It’s been a long time since the sound of wheels trundling along the track of the old branch line that runs from Poulton to Fleetwood, but soon, subject to Network Rail’s approval there will once again be motorised activity on the line. Sadly, not a train just a motorised maintenance trolley. The PWRS, a group of dedicated individuals that have for the last eleven years been restoring the disused track back into a usable line, have recently purchased a Geismar motorised trolley which when refurbished will become a great help in transporting working parties, their tools and equipment to where they are needed.
The Geismar trolley, purchased from Network Rail has a Honda model GX120 5.5 horsepower petrol engine, and has the capacity to transport four workers to whichever part of the line that they are working on.
The Trolley will undergo a full refurbishment before we allow it on the track. Alan Hargreaves Engineering, the railway equipment servicing company based at Red Marsh, has kindly offered to service the engine and provide advice on the restoration which will be carried out by a team at our base at NPL Hill house Business Park.
The Trolley was bought at auction with donations kindly given by volunteer members of the society. Two volunteer members, Sid Best and Ian Hunt, took on the task of collecting our new addition to the growing collection of rolling stock and made their way down to March in Cambridgeshire to collect the Geismar from the Network rail Whitemoor recycling depot. It was a long trip with an early start and a late finish. They finally drove into our depot at NPL. Trying to hire a flatbed truck to collect the new acquisition proved difficult with two local hire companies letting us down, but luckily one of our friends and supporters, Mr Anthony Elwood, owner and managing director of AE Engineering, came to our aid once more with the loan of one of their flatbed trailers. Sid Best used his own vehicle to pull the trailer to collect the trolley and we owe him and Ian our thanks for their efforts.
Research suggests that the Geismar trolley was used at Crewe before being taken to Whitemoor where it appears it was never used.
Once refurbished and subject to Network Rail’s approval with motorised transport available, we will be able to transport our working parties to the more remote areas of the line that need attention. The trolley looks in good condition with no broken or damaged parts. However, we have attained a workshop manual for the trolley and one for the Honda engine. We are now waiting for a wiring diagram for the electrics. The battery needs replacing and a new ignition switch as the key is missing. It is our intention to put together a plan for the restoration and the required funding.
Once the restoration is complete we will arrange training for the relevant volunteers to be trained in driving and operating the trolley. We are always aware that accidents can happen and we have always ensured that at least one operative carries a small first aid kit. Now as we bring motorised transport into play we are aware that an accident some distance from our base becomes a possibility, with a motorised vehicle at our disposal, should an accident occur we will be able to transport the injured person to the medical facilities available near to our base at NPL without delay. The trolley can carry four persons, one will be the driver another will be one of our trained first aiders and two other persons.
This item of rolling stock takes our inventory to three, A Fowler diesel shunter, the class 108 DMU and now the Geismar motorised maintenance trolley. We have encountered many setbacks along the way, but the team see this as yet another step to achieving their goal of one day reopening the line.
The team at Thornton Station have recently been involved in laying a new base on the up platform at the station thanks to a delivery of 36 tons of road scalpings donated by Mr James Parr of Farmer Parrs Animal World, a tourist attraction located in Thornton.
This gift from Mr Parr will enable the team at Thornton to lay a new base on the up platform down to where the original buildings were when the line was operating.
Mr Parr also donated the scalpings that enabled the team at Thornton to resurface the down platform last year.
These scalpings provide an ideal base for the Tarmac topping that will eventually be needed on both platforms when we get a lease from Network Rail to operate trains on the line.
With the ongoing work of electrification of the main rail line from Preston to Blackpool by Network Rail, many items of railway equipment were due to be scrapped.
Many of theses items were of obvious interest to the numerous heritage railways operating all over the country on very low budgets.
Network Rail was therefore approached and these items were put up for auction, with any heritage railway that was interested in saving any of the equipment asked to bid for it.
The PWRS, whose aim is to one day re-open the line from Poulton to Fleetwood, decided to try and save one of these items for posterity and install it on the line we are currently clearing.
We chose one of the buffer stops from platform 8 at Blackpool North Station and our bid was successful.
The buffer stop was collected from Blackpool by A E Engineering Ltd. of Fleetwood and with the kind permission of Peter Naylor of N.P.L. Estates Ltd., was transported to our depot at N.P.L. Hillhouse industrial site at Thornton where it will be refurbished by a team of our volunteers ready to install on the line.
Without the help of N.P.L. Estates Ltd. and A E Engineering Ltd. this piece of railway history would have been lost forever.
Repairing and replacing worn and damaged rail and sleepers is one of our ongoing tasks for the Poulton & Wyre Railway Society (PWRS). Obtaining the rails is not too much of a problem for us as several lengths of rail were left alongside the track when it was replaced by welded track in the seventies before the line was closed.
Obtaining replacement sleepers is not so easy we have to purchase them. Thankfully due to our “Sponsor a Sleeper” appeal by the crew at Thornton Station and the “Bridge the Gap” appeal by the team at the Fleetwood end, we have managed to purchase a number of sleepers to enable us to push forward with restoring the track, both at Thornton Station and Jameson Road.
Thanks to a donation of some sections of rail and concrete sleepers by Mr. Matt Lodge of Fleetwood Tram Preservation Society in Fleetwood, our team at Jameson Road, led by Peter Williams, are starting to bridge the gap left in the track when the rail was severed years ago.
These sections of track were being stored at the Tram Preservation Society’s depot in Fleetwood but as they were no longer required by the Tram Society, Mr Lodge kindly gave them to the PWRS.
