Tag Archives: Rutland Attractions

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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Autumn Steam Gala Event

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

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Runners & Riders for Diggers & Dumpers

The organiser was extremely pleased to receive a phone call for a late entry of classic plant for the Diggers & Dumpers event on Sunday, when local owner of a TRACK MARSHALL blade dozer offered the operational machine for the event. Of even greater significance than having an operational bulldozer to level the ‘Digger Playpen’, was the information that the machine, which was preserved in 1970, was delivered new to Stewarts & Lloyds (Minerals) Limited and worked on restoration of ironstone quarries across the ironstone belt of the East Midlands.

The event is shaping up to see the most intensive use of our quarry and playpen areas to date, with action focussing on the Ruston 22-RB dragline loading the vintage Euclid B5 dumptruck, supplying material for the dozer to spread across the work area. The quarry area will see steam haulage from the quarry face as the Ruston face shovel swings into action.

Visiting machinery of a more modern era includes a SMALLEY excavator, built locally, this is an example which has worked in the Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire areas for the whole of its life.

A reminder that as part of the event to celebrate our first year of opening, we have organised a ‘Rutland Record’ attempt to gather as many diggers and dumpers into our quarry as is possible. Children (of all ages) are invited to take part in the challenge by bringing their own toy quarry diggers to pose in the quarry area, the official count taking place at 3pm.

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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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2013 Development Blog – Day 17

Despite the weather, progress on construction of our locomotive servicing pit has been rapid with the arrival of our building team.

Out have come the blocks, concrete mixer and Keith our ever hard-working expert, such that not only have we laid the three courses of double skin blocks that will form the walls of the pit, but we have also completed access steps at one end and the oil intercepting drainage chamber at the other.

In the photograph we can see reinforcing bars which have now been installed vertically in the void between the blocks, packed out with concrete. These will form lateral reinforcing for the cap beam which will form the rail bearing top of the construction.

Already shuttering is being installed at the top of the blockwork into which the reinforced concrete beam with rail fixings is being cast.

If all runs to plan, we hope to cast the beams in the next two weeks and we look forward to installing the rails in early May.

The rail levels will be key to final levelling of the yard to allow track rebuilding to calculated track bed profiles.


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