2021 Corris Railway Gala Moved To First Weekend Of September

2 Tattoos

With the Governmental announcements regarding plans for the easing of Covid-19 lockdowns the Corris and Talyllyn Railways have rescheduled their 100th Anniversary Gala events for Kerr Stuart locomotive No. 4 from May to September.

The Corris Railway’s Gala Weekend will move from May 8th & 9th to September 4th & 5th.

The Corris Railway had intended beginning its 2021 operations at Easter with crew training refreshers and examinations taking place in March, following no public train services between Corris and Maespoeth Junction in 2020.

However many of the Corris volunteers stay in local hotels and bed and breakfasts when working at the Railway and with Mid Wales accommodation providers not scheduled to open until Easter the training will take place in April. The Corris Railway management felt it unwise to begin the season with a weekend of intensive operation and the need to follow safe distancing in play. Public services, with pre-bookable tickets will begin in May.

The Gala Weekend will be part of the return visit of the original Corris Locomotive No. 4 “Edward Thomas” to its original line and will be the first time that it has headed passenger trains there since 1930. It will work a mixture of passenger and freight trains over the two days of the event in company with the Corris’ own No. 7, a 2005 recreation of the 1921 design. (historical information about the locomotives can be seen below).

Following the Corris Gala Nos. 4 and 7 will make the journey to Tywyn for a special birthday event on the Talyllyn Railway on September 11th and 12th. The Railways hope to be able to announce further dates when the locomotives will run before September 17th when No. 4 is due to be taken out of traffic for statutory boiler work.

Ticketing arrangements will be announced in due course and are dependent on progress with the combatting of the pandemic. Announcements will be made via www.corris.co.uk and the Corris’ Facebook page.

Historic Background Information:-

No. 4 is a Kerr Stuart “Tattoo” 0-4-2ST built for the Corris in 1921 and it worked on the Machynlleth to Aberllefenni line until it was withdrawn in 1948. Shortly afterwards the Corris Railway Line, apart from the horse worked Ratgoed Tramway, closed in August of that year. Passenger services had ceased at the end of 1930 after the Great Western had acquired the 2 foot 3 inch narrow gauge railway. Fortunately the locomotive was not reduced to scrap after withdrawal and, after being stored in the yard at Machynlleth station alongside the other extant Corris engine (Hughes 0-4-2ST No. 3 of 1878) it was purchased and moved to the Talyllyn Railway in 1951. Since 1952 it has been a mainstay of Talyllyn Railway operations.

As the revival of the Corris has progressed No. 4 has made one visit to its original haunts in 1996 but as the Corris Railway was not then passed for passenger trains it worked demonstration freight trains at the head of some surviving Corris waggons kindly provided by the Talyllyn Railway. This was part of the launch of the appeal to fund the build of a 21st Century “Tattoo” for use on the Corris. The new locomotive, No. 7, entered traffic in 2005.

Alan Keef Ltd And Corris Railway Set Completion Date For New “Falcon” Steam Locomotive

Following the ordering and cutting of the metal for the cab of the new Corris Railway “Falcon” 0-4-2ST the project has taken another step forward. Talks between the Corris and Alan Keef Ltd, as the builders of the new locomotive, took place at the end of January and as a result a target completion date has been agreed.

Alan Keef Ltd holds Open Days in late summer/early autumn every two years at its works near Ross on Wye with the proceeds going to charity. The next will be in 2022 and it will mark the firm’s 50th Anniversary since it was first established in Oxfordshire. As part of this celebration the aim is to have the newly completed “Falcon” as the centrepiece. After this it would be moved to its new home in the locomotive shed at Maespoeth Junction and subject to successfully being run in could enter traffic on the Corris before the end of the 2022 season.

When the engine is in service it will be the first time since 1930 that two steam locomotives owned by the Corris will be in service in the Dulas Valley, north of Machynlleth. It will be partnered by the 2005 built “Tattoo” 0-4-2ST No. 7 (The Corris was acquired by the GWR in 1930 and closed by British Railways in 1948).

However the crucial factor in this plan is the need to finance the construction in the remaining time and the figure required for completion is £100,000. For a small group like the Corris Railway Society this will be challenging and all support and donations will be very welcome to reach the target.

