Monthly News Archive

November 2012

As we reach the end of the traditional running season, attention has turned to our winter projects which we will tackle as soon as the annual Top Forge Steam and Santa gala is over on Sunday December 9th. The biggest project will, without doubt, be the extension of the track replacement from the start of the new top loop (see previous monthly news items) back to the old carriage shed junction. We will again be using plastic sleepers but may not go as far as replacing the track bed with concrete. Steel for the rails has already been purchased and delivered and our previous large track jigs will enable us to produce 20' lengths of pre-welded section at a good rate.

A problem common to most clubs is the lack of sufficient storage space and the chaotic and untidy state of things which inevitably results! (Just like our home workshops?). Our latest attempt to alleviate the problem has been to blackmail the Treasurer into spending some money and we now have a new shed, twice the dimensions of the previous one, which can store all the usual gardening tools, track maintenance tools, paint tins and other non-valuable items which previously cluttered up the precious secure storage facilities which can now be reserved and kept tidy for rolling stock etc.

On the subject of stock, we had an unusual visitor to the track during the month in the shape of a vertical boilered "coffee pot" loco in 7.25" gauge. It steamed well and impressed all of us with its power - yes we loaded a riding car with a number of our most portly members and it had no problems running them round at a good speed. Further details will hopefully be available soon together with a couple of photos.

Finally, we should point out that although the Wortley Top Forge museum is now officially closed until Easter, the railway and the Model Engineers will continue to operate and meet each Sunday afternoon and, for members only, on Wednesdays.

October 2012

At last the summer is over! We seem to be past the floods, gales and storms and settled back to a sensible, more familiar autumn weather pattern. The impact on our visitor numbers and therefore income will be interesting to see once the Treasurer takes his head out of his hands and stops crying! We did have two successive Wednesdays when the weather left us alone and which added to the pleasure we had by entertaining two groups of kids from the Sheffield Autistic Society summer school. We had one party last year, but this year there were enough interested to make it a two-party event, and the enjoyment of the kids just added to our own and they were both highly rewarding events. We've even had an early warning of return visits next summer!

Our Open Day on the 2nd September also managed to avoid the bad weather and with a good turnout of steam road vehicles and visiting railway engines we had another excellent day. Visitor numbers seemed to be down on last year, but this was not reflected in the day's income, and all of the refreshments, hot and cold, were consumed. This must, therefore, be seen as yet another highly successful event. A selection of photos from the day can be viewed by clicking here.

Plans are now being drawn up for our usual support for the Top Forge's Grand Christmas Steam and Santa Gala on December 9th. Santa specials, refreshments and other attractions will be provided by ourselves as usual. Let's just hope it's cold and dry and more typical of what we expect for a winter's day! Click here for more details.


August 2012

Oh no! Not again! Up went the cry on 6th July. Our favourite River Don had wreaked havoc for the second time in five years by bursting its banks in three places adjacent to our site. Waters surged across the car park and fields and fairly quickly flooded our clubhouse and both carriage sheds. At the top end of the track, the recently laid ballast was completely washed away into the river, and at the bottom end the ballast was washed away and replaced with barrow-loads of silt and mud.

So how was this flood in comparison to 2007? The water levels seemed to be as high and reached the same areas as last time, but the resultant damage was considerably less. Why? After the last flood, we replaced the wooden clubroom floor with a concrete one, the old wooden 'dog kennel' carriage shed destroyed in 2007 had been replaced with a solid brick-built structure, bridge timbers washed away last time had been replaced with newer ones and remained intact and it was only the loss of the ballast which caused us real heartache. Having just taken delivery of 20 tons of new ballast to boost our stocks, we were not expecting to use so much of it so soon!

Perhaps the biggest difference this time was the fact that we got advanced warning that floods were imminent. This enabled a handfull of heroic members to rush to the Forge and lift everything in the carriage sheds with electrics or elecronic equipment well above floor level as well as lifting things such as the clubroom fridge well out of harms way. We owe these few brave souls a vote of thanks for their speedy actions which saved us alot of effort, money and insurance claims for stock damage, unlike last time.

Click here for more flood pictures and allow time for them to load!

One other disappointment was that the trailer containing our portable track and other items needed for our outside events was stuck in the car park up to its axles in flood water. This forced us to abandon our presence at the annual Bolsterstone Gala and as well as disappointing the organisers and public, has put another dent in this year's finances.

Our hopes now are that the terrible summer will move off and things will improve to allow us a busy and successful Open Day on Sunday September 2nd. Planning for this is already well under way. More details can be found here.

July 2012

2P or not 2P? That is the question! One of our members recently acquired an interesting 71/4" gauge 4-4-0 steam loco which he is close to completing its rebuild. But we are all intrigued …….. what is it? At first glance it bears all the hallmarks of an LMS 2P class or a Southern L1. However, the lack of splashers over the driving wheels, the Joy valve gear (more likely to indicate an LMS design), the LMS lettered tender point to something not based on a true prototype. Even more mysterious is the name - "Sir Walter Raleigh". Both GWR and SR had locos with this name but not with anything like the profile of this engine! It certainly steams well, but only runs well in one direction! We are therefore desperate to find out if this really is a one-off freelance design, or is it based on something else? Any information which can assist us would be gratefully received! send us an EMAIL Pictures of our mystery loco appear below.

The mystery loco!Our first "away day" with our portable track to the Mayor's parade and gala at Penistone proved to be far more successful than last year. The howling gales and torrential rains missed us this year, and we were able to put on a good show with plenty of passengers. Our other Summer(?) commitments remain on the calendar, but the weather forecasts for this year look abysmal. Fingers crossed! Back at the Forge, maintenance work continues apace on the track and infrastructure and we are awaiting delivery of 20 tons of new ballast as well as a new 11'X8' shed for additional storage capacity. Thanks mainly to the awful vagaries of the Summer(?) weather, we have noticed a significant decline in visitor numbers this year so far. Are other clubs suffering the same phenomenon? Let's hope things improve on all fronts in the week ahead!

