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Quainton News archive - Quainton News No. 35 - Summer 1978

Open Days 1978


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Photo:
J R Fairman - Vintage train, Easter Monday


Easter was the most successful trio of Open Days we have had at Quainton. The weather was good, the public rolled up in record numbers and at the end of the holiday it was a pleasure to see the broad smile on our Treasurer's face!

The cover picture shows the VAMES busy little 0-6-0T, Simplex which had taken over on the narrow gauge on the Bank Holiday afternoon. However, even our VAMES friends will agree that the accolade should be given to the marvellous combination of the Beattie working on a train of five four and six wheeled coaches and vans. This sight of such a veteran train cannot have been witnessed for perhaps forty years; I am thinking of Great Northern Railway Stirling No. 1 on its train of six wheeled carriages in 1938; but it must be unique at a preservation centre.

Another resounding, (chug, chug, phut, phut!), success on the Monday was the exhibition of barn engines in the new up yard building. The fascinating range of types and sizes was quite a revelation to those who are not connoisseurs of this engineering sport and it will be good to see more similar shows in the future.

Easter was the first opportunity many members and visitors had had of seeing for themselves the new building and very impressed we all were. Although contractors and the JCS lads had done the donkey work it was obvious that a great deal of hard work had been done by QRS brains and brawn. The line-up of the Ivatts outside the depot suggests Peter and Roy are planning to be very busy indeed as soon as they are relieved of their burdens of office.

Many thanks to Simon Field who made such a success of the rostering at Easter, to the Loco boys who made 7715 look very much more presentable with a coat of black paint and the British Railways lettering on the pannier tank sides, 1948 style, and to everyone who contributed their time and energies towards a first class weekend.


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Photo:
J R Fairman - Barn Engines, Easter Monday


Following Easter, what happened next? Yes! Mayday! . . . Mayday! Here is the story told by Crassus.

When it was announced, albeit very much sotto voce, by the Government that 1st May would be another Bank Holiday - Sir Harold's parting gift to us - the Open Days sub-committee went into a huddle and suggested it might be as well to play it down a bit and open for two days only. Rostering for the major Open Days is usually a bit of a problem and to have three holidays in the space of nine weeks was going to put us to the test. (Note: 1979 will be even worse with the three holidays coming within a space of six weeks.) Also would attendances justify the expense of three open days?

The Executive Committee agreed with the two day suggestion and the holiday was planned as a steaming Sunday and Monday. No DMU, no marquee for refreshments and no posters but only leaflets and some newspaper advertisements, and 2 engines in steam. The only difference from the usual Steaming Sunday arrangements was the holding of a Historic Commercial Vehicle Rally on 1st May.

Saturday found the "faithful few" busily tidying up and preparing for the two days. Linoleum was laid in the "Ladies" which had been painted the week before. The kitchen and Booking Hall were cleaned out (yet again!), ready for refreshments; the "Gents" was scrubbed out, and one of the platform gates given a quick lick of paint. Two members of Loco battled with the Pannier's vacuum gear and Del lit up the Peckett and shunted the yard.

Sunday dawned cloudy, cold, dull and generally horrible. Colin Blowers and his fireman lit up Beattie and Del re-kindled the Peckett. When Beattie had about 120psi on the clock Colin noticed steam coming out of the chimney and went up front to see what was happening. Water and steam were issuing from a tube in the smokebox tube plate and Beattie was declared unfit and the fire dropped.

The Pannier was already being prepared for steaming because Frank and Trevor wanted to try out the vacuum brake, so as soon as she had enough steam up to move, she was put in the platform road and coaled up ready to take over from the Peckett during the afternoon. The Pannier came on at about 3.00 pm with Frank driving to test the vacuum brake and make sure it was working satisfactorily. Everything worked well though it has its own peculiarities and needs to be used carefully.

By mid afternoon the clouds had cleared and there was some reluctant but very welcome sunshine, so I bought an icecream and very foolishly said Monday might not be too bad! Roddy arrived on the site and announced that the field was like a sponge and could not be used for car parking the next day. The Commercial Vehicles would have to be parked at the top end of the Up Yard.

This was a blow as they would now have to be parked all higgledy-piggledy, wherever they would fit, instead of in neat "herring bone" fashion where the caravans usually park, opposite the Station building. That would be needed for visitors cars. It was going to be an awful squeeze.

On Sunday night at about 11.00 pm John Rawlinson went to check the Pannier to make sure she was alright. The remains of her fire had been raked back under the firehole door. Her cab seemed to be somewhat full of condensation which surprised John. He opened the firehole door . . . Ye Gods! . . . Steam? . . . but not in the right place, so he fetched Robin Waywell. Yes, you've guessed - the Pannier had sprung some leaks and water was running down the firebox tube plate. She was declared unfit and everyone went to bed hoping that Del's Peckett would survive the night!

