The GVLR has not operated passenger trains since Bonfire Night, November 2019. Now after 20 months of enforced closure due to the pandemic, the GVLR has commenced running trains again. GVLR volunteers have been busy over the last 20 months moving a number of engineering projects forward to completion.
Foremost amongst these, is the return to service after a long overhaul of Steam Locomotive O&K 7529, which will operate approximately half the timetabled passenger services during the remainder of the 2021 running season.
Work is well advanced on returning Motor Rail 11177 "Holwell Castle" to traffic, with a new engine and airbrakes. 2 RNAD Vans have been refurbished. The outside gang have been busy with installing a crossover at Butterley Park station and a track slew next to the Running Shed.
Steam locomotive O&K 7529 had a hard life working in a sand quarry in France for over 50 years, she then waited patiently in the UK for another 50+ years, before the completion of a 20 year overhaul saw her fully restored to operational condition at the Golden Valley Light Railway.
The owners and GVLR volunteers are looking forward to O&K 7529 hauling trains on the GVLR this Summer on advertised dates, as soon as restrictions are lifted. With an unusual steam bell, 2 whistles and accompanied by a dynamic air compressor, she will make her presence felt.
A few years ago a catch point was installed at Butterley Park Station in the run round loop to provide protection for the Token section. This year we have turned it into a full point to provide a siding/headshunt in an Easterly direction, for increased operational flexibility. We had in stock the wing rail assembly for a point, but not the associated frog assembly, so after a great deal of measuring 2 rails were sourced from stock, cut to length and then milled to a point, so they could be welded together to form a Frog to the required angle. The Frog and Wing Rail assembly were then welded together.
The welded assembly was moved to the work site and installed after the removal of a length of rail. Other rails were then bent with a Jim Crow and rails laid to form a headshunt from the new point. The whole area was then ballasted. Point rodding from the existing point will be installed, to form a co-acting crossover.
Battery electric loco BEV type WR5 "Baby Jane" also known as Wheal Jane 19 arrived on site in July 1995. For the last 25 years the loco has resided in a container, unable to run due to missing controller parts.
There has always been a wish to see the loco operating again and for the past few months, GVLR member Andy Kemplen has taken it on himself to find an answer, as to how to identify and source the missing parts. He has talked to knowledgeable people world wide in his quest for answers. You can read about his efforts and progress, including the ups and downs in this Blog, which he has written.
Our CCE Charles Saunders occasionally looks at The GVLR Facebook page, which lists similar railway pages which may be of interest and the LCLR at Skegness invariably features. On one such occasion looking at the LCLR page to see what they are getting up to, not least because he has met some their members in the past, he noticed the Crowle Peatlands Railway, which he also looked at out of curiosity. Somewhere, scrolling down he saw a “does anyone know of any 3ft gauge wheelsets available”, well yes, he did.
Somewhere up on the bank next to the GVLR Running Shed was a heap of wheelsets, some 2' 6” gauge, some from memory, 3' gauge dating from our clear-outs of surplus NCB kit from closing collieries in the 1990's. Contact was made with Crowle Peatlands and yes, after looking at photographs of a couple of said objects, they were interested. The outdoor gang got stuck in and established that at least 4 were 3' gauge, but there were probably more. A price was agreed and extraction and resurrection started in earnest. In the end there were 10 off 3ft gauge and 4 off 2ft 6ins gauge.
Crowle Peatlands wanted 6, so 6 were transported using the forklift, to outside the west end of the Running Shed and collected a few days later. They intend to use them to build replica peat wagons of the type that used to run on the moors and these ex-NCB wheelsets are the same type as were used on them, latterly. They have one surviving wagon to copy – the scrap men had the rest.
Interestingly, Crowle Peatlands have recently acquired an ex-Lisbon tram (900mm gauge) for restoration as a passenger vehicle.
The Crowle Peatland Railway website, can be found at
The BIG Project this winter, in collaboration with the diesel groups, has been the renewal of the Level Crossing. As soon as the 2018 running season had finished with Bonfire Night services, the track and sleepers were removed. The formation was then dug out to a depth of 3ft. GVLR member laid the 18ins thick slab, which is underneath both gauges of railway.
After the slab had cured, the NG track was reinstated and two more pours of concrete took place, to encase the track in a permanent slab. A 9 meter long prefabricated drainage channel was then installed, to take away the surface water from the road slope. Whilst the work was underway, the opportunity was taken to realign the level crossing gates. The project was completed in time for the commencement of the 2019 running season
Update March 2019: The boiler repairs were contracted out in 2018, and are well under way. Meanwhile, the rest of the loco is a rolling chassis aproaching completion, with a virtually new cab painted in primer, flatted and stored as a flat pack. The original side buffers and centre hook coupling system have been replaced by the GVLR's standard ex colliery Allen type on fully sprung drawbars. Mechanical lubricators for both steam and axle bearing oil have been fitted, along with improved wick feed oilers at many other locations.
The Air Compressor has also been trial fitted on the in front of the right hand side piston. Using compressed air, as steam is not yet available, the compressor produced air and pressurised the air system of the loco.
Work has continued over the last 8 weeks, on the NG section of the Level Crossing and after two more concrete pours, it is now availble for trains to run across. 10 sections of drainage channel have been installed, to take all the water that comes down the road slope, away into a land drain.