June 2012

Merlin and Katy meet at Wortley Central

As promised in last month's news, May saw the arrival and maiden run of a brand new 7.25" gauge steam loco designed, built and owned by father and son members. Called "Merlin", it is a stretched Romulus called a 'Romulant'. It is 3" longer than a Romulus and has an unusual 2-6-0 wheel arrangement. The outside valve gear is walschaerts instead of the more traditional Hackworth. The gear lay-out was designed by Don Ashton a world leader in valve gear. The rest is more closely aligned to a traditional Romulus, but with a number of modifications to detail and bodywork. The loco took 3 years to build including the large ride-on tender which is a big build in its own right! It has a ten gallon stainless steel tank feeding 1x7 pint and 1x8 pint injectors and is fitted with vacuum braking which can also be used for braking a suitably equipped train. The first ever running on our railway was both highly successful and impressive with numerous members eager to 'have a go'! By pure chance, "Katy" - a traditional Romulus - was also running that afternoon and presented an excellent opportunity to compare the two designs. "Katy" is also a members' loco but was originally designed and built by the two members responsible for "Merlin". We hope we see a lot more of "Merlin" in the months to come.

NOTE: The video clips below show "Merlin" in action. To view, it may be necessary adjust your security settings to allow ActiveX or to select appropriate options when asked.

Webmaster's note - videos being converted to Flash for better compatibility, please bear with us until this is done

April/May 2012

The end of the top loop with new rails being laidWell we did it! The biggest project we've undertaken in the last twenty years was completed just in time for the first running session of the new 2012 season. Starting as soon as the Christmas gala was over, mini-digger and other plant was moved in, the whole of the top loop track lifted (nearly 300'), a new larger radius trackbed carved out of the embankments, tons of hard core laid, a concrete bed laid followed by several hundred plastic sleepers and finally 20' lengths of continuous welded track put down. It was decided to await re-ballasting until we were sure the track was stable and able to support intensive running which it certainly got at the Spring gala the week before Easter. Not only did we make it in time (despite several cynics in the clubroom!) but we also did it for a lot less money than expected! How? Four main reasons were the Herculean effort of a small number of members who spent several days a week labouring, a major donation of cement (some 60 bags), a free labour force thanks to the local probation service and their community payback scheme plus lots of luck with a very mild winter. All that's left to do now is to ballast the new track, re-seed the new embankments and re-populate the wild flowers around the top loop. The beautifully restored Field Marshall

The Top Forge Spring gala took place on 1st April, but despite tempting the April Fool demons, turned out to be a great success, thanks due in part to a superb, sunny spring day. We put on a number of trains which ran continually throughout the day with a large and constant flow of passengers, and our steam road vehicle members turned out in large numbers to put on a great display of model engineering prowess. They were joined by a full size Fowler showman's engine which drew much admiring attention from the large number of visitors. There was a display of vintage cars and wagons plus a group of vintage farm tractors including a superbly restored Field Marshall. Overall, a very successful day for the Top Forge team and for ourselves.

The Fowler showman's engine makes its maiden appearance at Top Forge

A small selection of our road engines at the Spring galaOne surprise at the gala was the donation from a visitor of a full, unused set of drawings and instructions for a Martin Evans 5" gauge LMS 3F "Jinty". What a great club project this would be! Perhaps one of the new members we gained at the gala fancies the project? Finally, one of the in-service locos at the gala was a brand new 0-4-0 shunter which performed superbly all day. This will shortly be joined by a brand new 2-6-0 steam loco based around a Romulus design which is due at the Forge in the next few weeks. More to come on these next month!


January 2012

Our last normal running day of the season saw the traditional large bonfire and a lengthy firework display, courtesy of one of our members, the club officials being too tight to fund a display! Although we will continue to operate throughout the winter season, a limited service only will be possible once we embark on the major reconstruction of the top loop (see below.)

The Top Forge Christmas steam and Santa gala managed to take place in December having been snowed off in 2010. A steady stream of visitors took advantage of our Santa specials and we managed to put on a good display of motive power and steam road vehicles. Visitor numbers were a little disappointing but the day was extremely cold and very dull, and we didn't manage to keep the rain away. Nevertheless, the weather conditions produced some superb steamy scenes. A wide variety of stalls, demonstrations and exhibits plus brass band and carols put on by the Top Forge themselves gave a very festive feel to the day. The model engineers were also provided with Christmas treats by one of the members' wives in the form of bottles of mulled wine and a delicious Christmas cake appropriately decorated!

A selection of photos of the event can be found here.

No sooner was the Christmas gala over than we began to lift the track on the top loop and start the excavations for the new (concrete) trackbed. The pictures below show how much was achieved in just a couple of days. Despite rapid progress, we will be hard pressed to complete the project in time for the next big event which will be the Top Forge Easter gala when, as usual, we will be running an intensive passenger service, hopefully with some visiting engines, and putting on another display from our road vehicle section.

Finally, may we wish all of our friends, supporters and readers and very happy and succesful 2012!

Before the digger moved in! We've started so we'll finish!

December 2011

How many model engineers does it take to change a light bulb? Well, if events at Wortley are anything to go by, it will be about a dozen! Recent weeks have seen the construction of a jig just to speed up the construction of 20' track sections in readiness for our winter project of relaying the top loop. So many members have been drafted in for cutting, welding and measuring that there's nobody left to replace that light bulb! The project manager assures us all that it will be worthwhile in the end ............... we'll see!

A recent visitor to the track was a delightful "Holmside" belonging to one of our members. Finished in resplendent black and red livery, it's lettered to resemble one of the steam engines from the original Samuel Fox Steelworks at Stocksbridge (later to become British Steel, then Corus and now Tata Steels) which lies just a short distance from our Wortley Top Forge site. The loco has not been seen at the track for more than a decade and attracted much attention. Once an injector problem is resolved, we hope to see it as a regular performer.

It looks as though we will be as busy in 2012 with our portable track as we were this year. We've already had four confirmed booking by local galas and fetes. It is hoped that we can encourage more of members to come out and help on these days rather than rely on the same handfull of people that usually help!

Detailed plans are now in place for the annual Top Forge steam and Santa gala on 11th December. Let's just hope the snow doesn't come like last year forcing the cancellation of the event. While on the subject of Christmas, we wish all of our members, friends and supporters a very happy Christmas and a healthy and productive 2012, with plenty of steaming and success with their projects.


