running The Bath & West Steam Railway
We're preparing for a new season down on the showground!
To find out more about our society contact firstname.lastname@example.org
GL5 Weekend April 22nd – 24th
Background Information. The GL5 Mainline Association is a group of like minded enthusiasts who endeavour to run 5” gauge trains in a prototypical manner as would have been common up until the 1960’s. The Association does not have its own track, but visits clubs whose tracks can accommodate a large number of locomotives and rolling stock with space for on-site camping and caravans. East Gilling near Helmsley in North Yorkshire operated by the Ryedale S.M.E. is probably the best known, hosting two events each year, one in May, the other in August plus regular training courses. The village of Saracens Head in Lincolnshire is a rapidly developing privately owned railway which is becoming a popular venue, as is Cinderbarrow in the north west of England. Here, in the south west we are of course distant from these tracks, but with our well developed facilities are aleady popular.
Ideally, the GL5 Committee endeavour to arrange an event every month from March through to October. Having hosted successful gatherings of GL5 members on four previous occasions, the most recent being in June 2021, it was hoped we at ESSMEE could do the same in 2022. However, towards the end of 2021, as the Bath and West Calendar for the year was filling up quickly, the only weekend available appeared to be in early October 2022. Unfortunately, on that date GL5 was already committed to provide a stand at an event in Oxfordshire. A further approach was made to B&W to re-examine their calendar, and it was agreed that we could arrange our event during April 2022 although a dog show would also be on site.
The invitation to GL5 members was posted early in December 2021, and within a few days it became apparent that we would have a a good response with registrations from many who had visited in previous years together with many who would be first timers. By the middle of April twenty four steam locos, six diesel outline locos, one hundred an sixty five wagons and nineteen carriages had been booked in.
As I have written in the past, the Gilling events are run “like the big railway” with a strict timetable beginning at 08.00 and continuing to 17.30 each day. Our previous gatherings had been far less formal. To add to the interest, particularly for those who had visited before, I decided to approach a friend, Matt Fowles, a very enthusiastic young fellow GL5 member living in Gloucestershire, to see if he would attempt to produce a timetable to be used on the Saturday and maybe Sunday. Matt certainly delivered, with the day divided into ninety minute slots. A loco superintendent followed a schedule to ensure that drivers were ready to go off shed to begin their shift. Drivers were provided with work cards specifying the time they were expected to collect their train, and the duties they were to fulfil based on the power of their loco. The yardmasters (upper and lower yards) were provided with cards outlining the consist of each train to be made up, and the time at which trains would depart each yard. They also had details of trains which would be arriving at their yard, so they had a lot to remember and consider to ensure smooth running of the yards. Whilst all of this was going on there were also express passenger trains in operation with for instance eight Pullman carriages, or “local” passenger trains.
Friday 22nd dawned bright but windy, and that proved to be the case for the following days as well. Several visitors had arrived on the previous day, and by 10.00 several locos were circulating on the main line to learn the route. As more arrived the collection of rolling stock grew in the upper yard, and with a couple of pilots working the yard, trains were made up for the larger locos to haul. As in 2021, Ben Lyons, Chairman of GL5 had brought his spectacular rake of eight Pullman Carriages. For those who took a close look it could be seen that they were complete with interior furnishing including table lamps which later in the day were illuminated. In addition, like the fulllsize carriages, couplings are scale representations of the “buckeye” type. These carriages were popular with the owners of the larger locos, and looked particularly impressive behind Britannia Class “Oliver Cromwell” owned and driven by Norm Lorton from Northamptonshire. Other steam locos seen over the weekend included a two further Britannia Class, two 0-4-0 Pugs, two G.W.R. 15xx 0-6-0 pannier tank locos, a Dean Goods, a Southern Schools, a B.R. Class 4 2-6-4 Tank, a G.W.R. 47xx 2-8-0, a G.W.R. 38xx 2-8-0, a B.R. Standard Class 2 Tender loco, a G.W.R. 94xx pannier tank loco, an L.N.E.R. B1, an L.N.E.R. V2 2-6-2, an L.M.S. 4F 0-6-0, and a G.W.R. 57xx pannier tank. Then there were a number of diesel outline locos including two Brush 0-4-0 shunting locos, one of which was radio controlled, a B.R. Class 25, a B.R. Class 20, a B.R. Class 37, a B.R. Class 50, and finally a Metropolitan Vickers electric loco.
As previously mentioned, a timetable had been prepared for Saturday, and over all worked very well with Ben Lyons ensuring that drivers departed from the steaming bays in good time to reach the upper yard to collect their trains. Matt Fowles acted as Yardmaster in the upper yard, whilst Alan Bridger and Roger Dennis controlled activities in the lower yard with the aid of Chris Ede and his newly made colour light signals. Towards the end of running on Saturday there was a most impressive sight of the 38xx driven by Simon Gates completing several circuits of the whole main line hauling a train of 57 wagons. Keeping to a scale speed the climb up towards the level crossing, the loco was certainly working hard.
Sunday was a more relaxed day. A number of the visitors with lengthy homeward journeys or work commitments had departed on Saturday evening, and throughout Sunday morning a few more did so. Despite this, and the gradual reduction in rolling stock, it was still possible to prepare and run trains of a respectable size. In addition, the young children of several GL5 members were given the opportunity to drive, mainly in the yards, displaying considerable promise for the future of GL5.
