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Updated: Jun 6, 2020


Photo: Roger Bastin


In 1964 the Duchess of Hamilton retired after steaming over a million and a half miles for the LMS and then British Rail. She went into retirement as a star attraction at Butlins Holiday Camp at Minehead for the next 12 years.

1976 brought her back to the National Railway Museum at York when the Friends of the NRM took responsibility to finance the 20 year lease from Butlins and organise a public appeal to fund her restoration for main line operation.

This culminated in her steaming again on 10th May 1980 with a full train load of partners under the ' Limited Edition headboard.


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By Frank Paterson

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Updated: Jun 6, 2020


Photo: Angus Davis


In the days of steam, treatment of water for locomotives was important to reduce scaling, corrosion and the need for excessive locomotive maintenance. This helped to reduce costs and maximise performance. Regular boiler washouts of cooling locomotives with hot water took time and reduced motive power availability: cold water washouts took even longer. Both involved removal of washout plugs, handhole and mudhole doors for inspection purposes. Across Great Britain there were great variations in the quality of water available to locomotive depots and watering points. Locomotive depots, particularly in hard water areas, had their own water softening plants which treated water using lime-soda ash. The softening process resulted in a semi-liquid whitish “sludge” which needed to be collected, removed and dumped. Some sludge was hardened and taken away as solid matter. But old tenders were converted and pressed into service as sludge carriers and were seen at motive power depots where softening took place. The sludge tanks pictured here are believed to be derived from the tenders of Robinson-designed 2-8-0 locomotives built for the Railway Operating Division in 1917 and 1918 based on an earlier Great Central Railway design. After the Great War, many of these locomotive were bought and used by three of the “Big Four” companies. The first is seen at Southall MPD (81C) and the second at Bath Green Park MPD (82F), both of which had softening plants. Sodium and tannin substances also played a part in improving water quality and in later years briquettes or liquid chemicals were put into locomotive tenders and tanks. In addition, the blowdown valve on locomotives drained small quantities of water and harmful salts into the ashpan when the regulator was open or the injectors were working.

Photo: Mike Peart

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By Mike Peart

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Updated: Aug 13, 2020


Photo: Neil Mackay

It’s good to know that in these difficult days of distancing, isolation and worse we can get away from it all. You need move no further away than your screen to enter the fascinating world of signalling. This is FARSAP – the Film Archive of Railway Signalling and People. For over five years, volunteers from Friends of the NRM and Signalling Record Society have worked with the cooperation of Network Rail on national network and heritage lines to create hundreds of hours of free-to-view film. Over 150 signalling locations can now be seen in detail. FARSAP covers unusual, unique, traditional and modern signalling in operation. The considerable effort put in to create the archive is now paying off. Viewing numbers are soaring and have doubled in the past week as many more have started to explore this rich resource.

Photo: Neil Mackay

Enthusiasts, railway and family historians and modellers will find loads of inspiration in the FARSAP films. There’s everything from 19th century signalling up to power boxes, primers on specific topics and reminiscences from those who did - and still do - the job. We’ve recently added film of the Esk Valley Line and Winchcombe on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. There's more to come - the team are currently working on editing film of locations between York and Scarborough and the Nottingham to Newark and Grantham routes. It’s always worth checking back in to see what’s new. Simply search for FARSAP or go to https://www.s-r-s.org.uk/archivevideo.php

Photo: Neil Mackay

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By Mike Peart

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