November 2011

The Wednesday gang, (sensitive souls who object to their former "pensioners day" name!), have grown in numbers over recent months and has proved to be very productive in tackling an array of projects which have now been formally listed and prioritised by our Projects and Finance sub-committee which now regularly meets over sandwiches on Wednesday lunchtimes. This is in addition to regular maintenance tasks. Preparations are now under way for the Top Forge Steam and Santa gala to be held on Sunday 11th December where we will, as usual, be providing Santa Specials and other festive attractions, hopefully with locos visiting from neighbouring clubs and societies. We just need to avoid the heavy snows which forced the cancellation of the same event last year! Click here for more details.

500 plastic sleepers have now arrived on site in readiness for the ambitious winter project of re-aligning, excavating and relaying the top loop which will involve much work. so as many volunteers as possible are urged to help - especially as we may require more than our usual two days a week effort.

The pedestrian crossing at Forge Halt has been revamped and concreted to provide a better access to the Top Forge nature trail. The re-alignment of the down line has been completed with the installation of the point levers and appropriate micro switches which now operate the 3-aspect colour light signal and its route indicator.

Forge Halt and the pedestrian crossing

October 2011

Needless to say, the biggest event this month was our Annual Summer Open Day - another great sucess! We have provided a report and photos as a separate section on our website. See Open day report.

The "Wednesday Gang" has grown in numbers just recently and has enabled some significant projects and maintenance activities to progress apace. Within a month, we have managed to start and finish one of our top priority projects! This The 'Wednesday gang' carry out final checks on the newly-aligned down line.involved moving the track around 18 inches towards the River Don and away from the carriage shed where the sharp slate roof posed a potential health and safety risk. Reminiscent of the American prison chain gangs, around eight or nine members managed to move around 6-7 metres of track using coordinated crowbars in one operation! The result required the relocation of one set of points points and the insertion of two short pieces of plain track. A major achievement in such a short space of time!

After several months of debate and (sometimes heated) discission, it has now been agreed that one of our major winter projects will be to re-align the top loop and to re-lay it with a better radius curve, concreted track-bed and our first experience of plastic sleepering. At least we made a decision......... now let's see the practical work and large amount of effort required!

Steam meets steam as we await the arrival of the visiting school party.At the end of September, we hosted another party of youngsters on a Wednesday afternoon. This time, it was a group from a local junior school. Once again. we managed to run a steam loco, a passenger-carrying traction engine and two of our club electric locos which were kept very busy for over an hour. Yet again, a great time was had by the visitors as well as the members who came along to help. Such occasional party visits are proving to be highly enjoyable for all concerned and allow us to put something back into the local community.

The next major event will, subject to the weather(!), be the Top Forge Steam and Santa Gala on December 11th where we will again be providing extensive support and the usual intensive 'Santa Special' trains'


September 2011

A Wortley favourite has been seen at the Forge recentlyAugust got off to a good start with one of our most enjoyable 'special' events. We had been asked to host a party of around 20 youngsters and a large number of accompanying adults from the Sheffield Autistic Society Summer School. We managed to lay on three steam locos, the club electrics and a traction engine with passenger trolley for the event - no mean feat in mid-week! It was a day when the enjoyment of the youngsters (and their impeccable behaviour throughout) was a joy to see and meant we all enjoyed the visit just as much as they clearly did! It is expected that we'll get a return visit in 2012! Sometimes, giving something back to the community like this is better than any event where raising funds is the main focus.

Our final external event this year with the portable track was at a community gala in Sheffield and proved "interesting" (and not just because Steve Davis the snooker champion was present). Despite the usual preparatory site survey, we laid the track on a severe gradient which was obviously going to be a challenge. Things got worse when the controller on one of the locos failed; a hasty return to the clubroom at Wortley saved the day by finding a compatible replacement just before the gates opened and we were faced with a rush of passengers! The number of people queuing for rides all afternoon was amazing and more than we'd seen before - just what we needed with that gradient! By mid-afternoon we were really struggling and for the first time ever we resorted to prototypical practice and used the second loco as a banker to help the trains back up the gradient until the motor on the banker burned out! We got through the event by the skin of our teeth and the public obviously enjoyed the experience....... probably much more than we did! We certainly learned a few lessons on this event!

Banking in progress at Sheffield gala

All attention is now focused on preparing for our Summer Open Day on 4th September where we hope for the usual number of visiting railway engines, traction engines and road vehicles as well as good crowds of visitors and good weather!

Finally, this month's pictures show the banking operation in progress at Sheffield and the Honda-powered 0-4-0 shunter described in last months news as well as "Katie" who has been seen running on a number of occasions recently.The Honda-powered Wendy Woo on shed


August 2011

The traction engine proved a huge hit at Bolsterstone galaJuly proved to be our busiest month ever for attending outside events with the portable track, locos and stock. With one exception, the weather stayed fine albeit a bit short on sunshine! The Bolsterstone village gala was as popular as ever but interestingly, the miniature traction engine seemed to attract more passengers than the trains! It seems the lure of noise and steam continues to wow even with the younger generations! With just one more event to attend in mid-August, attention is now turning to our Summer Open Day on Sunday September 4th when we expect the usual good turnout of visiting engines (road and rail), good levels of visitors, and, of course, our usual good weather!

Back at the Forge, cabling for the new signalling systems has continued apace and the first set of turnouts for the main station is rapidly nearing completion. we also have a new addition to the loco fleet; one of our newer members has brought along his 5" gauge 0-4-0 shunter which is powered by a small Honda petrol engine. Currently undergoing shake-down trials and minor modifications, we expect this to be a regular performer on Sunday afternoons. The Sheffield Tramcar (see news for October 2010 below) has also been seen recently giving rides to fascinated youngsters.The Sheffield tram

July 2011

All loaded up and ready to go!

Many years ago, the BBC radio programme "Down your way" featured Penistone and highlighted the fact that Penistone Station held the record as the coldest railway station in Europe! Our first outing this summer was to the Mayor's show on Penistone showground at the beginning of June. True to form, it proved to be the coldest, wettest 'away day' for us since we started taking the portable track out to local events! Most of the day was spent sitting in our cars with the engines running just to keep warm! The show was eventually cut short by the organisers due to the weather and the complete lack of visitors - a pity as there were many interesting stands, events and entertainments and a large crowd was widely expected. Could this be a sign of things to come for the events we have agreed to attend in this Summer season? The next weekend saw us attend the annual Oughtibridge gala.............. and the weather was gloriously sunny and dry, and the crowds poured through the gates as always! The only downside this time was the superb range of top class events in the main arena (plus a fly-past by a vintage Jet Provost) which drew the crowd away from all of the sideshows ....... including us! But we can't really complain as a superb day was had by those of us who attended, and the club's coffers benefitted very well.