Monday dawned misty, gloomy and even less promising. One of the blanks from Coventry's tubes (she was withdrawn from service last year with seven leaking tubes) was hastily removed and put into Beattie's leaky tube in the hopes that she could be made fit to steam, but the blank didn't hold and so everything depended on Del's Peckett. Meanwhile the Up Yard was a scene of furious activity as the public arrived and had to be squeezed into the limited space available. The first of the Commercial Vehicles rolled in and was directed to the top of the Yard in amongst the ash and mud and puddles! Fire engines and buses, several of them driven by ex-Quainton members appeared, followed by cars, lorries, coaches, vans and then more buses and fire engines! In all 55 vehicles squeezed themselves into an impossibly small space and one can only praise the drivers, particularly of the double-decker buses, for the way they parked themselves.

The weather became more gloomy. A phone call from Derek Richardson, who luckily was on duty at Aylesbury station, brought the news that there were some potential visitors to Quainton, stranded, because they had assumed there would be the usual DMU charter service. Very luckily for us one of the coaches attending the rally had enough diesel fuel to manage several trips to Aylesbury Station and with David Britton, an ex-Quainton member, driving, a shuttle service was provided for the rest of the day. Also luckily for us another Quainton member, Peter Targett, who is a BR driver, happened to be at Aylesbury Station and he brought one family up in his car. They had come from miles away, had spent the night in London and then caught the diesel to Aylesbury. They would have been furious if after all that they had never reached Quainton.

By now the Up Yard was full to the brim and cars were having to park on all the roads round the site. One expects these problems at Easter but to have the same thing happening five weeks later is a different matter. Fortunately there were not as many visitors as on Easter Monday, there were 2400, but it must have been very tiresome for the village to have cars parked on the roads. By the end of the day Roddy and the stalwarts who had helped him felt as though their legs would drop off.

The Booking Hall proved far too small to cope easily with the crowds wanting refreshments and the ladies, struggling to keep everything going, ended the day feeling they had been through a mangle. Then at 3.00 p.m. it began to rain.

At 3.30 prizes and attendance plaques were handed out to the owners of the vehicles who had attended the rally. There were four prizes, one for the vehicle which had travelled the furthest - a coach from Cobham; one for the best car - an S S Jaguar; one for the best Commercial vehicle - a fire engine and one for the lucky number winner, another fire engine.

Meanwhile Del and the Peckett were manfully keeping the steam service running. Earlier in the afternoon the service had had to be stopped for a short while, to allow Del time to clean the fire completely, because the present lot of coal produces the most incredible amount of clinker which just swamps the Peckett's small firebox. Beattie and the Pannier stood forlornly in the yard, whisps of steam drifting from their chimneys. "Won't we see them running today?" Visitors were repeatedly asking. In the Restoration building 4 members were removing Coventry's tubes. The language coming from inside the firebox, as two people worked in the confined space, was decidedly crisp.

The Commercial vehicles began to leave for the journey home. "Would you come again?" I asked, very timorously because I felt it really had been rather a shambles. "Yes, certainly" Amazing! Roger Jordan, the Events Organiser of the Chiltern Branch of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club, assured me that it had, in all the circumstances, gone very well. "It is a different place to come to" he explained, "I would like to see it become a yearly event". So would we, our visitors had thought we had put on a very good show and had enjoyed the variety of vehicles on display.

By 5.30 pm the site was nearly empty. The sky was heavy and soggy looking, it might have been November. Perhaps past spirits were warning us that we would be better celebrating May 1st as the first day of Summer, rather than singing the Red Flag!

And as a complete contrast the Whitsun Open Days were held in a heat wave! We had about 700 visitors on the Sunday and made a good crowd totalling 2400 on the Bank Holiday when there were plenty of first class attractions. In Bill Harris' field alongside the up yard there was a demonstration of obedience and training by Germany Shepherd Dogs and then we had English Country Dancing which was organised by Mrs Buchanan. The Morris dancers, call and country dancing were delightful to watch and we are very grateful to all who helped provide such pleasant diversions from our usual railway fare!

Meanwhile, in the Loco Department, the Mayday disease, boilerus tubus thinnus, was still affecting our Society motive power. Del Etheridge's gallant Peckett provided the steam activity - he and his steed have had many well deserved pats on the back. Sad to relate, the parade of engines for an Enthusiasts' day in late summer is out of the question but we do hope to have Coventry or the Beattie in service for the big weekend at the end of August. So roll up with your visitors and help swell the coffers! All these loco doctors' bills need paying with hard cash.


Notes:
The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1978 and so does not reflect events in the 36+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Reference:
Open Days 1978 - Quainton News No. 35 - Summer 1978


Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 17 November 2017