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November to December 2016

Following the Open Day in September maintenance work continued in readiness for the December Christmas event.

Permanent Way:

Further track replacement was made as part of the ongoing improvements. New sections of rail were welded and the Wednesday Gang worked hard to ‘lift and replace’ thus maintaining a continuous track. The bridges were fitted with wooden palings to complete the parapets over the ditches. These can be seen in the photos of the Christmas Event below.

Signal and Telegraph Department:

A 12V supply has been commissioned for the Tunnel signalling and a second signal, with feather, added on the bridge adjacent to the tunnel exit allowing following trains to see whether the point is set to enter Forge Halt Station, or bypassing the station.

Christmas Santa Event December 11th:

The day began at 11:00 and families had already arrived by then and were eagerly anticipating their journey from Wortley Central to Forge Halt where Santa was waiting in the Forge to greet them.
Three steam locos were ready and waiting together with one petrol electric and one electric loco. The drivers were kept busy all day until around 4:00 p.m. when the light faded and people returned home.
Attendance grew throughout the afternoon and kept the BBQ and tearoom team busy serving hungry and thirsty visitors. Judging by the many smiling faces I can confidently say that the day was a success and well worth the great efforts of many members prior to, and during, the event. The dedication of the members has to be commended as without them, these events could not take place.

Overall it was a very busy day with high attendance.

A selection of photos are included below.

Steaming from the tunnel exit. Contemplating arrival at a busy Forge Halt (Santa).
Taking a breather as the children visit Santa. Fully loaded close to the tunnel. Gathering speed to tackle the climb ahead.

More visitors for Santa.

Running down the bank towards the tunnel.

Electric traction bypasses Forge Halt this time.

A steamy exit from the tunnel.

Oh no, where is the drivers head ?.

No. 1 passes the new signal.

Poor Santa, no children visiting him this time.

Busy scene at Wortley Central.

On the down run past the station.

Even busier at Wortley Central.

Platform 1 has Right Away, as platform 2 loads up with visitors.

Another fully loaded down run.

More children eager to see Santa.

Traction engine has full head of steam.

End of the day, time to blow down the boiler.

Paintwork gleaming and ready to go home.

Last run before taking a well earned rest.

The last few visitors take a final run.

June to October 2016

So finally I have put pen to paper so to speak to report on the activities down at The Forge after taking over the job as Secretary from Brian Holloway.

Many thanks to Brian for his dedication to the role over many years, I will try my best to keep the momentum going.

Facing Point removed adjacent to Dog Kennel. OOPS! Splitting the facing point 2002.

Permanent Way :

Early summer the track replacement project was in full swing.

New sections of rail were on site and the jig for welding sections was showing its usefulness by speeding up the process and maintaining the correct gauge for both the 5" and 7 1/4" track. The plastic sleepers have been cut for some time in readiness and once the track sections are laid and ballasted the trackwork looks and rides so much better. As winter approaches the trackwork is almost completed and all who have driven on it are finding the experience smooth and a huge improvement compared to the original ageing track. The dedicated team can feel proud of a professional job well done and which will last for many years.

Early autumn also saw Steve taking out the facing point adjacent to the dog kennel, to give a safer and smoother passage down the bank from the loop towards the signal box. I fell foul of this facing point in 2002! Steve also has improved and replaced the pointwork in the station area allowing extra flexibility for turning engines around and providing full use of platform 3 as a through platform.

The bridge over the ditch just before the tunnel has been made safe with parapets added enhancing the appearance and safety, another good job done.

Bridge parapets over drainange ditch. Proposed flower beds and seating area. Chris rounds the loop with Russell on inagural run.

Groundworks :
The flower beds really became established with the warm and dry summer months and are a credit to the members who laid them and also regularly maintain them. They give the site an air of tidiness, are pleasing to the eye and have been commented on by many visitors to the site. The dis-assembled engines adjacent to the clubhouse have been removed on site and the ground has been cleared ready for flower borders and a seating area under the trees. Next summer should provide us with additional seating in a sheltered area further enhancing the visual appeal of the site.