A miserable scene at Penistone Mayor's GalaSmiles all round for a glorious day at Oughtibridge

At each of the two events reported above, we secured further appointments for the portable track and we shall be 'out on the road' several more time throughout the Summer. Let's hope that we get Oughtibridge weather and not Penistone Show weather!

Meanwhile, back at The Forge, work continues on the crossover fabrication for the main station and the laying of several runs of plastic pipe which will take the extensive cabling for our new colour light signals and an expansion of the remote control points.

June 2011

The cosmetic changes to the relocated main station were completed this month with the addition of two magnificent floral hanging baskets. Together with the new green BR-style totem station names it looks more like rural Sussex than South Yorkshire! 'A mere coincidence' insists our Secretary whose ex-SR 2-BIL EMU regularly haunts the tracks. Our picture gives a reasonable impression.

Maintenance and overhaul of our portable track and the smaller 'travelling' locos has been undertaken in readiness for a busy summer period of external events. We also had to replace a seriously deflated tyre on the club trailer just to keep us busy. We just need a few weeks of good weather throughout June and July!

The delivery of several hundreds of pounds worth of steel has committed us to a busy period of track renewals, new crossovers and other infrastructure projects. Work has already begun on building the new crossover to allow bi-directional access to Platform 3 which will ease congestion on special event days, and add considerable operational interest to our layout. The Projects & Expenditure sub-committe have finalised a prioritised list of projects including the trackwork upgrades; we now need the membership to turn up, roll their sleeves up, and get on with some of the many projects we've committed to. Each project has an owner who is responsible for gathering a task force to ensure the right skills are brought to bear to ensure successful completion. Should be interesting to see how this works in practice!

Finally, this month, our stock list has been added to with the arrival of a new 5" gauge driving truck belonging to one of our members. This is an off-the-shelf product which has been painted and detailed to resemble an ex-LMS 50' bogie full brake van. Have you noticed how many visitors bring along a loco but no driving truck? This should help us solve this problem in future!

May 2011

April 17th saw the first Spring Gala at Top Forge for a number of years as a result of the enforced cancellation of the usual Christmas event thanks to the awful weather conditions in December. Despite the short period available for planning and publicity, and helped by some superb Spring weather, there was a really good level of attendance - both by the public and by exhibitors and stall holders. We were running fully loaded trains all day with some 5 visiting locos (mainly from Sheffield SMEE) as well as six of our own. There were as many steam locos as there were diesel and electric! We also fielded a good number of traction engines in a variety of scales and our refreshments were as popular as ever! We even recruited two new members! Top Forge put on a great display of exhibits including a working blacksmith, vintage vehicles (including a magnificently restored Bedford coal wagon), stationary engines and the first public running of the newly-restored Neepsend gas works engine. From the model engineers' perspective, we would encourage the Top Forge team to repeat the Spring gala in future years as a superb season opener! Click here for an album of photos taken during the gala.

April 2011

All main works completed! Well we did it! The main station canopy has been successfully moved and the new platform fully concreted complete with drains and power and control conduits installed. All running lines through the station have been re-commissioned and cosmetic improvements, (hanging floral baskets, BR-style name totems, platform painting etc), are under way to complete this major project.

Our 2011 AGM was well-attended and we now have a President as well as a new Chairman and Treasurer. Dates for our Summer Open Day, Christmas Gala and our outside events were confirmed and discussions on future works were fed into the Projects sub-committee for consideration. Subsequently a formal list of future projects with relative priorities has been drawn up and is under discussion. Progress will, of course, depend on the amount of effort and commitment from all members, not just "the same old faces"!

We also saw yet another addition to the motive power fleet, albeit still some way from completion. This will be a 7.25" gauge American GP38 crammed full of sophisticated electronics, air brake system and massive batteries built in double-quick time and owned by one of our younger members! Initial trials of this gargantuan beast have proved highly successful with massive amounts of power (seen in loading trials) and an alarming turn of speed!

Attention has now switched to spring cleaning and general cosmetic maintenance in readiness for the Top Forge Spring Gala to be held on Sunday 17th April which, it is hoped, will provide some compensation for having to cancel the normal Christmas event due to exceptionally bad December snows. We, the Model Engineers, will be supporting the event with refreshments and other attractions as well ferrying trainloads of visitors to the Forge - our usual Santa Specials being replaced with our special Easter Eggspresses!

the GP38 chassis on trial


March 2011

Breaking up the old platformBefore we begin .....

The last month has seen us get really stuck in to one of the biggest projects we've undertaken for a long time. The existing main station platform is being replaced, the station canopy relocated, and a new crossover installed between platforms 2 and 3. Getting rid of the old platform was fairly easy, but the canopy turned out to be a nightmare! The cast iron supporting columns were buried in concrete to a depth of about two feet and took two or three days with kango hammer and pick axes just to see the bottom of each pillar! A trench some two feet deep was then dug with a mini-digger and the whole canopy jacked up onto a scaffolding tower. At the end of day four, and after much head scratching and fraught tempers, one major push saw the whole structure move - about three inches! Only another 24 inches to go then! Once the canopy is in its new position, (in the middle of the running lines and no longer crooked), we can dig out between the lines of platform 1 and 2 and prepare that for a new concrete platform as well. This is a much bigger project than we had envisaged and a small band of members, (the same old faces!), are working several days a week to get the job done by April 17th.

Why April 17th? To compensate for the disappointment of having to cancel the Christmas gala, the Top Forge team have decided to organise a Spring gala - on April 17th. This will be their official opening day of the 2011 season. Attractions will include an Easter Bunny Treasure Hunt as well as the more traditional craft stalls, stationery engines and guided tours of the Forge. There will also be the first public running of the newly restored 19th century engine recovered from Sheffield's Neepesend Gas Works. Needless to say, the Model Engineers will be supporting the event with several running passenger trains (including steam), miniature traction engines and refreshments. Click here for further details. Meanwhile, it's back to our major construction project; now where did I leave those vallium tablets?

