Tag Archives: Railway Museum

Christmas Steam Days

The Museum has been busy getting ready for the festive season and record numbers of visitors attended our events on 22nd & 23rd December to help get the Christmas period off to a flying start!

While our café served up a warm welcome, and sold out of stock on both days, hardy visitors were able to see preparations for Santa’s deliveries in the area in our Workshop – traditionally commandeered to get the Christmas Eve delivery train ready for Santa to drive late on Christmas Eve! Presents had been wrapped and were ready for loading onto the special loco Rudolf (which has a red nose), with the special lights including an illuminated star, ready for the departure.

Visitors joined our train rides to the ‘North Pole’ and were able to post their wish-lists to Santa in his special post box, planted close to the end of the railway at the North Pole.

The weather closed in a Christmas approached but services pressed on through the stormy weather – the crews looking out for Polar Bears, Reindeer and Penguins all the time – luckily none were spotted and no delays were experienced to the Santa Special trains!

Young visitors took time to take part in our ‘Follow the Star’ competition – and the lucky winner who spotted all ten stars was Abigail Moore – we look forward to seeing her family again soon.

The Museum wishes all of its visitors, supporters and volunteers a great Christmas and a fantastic 2014 season.

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Steam Enthusiast Update!

We are closing in on the largest gathering of operational steam locomotives at Cottesmore since our relaunch!

Phone calls and emails have been bouncing around the internet as we start to coordinate the moves required to get the locomotives to Rutland in time for the event. With SIR THOMAS ROYDEN returning around 350 miles from a season in Scotland at the Royal Deeside Railway, careful planning to ensure that the lorries are going to be on time has been essential. Although coming from much closer to home, FULSTOW from the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway requires careful planning to load the locomotive at Ludborough. Locomotives need to face uphill at Cottesmore to work the 1 in 60 bank – and need to be loaded accordingly! Both railways are taking the opportunity of movements out to arrange other stock moves – we are also hoping to benefit from the movements by arranging for our Shark Brakevan to be turned.

The back story here is that the restoration has incorporated a fully accessible veranda to be used by pushchairs and wheelchairs – the problem is that since starting the project, we have rebuilt the platform on the other side of the railway!!! The Brakevan will be turned to allow full use of the new facility when the vehicle joins our operational fleet.

The programme allows for the locomotives to arrive in Rutland on Thursday, with preparation and “Fitness to Run” of the fleet on Friday and Saturday before the Gala swings into action early on Sunday morning. The use of the new servicing pit will depend on the platelayers finishing their work but we have every confidence at this stage.

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Yard Development Update

When we started the complete rebuild of the locomotive yard in March of this year, we knew that we had a real task on our hands. After removing the contaminated trackbeds in the area, over 250 tons of fill material and a drainage system have been installed. The experience gained in rebuilding the central area of the Museum last year led us to determine precise levels across the site and after filling material to bottom of trackbed level, a compacted bed was achieved with a vibrating roller across the new yard.

At the rear of the site, we have installed a volunteer pathway to avoid walking across operational track, together with water and power for servicing the fleet under lighting.

On 20th October, the rails on the pit were connected to the central siding, this being the first track replaced in the new yard.

This view in early November shows the extent of progress as the second yard point, known operationally as L2, takes shape – this being a flatbottom point recently recovered from Cemex Barrington after a kind donation by the company.

The closure rails and link panels from the turnouts are now in place and volunteers intend to work as hard as they can to complete the yard to initial standard before the dedication of the new

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Autumn Steam Gala Event

More details regarding the 2-day steam event to be held later in the month.

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NCS – National Citizen Service to the Rescue

Many young people see the summer holidays as an endless boring series of days with nothing to do!

In this area things are different! An enterprising group of 16 young people from Oakham, Stamford and Uppingham chose to spend 30 hours of their vacation making a significant improvement to our Museum under the National Citizen Service Summer programme.

The young volunteers took part in a range of activities including the transformation of our 1926 Charles Roberts water tanker – which although used operationally to service our steam locomotive fleet, has always remained in its ex-industrial condition, rather unloved and bedraggled.

Spending the earlier part of the week to remove loose paint, rust and debris, the team of April, Claire, Jacob and Lucy working alongside our own volunteers were able to transform the vehicle into a presentable example of rolling stock worthy of display in our museum environment by the end of their project.

Other teams were able to make significant contributions to our community Museum through improving quarry area interpretation, visitor amenities, clearance of line side materials as well as starting to transform our new study centre into a useable facility.

The Trustees and Volunteers of our Charity are indebted to these enterprising young people and hope that the experience was as rewarding for them as it has been for the Museum.

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Our blog updates are usually tales of success and completion of projects at the Museum as the Charity makes progress with its development.

Imagine the disappointment when volunteers arrived at the site to find that intruders had tried to gain access to our main gates, failed and then drove cross country across our boundary before breaking into the main workshops and making off with a substantial haul of heritage items, tools and materials stored for our next restoration projects.

Of major importance was the theft from the workshop of the original brass draincock valves from VIGILANT, dating to the construction of the locomotive in 1883 and refurbished ready for refitting to the machine. Other heritage thefts included the Wakefield lubricator valves from Hudswell Clarke No. 1308 RHOS, a sandbox cover from Ruston Hornsby locomotive ERIC TONKS and a gauge from Hawthorn Leslie SINGAPORE.

The items are all assumed lost but are irreplaceable given their historical and intrinsic importance to the respective locomotive exhibits.