Locomotive Movements :

There has been plenty of activity with existing, refurbished and new locos during the summer. We have had more steam running this year than we have seen for some time. Chris and Trevor had their inaugural runs for their new locos and as can be seen in the photos, they are a credit to their engineering skills and were keenly anticipated by the members seeing them running. Brian's refurbished steam loco, whilst it has had a few teething problems, is now running well. Now that the track is so much better we hope to see a variety of traction running in 2017.

Traction Engines :

This section of the club provides an alternative to trains with different scale examples of steam traction engines and lorries.

Russell with safety valves lifting at platform 2.

Chris with Russell and Trevor with No. 1 taking a breather during their inaugural runs.

Signal and Telegraph Department :

The semaphore signals on the gantry are now interlocked using a PLC which Robert Walker installed. Some minor tweaks were made and one final modification will see this important control of the platforms and approach under safer control.

The emergency telephone at the entrance to the tunnel has been re-instated and a power supply provided. An automatic colour light signal has been placed at the entrance to the tunnel. This signal turns to red once a train has entered the tunnel, thus allowing the following train to be held until the previous train has cleared the tunnel exit. Initially it was powered by a 12v battery, which had to be charged and carried down to the tunnel, but work is in progress to provide power from the signal box. The cables are laid but final connections need making and testing ready for use. A further enhancement will be provided next year to include a colour light signal and 'feather' at Forge Halt station with interlock to the tunnel entrance signal.

The automatic signal at the tunnel entrance.

Summer Open day ready to take passengers.

Right Away from platform 2 - Summer Open day.

Open Day September 4th :

The day began with the threat of showers later in the day but fortunately the weather was kind to us.

George from the Leicester club attended with his splendid Romulus. A 5" battery powered shunter also tried its best to negotiate the circuit but unfortunately after derailing several times had to give up.

Club members ran steam & Petrol Electric locos, all 3 platforms were in use and I had a busy day controlling movements from the signalbox. We only had one small incident when Steve's petrol electric Bo-Bo split the points coming into platform 1 and 2 due to the air cylinder having not fully closed the point. After increasing the pressure of the compressor we had no further problems.

Waiting time for rides was quite short due to the number of locos running and a quick turnaround at the station.

Overall the Day was a success and even though the number of visitors was down this year, all that attended enjoyed themselves. A selection of photos of the Open Day are included.

We now look forward to the Christmas Event and encourage all members to support this event as we are usually very busy in all departments to give the children, young and old, a festive taste of steam, oil and coal.

Early Passenger enjoying a run - Summer Open day.

Summer Open day - Busy at the Station.

Summer Open day - Barbecue aroma fills the air.

February, March and April 2016

At the start of the 2016 track laying see how close we were to the signal box. A bit of a jigsaw puzzle at the moment.

February was a very busy month and even though the weather wasn’t good for a lot of the time, quite a lot has been achieved, the bridge we were working on needed repairs to the structure as well as the deck.

The handrail supporting beams needed to be replaced with new steel, Trevor was asked if he would do this work and has made an excellent job of it too. The bridge main supports where then painted, and the lintels fitted, this bridge is now really soundly constructed and very safe to use.

The track from the station to the bridge is now underway and should soon be finished. The area around the signal box has been left to Steve, who has almost singlehandedly relocated the points from the steaming bay, and repositioned the connections to the platforms, this has created more clearance around the signal box, and also removed the bad kink in the approach to platform one.

Sunday the 13th March was given over to the AGM this meant that although the day was one of the best so far this year, very little work was done at all, what work that was done, was done prior to the meeting starting and only a little after it finished.

Bridge number one stripped down for repair and painting. Trevor and trusty sidekick Dave making repairs to bridge one. The first concrete lintel in place.