Note the depth of the columns! Supported by the scaffolding tower ...... we hope! watch that bucket!!!

February 2011

One of our four new riding cars undergoing evaluation trials

January's sharp frosts, dull days and generally miserable conditions have meant less outside activity than usual and the workshop has been pretty crowded as a result with work being carried out on the new signals, the rebuilding of the mystery steam loco "Mouland", (see November news below), and the detailing of the Class 20 diesel loco (including the fitting of head code discs and head and tail lamps).

The main outside work, (apart from a major leaf-clearing and tidying-up exercise around the main station and clubroom), has focused on the four new riding cars. We have assembled one set of bogies to the clubs own design and purchased one pair of commercially constructed ones. We then fitted both sets and undertook both loaded and empty running tests to see which were the better performers. The result was that there was very little noticeable difference in the stability or free-running of the cars. After the usual extensive debate and a few arguments, it was agreed that we would compromise and purchase one pair and fabricate a second pair. The two red cars will have the "home-made" bogies which have slightly larger diameter wheeels and the blue cars will travel on the commercially produced ones. Our pictures this month show one of the new blue cars in the middle of its test runs.

The Wednesday Gang continues to increase in number, with some 10 or so members attending at the end of January! Not long ago, this was just 2-3 retired members. Is this a reflection of the employment situation on the number of early retirements, or is it a more worrying sign that our hobby continues to see a rapidly ageing membership?

Our Annual General Meeting (for members only) will take place on March 6th when we will be finalising our plans, projects and other activities for the rest of 2011.


January 2011

As with many areas of the country, we suffered a chaotic first couple of weeks in December thanks to the worst snowfalls and record freezing temperatures for nearly 20 years. As a result, the Top Forge team were forced to cancel their planned Grand Christmas Steam gala - the first time any of us can remember that this has happened. This meant we ran no Santa Specials or laid on festive attractions ourselves. The freezing conditions were with us until Christmas and the only real activity was on the last Sunday before the holiday when a good number of members huddled together in the frozen clubroom and consumed copious quantities of mulled wine and mince pies! Rumour has it that the loss of income by the Forge may be partly compensated by organising some form of Easter gala. Keep watching this space for any details which emerge! The gala was more difficult to cancel than it was to publicise but we had helped by using several websites to advertise the event. We therefore rushed to arrange cancellation notices with varying degrees of success! However, other club secretaries may care to note that the Southern fed's was advised by EMAIL one evening, and their website had two clear notices of cancellation up and running by the following morning! Most impressive and a point to remember!

It just remains to wish all of our members, supporters and friends a very happy 2011 and success with their projects and running seasons!

December 2010

Last month we went on at some length about the problems caused by our Autumn windfall. Well, windfalls form the main news this month as well, but of a different nature! Firstly we have been successful in our latest grant application to the South Yorkshire Community Foundation who have kindly provided us with £700 from their grassroots grant funds to help us with this winter's biggest project. This will be the replacement of the existing crumbling and collapsing platform at Wortley Central, realignment of the platform roads, relocation of the platform shelter and the installation of the long awaited crossover between platforms 2 and 3. This latter feature will not only enable counter-clockwise running, but also give us additional routes through the station on busy days and somewhere for steam engines to get water without blocking the other two platform roads. A major project for sure, but one which will be of great benefit to our operations. The second windfall came courtesy of a member of the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society who has donated, on long term loan, a prototype GCR ground signal originally located at Wortley Station, just a few hundred yards from our site at the Forge. This will be restored to working order just like the previous one and will add another interesting and useful feature to our signalling assets. We are now looking forward to another successful and enjoyable Christmas Steam Day organised by the Top Forge volunteers which we will, as usual, be supporting with our fleet of Santa specials. We've already had the first covering of snow so it should be a very attrractive and festive day ............. assuming we and our visitors can get there! In the meantime, we hope everybody will have a happy and festive Christmas and a very happy, healthy and productive New Year!

November 2010

The Committee!

One of the main attractions of our Wortley Top Forge location is the wonderful natural setting, with the railway running along the banks of the River Don under a huge canopy of trees which provide not just a wonderful vista, but also plenty of shade during the height of summer and shelter from the winds and rains of spring and autumn. The browns, golds and yellows of autumn have to be seen to be appreciated. ...............And then along comes winter! Our track is now invisible under a carpet of fallen leaves which quickly turn to mulch and obstructions abound with fallen twigs and small branches. We have already declared this season's war with our leaf-blowers and every running session starts with a very cautious track proving run to clear the major obstruction hazards! Roll on the snow!

October has seen work undertaken to install the initial batch of new colour light signals and new point operating mechanisms have been installed in the main station area. Workshop activities have, in the main, concentrated on the major overhaul and re-furbishment of one member's new 7.25" gauge steam loco. The parentage and provenance of this loco, named "Mouland" is something of a mystery. A small 0-4-0 tank engine, it has some minor resemblance to a Southern Railway B4 but others suggest some type of GWR shunting loco. Once the loco is re-assembled, we'll provide a photograph or two in the hope that someone out there can help identify it! In the meantime we await its return to steam as yet another addition to our growing fleet of operational motive power.

Of course, more locos mean more stock is needed for our passengers and we were delighted when the last of our four new riding cars arrived on site on Halloween. These superb vehicles were built by our own "Mr MDF", Alan Westby, who constructed them in his Nottingham workshop and transported them one by one up to our site. Bogies are still required and rumour has it that some form of luxurious seat coverings are to be provided!

We were pleased to receive a number of very positive reports and photos of our Annual Open Day in the press including a full page article and colour pictures in a recent edition of Model Engineer. Fame at last! It makes all the hard work worthwhile and gives us much welcome publicity.

October 2010

This year's Summer Open Day is now behind us and proved to be one of our most successful ever! A report and photos can be found by clicking here.

Our next major 'special' event is the Top Forge Christmas gala on Sunday 12th December where we will be running our usual intensive 'Santa special' services and generally joining in the festivities.

