Dear Members.


In the light of the current crisis our recent decision to close the club was sadly the right one. With no immediate end in sight  a small group of committee members felt it would be a good idea to keep members in touch with a newsletter. 
We are looking for stories and articles from all of you. They do not have to be just about club activities or railways, but anything you are happy to share with everyone as you would on a normal club night. Maybe not some of the jokes some members manage  to find on line!
For example, we know many members have layouts in sheds and lofts that have never been seen and or projects they are working on at home - send us some photos. Any current, retired navy, army or even rail staff who have some interesting  anecdotes or stories to share. Other ideas include a show not necessarily railway, you've been to previously, a past holiday or railway trip. I hope you have the idea now.
Our aim is to email the newsletter on a regular basis dependant on how much we receive. Remember the more you send us the more we can share.
Please email all submissions to  or
We look forward to hearing from you
Phil and Nigel



One Foot in the Smoke box
The Trials of a Heritage Railway Cleaner.


Early in 2002 I decided that now that the family had grown up I had more time available and would like to join a Heritage Railway, which is something that I had wanted to do for a long time.

So it was having joined the Nene Valley Railway and had an induction day I was rostered for my first turn as a cleaner on 15th June 2002 which just happened to be my 50th birthday. An appropriate way to spend it I thought!

For those of you not familiar with the footplate crews on most Heritage Railways, the crew is made up of a driver, fireman and cleaner. The cleaners job is to help prep the loco and of course clean at least some of it (you try cleaning all of a large loco in the time available!), and during the day to couple and uncouple, work the ground frames, to help taking water and of course to start learning how to fire.

So the day duly arrived and I was up at 4am and left home at 4.45am arriving at Wansford at 5.45am ready for a 6am start. Having signed on I met Eddie who was the fireman. We went to 92 Squadron, a Battle of Britain class Pacific, and met John the driver. We lit up and Eddie showed me around and how to couple up etc.

This was the Rail Mail weekend so a normal timetable wasn’t in operation. Unfortunately no one had a working timetable other than me, as I had had acquired one from someone else who had found it in the internet.

We were not on the pit as the GWR 2-8-0T no. 5224 was, so eventually 5224 moved us towards the gate by the main entrance and then towards the yard exit road. It was at this point that it was realised that there wasn’t room to then move us towards the turntable and then onto the pit as the road was blocked with stock! By now 92 Squadron had sufficient steam to complete the move on to the pit alone.

We were off shed at 10.00 (well nearly!) and ran through platform 2 and back onto the mail train in platform 3. Leaving at 10.25 we ran to Orton Mere and ran round. It was here that I discovered the complexities of coupling and uncoupling, particularly the vacuum pipes which have a mind of their own. We left at 11.05 for a return run with a Royal Mail pick up at Sutton Cross arriving at Wansford at 11.25 in platform 3.

As the next turn wasn’t until 13.16 we returned to the shed yard parking alongside the cafe known as platform 5.We were later accused of posing! Off shed again to work the 13.16mail to Castor and back and then the 13.30 the same, we duly set off. As the mail pick up requires a reasonable speed the driver was duly concentrating on what was happening. Unfortunately he wasn’t concentrating on the outer home signal which was ‘on’. He arrived at the inner home, also ‘on’, to the consternation of the signalman. The driver was expecting the road into platform 3 before taking the second trip. (The working timetable actually showed this).

Having run a SPAD (signal passed at danger as I am sure that you all know) the driver now refused to back up again as he would have then passed the advanced starter at danger. He was eventually authorised to pass the advanced starter at danger. In the mean time I recounted how two years earlier as a visitor, I had seen the mail do two runs without entering Wansford. Incidently since then I have looked closely at the Mail pick up and the location of the outer home signal and established that it is virtually impossible to stop in time.

Having arrived back at Wansford, by now some what late, our next turn was to tail the 15.00 with D306on the front to Yarwell. We ran round the mail in platform 3 and parked at the far end to await D306’s arrival. We then ran across the river bridge and back onto D306’s train in platform 2. Now the level crossing at this end of Wansford station is rarely busy but now it was this time and right at the front of the queue was a police car! Where were we? Blocking the crossing of course. Common sense prevailed and we backed off on to the bridge to clear the crossing and stayed there until just before departure time.

All now being well we set off for Yarwell and then back to Wansford with 92 Squadron now of course leading. D306 was detached and we set off for Peterborough. On arrival at Peterbprough it was by now deemed sensible to take water, resulting in a further delay. Add to this the driver boldly climbed onto the tender and told yours truly to to pull the chain on the water column. What he neglected to say was gently! The ‘bag’ flew out of the tender, the driver was soaked and the footplate received an unexpected wash!

I should mention that I had my first go at firing on the trip from Wansford to Peterborough, including working the injectors etc. For a first go I was pleasantly happy. It’s not easy!

Arrival back at Wansford was at 16.15 in theory – about 10 minutes down in practice. At Wansford D306 came onto the back to top and tail to Yarwell at 16.30 or thereabouts. We arrived back at Wansford about 16.45 and unhooked, then onto the shed to dispose. Signing off at 18.30, I was home at about 19.30.

So ended my first day. An eventful day and very enjoyable all things considered but b****y tiring.

Keith Stalley



We have received this helpful idea from Malcolm Olver

Hi Phil and Nigel,
I was thinking about how the railtours could continue with appropriate social distancing, and I reckon of you could get hold of a few more Wickham Trolleys it would work well. The meals could be laid out on the platform and the passengers can take the plates on the trolley. Clearly they have to accept silver service is not available, however the class divide can be maintained by putting the Anoraks in the wagon behind.
You should be able to do far more sidings and tracks currently off limits to main line stock.
Every cloud has a silver lining.



Best regards





We miss you Steve!




Just to keep you all on your toes or possibly your back we have a quiz below





💊 🎳 🅰

🐓 🅿 🐃

🍺 🦠

🇹🇭 🍜 🆔 🥵

🦘 🔔 🅰
Bonus: S
We will tell you the answers next time!





If you have nothing to do, try, all you need is a printer, some paper, some cardboard a sharp knife and some glue.
This is what I have produced in 10 days, all I need now is a railway.