Donations for the “Falcon” can be made online via www.corris.co.uk. Alternatively cheques can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS (cheques should be payable to Corris Railway). Peter can also supply Standing Order forms for those who are able to make regular payments which greatly help progress with the project.

Side Sheet Adaptations To Feature In Cab Construction For New Steam Locomotive As Corris Railway Seeks Traverser Funding

GF Coaling up arrangement

As progress continues with the erection of the “ bottom half” of the new build Corris Railway “Falcon” 0-4-2ST No. 10 at the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd design work of another major feature is nearly complete ahead of quotations being obtained for the cutting of the metal.

This is the cab for the locomotive which will follow the general design and appearance of that carried by No. 3 in the part of its time on the Corris but will stand taller than that in order to accommodate 21st Century footplate crews. It will have the coal bunker inside the cab, unlike the arrangement which No. 3 now has at Tywyn, and to accommodate this whilst allowing for ease of coaling at Maespoeth Junction there will be a hinged upper cab side sheet on the left hand side. Work has been done at the design stage to make this as visually unobtrusive as possible.

In addition the upper part of the cab back sheet will be removable. This will make life more comfortable for the driver and fireman on hot days and will of course allow passengers in the front compartment of a Corris carriage, with their all- round visibility, a view of the working of the engine. (The Corris Railway coaches were quite effective Victorian/Edwardian observation carriages and this is a feature of the 21st Century recreations). It will also be removable for filming purposes.

Volunteer work for the new loco also continues on the newly cast brake blocks and brake column. In another volunteer’s workshop construction of the smokebox hinges and work on the baffle plate is underway.

When the locomotive is in service it is intended that it will run around its train at the new Corris station by means of a traverser as the area does not allow provision of a headshunt. This will be an unusual and interesting feature when in action.

This will cost £8,000 and a grant towards this work had been obtained. Unfortunately the funding body has had to reduce this to £2,000 as they sought to spread their resources across other railways affected by the pandemic leaving a large shortfall for the Corris to try to fill before being able to move forward with the new track layout and platform arrangements.

Donations towards both the “Falcon” and “Corris Station” funds can be made online via www.corris.co.uk. Alternatively cheques can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS for the locomotive or to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH for the Station Fund (cheques should be payable to Corris Raiway and please indicate for which purpose they are payable).

For The First Time Since 1930 Corris Railway Number 4 Will Take Passengers For A Journey From Corris Station

No. 4 with waggons at Maespoeth

The Corris Railway is planning to hold its 2021 Gala over the weekend on May 8th and 9th and the undoubted highlight will be the chance to see, and travel behind, Corris Railway No. 4 working its first passenger trains between Corris Station and Maespoeth Junction since 1930.

No. 4 is a Kerr Stuart “Tattoo” 0-4-2ST built for the Corris Railway in 1921 and it worked on the Machynlleth-Aberllefenni line until it was withdrawn in 1948. Shortly afterwards the Corris Railway Line, apart from the horse worked Ratgoed Tramway, closed in August of that year. Passenger services had ceased at the end of 1930 after the Great Western had acquired the 2 foot 3 inch narrow gauge line. Fortunately the locomotive was not reduced to scrap after withdrawal and after being stored in the yard at Machynlleth Station alongside the other extant Corris engine (Hughes 0-4-2ST No. 3 of 1878) it was purchased and moved to the Talyllyn Railway in 1951. Since 1952 it has been a mainstay of Talyllyn operations.

As the revival of the Corris has progressed No. 4 has made one visit to its original haunts but as the Corris Railway was not then passed for passenger trains it worked demonstration freight trains at the head of some surviving Corris waggons kindly provided by the Talyllyn. This was part of the launch of the appeal to fund the build of a 21st Century “Tattoo” for use on the Corris Railway. The new locomotive, No. 7, entered traffic in 2005.

Further events will take place on the Talyllyn with No. 7 making its second visit to the Talyllyn where amongst other attractions it will be joined by a further “Tattoo”, “Stanhope”.

The Corris Railway did not run any passenger trains during 2020 because of Covid-19 but plans are being produced to allow at least a basic service to operate in 2021 with time to clean and sterilise trains between trips. Depending on restrictions this may begin at Easter. Further information will be circulated and will appear on the website. Ticketing arrangements are also being worked on.

