It has been a few weeks since I was at Kirklees Light Railway, and I was itching to get back. No matter how often you go, something will have changed, and I was looking forward to finding out what I could spot.
Again I was down as one of the Rough Gang, and this meant that I had no idea what the day would hold for me. I purposely arrived quite a bit later than my last few times today, arriving around 10. I signed in and found almost immediately the team who I would be working with today.
We headed out to the platform and I saw, that ditch I had been digging some weeks ago was now filled in, and a new steel pipe was sticking up from the ground. The new pipe was forming a new water tower, and today we would be digging out a new ditch for another water tower.
The job was mainly down to 3 of us standing around and watching the other dig, there was not enough room for more than one in the hole, we must have looked like something from the council.
Yet again, when I got chance to have a dig, it nearly killed me, I am still nowhere near fit enough for this kind of work!
Around lunch time I was asked to relieve the miniature train driver, something I was more than happy to do. I was instantly given the job of giving a birthday party a ride around the lake, lot of excited children full of sugar.
I had around an hour and half on the train, a few birthday parties filtered through, and half way through, a couple of women came over and handed over, wrapped in blue paper towel, a small baby bird. Her cat had brought it home, and she had returned it, unharmed but a little stressed. I carried it carefully around the other side of the lake, I couldn’t see its parents, who I saw earlier, but I carefully knelt down and opened the paper up next to the water. After a few moments, the bird rushed away, my only fear now is that it is rejected by its parents, but we all felt we had done the right thing, and the bird didn’t seem harmed.
I was later relieved from my duties by members of the Barnsley Model Railway Group, who own the track, and Kirklees Light Railway operate it for them. They had brought some toys in the form of a tiny steam train to run around the circuit. I couldn’t help but go and have a talk with them and get up and close with this brilliant little machine.
After this I boarded the next train in the station, asking to be dropped off where ‘they were greasing the fish plates’.
Now, on the journey up, I had to google fish plates, in a vain attempt to look vaguely knowledgeable, and now, I can fill you in on the details.
Fish plates and rectangular pieces of metal which hold the tracks together at the joints. Held in by four bolts, I expected some part of it to look a little fishy, but not so, apparently the name comes from the French word for peg – fiche. My mind can’t call them fish plates, forever, they will be called ‘those metal recently thingies’.
They are greased as there is a small gap in the rail joints to allow for expansion, and this grease allows them to move more easily without buckling – quite an important job, and I was happy that I was actually working on the railway itself, having to keep an eye out for the passing trains, one of those guys who you see at the side of the railway with barrows full of tools.
Coming back on the train, I was greased up to the eyeballs, so much grease on my gloves, I think they may be waterproof from now on.
In all, it was a full on day, very random at times, and I go the chance to talk to a few visitors, especially a young man who turns 7 next week and knew more about the railway than any of us. I was working out in the sunshine, meeting even more new people, even more names to learn and remember, and now I am in possession of the new rulebook, so time to start learning those hand signals!