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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 25 - Autumn 1975
Special "Schools Steaming Days"
Another 'First' for 1975.
At last we have really put into practise the educational aspect of the "Quainton Railway Society Working Steam Museum". June 30th and July 1st were set aside as two special days for the schools, with conducted tours round the site and rides up and down the sidings.
We were very fortunate in that the weather was absolutely perfect on both days. On the Monday two schools came (approximately 180 children) and we had seven members acting as guides each taking two parties of about fifteen children. Gordon Rodwell was the Station Master and he organised the children into groups as they came off the buses and sent each party on its way with a guide. He spent the rest of the day making sure the groups did not clash with one another and doling out drinks, as we had no one for refreshments.
Each party was introduced to the mysteries of steam by Les Sherman who first explained some simple drawings, which Roy Miller had done on a huge piece of formica backed hardboard. This was standing on a bench at the end of the platform beside Coventry No. 1. When the children had been taken from a drawing of a boiling kettle through to how steam works pistons, Les took them in groups of six onto Coventry's footplate and he explained the cab layout and what all the fittings were for. From there they went to the Restoration Building where Beattie proved to be very interesting particularly as she had her smokebox door open and the blast pipe removed. The children had a very good view of the smokebox tube plate, which they had seen in 'Coventry, and took great delight in being able to answer the question "What is missing from the smokebox?" The second School to be taken round was doing a project on Industrial Archaeology and all the children were taking copious notes and doing masses of sketches. Some of us were wondering if we were giving the right answers to their questions! For instance how heavy are Beattie's wheels?
The water tower and adjacent engines were the next stop and the weather being hot there was always the temptation for some child to pull the chain and deluge everyone. Luckily this didn't happen but one very jolly tomboy of a girl was only prevented from doing so by the stern eye of the master who was with the party! From there they went to the platform to have a ride in the wagons, which they thoroughly enjoyed. They had two runs up the sidings, the first was a slow one so that the stock could be explained to them. Their interest seemed to centre on the buffet car and the bird's nest in the dome of the second fireless loco! After that they were allowed, four at a time, on the footplate to see the fire, throw a lump of coal on and pull the whistle chain. Only very occasionally did any of them ask any questions and, naturally, it was the boys who did the asking. From there they did the round of the Up Yard. The chief disappointment seemed to be the fact that the coaches were locked, they all wanted to be able to walk through them. However they appreciated why they were locked when it was explained to them.
The same pattern was followed on Tuesday when we had five schools and over 200 children. David Glennie was Station Master and he and Joan Glennie opened the refreshment room and did a roaring trade in soft drinks and sweets and crisps. Simon Field and John Carter between them explained the way a steam engine works, with one describing the drawings on the platform and the other on Coventry's footplate.
Added excitement on one of the rides came when there was a rather spectacular grass fire. What happened was that the Pannier was running with her front damper open and a hot coal fell out and set fire to the dead weeds. This spread to the very dry grass and when we returned on our second run the grass was blazing merrily under a large bush. We scrambled off the footplate and Ralph shovelled earth under the bush while Mich, Bev and Roddy jumped down from the wagons and helped stamp out the small fires that were slowly spreading along the side of the track. The children enjoyed it all very much! Back at the platform we armed ourselves with a bucket in case anything more should catch on fire. After the children had all left for home we went light engine to the stops and gave the sleepers a good soaking. Little wisps of smoke could be seen curling up here and there from the sleeper ends as a bit of quiet smouldering went on.
The teachers all told us they had never expected everything to be so well organised. They thought they would be welcomed with a short talk and sent off to wander on their own. They had not expected conducted tours, rides, or refreshments. They and the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and all the schools have asked to come again next year if we are considering doing a repeat. One school did whip round amongst pupils and staff and gave us a £5 donation.
The two days were undoubtedly a great success and grateful thanks are due to the members who gave up their time to come and help.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 28 October 2017