running The Bath & West Steam Railway
Driver Experience Days - a great idea for a Christmas Present! See article under Events for more details.
Track Open Saturdays, for members. Bring your loco you will be very welcome.
After many discussions, plans and ideas our new tunnel is beginning to take shape.
Before we left Devon, Mike used a batch of the steel remaining from his blacksmithing days to make up a 5” gauge portable track. It comes to a total of 150ft in approx. in 5ft lengths. We decided not to mount the sections on boards because of the weight, but instead made blocks to support each joint, where the lengths are bolted together. In addition he made buffers which are mounted at each end.
The track was put into storage on our son’s farm when we arrived in Wiltshire 4 years ago, but finally came into use in June this year. Our son Thomas is a key member of the Gillingham Imperial Silver Band, and when planning this year’s visit of GISB’s twin band from Germany he asked if we could run the track during their evening barbecue. The Village Hall where Thomas and his family live has a large car park with a suitable level length available, so the event was agreed (weather permitting). Since using a steam loco on such a track presents various problems, not least the necessity to fit a spark arrester for insurance purposes, we decided to invest in a “diesel” electric loco. Abbots Model Engineering offered a suitable engine – Neptune 4 – which was duly delivered (at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, from Telford !) a week before the planned first running.
On the first day of the main show at the Royal Bath and West Showground Countess Bathurst came to inaugurate the newly acquired carriage that will accommodate wheelchair users and those who find it difficult to sit astride our other coaches.
The Wheelchair carriage was christened with Thatchers Cider and the little left over was not wasted!
ESSMEE is indebted to Thatchers Foundation, a local personality, Avalon Rotary, Michael Richardson and an anonymous ESSMEE donor for sponsoring this carriage.
Another fantastic Bath and West Main Show this year. Visitors included Countess Bathurst, Jacob Rees Mogg and family, the Morris Men and a Newfoundland!
In time for the Main Show of the year members of the Shepton Mallet Mens Shed produced some animals for our passengers to spot on their way round the track.
My Driver Experience day with ESSMEE at the Bath and West Showground Miniature Railway.
In May of this year, my wife and I visited the Royal Bath and West Show at Shepton Mallet, something we had been meaning to do for a long time! The show was fantastic, with a wonderful family atmosphere, and having both been brought up in the country, we felt right at home!
We went through all the exhibitors and eventually ended up at my favourite, the East Somerset Society of Model and Experimental Engineers permanent passenger carrying track.
My Stafford, ‘Ifor’ was first steamed on Wednesday 31 July when it passed hydraulic & steam tests OK; I only managed a couple of circuits round the club house before loosing fire and steam etc. and packing up.
On Saturday ‘Ifor' was steamed again much more successfully and several circuits of the clubhouse were made by David Hale, Roger H-C and me. I am very pleased with the result as he runs very nicely when one gets the fire and pressure better organised! The injectors are a bit tricky to get working, but no doubt this is a matter of practice with these particular ones. Steam blew back into the lubricator which made an oily, watery mess.
Excitement mounted as the wheelchair carriage took to the tracks. It performed beautifully.
Not so much an article as a big scary picture (well, scary for the mechanical boys)
The Society held its first Spring Open Weekend on 21st and 22nd April 2018.
We were blessed with wonderful weather except for a short sharp shower on Saturday midday, and the rest of the time was full of activity, with the 20 or so traction engines enjoying the freedom of the extensive tarmac roads within the Bath and West Showground, and the locos enjoying frequent circuits of the recently repaired contractor-damaged track. A huge thanks to all those who battled against foul weather to complete this work.
We would like to thank Roy Proctor who contacted the Mid Somerset Series of Newspapers. They kindly sent a reporter, Maxine who wrote an article about learning to drive a locomotive.
You can read Maxine's report on learning to drive that was published in early August 2018.
It is several years since the upper yard was completed at the Bath and West Railway by those members most interested in 5" ground level, and shortly afterwards a second (lower) yard was added. From the start, access to the main line involved a rather complicated process, the Yardmaster first having to call up the signal box requesting permission to allow a train onto the main line.
Saturday dawned to torrential rain which didn’t let up until 2.30 and for the rest of the day a biting wind swept across the Showground putting a dampener on activities. The boys from Plymouth Miniature Steam were undeterred, something of the West country seadog in them, and steamed up as soon as they arrived and ran right through to 7.00pm. A great effort as they had to be back in Plymouth for public running the next day. Tom Yardley’s barbecue saved the day and all went to home or caravan replete and ready for the next day.
7¼" gauge Warship class locomotive D808 “Centaur”.
After a gap of 25 years I returned to model making and was surprised to find that electric passenger hauling locos were now relatively common. And much quicker to complete than a steamer built from castings and pieces of bar and plate! So I built a 5" Gauge class 20 electrically powered loco from a Maxitrack kit. I very much enjoyed the building and it ran well. But I was interested to move up to 7¼" gauge and a good strong passenger hauler.
The 2015 Royal Bath and West Show was another 4 days of fun and hard work at the Bath and West Railway.
A new passenger hauling record of 8295 journeys made by 699 train circuits of the line gives an average loading of nearly 12 passengers per train – a fantastic effort by all staff once again, especially the unsung heroes of the ‘Level Crossing’! The record was particularly surprising due to Friday morning being mostly taken out by a huge rain shower, with staff and locos seeking shelter where possible and only a few hardy passengers braving the weather.
The event went off nearly without a hitch, but there are rumours of something that broke.
Another great Main Show for the Bath and West Railway. Around 7000 passengers carried over the 4 days including our 100,000th passenger since the birth of the Railway, a fantastic achievement.
The usual collection of laughs, jokes and the occasional hiccup gave possibly the most enjoyable show to date. The new signal box worked well and the non-stop efficient flow of 4 trains on the line illustrates how the membership of the club have learned to manage the line over the years.
ESSMEE was busy again on the last weekend of September, with the open weekend, a free event which all are welcome to attend.