The latest addition to our motive power fleet was completed just a week too late to appear at Open Day. It is a fairly unusual beast - a single-person tramcar which may give us a major problem. The tramcar was designed and built for one of our members who spends most Sunday afternoons in the clubroom making and serving our refreshments. Does this mean we will have to find another beverage purveyor, or will we all just have to go thirsty? The new 'Sheffield' tramcarThe car is finished in the authentic blue and cream livery of Sheffield Corporation tramways and is complete with the correct coat-of-arms. One wag has suggested that we build a refreshment trolley and get it pulled around behind the tram!

Our three new colour-light signals have now been constructed and painted and just await electrical wiring, installation and modifications to the signal control panel in Wortley Junction box. Also on the S & T side, we are waiting delivery of a second prototype BR ground signal which will be restored to working order and used to control the exit from the ballast sidings.

The Wednesday gang recently tackled a problem with one set of points. Click here to see how they got on!

September 2010

Plans for our Annual Open Day on September 5th are now complete and we just hope for fine weather, a good number of visiting locos, traction engines and other model engineering items and plenty of visitors from the general public. Needless to say, our own members will be running some of their own models as well as the club's own locos - including the new Class 20 which now simply awaits final detailing. The signal box and platform canopy have received a repaint in readiness for the event and the trackwork fully fettled and made ready.

We have recently purchased kits for three new colour light signals for installation in the Wortley Central station area and these should keep the Wednesday gang out of mischief for a while! The gang's latest project has been to build a 'new' permanent way wagon housing a tool box for track gauges, levels and other tools, space for several replacement sleepers and a bin for ballast. This vehicle will reduce the amount of walking and labour needed by the track maintenance gangs. The vehicle was salvaged from a spare decrepit four-wheel truck chassis found buried amongst the junk at the back of the old carriage shed! Resplendent in a new coat of paint, the truck gives credence to the model engineers' philosophy of "it'll come in handy one day"!

Rule 31: Don't let a steam engine driver loose with a diesel!

The third of four new riding car superstructures arrived during August and is painted in a new livery of 'Coronation blue' - a change from our traditional post office red. The bogies are now awaited to enable us to put the new stock into service.

Following repeated requests from some of our members, we have restored the 'old' monthly news items which were removed when we got back on-line after the few months when we had no web access. Read and enjoy guys!

Finally, we've had a number of enquiries from prospective new members who will of course be welcome - especially as at least two of them have their own steam locos which will be an added boost to our motive power department.

Watch out later this month for pictures and reports of the 2010 Open Day!


August 2010

The new class 20 and 'Toad' driving truck pose for the camera.

Work on the new club loco, the Class 20 Bo-Bo, has progressed well with the final painting complete, transfers applied and elecronics installed - including a diesel-effect sound module. Glazing and buffer beam detail is required to complete the loco, but it is already running in service on Sundays. Accompanying the new loco is the new 7.25" driving truck based on the GWR 'Toad' design which was also completed during the month. Click here for more pictures.

The first phase of our signalling expansion has commenced with the ordering of three new colour light signals for the main station area. Work on the provision of a 12v electrical supply and modifiations to the signalling control panel are required

Lots of effort has been expended on track maintenance with rotten sleepers being replaced and re-gauging of some areas to improve running qualities. Detailed planning of our Summer Open Day (Sunday September 5th) is well advanced and we are all looking forward to another busy, tiring but enjoyable day for all.

There has been a healthy increase in the number of members coming to the Forge on Wednesdays, ("Pensioners' Day"!), enabling us to undertake higher levels of maintenance and other activities. More members are, of course, welcome to attend .......... paint brushes and tools provided.

July 2010

Our village galas season is now ended and yet again proved to be both enjoyable and profitable with busy trains and glorious sunny weather throughout. One of the galas also saw one of our member's traction engines carrying passengers almost non-stop - and some debate took place over the popularity of this versus the traditional miniature railway! Proceeds from the traction engine rides have been donated to one of our local hospitals. At Bolsterstone, a display of classic cars created alot of interest and we are hopeful that they will come along to The Forge and put on a display at our Open Day on September 5th.

Sunday 4th July saw a surprising turn out of locos - all six were diesel in outline. Of these, two were undertaking their very first runs. One was a member's scratchbuilt 5" gauge 08 class diesel shunter and the other was the maiden run of the club's new class 20 Bo-Bo loco. This performed reasonably well - even with a load test of three packed riding cars! There is still quite bit of detailing and painting to do to complete the project but this first run was certainly a success.

This month's photos show some of the items mentioned above but, as we are updating this on 4th July, it only seems right to have a view of one of our member's American outline diesels.


June 2010

At last, our website is back up and running ......... but you already know that if you're reading this! Having lost our free hosting facility, it has taken several months to find a cost-effective alternative and to transfer the site. Thanks are due to the Southern Federation of Model Engineering Societies for identifying a suitable host facility, and to Dalog who, as well as being model engineers themselves, offer excllent and reasonably priced hosting (with substantial discounts for Model Engineering clubs) and website technical support. Apologies to any of our regular web-watchers for our extended absence!

During our 'off-line' period, we've seen lots of activity down at the forge. The new carriage shed is complete, two new riding cars have been delivered and just await their bogies, extensive track maintenance with some major re-alignments have been completed, the new club loco, (a BR Class 20 diesel outline), and its 'Toad' driving truck are nearing completion in the paintshops, the new workshop is fully commissioned complete with a small lathe, vertical drilling machines and a wide selection of tools and two new resident engines, one steamer and one electric, now regularly grace the tracks.

A superb Field Marshal takes a lunch breakThis year, the annual charity classic tractor run around West and South Yorkshire called at Wortley Top Forge for their lunch break, staying for a couple of hours. This year's rally saw some 105(!!) tractors taking part! These were predominantly vintage and veteran machines with a handful of brand new ex-showroom examples. We set tup early and were kept busy with a constant stream of visitors riding the trains and enjoying teas and coffees in the clubroom. A very unusual and enjoyable event which we hope may be repeated in the future.

Fed and watered, the rally leaves. Fancy getting stuck behind the convoy of 105 vehicles?

The village gala season is now under way, and we will be attending the usual popular event at Oughtibridge near Sheffield on Saturday 26th and Bolsterstone on the following Saturday. The portable track has been overhauled in readiness and we look forward to the usual succssful day with the regular heatwave which seems to coincide with these events.


