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News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, February 21st, 2020 at 10:01am
Museum working party 20th Feb 2020

The Tywyn weather mojo had twigged that it was the schools half term and produced the appropriate weather, rain on a stiff northwest wind! The team assembled, slightly damp around the gills, in the dry of the museum to tackle a problem long in the making – the museum store room. This had become not only a repository for many valuable artefacts but also a bit of a dumping ground for well meaning, but usually poorly documented, donations from many quarters.

Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Charles Benedetto, Winston McCanna, Andy 'Two Cars' Sheffield (two ffs in that) and John Olsen donned their Sorting Hats and plunged in. Boxes and loose items in bags and envelopes came pouring out of this tiny room to be picked over for hidden gems, absolute rubbish, and a generous measure of 'it might be worth a second opinion'. Three numbered plastic storage boxes were designated as destinations for small items, photos and cards, and lastly miscellaneous papers. Multiple boxes containing CCTV kit were condensed down to just two, the three box Education Pack was repacked into just one large plastic storage box and the excess conduit bits and flexible trunking all condensed into one box. The three acrylic display stands boxes stubbornly refused to be reduced in number, however they were strictly rationalised.

By coffee time, served up once more by Ann McCanna complete with Swiss roll cake, a section of floor that hadn't seen daylight in many a long year had been swept clean. We took our caffeine chocolate and chat fix in the company of Ray Brooks (deputising for the substitute attendant....) Sarah Thomas (new attendant), who brought in more cakes, yum, Mary Sheffield and Mike 'its the way I tell 'em' Green. Our discussions roved freely as usual, though we did compare notes on remembering names, 'sorry, who are you again?', and recall a more innocent time when the Toffs running the BBC completely missed the naughty scripting that was being transmitted in such shows as, Round the Horn, and even the seemingly innocent Pugwash the Pirate! With all the flooding in the news the managed retreat at Fairbourne, where the defences will not be maintained indefinitely, revealed the intriguing fact that the rail line approaching Tywyn from Tonfanau is protected by parts of a multi storey car park that once 'graced' Euston. Before we returned to our sorting Matt Wear handed out little green tickets to a fortunate few, no not concert tickets, but their Personal Track Safety cards, so they can now work safely on the line.

With a final few items sorted it was time to put a smaller number of boxes back into the store, which together with a re-arrangement of some of the other items, had released some further space for proper storage requirements in the future. Some empty boxes were flat packed to take up less space and superfluous packaging was disposed of by the correct recycling route; indeed a bag that had contained a lot of unsorted envelopes was recycled to the Air Ambulance shop as it was in good condition.

By the end of play we had counted all the boxes out of the store and counted fewer boxes going back into the store – RESULT!

Picture by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, February 17th, 2020 at 10:10am
Museum launches Writing Competition

The competition is sponsored by the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Trust in conjunction with the 2020 Temporary Exhibition, which celebrates narrow gauge railways depicted in literature.

Full details of the competition rules and prizes are shown on the museum website
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, February 15th, 2020 at 8:27pm
Museum working party 13th Feb 2020

After a thorough soaking overnight the Tywyn weather mojo deigned to blow the last of the showers inland in time for the working party's arrival, but left the wagon covers sopping wet.

Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Ray Brooks, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto, Andy (two ffs in that) Sheffield and John Olsen convened in the museum to get it ready for the half term opening.

Upstairs David, Max, Ray, Charles and Andy began restoring pictures and descriptions to their correct positions on the walls, completing the job started by Max and John earlier in the week. Cabinets C13 and C08 were manhandled back into position and the former had its contents restored to their rightful positions after the bubblewrap had been carefully extracted. The shelf suspension wires in C08 were screwed back into position by Charles and Andy and the glass shelf roughly levelled as it is not needed for display purposes at the moment. Downstairs Neal and John cleared up the last detritus and tools ready for transporting back to the Gunpowder Store. Ray re-populated the shelves with the books and magazines, disposing of those that were out of date. The Leek and Manifold Railway station seat was not put back in front of them; as an experiment it is being used as seating for those putting the jigsaw puzzles together, which also makes access to the books in the mini library much easier for our visitors old and young.

With the museum starting to resemble a museum once more, the team took their coffee break in the cafe in the company of another museum volunteer. In the absence of our holidaying brew mistress John mixed up the coffee powder, hot water and milk to supply the teams caffeine fix. Andy magnanimously volunteered to put the (fully) chocolate covered Hobnobs in the biscuit tin as we tucked into some freebie Cadburys chocolates brought in by Max. Our rambling discourse was enlivened by Andy's latest book purchase of a pocket guide to British steam locos in the BR era, sadly this proved to be an advanced trainspotters almanac rather than an illustrated guide to the many loco classes of the 'Big Four' he had anticipated. Charles took delivery of a double slip turnout from a continental manufacturer, which was keenly inspected by the modellers amongst us. It seems that this style of bespoke pointwork has been all but eliminated by Network Rail as they have pursued a more trackset approach to minimising the fabrication costs of points.

