Recently we had the opportunity to help save a rail vehicle, a chance that we jumped at.
A number of rail vehicles were made available, however, many were unsuitable due to type or size.
After consultation, vehicle 55831, from unit 144008, was selected as the most likely to fit in with our plans.
The society is now the proud owner of this piece of railway history, and has become an extension of our facilities, acting as a canteen area, events room and meeting place.
What started out as a joke to the club has snowballed into a project of huge proportions.
We looked into the possibility of extending our clubrooms to gain extra space and a new build of a similar structure to the existing one was priced. £100,000! Just a bit out of our price range and with the likelihood of someone sponsoring us to that much being closer to the realms of impossible, we looked at other options.
What about something smaller and more interesting, like a train?
A picture of a 142 unit was photoshopped into a photo of the club grounds and sent as a laugh, but that got the cogs turning about 'what if' and 'could we'?
We approached Angel Trains and Porterbrook Leasing to discuss the possibilities. Sadly, we had missed out on obtaining any class 142 vehicles, so viable alternatives were posed.
At first, we had no luck with Angel Trains, but Porterbrook were able to offer us a selection of vehicles. Their first offer of a Mk3 First Open was considered but rejected on the size. Primarily because a vehicle that length would never make it on to the site without huge amounts of roadworks, earthworks and the possible demolition of someones house..
Something smaller was required.
We needed something that was passenger carrying, thus having windows. Sufficient light that it wouldn't require internal lighting at all times of day or night. This meant a multiple unit of some description.
A 144 was offered. This was just about the right size and type of vehicle. If a cab end could be secured, we would be looking at an ideal candidate.
Vehicle 55831 from unit 144008 was selected to suit our requirements and, after lengthy discussions, red tape, i's and t's dotted, crossed, sent back and forth, subjected to numerous meetings and finally accepted paperwork, we were able to purchase the vehicle.
Discussions with Reid Freight Services, confirmed that it was indeed possible to have the unit delivered was the catalyst to extra work being undertaken to prepare the grounds for the trains arrival.
Tuesday 15th September
An early start by Reids saw the track panels lowered into place along with the weed barrier. Due to a miscalculation, the panels had to be relifted and turned, but that was accomplished in next to no time.
A brief glimpse of a lorry between the houses followed by the distinctive blue and purple Northern livery told us that the train had arrived. The wrong way round.
The original plan was to reverse the trailer from Rockingham Road, up Kelvin Grove into Quarry Close and then drive forward into the grounds. The lorry had driven forward all the way up. The local constabulary being on hand to assist with the movement.
A brief consultation later and the driver confidently announced that he could get the lorry in forwards. And, he did!!
Fair play to the guy. A little bit of shuffling and deft work with the rear steering on the trailer and the whole thing came in without falling foul of anything. Impressed? We certainly were!
Now came the moment of truth. Was our ground solid enough to take the combined weight of the truck, trailer and train? Approximately 80 tons compressing the grass, a little bit of leaning, a few gasps and some shuffling and the trailer was in place ready for the track panel to be replaced and the ramp built to offload the train.
All bolts tightened and checked. Everything else double checked and the chains were attached to the unit and the truck. Straps removed, brakes released and slowly the truck inched forward as the train began to glide down the ramp. A little too much drop at the end of the rails saw the train being drawn back up the trailer and some extra packing inserted. Try again!
This time all went smoothly and the train was rolled on to the waiting track panels. 55831 had arrived.
Some safety checks, a few chocks added to secure the movement of the unit and all was good. The guys craned their trailer into a better position, hooked up the truck and were off.
After some paperwork, a brief chat, some bacon sarnies and a cuppa, the lads were off.
A fantastic day with a brilliant crew and what was thought to be pie in the sky dreams had become a reality. After 46 years, a real full sized train was again gracing the site.
Many thanks go to Porterbrook Leasing for the great work in helping us secure the unit, Reids Freight Services for their outstanding team, who made it look so easy, and to the members who spent their time chasing the dream.
Now comes the hard part. Learning about the unit and how it functions and what we need to do to convert it to fulfil our needs.
|Amended Sep 2020|