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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 33 - Winter 1977 / 8
The August Open Days - Crassus
The ghastly summer weather had us on tenterhooks the week before the Open Days. It rained and rained and the site planned for the marquee to house the Sig Ex '77 Exhibition was under three inches of water. It meant a last minute change and the marquee was erected on the hard standing beside L44's boiler outside the Restoration Building. Friday was wet, windy and nasty. With sinking hearts the few at Quainton began the task of preparing for the three days.
Saturday wasn't much better but at least it didn't rain all day. We had about 470 visitors. Peckett and Beattie were the engines in steam and everything ran smoothly until during the afternoon when the brake cylinder under the GC 6-wheeler jammed and the brakes wouldn't come off. This was apparently caused by a sharp application of the brakes by the driver and the train was stuck for 15 minutes at the end of the Long Siding while the fireman and the 3rd man struggled to release them! Earlier the brakes had been dragging a bit. They evidently needed adjusting.
Sunday dawned fine, breezy and sunny! We couldn't believe our luck. Spirits rose, life seemed good and only one member didn't feel too well. He recovered after some doses of kaolin and morphine and swore he wouldn't drink anything on Sunday evening! (Name and address withheld!) The engines should have been Peckett and Beattie again, but, as Ralph Turner did the rounds of Beattie he discovered she had shed some nuts and piston gland packing on the near side cylinder during Saturday and she was out of action. Coventry was lit up instead and headed the train from 2 pm onwards. She was supposed to be in steam for Monday only, as she had sprung a leak in a tube a fortnight before which Frank Boait had blanked off.
The Vale of Aylesbury Model Engineers used their permanent track at the far end of the Up Yard on Sunday and I went down to watch David Brantom's loco working happily up and down. I can't wait for their circuit to be completed, it will be an excellent attraction.
The Signalling Exhibition opened its flaps to the public and every time I stuck my head into the marquee it seemed full of visitors. They reckoned they had between 800 and 900 visitors, not bad going from a total for the day of only 1574.
Sunday evening found loco members with the GC 6 wheeler brake cylinder in bits in the yard, while they cleaned and greased it ready for Monday. The brakes had still been dragging a bit on Sunday.
Monday was again fine, warm and sunny, we were in luck. The pre-1940 Car and Motor Cycle Rally got underway during the morning and there were about 28 entrants (report from Ted Rogers elsewhere in QN). VAMES were again in steam, this time on their portable track which was laid between the sidings the far side of the Up Yard. Sig Ex '77 was once more proving to be a crowd puller and they had 1600 visitors which was very good going. Keeping the stewards refreshed with tea and coffee was quite a job. They were all suffering from dry throats because they had so much talking to do. The stewarding was organised so that they could move round from one demonstration to another to relieve the strain. I must just relate one episode here. A self-confessed GW enthusiast walked out of the marquee saying, "Even Didcot haven't got anything like this!" It is definitely a 'must' for next year.
Alan Vessey opened the Museum for all three days and as usual it was a great attraction. It would be useful to do a count in there to see how many people visit it, it always seems packed.
The train on all three days consisted of four vehicles - the Great Northern, Great Central and London Chatham & Dover coaches and the London North Western brake. We were able to carry about 160 passengers per trip so we again did a double run. This had been tried out most successfully on the Steaming Sunday at the end of July at the suggestion of Les Sherman. He had heard two visitors complaining about the shortness of the journey, since we ended two train running. Now we run to the end of the Long Siding, back to 'South' and up the siding again before returning to the platform.
Though the weather was glorious for all of Monday the number of visitors was still down on last year when the weather was much worse. The site seemed full all afternoon so presumably everyone stayed for much longer. Total attendance for the holiday was 4744 compared with 6600 in 1976.
To end here is the quote of the holiday from "The voice" who, when asked how much the telephone / public address system had been used, replied "More than ever before. Only about 3 telephone calls were really unnecessary, the rest would definitely have been made even if there weren't a telephone system". I've heard of Murphy's Law before now I understand what it means!
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 02 May 2016