As the PWRS does not have the heavy equipment needed to lift and transport these items for us, help came from two local companies; A.E. Engineering of Fleetwood, and Alan J Hargreaves Ltd. of Thornton.
Mr Anthony Elwood, the owner and managing director of A.E. Engineering, who are specialists in heavy lifting and transportation kindly arranged along with one of our members, Simon Miller, to have these sections of track and sleepers lifted and transported to near the track at the rear of Alan Hargreaves’ engineering works in Red Mash.
Mr Alan Hargreaves, whose company service and repair railway equipment, has kindly agreed to assist the Society by transporting these items to Jameson Road ready for our group of trained volunteers to install the track.
The PWRS is most grateful to both of these companies for their help in our hour of need.
An attempted burglary on the PWRS line was foiled recently by a resident living close to the line.
Burglars breaking into the workman’s hut at Hillylaid Crossing were unaware that the incident was being videoed by a neighbour who was out in his garden at the time.
The neighbour managed to contact the railway police who arrived at the incident whilst the two perpetrators were still at the hut. They were subsequently detained by the railway police and taken to Preston police station where they were charged with burglary.
They have been released on bail whilst the police investigate similar break-ins that occurred some months earlier at the PWRS depot.
A few days later an officer from the British Railway Police paid a visit to the PWRS depot and delivered a cheque for £200 from the British Transport Police Federation lottery fund.
The cheque was gratefully received on behalf of the PWRS by their project manager Mr Geoff Ogden.
Our thanks to all those involved.
British Transport Police are urging walkers to steer clear of the tracks at one of the former stations on the PWRS line.
Contrary to common belief, the line at Burn Naze Station on the Wyre Power Station branch line is not disused, but is used daily to test track mounted machinery.
While passenger services ceased to run on the track in 1970, the line is still in use and as such poses a danger to anyone who strays near to the railway. Walking along the track is trespass, an offence punishable by a fine of up to £1000.
Following reports that families have been using the line as a public footpath for walks, BTP officers have issued an urgent warning. Sgt John Phillips said:
“It has come to our attention that many walkers are using the tracks, believing it is now disused and practically a public footpath. We want to make it very clear that this is not the case. Looks can be very deceiving – while it may seem that the line is no longer used this isn’t the case. Anyone trespassing on the line runs the risk of serious injury and a criminal record. Please stay away from the railway line.
“There are plenty of picturesque walks in the area that don’t risk your safety.
“Children should always be taught to stay away from the railway. By normalising walking on or playing near tracks at a young age inevitably it means they will grow up believing that playing on the railway is acceptable and safe – something we work so hard to change. Once the idea that it’s safe is ingrained in a young mind it takes a lot to change that mindset and convince them of the dangers. We’ve seen too many cases of children killed or horrifically injured because they’ve strayed too close to the line.”
British Transport Police are increasing patrols in the area to deter walkers from trespassing and is working with Network Rail to ensure that appropriate signage warning of the dangers of trespass are erected at the site.
We are now able to share the latest photographs of the restoration work carried out on our Class 108 DMU during April at the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley.
Discussions had taken place over the winter months with the people at Butterley, about what work to carry out first, and to fit in with their workshops busy schedule of work. A convenient slot came up during April and May allowing the welding work to be carried out on the Driving Trailer Lavatory Composite (DTLC) M56484.
What work has taken place?
The main body shell of a Class 108 DMU is aluminium, but both the cab front ends and rear corridor area are fabricated in steel and were badly corroded in places. The wasted metal work has been cut away above the buffer beam ready for new steel plate to be welded in place. In addition, some steel work needed replacing around the windows and head code box.
This photograph shows the new steel plate now welded in place above the buffer beam and trimmed down to the required profile.
The final photo shows the areas repaired around the cab windows and now painted in red primer. At the same time the glass has been reinstated in the head code box replacing the steel plate substituted during the mid-life refurbishment by British Rail.
We still need to raise further funds.
Unfortunately, the overall projected costs of restoring the DMU have increased. This is partly due to some items now costing more than originally expected, and, additionally some new work has been identified. This was always a possibility when you start work on a DMU which is now 57 years old.
If you would like to help us restore our DMU, donations can be made using the following methods:
- By completing the Rolling Stock Fund (Donation Form) available through the website and enclose a cheque or cash.
- By PayPal or Credit Card using the Donate link below the right-hand menu opposite.
- Or donations can be made electronically direct to the Society’s bank account:
– Bank: Santander
– Account Name: Poulton & Wyre Railway Society
– Account Number: 89012757
– Sort Code: 09-01-28
On behalf of the Rolling Stock Fund
Following the sudden death of our chairman Jeff Banks, his family requested that donations be made to the Society in his name.
Anne Banks (Jeff’s sister) handed over the amazing sum of £580 and I thanked Anne on behalf of the PWRS.
The committee will decide how best to spend this generous gift which will a include a permanent memorial to Jeff, one of our founder members.
At the Fleetwood Back on Track meeting held at Fleetwood Town Football Club on 14/12, a cheque for £1,000 towards the restoration of the DMU was presented to the PWRS by the Masons.
It is a Masonic Mark Lodges grant and was suggested by Mason and PWRS member Jimmy Rodgers.
Also in attendance from the PWRS were Pete Williams (receiving the cheque) and Eddie Fisher.
On behalf of the PWRS I should very much like to thank Jimmy and the Lodges for this wonderful gesture.
We’re proud to announce that the Royal Horticultural Society and North West in Bloom recently awarded PWRS Thornton Station with a certifcate of achievement (pictured below) for our 2016 entry.
Congratulations to all those involved and many thanks for helping to make the station an attractive site of local interest and a pleasure for all those who pass by it.