Showing posts from 2010


Unfortunately, due to the severe weather conditions late Saturday it was reluctantly decided to cancel the Santa Specials for today. We are running an extra day now on Thursday 23rd December, see website for details. Several volunteers were unable to even get out of the village last night and spent the night in carriages. I am five miles away and we followed a snow plough out of our village this morning so we could check the sitation at the Railway. It was a 7" deep blanket.


The shed has now been insulated and had the interior walls boarded with chipboard, work is underway to plasterboard the ceiling and walls.


Saturday evening we held our Christmas dinner and Annual Awards evening at the White Horse, Ridgewell , an entertaining evening all round. This week has been taken up with preparations for the Santa Specials which start on Sunday 5th. The trains have been decorated - all that up and down putting the trimmings up is good exercise! Just a blitz on snow-clearing Saturday to do now.


The last few weeks have seen various work being undertaken around the site. Trees have been trimmed to give a clearer running line. Newmans Sidings area is constantly changing and has had another track slew to lay the track for the new shed area. Concrete slabs are on order to finish off the platform. The Model railway shed is being insulated,it is hoped to have this new attraction open during 2011


Witches, wizards, skeletons, vampires and more visited the Railway Saturday evening. Luckily the weather stayed nice and didn't blow too many witches off course! The diesel train was worked by a skeleton crew - we also had ghostly signalmen. We are now shut until the first of the Santa Specials on 5th December. That doesn't mean we stop working though, always something to do.


The final steam day of the season went very well on 27th with a visit from Colin the bear. Our next event is the Wizards Evening on the 30th October, witches and wizards will be taking over between 16.30 - 20.00


A chilly start to Gala Day today although it stayed dry and the sun came out later. Jennifer and Castle Donnington No.1 were in steam working passenger and freight trains, with two freight trains being topped and tailed. On the diesel side, the class 141 pacer unit ran for most of the day with 31255 working during the afternoon.


Another busy week has seen the track slewed across and foot crossing installed for access to the mini- rail. Eventually the TPO will sit here allowing easy access, in it's previous position it was only accessible by a flight of steps.


Today saw the arrival of a crew from Hammer Films. The makers of classic horror films are shooting The Woman In Black written by Jane Goldman. We have hosted film crews before but this was by far the largest, about 120 people setting up, filming and taking it all down again in 12 hours of hectic activity. The star of the film is Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) who was lovely to talk to, and he took the time at the end of day to come to the office for a chat.


We have just finished our 25th Victorian Fantasy - this educational event is still very popular, with each of the three days seeing over 1,000 Victorians on site. As well as meeting Queen Victorian and Princess Alexandra on the Royal Train, our visitors enjoyed the music hall and Punch and Judy, and had a lesson in the classroom, this seemed to be one of the favourites and watching a penny farthing being ridden was also highly popular.


The beer festival went well, in spite of the weather trying to put a damper on things. Those who came seemed to enjoy it and it is hoped we will hold another festival next year.


Today is the opening day of our first ever Beer Festival in conjunction with Harwich Town Brewery. With over 30 beers and ciders to chose from and live music in the evenings it should be a great addition to the calendar. The music on Friday is provided by Songs from the Blue House, with the Flaming LLamas on Saturday


We are very pleased to announce that we have won the Best Small Attraction Award. General Manager Brian Smith accepted the Award at Le Talbooth, Dedham on 23rd September. This is a credit to all the Volunteers who put in so much work to make the Railway what it is, and worthy of this Award. We have now been shortlisted for the Regional Awards to be held at Ickworth in November.

Thomas & Beer Festival

Thomas has arrived for his second visit this year, and along with several friends and the Fat Controller will be entertaining our visitors on 25th & 26th September and 3rd October. The first Beer Festival at the Railway will be held on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd October 12.00-23.00 both days, with an hourly bus service between the Railway and Braintree station from 12.00-23.00. Live entertainment from The Blue House on Friday and the Flaming Llamas on Saturday.

Model Railway Shed and More

The model railway shed now has its walls in place, next step is finishing off the windows. Sunday 12th saw the first Pullman Sunday lunch train since the refurbishment on Aquila and 11th/12th saw a small group of volunteers attend the Essex Country Show at Barleylands.