There is a significant gap in our monthly news items as a result of the loss of service caused by the removal of the website by Geocities, our Internet Service Provider who no longer provide a free hosting service. It took us several months to find a new, affordable service provider which was identified by the Southern Federation of Model Engineering Societies!

October 2009

Our annual Open Day was, yet again, a great success enjoyed by members, visiting model engineeers and the public alike. As usual(!!) the weather was kind to us and a great time was had by all. A number of visiting locos attended from as far afield as Leicester and Bradford, together with an excellent representation from our traction engine colleauges who brought along road engines, rollers, farm engines and a superb fairground showmans' engine .............. all in miniature. Watch out for some photos of the event on this website in due course!

A couple of years ago, we reported our anger and dismay at the havoc wreaked by the flooded River Don which washed away much of the site and its structures, and caused serious damage to our clubroom. This month we are bemoaning that there is not enough water in the same River Don to prevent some of the local 'yobs' to cross the river - and possibly even keep their feet dry - and break into the clubroom! Fortunately we keep nothing of value therein, and we only lost a few pounds in loose change and some cans of pop from the fridge. It is surprising how many suggestions for preventing a recurrence can be devised by angry model engineers, but unfortunately most are not only lethal, but also illegal!!!!!

Having got through a very enjoyable Open Day, thoughts have now turned to the Santa Specials which we will be running in support of the Top Forge Christmas gala on December 13th. As usual, visiting locos, traction engines and anything else of engineering interest will be welcome!

Finally, regular web-watchers may experience some technical difficulties in looking at all of our pages at present. Our web-hosting provider is closing own during October and we have to find a new host, at a reasonable cost. Keep watching! We'll crack the problem eventually.

September 2009

Our Summer Open Day on Sunday 6th September approaches fast! Much work has been completed on ensuring the track is up to scratch and ready to receive both 5" and 7.25" visiting locos. We have also been promised several visitors with traction engines and other miniature steam vehicles. We just need to hope that the promised BBQ summer actually arrives on the day! The new carriage shed has progressed exceptionally well (see pictures) and the associated new points and trackwork have been installed, with the first train being berthed on 2nd September without problems. Some further cosmetic detailing remains to be completed at which point the new structure will be something to be proud of and possibly the envy of a number of other clubs and societies! Further groundwork and landscaping has been completed and the site looks better than it has done for several years. The effort of all members who regularly attend on Sundays or on the Wednesday working parties are to be congratulated on their efforts. It's amazing what can be achieved by removing the chairs from the clubroom! Our new 7.25" gauge driving truck is nearing completion, although progress on construction of the new club loco remains very slow. More to come next month, when hopefully better progress can be reported!

August 2009

Work has progressed well on the new carriage shed with all brickwork completed and concrete laid with embedded rails. A new Y-point has been constructed for the entrance, electric points and lighting switches installed, and slates for the roof (donated by one of our members) delivered.

Our new 5" gauge driving truck has been completed by one of our members and delivered to the site. This was based on a kit supplied by Model Engineering Products of Bexhill and had a small amount of detail added to make it look more realistic. Its bigger brother (7.25" gauge) is well advanced and new club loco continues to make slow progress. July also saw the first of our four new riding cars come to site to check on dimensions, bogie fixings etc.

The Village Gala at Bolsterstone again proved successful and popular and, as usual, the weather was excellent!

Landscaping and paving has been completed around the new workshop and whole area is now looking very smart. Routine track maintenance has become a regular activity with sleeper replacement and gauge checking showing benefits in the running quality of the track.

Planning for our annual open day on Sunday September 6th is now under way and we continue to hope for our usual good weather!

July 2009

Building work on the new carriage shed continued throughout the month with all the main brickwork completed, roof trusses fabricated and erected and the ground inside cleared and levelled ready for concreting and track-laying. The adjacent crossover from the down line into platform 3 was relocated by several yards and the old awkward 'dog-leg' removed. During the re-laying, the opportunity was taken to install a land drain across the track in front of the new shed to eliminate the problem of flooding during heavy downpours. The new workshop has been commissioned and is regularly in use. As a result, the existing rolling stock shed has been gutted and is now just used for stock storage. The area around the new workshop has been paved and made good. Miniature traction engines have been running on Sundays on a more regular basis than before adding extra interest and 'something different' for members and visitors alike. June also saw the first of our summer 'away days' with the portable track going to Oughtibridge Gala where we had another very successful day with long queues awaiting rides. Thanks go to the (few) members who attended and helped out on a very hot, very busy but very enjoyable day.

Queues awaiting the next ride at Oughtibridge

A very smart Fowler engine awaits steaming

June 2009

Forge Halt - Open for business!'Forge Halt', our new station, has now been fully commissioned and furnished as the pictures here show. We've even planted some flowers to complete a somewhat rural scene! The new two-road carriage shed is progressing well with bricklaying under way thanks to the services of a retired master bricklayer who has taken on the challenge of building it. Work on the new club loco has begun in three different members' workshops and the clubroom has been re-decorated and is back in regular use for members and for the provision of refreshments. Track maintenance has progressed well, and a start has been made on relocating the points giving access to the station from the down main line. This will remove a nasty dog-leg as well as enabling 5" gauge stock to use the crossover.

The new carriage shed takes shape Forge Halt - as viewed from the tunnel mouth

May 2009

The 2009 running season began on Easter Sunday and we saw the first public trains using the new station at Forge Halt. All that remains to complete the new station is the nameboard which is currenly under construction.

The clubroom ws completely 'gutted' and the new concrete floor has been laid. The kitchen furniture and the usual 'clutter' has been re-installed although the chairs have been hidden as we witnessed a massive amount of effort from all our regular members when they had nowhere to sit down! We are pleased to report that the kettle and the microwave are now fully operational again!! The new shed/workshop look resplendent in its new coat of 'Wortley Green' and will now be fitted out for use.

The kits for two new driving trucks and the class 20 diesel loco have been collected and are now undergoing construction in one of our members' workshops by three or four members. So far, the kits look to be superb!

April 2009

Thanks to the efforts of "The Wednesday Gang", the platform for our new 'Forge Halt' has been bedded down and levelled and the picket fencing has been erected. The new replica enamel advertising signs have been purchased and installed. There is even talk of planting flowers! We now await the nameboard to complete the look. The point operating mechanism still needs to be completed and then the new station will be operational. A formal opening is to be arranged for later in the year.