Whilst working on the Level crossing, the Southside, gates and posts were moved West about a foot, to align them with the Northside gates. Fencing removed to allow this, has now been reinstated.
The GVLR has for sometime now, wanted to take out it's track accross the level crossing,and relay it on metal sleepers, encased in concrete. The level crossing, is shared with a single track SG line, which leads to the Diesel Depot. Immediatley after the level crossing, there is a point giving access, to the two roads in the Diesel Depot, unfortunatley the curve into one Road, is so sharp, only the smaller locos can use it.
The Diesel Groups, have decided the only course of action, open to them is to move the point further away from the Diesel Depot, this will mean it will straddle the level crossing, with the blades on the West side and the Frog on the East side, of the level crossing.
Two photos, showing the New track layout at Butterley Park Station
Work has continued on the trackwork, at the western end of Butterley Park Station. A "Y" point has been converted to a Left-Hand point, by bending and un-bending rails with a "Jim Crow"
The GVLR, has aspirations to run trains consisting of 3 bogie coaches. These being, Ashover coach No. 4 and ex Ffestiniog coaches 119 and 119. The platform at Butterley Park is not long enough at present to take 3 coaches, so 6ft of platform, will be added at the West end.
A further problem at exists at the station, namely if a train is using the full length of the platform, there is not enough clearance for the loco, to run round. The King Point at the East end of the station, has been moved 12ft further from the platform, to give the required clearance.
At the West end the two points associated with the run round loop, which were a considerable distance from the platform, have been moved Eastwards. So we now have two long sidings, which at some stage, may be covered by a building, to provide extra storage space.
As work on one carriage finishes, it's time to start on the second carriage. Carriage 118 has been lifted, one end at a time and the respective bogie removed. One third of the springs on each side have been removed, followed by examination of the brake gear, which on both bogies have needed some attention. Before being refitted to the carriage, the opportunity was taken to give both bogies, a coat of black paint, for protection.
Since entering service, Carriage 119 has operated without a working handbrake, so has always been marshalled next to a vehicle, with a working handbrake. In the intervening period, work has proceded with designing and fitting a handbrake.
The hanbrake is in fact a wheel in the west end vestibule, which opperates a chain on the outside of the carriage, which in turn via another linkage, aplies the brakes. Considerable time was spent designing, building and fitting, a cover for the chain and sprokets on the outside of the carriage
Carriage 119 has now been available for passenger services, for two months and is used during inclement weather. After it had been in service a few weeks, a slight noise was heard from the East end whilst in service. The carriage was shunted over the pit and lifted at the offending end and the bogie released and rolled out. It was found the noise was due to a small clearance issue, which was rectified with a 1.6mm shim. The coach was reassembled and back in service, in less than two hours. GVLR engineers are finishing work, on the last two jobs that that need doing on 119, namely the electrics and a new handbrake assembly.
A concerted push during June, to complete all the outstanding work needed to put Carriage 119 into service was completed. There then started a period of testing, during which time a number of measurements were taken, to ascertain, that the carriage met the standards required.
On one evening in late June, dynamic brake tests were performed. The ride quality was accessed. The carriage was also run into all the sidings and across all the points and track work it would use in it's working life, to prove there were no gauging, or other issues. Being deemed fit to enter service, it's first run with passengers, was the 12-15pm. service on Saturday July 8th 2017, during the NG Gala.
Work is proceeding apace, to get Carriage 119, into public service. Shims have been added to either side of the bogies, so there is now only 3mm. combined clearance, between the top of the bogies and the underframe. The plywood for the floor, in the ex toilet and vestibule area has been laid and only awaits fitting with lino, which has arrived.
The ceiling that was above the toilet area, has been made good. New LED lighting is in the process of being installed in the ceiling of the carriage. The underframe, couplings, buffers and the new steps, have been painted black.
Photo left, shows brake cylinders and linkage, under Carriage 119. The Brake Rods, part of the braking system have been manufactured and fitted. The brake system was then charged with air, the brakes applied and the system tested, that the brakes hold on for 30 minutes. Modifications are still in progress, to deal with an overbraking problem.
Positioning the Allen couplings of coach 119 in the correct position is the next important task. With the coach over the pit, wooden sleepers and packing were laid across the rails at the end of the coach. The Allen coupler was placed on top and the packing adjusted, to bring the centre of the coupling to the correct height above the rails. The face of the coupler was then positioned, so it was the required distance from the end of the coach.
The preformed swan neck drawbar was then offered into place and marked up for cutting. The cut was at an angle on the drawbar and then a semicircle of metal was removed, so the the drawbar could be welded in the correct position, on a bush.
The photo on the right, shows the Westend coupling in it's final position. Note the new, vertical pieces of angle iron, which support the new Coupler Support Bar (hidden behind Allen Coupler), which is 12ins. lower than original position, which was at top of vertical angle irons
During the Winter shut down, a new point has been installed adjoining the facing point at Newlands Inn Station. A new siding will be laid from the point, long enough to take a full length train. This will allow trains to be swapped at Gala events.
During the the first 3 months of 2017, work continued on the newly laid point. Rail was then laid along the old running line formation, to create a siding.