60 square metres of turf was laid today by Evan and David - mostly in very heavy rain! The area in front of the toilet block is now finished and I must say it looks very smart. Well done Boys. The signalman at Nunnery reported some strange noises coming from the chimney of the new stove - during the day it produced one bat and a sparrow!


It's official, we are a Quality Assured Visitor Attraction (VAQAS) - represented by the Red Rose logo. We had a 'mystery visitor' assessment on 25th August and are very proud to have been given this accreditation on the first application.


Nunnery box has seen some changes this week. A new wood-burning stove has been installed and the new steps have been put in place and the old ones removed.


The main frame of the new shed for the model railway is really taking shape now. A new wood burning stove has been installed in Nunnery signal box, so we will now have all the signalmen volunteering to work that box in the winter!!


Nunnery box is in the process of having new steps fitted. This came from a local factory that closed down, and they have been painted and put into position. Wonder who will be the first to go up them before they are finished!

Sunday 1st August

Class 03 D2041 worked a freight train giving brake van rides and Castle Donnington No.1 a passenger train. D2041 is being repainted, and at the moment is at the undercoat stage.

DIESEL MINI-GALA 31st July 2010

Several hardy enthusiasts braved the rain and travelled great distances to come and see the star guest at this mini-gala - Traditional Traction owned 08511, it ran with two TPO carriages and a brake van. Also running was Pacer 141108 showing off its new coat of paint.

08 511

Class 08 511 arrived Wednesday afternoon to have some work carried out here. It will be running on a special diesel day Saturday 31st July, working with 2 TPO coaches and a brake van. Newly painted 141108 will also be in operation


26th July saw Aquila emerge from the shelter of the loco shed where she has been residing for the last 24 weeks. The end has been completely rebuilt and the roof and one side have been painted, and she has come out of the shed to have the other side painted now. The finishing touches will be the crests and lining.


The TPOs are now receiving attention from Wendy & Bernie and 80318, having been given a nice pink undercoat, is now getting its top-coat of red.


The 141 is now resplendent in its new livery (after several shades of blue) Brian, Sally & Natalie attended the Tendring Show, hopefully some business will come from that.


Sunday 4th July saw a track slew take place, enabling the staff coach, C&W workshop and the stores carriage be put in position. Thanks to the gang who carried out this heavy work on a very hot day.


At long last -the old green toilet block is being demolished. Some of the fittings have been kept as stand-by, but most of it was rubbish! Evan disconnected everything yesterday and today, with help from Alan, David and a JCB the demolition started. All I can see from the window now is 1 end wall, 2 part walls and 5 loos!

Model Railway Exhibition

The 3rd Model Railway Exhibition was held on Sunday 27th June, and in spite of the very hot weather and some football game there was a good attendance. With at least 10 layouts - ranging from 'ooo' to 'HO' and several trade stands there was something for everyone.


Yet another busy week. Thomas the Tank Engine was here over the weekend again, even a very cold wet Saturday saw lots of visitors, with even more on the Sunday. Thomas left on Tuesday to go back to the Midland Railway. 14 schools came to our Old Smokey educational event over 2 days, everyone seemed to go away happy. Pullman coach Aquila is looking grand in her new coat of brown paint and painting has been started on the TPO. The old toilet block has now been closed off - hooray!! next job is to strip it out then remove it. Model Railway exhibition is on Sunday 10.00-16.00 with layouts, tradestands and train rides.


The first Thomas weekend of the year went very well with lots of visitors riding on Thomas and Daisy. Mavis, Percy and Trevor were also in attendance and of course the Fat Controller made sure that everyone behaved. We do it all again next weekend.


We have been getting ready for a visit from a certain blue engine, Thomas events take place 12/13/19/20 June and a great deal of time has been spent getting everything ready. The bookings are looking good and we hope that the forecasted good weather will bring more visitors. A big thanks to Brian, Evan, Sally, James, Natalie, Allan and Steve for their efforts


The pacer has been seen in several colour combinations over the last few weeks thanks to the efforts of Bernie & Wendy. The two-tone blue and grey it is wearing at the moment looks quite good.

Pullman Carriage Aquila

Pullman carriage Aquila is now starting to go back together, Syd is working almost non-stop, and Ashley has been working on the roof/body.