Back in the museum Henry was brought out for a run round upstairs as Max and John removed the still wet covers from some of our wagons in the yard; they look better for having been protected from the salt assault of a Twywn winter. They will be on show for our visitors during half term week, that's if any can get here after Storm Dennis! The tools were shuttled across to the Gunpowder Store and final checks made around the museum for lights or displays that had not been switched back on; the lights in C13 and the the video display on the side of C11 needed attention in this regard. A large cast aluminium nameplate had appeared in the museum during the repainting of the Booking Office hallway and this was removed to the store along with another cast sign that arrived while we were having our coffee. Three wooden signs displaced during the redecoration were placed in C08 for safe keeping during half term opening. The final bits of rubbish were bagged and we 'wrapped' the mornings activities by moving the Giesl display to allow visitors to get behind it to view the new temporary displays; but this will not be the final resting place of the Giesl..…

By the end of play the museum was once again in a safe and presentable condition for our visitors, but the winter works are not finished, just on hold.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, February 7th, 2020 at 2:44pm
Museum working party Feb 6th 2020

The Tywyn weather mojo pulled a sparkling morning from its hat today but the team did have to consult two brass primates to discover just how cold it was!

Neal Chapman, Ray Brooks, David Broadbent, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen braved the zero degree temperatures and dazzling bright sunshine to convene for the big paint. John had been in during the week laying out newspapers and masking the edges of windows and cabinets so that the Three Painters could perform one last time before half term opening. David, Max and David all had their own patch and the symphony of coordinated rollers was music in the air.

Ray put on the NGRM Sorting Hat and retired to the office to go through a box file full of prints to find the narrow gauge gems in amongst the standard gauge sand, and help cut down the burden of the Trustees in getting through the small mountain of unsorted gifts to the museum.

Neal and John had a site meeting about the Giesl shelves and delved into the dark storage spaces to find the right sized plywood to complete their fabrication. John then migrated back upstairs to put the glazed panel of the Church Crossing lever frame back together, which he had painted grey during the week, and re-attach it to the display.

With the morning well under way John brewed up the morning coffees as our regular 'brewess' is away in sunnier climes and we joined retired working party stalwart Phil Sayers in the cafe for chocolate coffee and chat. Andy Sheffield, 'two fs in that', got time off for good painting in the Control Office, and joined us at table. Ray brought down some RHDR and Cambrian Express pictures that he had found in the sorting operation, which we passed around before turning our collective attention to Health and Safety, specifically the safe use of ladders. Well, we all learnt a thing or two from our shop steward and we'll never look at a step ladder in the same way again; three point anchor, when to work, or not to work, on a ladder. But none of these came even close to the epic H&S fail of cutting overhanging branches whilst standing on the cab roof of a moving diesel; we suspect there are no regulations directly covering this activity as the Inspectorate have yet to encounter it. Needless to say this did NOT occur of the Talyllyn Railway.

Restored in body, if still reeling in mind, we returned to our tasks applying white paint to anything that didn't move and then removing all the masking tape and newspapers, re-hanging the window blinds and cleaning up the rollers and trays.

By the close of play three walls had been whitened, two shelves had been completed, one sorting had been successful (the standard gauge pictures were donated to Kes in the shop) and no one had any form of ladder related incident.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, January 31st, 2020 at 9:32am
Museum working party 30th Jan 2020

Cool and cloudy, the Tywyn weather mojo has settled down a bit this week allowing the team to assemble dry shod for this mornings session.

David Broadbent, Ray Brooks, Neal Chapman, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto, Winston McCanna and John Olsen first admired how bright the new white walls looked and turned their attention to the old grey-white walls. Over the weekend the walls around the Awdry Study window had benefited from a first coat of paint by Ian Evans, after he finished installing the new temporary exhibition. David added a second coat to this and extended it round the corner on the wall above the boxed in section beside cabinet C12.

Ray gave the 'roof' panels of the boxed in section a good clean with water before applying a coat of grey paint, as we have done downstairs, which does not show the dust and grime up so readily.

Neal took up saw and drill to continue fabricating the new shelves for the Giesl display, cleaning off the old glue from the MDF and battens we are recycling from our removal of sections of the 'Big Wall'; this store of timber has saved a lot of money during our recent refurbishments.

Winston was presented with a cast iron wagon plate, that commemorated the rebuilding of the Corris coach, for some cleaning and TLC prior to being displayed in C01, our Corris cabinet.

Max, Charles and John hoisted the Bryngwyn station name board back up into position and secured it before Max and Charles cleaned the frames of the two Listowel and Ballybunion prints, which looked very grubby in comparison with the gleaming white wall.

John went downstairs to quietly remove the Oakeley Quarry enamel sign from C01 as nobody had noticed that it wasn't a Corris item until Malcolm was making additional labels for items that can be seen from both sides of the cabinet last weekend, and he spotted our error.

Back upstairs Max, Charles and John began to shift some of the items that are very unlikely to be needed at short notice from the museum storeroom to the new storage space behind cabinet C12, hereafter to be known as the 'C12' Long Term Storage, or C12LTS, snappy title eh? These were the spare glass shelves and display boards that had been taken down during past alterations but might still be utilised, someday.