Volunteer Work Input As Work Continues On “Falcon” No. 10 For Corris Railway

Despite disruptions and some “stop/start” episodes inevitable in the Covid 19 affected world of 2020 work has continued with the construction of the new Falcon locomotive 0-4-2ST for the revival of the Corris Railway.

Following the movement of the boiler and smokebox components to the workshops of Alan Keef Limited near Ross-on-Wye these are now in position to be mounted when work on the chassis, motion and valve gear is completed. At the start of November the castings for the eccentric sheaves and eccentric straps had been machined. This was part of component production including:-

Casting for one eccentric strap including supplying the pattern4 No. in total
Machining one pair of cast iron eccentric straps4 No. in total
Machining an eccentric strap special bolt8 No. in total
Machining a pair of eccentric sheaves4 No. in total
Machining and fabrication of draincock linkage, brackets and rod1 set

The cost of the above including VAT was just over £10,000.

Away from the Keef’s workshops Corris Railway Society volunteers have been progressing work on some components. An East Midlands member, Ian Cross, has produced patterns for the brake blocks and the brake stem in his home workshop. These have been cast at the Manor Foundry in Ilkeston at the start of November and will be taken to Ross in due course for final machining as required. These components have cost £800. Steel has been delivered to the Maespoeth Junction workshops where other engineering volunteers will produce the brake gear.

In the middle of November CAD drawings for the new cab were completed by Graham French and this will be manufactured by CRS volunteers. The cab will have an outline similar to that of the original trio of “Falcons” in their final form on the Corris. But will be taller than the original to accommodate 21st century footplate men who are physically larger than their predecessors who drove and fired locos in the Dulas Valley between 1878 and 1948.

As always the date of the entry of No. 10 into traffic in the Dulas Valley and on the extended section of running line depends on the rate of fund raising. Online donations can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5YS

Progress And Caution At The Corris Railway

Although it was unable to run its planned 2020 train services after assessing the potential problems caused by Covid-19, progress has been made on the Corris Railway with both ongoing projects and maintenance.

On the maintenance front the running line has seen attention to sleepers and rail joints and the removal of the former LNER lever frame from Corris station for refurbishment. A very welcome development has been the “Sundae Gang”, a group of generally young volunteers, who have tackled both trackwork and lineside vegetation including opening out some views. Working on Sundays they have acquired their name from “refuelling breaks” that involve cake consumption.

A spell of dry weather in September, after a disappointing August, allowed more construction work on the embankment south of Maespoeth Junction and utilisation of more of the material available from Dolgellau. With the new-build steam locomotive “Falcon” number 10 a volunteer based in the East Midlands has produced patterns for the brake blocks and the brake column stem.

At Maespoeth Junction volunteers have continued to bring new build carriage number 23 closer to being able to enter traffic when services resume and there has been work on heritage waggons. A “working week” by a number of other volunteers greatly advanced the construction of the shelter for the waggons which will free valuable space in the carriage shed.

However in the latest edition of the Corris Railway Society magazine the “Corris-Pondent” Chairman Richard Hamilton-Foyn advised members that should the pandemic enforce restrictions on running passenger trains and “Railway For The Day” experiences continuing into 2021 then hard decisions may have to be made both to safeguard what has already been achieved with the revival of the Corris and its future. The lack of operations has cut out fares, on-site donations, and on day sales and although there have been generous donations from members and others, plus useful income from sales via the online shop this has not fully compensated. Richard emphasised his reluctance to “go cap in hand” to members and supporters but there is uncertainty ahead and help is appreciated.

Any donations to specific projects or general funds will be welcome. They can be made via www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to “Corris Railway” can be sent to the Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.

Volunteer Work Begins As Progress Continues With Construction Of New Steam Locomotive For Corris Railway

RH piston rod

Following the departure of the boiler and smokebox of the new build “Falcon” 0-4-2ST from the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction work will soon be getting underway there on the brake gear for the locomotive. This will be carried out by two or three of the team who have previously made brake components for the carriages constructed in the workshops at the Junction. Meanwhile another Corris Railway Society volunteer will be working in the East Midlands to produce patterns for the brake blocks and the cast iron brake stand to support the shaft and handle. This work will save money as construction proceeds.