The meeting went on longer than usual with safety of visitors, and members, being the main topic that was discussed at length. It was agreed that we need every member at all times to be aware of any possible breaches of safety and to point them out to the offending parties. The passengers should be made aware of how to board and ride the trains in a safe way. We have had notices made and these will be displayed when we run the trains, but you should point out any problems, don’t just leave it to others to speak up.

The winter project is now complete and we now have points on to platform three as a valued addition to the track, giving three through route on the station if required. This was decided a few years ago when Alec was still alive and we put in many hours of work to move the station and platform to make space to accommodate the points, I should say that once again Steve has completed this work almost single handed, I think that a big, big, thank you from all members to Steve won’t go amiss, for this very useful addition to the track which has created many advantages not there before to anyone with a steamer.

This is likely to be my last update due to my recent retirement from the job of secretary but I wish my successor all the best and hope he gets the cooperation he needs to make a decent job of it.

The completed bridge and deck.

Showing where the bend will go and the approach to the bridge.

Looks good but the platform will need trimming a bit.

The new points in postion and looking good.

A bit of extra help for Steve.

Another view of the major works round the signal box.

More work in progress.

Making more progress.

Some more pictures of the track changes.

The points now serve platform 3, looks good doesn't it! Thanks Steve.

The through line re-laid and ballasted.

Almost finished!

Just needing ballast and sleepers.

Some pictures of a visit by the BBC's Great British Railway Journeys. (We don't have individual captions for these, they are of Mr Portillo and production staff. - Webmaster)

No caption. No caption. Filming the ride around the forge.
No caption. No caption. No caption.
Filming the interview. Michael enjoys a slice of Anna's cake. No caption.
No caption. No caption. No caption.
Chris Farrar meets Michael Portillo. No caption. Getting ready to film.
Leaving the station. No caption. Taking a ride around the forge.

November & December 2015, January 2016

Can you count the riders? Waiting for the signal.

REMINDER - The Annual General meeting will be on the 13th March in the clubroom at Wortley top Forge.


I covered most of November in my last update and not a lot had changed before the Forge's Santa Day special on the 6th December. The week before the event the weather forecast for the Santa day was really bad! On the Wednesday prior to the Sunday open day the weather was still forecasting rain, rain, and more rain.

That made any decision about what to do on the day very difficult to make prior to the event. Although members agreed to buy any surplus food, it was decided not to push the boat out on this occasion.

The actual day started better than expected, and got better as the day progressed. We didn't have many visiting locomotives this year, and visitor numbers were down. Our own home grown drivers all had a very busy day, with Steve pulling five full coaches at one time. Sir Walter Raleigh and Joshua both kept a full head of steam, and a full set of passengers most of the day, with the drivers finding it difficult to find time for refreshments.

Eric with Annie. Just my size this one. Adding more clearance around the signal box.

A start on the winter project was made the following Wednesday with the last bit of the track on the up line from the tunnel being restarted. New lengths have been purchased to complete the section, with much of the old track being in good condition it will be re-used. Two of the bridge decks are in very poor condition, with most of the timber joists needing replacement. After some discussion it was decided to replace the lot with precast custom made concrete lintels. These should give us many years of good service.


Wednesday the 20th of January we were back to work on the track again, work had been stopped due to snow the previous week. Now the plan is to re-lay both the up and down lines in front of the signal box, with the points to platforms 1 and 2 being relocated to give more clearance around the signal box.

The points from the steaming bay have also been moved, this also gives additional clearance around the box, and it will also improve the curve on the main line from the tunnel.


A wider view of this part of the winter project.

None of the track and points will be left in the original position.

The last section from Forge Halt is now being laid.

Once we have re-instated the track to the platforms and around the signal box we will continue with the track over the bridge and down as far as the tree in the centre of the two tracks. Most of this track has been taken up and reprocessed, and if all goes well we will continue down the hill towards the tunnel, as far as we can time and weather permitting. It is possible using the new track laying system to replace a 20-foot section of track each Wednesday, leaving Sundays free for running.

A man sized job for anyone.

For earlier news items please see the 2015, 2014 and 2013 News Pages and the News archive which contains items up to November 2012