing south of bridge 199, as well as making a start on fishplate greasing.
Work continues outside of the big monthly “bashes”, especially on the Fowler, the fencing and the heritage centre coaches, and there’s something happening most weekends. If you’re interested in getting involved, please do email us and we’ll put you in touch with the relevant contacts.