Model items were stolen from our Museum displays but the biggest setback was our tool store where a haul of valuable to replace equipment was removed for resale.

Our local Police have started to make enquiries but the volunteers have now implemented a series of measures to remove any ‘temptation’ in the future as well as reorganising security measures on site. Without giving any information away, the measures include teeth!

If you spot any items which may correspond to the heritage items, please do not hesitate to let us know. We have started to raise funds to replace the equipment lost.

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Newest Exhibit is the Oldest Exhibit!

The Ashbury & Company four wheel passenger coach body ..

The Museum was extremely pleased to receive its latest exhibit yesterday – the Ashbury & Company four wheel passenger coach body, built for the Great Eastern Railway as their No.514 in 1869. The coach will become our dedicated visitor passenger vehicle when its running and brake gear are restored and the coach is restored to its former glory.

The coach is pictured on its temporary accommodation chassis which it will occupy for transit into our workshop.

As described in our blog update on 14th January 2013, the history of the coach is remarkable as it was retired from railway service as long ago as 1910, then being used as a coal order office in Newport, Essex until it was preserved at the South Cambridgeshire Rural Railway Museum in the 1970’s.

Surviving in an extremely good condition under a corrugated steel roof, the coach was lifted from its home onto a lorry and made its furthest journey from the Capital in its 144 year life yesterday, to an accommodation chassis at the Museum in Cottesmore.

The coach will be displayed for a short while but the intention is that it will enter our workshops for assessment and separation of body from chassis in order that reinstatement work can commence. The project will become the central group volunteer project as the coach is stripped and rebuilt over the next few years.

The coach was originally built for Victorian commuter services, primarily from Liverpool Street to Enfield, Hertford and Epping and has five ‘open’ compartments, where the wooden bench seats had little in the way of comfort for third class passengers. In the early days, even lighting was out of reach for third class passengers but we are planning on being a little more accommodating with our visitors!

We would welcome volunteers for this project and donations for materials, in our attempt to return a very historic vehicle to operational service.

The Museum thanks Mr Bob Drage and transport contractors Deeping Direct Deliveries for their support and assistance with this project.


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In the build-up to our forthcoming EXTON PARK REVIVAL event on 27th May 2013 which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the closure of ironstone quarrying in Rutland, the engineering team have undertaken to repaint DE5, the Janus locomotive which once worked over the quarry system.

When the development team began work on the locomotive yard rebuild it was inevitable that many of the large locomotive exhibits would be stranded as the intervening trackwork was removed. Little did they think that the volunteers would further MAROON  the large 440 horse power Yorkshire Engine Company locomotive DE5 with a comprehensive repaint and makeover.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, a team of ten volunteers cleaned, stripped, sanded and prepared the locomotive which was repainted in its original ORE MINING BRANCH maroon livery, complete with red buffer beams and rods, black rims and frames.

A further session mid-week saw the marker lights removed, cleaned, painted and replaced to bring the locomotive close to its original appearance.

We now intend to complete the cosmetic restoration by replacing its coupling rods, recently refurbished in our workshops, apply lining and lettering and arrange access to the cab for visitors at the event.

The popular and highly relevant locomotive is not in operational condition at the moment but visitors could be excused for being mistaken such is the transformation to the exhibit.

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Development update –

Development at Rocks by Rails

The project to rebuild the loco yard is on the point of starting to replace track onto the site.

This week the last load bearing beam had its shuttering removed to reveal the rows of level and aligned retained bolt studs that will secure the bed rails.

Work to level the inert fill over the site has already used around 200 tons with a further 100 tons of crushed concrete and sub base track ballast due on the site next week. The Charity thanks its kind supporters from the quarry and minerals industry for their kind assistance.

Final preparations for levelling have included re-surveying the site to give the correct gradient profiles across the inspection pit which is level, then graded smoothly down to the coal stage area. This survey has allowed the team to cut back the track to the south of the rebuild area to give a datum from which to relay the track panels using standard lengths with predictable and symmetrical joints through the central area.

Levelling should be complete by the last week in May when track laying will start in earnest. We are still working to the intended development schedule but work is dependent on securing further 8ft by 12” concrete drainage pipes needed to complete the new culvert at the back of the site. Any offers of assistance/donation would be warmly received!

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Visit by the Branch Line Society


The Charity was extremely pleased to welcome a large and enthusiastic group from the Branch Line Society last Saturday 21st May to explore the Cottesmore Branch.

The last visit to the Cottesmore Branch by a rail tour took place in the mid-1960’s when the line was a busy place, serving Exton Park, Burley and Cottesmore Quarry systems. The passenger train was hauled in by an Ivatt 2-6-0 tender loco and the tourists alighted by ladder to inspect the ground frames leading into the United Steel Companies sidings, take photos and stretch their legs.

The visit from the Society had been arranged to allow members to see the rebuilt Museum track layout for the first time since the site was relaunched last year.

The members benefitted from steam and diesel haulage covering as much track mileage as is currently possible – but with a tempting glimpse of future potential visits as the northern end of the site, the yard and the quarry are completed.

Eagle eyed observers will notice SHAUN, the BLS mascot complete with his own Hi-Viz jacket, hiding on the sandbox of SIR THOMAS ROYDEN (AB2088) at the start of the visit. He later transferred to ‘cab’ our own diesel mascot, Sentinel  JEAN (RR10204) which explored the yard area with the visitors.

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