Sunday 16th May saw the the Railway go to War with a 1940s event. As well as Jennifer, CD1 and Barclay operating a mix of passenger, freight and ammunition trains, there were displays including a field hospital and defence post. Visitors and staff were dressed accordingly

Vintage Vehicle Rally 24th & 25th April

There was a good turnout of vehicles for this event on both days including cars, buses and stationary engines.


The main fencing work was completed today by Yeldham Fencing and what a difference. Monday there was a large grassy mound opposite the office and the area was surrounded by an assortment of picket and wire fencing. Brian, Evan, Sally and a JCB flattened the mound and the new fencing looks great. Just in time for the vintage vehicle rally taking place over the weekend.
The ramps and steps to the new toilet block are in place, just need tarmac on them, the water supply is connected but the electrics still have to be done and the groundworks finished off outside. Yeldham Fencing started installing some of the new fencing today - looks better with just 2 panels up! The cut wood for Aquila has been delivered so hopefully there will be parts going back in soon.

What's been happening this week?

Easter weekend saw the return of Castle Donington No.1 to the working roster with a mixture of other motive power including the bubble car and 31255 and Romulus on the minirail. One of the access ramps to the new toilet block has been started and the plumbing has been done.

New toilet block

At long last the Railway has taken delivery of a new toilet block, it finally arrived at 17.00 hours and was soon put in place. Over the next few weeks the area surrounding the block will be finished off, ramps/steps put in place and all plumbing and wiring finished, When fully commissioned the old green block will be demolished.

Diesel Gala 28th March

Sunday was a busy day with diesels of varying shapes and sizes running - Hibberd Planet, 2 Class 03s, Class 121 bubble car and Class 31 along with 2 diesels on the mini-rail.

Model Railway Shed

Concrete was delivered this morning for the shed base, quite amusing watching it being levelled out. Syd has now started putting some pieces back in Aquila.


Work is in progress on the site for the new toilet block, which will hopefully be delivered before Easter. Castle Donnington has been inspected and had the boiler washed out in preparation for steam testing. Next operating day Sunday 28th March for Diesel gala.


Saturday 13th saw the first Driver Experiences of the season and Sunday 14th the first steam operating day. Jennifer was used on both days and performed well - Castle Donnington No.1 is still awaiting boiler inspection -and the miniature railway had steam loco Romulus visiting. Halstead canopy has had some timber replaced and the station area has had a repaint.


6th March - Brian, Evan & Sally attended the annual Travel Fair at RAF Lakenheath, met some very interesting people. 7th - AGM held in the morning, various jobs done round site pm in preparation for running next weekend. All the rotten wood has been removed from Aquila, the coach now needs to dry off. Think Syd is wishing he hadn't started the job as it gets more complex by the day.


The CVMR construction crew completed laying and clipping the rails for the new Riverside storage siding today. Halstead station/canopy are being painted, parts of the canopy have to be replaced. School visits of 60+ children have kept us busy over the last 2 days


The 7 1/4" guage line has seen plenty of work over the last few weeks. Track has been reballasted, new track laid in station area, 2nd platform area laid and a station canopy has been erected. First planned operational day is Sunday 14th March when live steam loco Romulus should be working.


Pullman kitchen car Aquila has been taken out of service for major refurbishment. The kitchen end has been stripped back, exterior panelling and some of the rotten framework has also been removed. This will all have to be replaced. The photo shows the stripped end.


Brian, Evan, Paul, Sally & Natalie attended the show at 5 Lakes Country Club, Maldon today. This show was open to the general public but was mainly aimed at group travel organisers. There was a lot of interest in the railway and a lot of positive comments from previous visitors. The younger visitors in particular liked Saffron - the 7 1/4" guage loco.


On Saturday 20th we had a film crew on site, shooting a scene for a film about Pablo Piccaso. they were on site for around 8 hours and enjoyed a bright day. The requirement was for a 1950's station/train. Paul Freeman plays the lead role, Tim Newton directs.

Two Class 20s arrive

On Thursday and Saturday last week, we had two class 20 diesel locomotives arrive. These are two of the four that were exported to France in the 1980s and repatriated to the UK in 2005. They have been in store at a road hauliers yard since then. They are both lined up to be restored over a period of time. Picture available at:


Welcome to the Colne Valley Railway's frequent news service, which is designed to show what is actually happening at the Railway on a daily basis.