Autumn 2021 issue 177

The NRM Review is of course one of the benefits of being a member of the Friends of the NRM and is published in January, April, July and October.

With Covid restrictions lifted, and hopefully this ‘freedom’ will continue, both museums are now feeling more back to normal and permission has been granted to divert Leeman Road round the south of Station Hall allowing construction of Central Hall across the existing line of the road.  Much misinformation has been peddled with stories that Leeman Road will cease to be, but the re-sited Leeman Road will be built and opened before the existing one is closed.  At Shildon, design and construction of ‘Building 2’ is detailed in Rolling Stock report and the huge advantages this will bring in accommodating some 45 rail vehicles, so vehicles can be moved from York to Shildon enabling V2025 construction to begin; visitors will benefit from seeing many locomotives, for the first time in Shildon.

The FNRM has a steady membership decline.  Our website and social media channels have gone from strength to strength, with many ‘views’ and ‘likes’ on our Did You Know? webpage featuring a variety of railway stories, new ones added every few days.  We are also launching a ‘Member-get-Member’ scheme, an ideal Christmas present!  Many members will have known our long-serving Secretary Michael Wallace.  He left a substantial sum to the Friends, and following deep and detailed discussions with the NRM, we have decided on how to celebrate Michael’s huge contribution.  The process a working group has gone through and the outcome, which will ensure Michael is held in our memories for years to come, is detailed in Review 177. 

This issue’s theme is ‘Railway Revivals’; we start by looking at ‘New-Builds’.  Perhaps this is the most challenging ‘revival’ of all, as most projects are starting from nothing.  Others are starting with a pile of pieces retrieved from scrap locomotives.  There are so many ‘New-Builds’ that we’ve had to split the story over this and the winter issues.   Much of the railway real estate has found new uses and we cover revivals of stations and lines from Morpeth to rural Saxmundham.  Tunnels are difficult to revive, but some are covered in ‘Old Tunnels Never Die’.   This article looks at the more obvious uses for old tunnels, such as incorporation into footpaths and cycleways, but there are some very unusual new uses.  We’ll see if anyone agrees with our nomination for ‘most amazing use of an old railway tunnel’ in the autumn Review.  See: The Tunnel - Catesby Tunnel 


We’re seeing one of the greatest revivals of Britain’s railways, 2020’s largest ever decline in passenger numbers compared with 2021’s largest ever percentage increase (excepting perhaps starting from zero-base when the first passenger-carrying public railway was opened by the Swansea and Mumbles Railway at Oystermouth in 1807!).  A greater revival is expected with the launch of Great British Railways; we have the inside view on Shapp’s Plan to do this.  There have been many projects to revive lines, such as the very successful campaign to save the Settle-Carlisle line, and taking Deltics to Oban was a creative way to stimulate traffic on an underused asset.  Another record-holder is being revived - 43102 holds the diesel speed record as described in the summer Review, but what about tail-end Charlie, 43159 which, by coincidence, hit the same speed….going backwards!?  


We also have more personal recollections of railway life, with the working-life stories of Graeme Miller as a young apprentice at Polmadie in the 1940/50s and David Copeland’s experiences at EWS from 1999 to 2001.  Plus letters, book reviews, another crossword and much more. There are some amazing photos of ‘Big Headboards’ in Picture Gallery.  


We welcome feedback on articles and suggestions for further items, so please write in (email if possible) or use the ‘Contact Us’ page on the Home page.

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Reflecting our ‘Railway Revivals’ theme, this 1999 Railtrack poster on the cover of issue 177 recalls a perennial excuse for delays at this time of year.  Extended use of Rail Head Treatment Trains (RHTTs) blasts the leaf debris, which by November has been firmly rolled onto the rail head by passing trains.  High-pressure water jets (1,000 to 1,500 bar) clear the debris and then sandite (sand with some ground metallic material suspended in a sticky paste) is deposited to increase adhesion.  Hopefully, there will be fewer times when this reason will have to be ‘revived’ (def. a ‘reason’ is a valid and acceptable ‘excuse’).  Courtesy: SSPL