Mid afternoon, the decision was taken to bring proceedings to a close.
Once again, we received very positive comments from our guests, most expressing the hope that there could be a further visit in 2023.
Of equal importance to GL5 members as running trains is the social side of such gatherings. Friday evening culminated with a barbecue, overseen by our own Chairman, Tom Yardley, and expertly “cheffed” by Stuart Bond. The meal met with the approval and appreciation of our guests who agreed it was a most welcome end to the day. Thankyou to Stuart and to Tom. Saturday’s proceedings ended with a fish and chip supper, ordered in advance and collected from Whitstone’s at Shepton.
In conclusion, and in addition to the thanks above, I would like to express my appreciation for their assistance to Alan Bridger, Chris Ede and Roger Dennis, and also to those Wives of members who prepared and supplied cakes for the weekend.
Thanks also of course to Matt Fowles for the tremendous amount of time and work he expended in preparing the timetable.
Subsequent to the weekend a new GL5 member, Eric French, owner of the Metro Vic, who is I believe a driver on London Underground, posted a very good video on Youtube showing our track for all to see. If you haven’t already seen the video, simply go to Youtube, type in the name of his channel “Underground Eric” and scroll down to find it, or type in the following - https://youtu.be/oWv8YdFOdRc
A further visitor over the weekend was John Arrowsmith, a regular contributor to both Model Engineer and Engineering in Miniature magazines.
Today, Wednesday 16th May, my copy of E.I.M. was awaiting my return home for the showground. Despite the fact that the GL5 Event was barely three weeks ago, John has a three page fully illustrated report in that magazine. Excellent publicity for both GL5 and ESSMEE. David Hale.
We ran our second Santa Special visit this year. And yes he came. We sold out all the places on the trains and we are really sorry if we disappointed anyone. The good news is we are doing this again in 2022. Check out our calendar when its ready.
Here is his letter he sent to us. Hope to see you in December!
Central Depot and Manufactory, somewhere in the far North
A Thank-you from Santa
Now that the seasonal rush is over, we Santas are at last getting round to writing our thank-you letters.
I am especially pleased to be writing to you because my two visits were so enjoyable.
Obviously, we do quite a number of railway Santa Specials. The trouble with these is that there are lots of them and it gets a little boring doing the same “Ho-Hoing” routine as well as getting a bit worn out lugging that great sack from carriage to carriage.
Your Santa Special really was special.
Firstly, the venue at the show ground offers lots of scope for reindeer rest, entertainment and recuperation. They seem to enjoy their rest in the big sheds, where I am also able to park my sledge. Secondly you give my clients a ride on a miniature train and they are all able to see what is going on. From my point of view, it is a really pleasant change for my clients to be brought to me instead of me having to walk up and down between carriages.
Instead, I had a delightful ride down to my grotto pulled by that handsome blue locomotive “Mendip”. Then I could get really comfy in my tunnel grotto while my elves prepared the presents ready for the train full of clients and adults, (who seemed to enjoy coming along for the ride.)
When the train arrived, all I had to do was walk along the train distributing the presents and most importantly finding out if there would be any home complications for entry and so on when I arrived on Christmas Eve. (I stressed the condition that clients should be asleep for my magic to work.) I was also able, with the help of my elves, to confirm the address I would have to find and fit into my busy Christmas Eve schedule.
Then the train, carrying my delighted clients, their adults and the presents departed and I could settle down on my Santa Throne while my elves prepared for the next train.
I do so hope you will invite me again as I really enjoy my visit. It would be worth you booking me up early before he inevitable rush of bookings that almost overwhelm us near Christmas time. Thank you once again. Happy New Year. Santa
The society is offering the opportunity to drive our diesel and steam locomotives.
Taking part offers the opportunity to learn and experience our miniature version of a railway. This railway is used to carry passengers at such shows as the Bath and West Country Festival. The track is fully signalled imitating a standard gauge, passenger hauling railway. This offers the participant the opportunity to fully experience all aspects of driving a train.
Come and meet our enthusiastic and knowledgeable team who will do their best to give everyone a great day out. Family rides are free.
Numbers of drivers are limited to just three each session.
Another great weekend at ESSMEE with visitors from far and wide. Enjoy the slideshows.
Following many weeks of warm sunny weather it was disappointing that a change began a few days before this event. On Saturday, after a dry early morning, it began to rain and the decision to put the toys away was taken late in the afternoon. On Sunday morning we were greeted by rain, however, by 11.00am the rain had cleared and we enjoyed a pleasant warm, sunny afternoon.
ESSMEE offers train rides on The Bath and West Steam Railway at major events held at The Royal Bath & West Showground. Those events are
Trains run regularly and very often we run 4 locomotives, both steam and diesel-electric all day. Rides are only £2. Society members volunteer in all aspects of running the railway and somewhat oddly, everyone enjoys their turn at the level crossing!
ESSMEE holds Open Weekends at the Bath and West Showground twice a year, usually in Spring and October. This is are full two day events with train rides which are available throughout the day but you're welcome to visit for as long or as short as you like.
More importantly, guests of other clubs and societies are welcome to feature the "love of their life" and do so in large numbers. Guests who bring working exhibits travel from as far away as Fareham, Bicester and Wales (Pontyclun). On previous occasions as many as 20 traction engines, 20 locomotives with 3 steam cars have attended.