Ann McCanna made her customary welcome appearance to brew up our morning coffees, which we took in the company of Chris Parrot and Mike Green, sharing round the remaining chocolates, chocolate and toffee covered biscuits and very ginger snaps. Our idle talk wandered over such delights as rivet counters, who variously measured life size rivet diameters for their 4mm scale models, smugly informed on rivet number deficiency, and even maliciously removed by violence fake glued on rivets on locomotives! This triggered an intriguing wartime tale; flush rivets were more expensive to fit on Spitfires so the boffins checked where on the airframe round head rivets could be used without significantly affecting performance by gluing half peas onto flush rivets in patterns over the aircraft until all the non critical positions were identified; there's dedication.

Our chocolate cravings satisfied we returned to our labours. Neal had completed the first shelf and took a break from construction to assist Winston mount the Corris coach plate in C01 in place of the Oakeley enamel sign. David had completed his wall painting and laid down paper in front of C07 ready for next week. Winston and John had succeeded in getting the floor panel back into C08, but were unsuccessful in finding a set of longer wires in anticipation of having two glass shelves in this cabinet. Ray finished his grey painting and scrubbed up while Charles and Max removed displays and pictures from the walls around C11 and the balcony door ready for painting them next week, finishing up by removing the glazed panel from the 5 lever frame display for painting.

John and Winston identified some more items for transfer to C12LTS and duly carried them across before writing out the movement tickets.

By the close of play four walls had been cleared of display items, three walls had been painted white, two sets of 'roof' panels had been painted grey, one shelf constructed and numerous heavy items stashed in C12LTS.

Photos by John Olsen.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, January 24th, 2020 at 7:31am
Museum working party Jan 23rd 2020

Calm airs and no rain, who could possibly complain about the Tywyn weather mojo's performance this morning? “Who said that?” cries a disembodied voice, for the fog is thick on the ground this morning.

Largely unhindered the team assembled in the museum to continue our refresh of the displays and walls. Winston McCanna, Neal Chapman, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto, Ray Brooks, John Olsen and, belatedly, David Broadbent had a mouthwatering selection of jobs on offer; there was taking things off the walls, putting paint on the walls, taking books off the shelves, putting things back on the walls, and just for a piquant extra, moving a sign downstairs and making new shelves.

Neal got to work by transferring of the Corris enamel sign, so that it now stands above C01, our new 'Corris' display, before commencing cutting timber and MDF for the shelves.

Max got the white paint out to put another layer on the wall beside C05 and the panel beside C12, while Winston got the grey paint for the second coat of the panels and base of C08 (ex Recent Acquisitions). Ray cleaned out the boxes that John had brought across from the Gunpowder Store loft space, where spiders with dirty feet had crawled all over them, so we would have somewhere safe to house the books and folders from the shelves besides C06.

Charles ascended the heights to fix down the 'roof' panels of the space behind cabinet C12, which had sagged over the years and needed support battens, which had been installed by John during the week.

John demounted the signs and crest from the wall above the shelves before sanding down the paintwork where necessary and then masking off around the edges in preparation for painting.

Ann McCanna arrived in the very nick of time to brew up for us and we convened in the cafe with Andy and Mary Sheffield, currently serving time in the booking and control offices with time off for good painting, two other museum attendant volunteers and Keith Theobald who was in to check on the museum curator e-mail account and open the Awdry Study for a visiting enthusiast. As we broke out the biscuits and chocolates David arrived and pulled up a chair too. With a new face at the table the inevitable question got asked “Did you go to grammar school too?” “Yes.” the preponderance of grammar school educated to secondary modern school educated volunteers shows no sign of disappearing it seems. However the 'perks' of being a volunteer were highlighted, free tea or coffee and an almost bottomless tin of biscuits, this morning featuring chocolate AND toffee coated digestives AND supremely ginger biscuits. Another topic of discussion were changing police arrest tactics, out goes the Dixon of Dock Green approach “You're nicked son.” “Alright guv, it's a fair cop.” to a more The Sweeney system “You're nicked.” “You'll never catch me coppa!” CRUNCH! (Sound of getaway moped hitting the tarmac).

Back in the museum David John and Winston moved the Awdry display cabinet so that we could mask off the wall behind it while Charles Max and Ray put some of display items back up on walls and the attendants cupboard door. Winston and Ray moved onto clearing the shelves and then cleaning them and boxing up the books and folders.

John removed two very grubby 'roof' panels from the boxed in area to the right of the Awdry Study and discovered a long lost heating control panel; just how it was supposed to be set or even control the temperature from inside a totally sealed 'box' remains one of the many unsolved mysteries of the construction of the museum building!

By the close of play three cabinet panels had been painted grey, two more wall panels had been repainted in white, one and a half walls had their display items rehung, one cupboard door regained all its display items and the pile of sawdust downstairs where Neal was working was significantly larger.

Photos by John Olsen.