Our new storage shed (workshop) is complete, including the electrical installations, and the contents of the clubroom are being moved into it to allow the replacement of the rotten wooden floor. It is currently being repainted in "Wortley green"! Work continues on the new two-road carriage shed with the concrete and brick base well advanced.

The site re-opens to the public on Easter Sunday so plenty of tidying up work needs to be completed before the new running season begins!

ADVANCE NOTICE: At our 2009 AGM, it was agreed that this year's Open Day will be held on Sunday 6th September, and the Christmas Steam Gala, organised by the Top Forge is on Sunday December 13th.

March 2009

February's major snowfalls hit Wortley Top Forge very hard and it was three weeks before the whole of the the track was eventually revealed, wih the rest of the site looking like a muddy swamp! Fortunately we had lots to do indoors, and the new workshop has now been fully erected and lined with thick plywood to provide insulation and rigidity. Numerous boxes have been packed with the contents of the clubroom ready for removing to allow the floor to be replaced with a concrete one after the AGM.

The footings for the new two-road carriage shed are complete and await concreting.

The kit for the new club loco has been ordered, and delivery is eagerly awaited! The Class 20 will be completed in original BR green livery following a poll of members in which green got twice as many votes as other options!

Despite the inclement weather, there has been a very visible increase in the activity on the site by several members, but more help is still urgently required!!

February 2009

January 11th saw a major milestone reached with the first train running over the new platform loop line at our new station, Forge Halt. The existing points and main line have also been renovated and re-ballasted. Several smaller tasks remain to be completed at the station including levelling the platform flagstones, complete the picket fencing, add the advertisements and station furniture, install the remote operating mechanisms for the loop entry points and then plan a formal opening ceremony!

The new concrete shed base has been completed and the shed itself has been erected - all accomplished within one week! This will initially be used to store the clubroom contents while the rotten wooden floor is totally replaced with a concrete one. The area around the carriage shed currently resembles a mini builders yard with the delivery of materials and sand, all of it destined for the several construction projects ahead of us. If only the manual labour needed could be obtained so easily!

Plans to provide a new Y-type point and two 20' parallel storage roads are being developed which will be the basis of the new 'Dog Kennel' carriage storage shed. Work on digging out the footings has already begun.

We received some excellent news from The South Yorkshire Community Fund during the month; our second grant application to fund a new club loco and driving trucks was approved in full and we will soon be proud owners of a 7.25" gauge Class 20 locomotive to take some of the strain off the current 0-4-0 diesel shunter together with two new driving trucks.

Members should receive formal invitations to the 2009 AGM in the next few days. As a reminder, this will take place in the clubroom on Sunday 1st March at 2pm.

As ever, we need every able-bodied member to pitch in and help with the many projects we now have under way. (NOTE: 'Able-bodied' means 'capable of wielding a paint brush'!!!!!!) ........... so what's your excuse?

January 2009

Firstly, a happy new year to everybody looking at our website! December saw a highly successful, but bitterly cold, Top Forge Steam Festival with Santa Specials running throughout the day, hot and cold refreshment stalls doing well - especially the warming hot soup - and a superb festive gathering for all concerned.

Work on the new shed base has continued, as has the delayed new station. We have applied for another grant from the South Yorkshire Community Foundation's 2007 Flood Fund to enable us to complete the reparations from our flood damage, and Santa arrived early with a substantial cheque to enable us to complete all the repairs and replacements resulting from losses and damage caused by the floods. This will now allow us to replace the clubroom floor with a concrete one, acquire some new riding cars, rebuild the missing 'dog kennel' carriage shed and renew our portable track.

The South Yorkshire Community Fund has helped us through a very challenging couple of years, and we owe them a large debt of gratitude for their help and support!

What we now desperately need is effort from all of our members to drive the various projects forward, either on Sundays or the now regular Wednesday working sessions!

December 2008

Thanks to the generous donation of one of our members' family, we are now the proud owners of a new storage-cum-workshop facility in the form of a 14'X10' pre-fabricated steel garage. The only real problem was how to move it some 15 miles across Barnsley! Thanks to the use of a 20-ton eight-whel tipper lorry and many pairs of hands, we managed it in a couple of hours one Saturday morning! It now just needs re-erecting and filling!

The usual Autumn leaf-fall arrived with a vengeance and caused a number of running problems until brushes and blowers were brought to bear on the problem as the first job each Sunday throughout the month. Autumn rains also caused some further instances of flooding in the station area. Thanks to the efforts of one of our members, a new drain has been installed and this seems to have cured the problem once and for all.

The full-size ground signal has been restored to full working order albeit via electric rather than mechanical power! This is now used to control the station entrance and frees up one of the semaphore signals for use elsewhere.

Work has continued in the new station area in readiness for our Santa Specials to use at the Forge Christmas Steam festival on December 7th. However, the awful weather has prevented the laying of the last two sections of new track ............... we missed our target date by about 4 man-hours of effort!

We wish all of our members, their families and friends of the Model Engineers a very happy Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2009. We look forward to another successful year 'down at the Forge' and hope to see as many visitors and supporters as possible.

November 2008

A special running session was organised for Wednesday October 8th when a group of invited guests attended the Forge for the formal opening of the new Nature Trail which forms another attraction for the whole site. After the ceremonials, the trail was walked in the company of local wildlife expert Roger Butterfield who provided a fascinating and detailed insight into the wildlife and floral features at the Forge. It was surprising to learn of the numerous species and natural features which many of us fail to observe no matter how often we're there!

Tracklaying in the new station area has progressed further with the exit points from the new loop line now completed and the new platform looks to be on target for our Santa Specials to use at the Forge Christmas Steam Festival on December 7th. Fencing and level crossing signs are in the course of preparation.

The much-loved and admired "Katie" - an 0-4-0 Romulus - has recently changed hands within the club and is now a more regular performer on running days.

Although the Top Forge site closes on 2nd November and does not re-open until April, we have agreed that we can continue to operate as normal throughout the winter season, although we have agreed to not overtly advertise the fact

The wheels have been turned, bearings procured, and the bogie sideframes are being milled for the four new riding cars.

We've discovered two videos of our railway, one a vintage recording of the Christmas event back in 1991! These are on YouTube and we hve provided links from elsewhere on this website.