Meanwhile in late August at Alan Keef’s workshops near Ross-on-Wye, as the boiler and smokebox were arriving, work was continuing on the motion for the “Falcon”. Castings for the eccentrics had arrived from the foundry and the crossheads had been trial fitted. Most recently the righthand sidepiston rod was in place so that the slide bar alignment could be checked. Once the slide bars have beenfinally aligned and bolted the crosshead slippers would be machined to suit. The valve buckles had beenexternally machined and some weeks earlier sent away for the insides to be wire cut out.

Thoughts are now turning towards other fittings and offsite work is underway also on the Salter Spring Balances which will control the safety valves in due course.

Discussions are ongoing about boiler fittings for the loco. Some are straightforward but others requirecareful consideration so that the parts which will not only do the job well but also look right. Theaim is to put together a definitive list so that best prices can be sought.

The work being carried out and the raw materials required for it are of course consuming funds and donations will be gratefully received. These can be made online via the “Falcon” section of the website www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, Worcs, B97 5YS

Boiler And Smokebox For New Corris Railway Steam Engine Leave Display At Maespoeth Junction

Items for the Falcon Locomotive including the boiler, chimney and many other components head off to be delivered to Alan Keef’s at Lea Line, Nr Ross-on-Wye

Following some co-operation over low-loader movements the boiler and smokebox for the new Corris Railway steam engine “Falcon” No. 10 have left storage and display in the carriage shed at Maepsoeth Junction for the workshops of Alan Keef Ltd near Ross-on-Wye.

It was intended that this phase of the new build project would take place once the construction of the “bottom half” of the locomotive was complete and with this point now approaching it was fortuitous that there was a lorry movement looking for a return load due in Mid Wales on August 12th and 13th. The lorry was bringing Talyllyn carriage number 17, one of two survivors of the original Corris fleet (the other is an exhibit in the Railway Museum at Corris), back from overhaul at Haltwhistle to Tywyn.

Andy Cooper of the Corris Railway Society was contacted about any item that might require movement and it was quickly agreed that the displayed components should make the move, with Corris volunteers acting quickly to shunt them from the carriage shed to the collection point ready for their onward journey to Herefordshire.

The relocation will also free up some space in the carriage shed where volunteers are continuing to work on new build carriages 23 and 24 and on waggon restoration.

Any contributions towards the movement costs will be welcome and can be made online via the “Falcon Locomotive” section of the corris.co.uk website or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Redditch, B97 5YS.

In the latest edition of the Newsletter sent out to current and previous subscribers to the construction of No. 10 Andy Cooper asked if anyone had a whistle available to donate to the project and who would like to hear it in due course echoing in the Dulas Valley. He can be contacted via andyc@corris.co.uk

Covid 19 And Progress On The Corris Railway

Thursday, 16.07.2020 All newly-fabricated parts of Falcon Locomotive No. 10 have been strapped together.

The Corris Railway has reluctantly had to join the list of lines that will not be re-opening for normal passenger trains in 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However with the easing of restrictions in Wales the volunteer workforce has been able to progress various projects on the line to further improve the Railway ahead of 2021.

The problems with reopening are threefold. The recreation of the bogie coach carriages from the Corris’ first incarnation has led to an internal layout of open saloons accessed by a shared entrance in the centre of the vehicle. Possibilities of social distancing are further reduced by the tight loading gauge.

Social distancing is also a consideration with the talk and sheds tour which is offered to passengers arriving at Maespoeth Junction, and for passengers in the shop and refreshment area at Corris.  During wet weather, not exactly unknown in the Dulas Valley, passengers tend to use this as a waiting area until the train arrives.

However the volunteer workforce has pressed ahead with various projects. Construction of the new shelter for the heritage waggons at Maespoeth Jnc. is underway and once the waggons are in their new home more space in the carriage shed will be available. Carriage No. 23 is approaching completion and should be available for traffic in 2021, assuming no new restrictions on work inside the shed are imposed. Clerestory roofed carriage No. 24, which will eventually bring First Class travel to the Corris for the first time since 1930, is also progressing on both metal and wood working fronts.

Between Corris and the Junction work has also been carried out with vegetation clearance and track maintenance being undertaken.

The newly manufactured smokebox for new-build “Falcon” steam engine No. 10 has been taken to Maespoeth Junction and temporarily united with the boiler. Both will be taken to the workshops of Alan Keef near Ross-on-Wye when work on the bottom half of the locomotive is complete.

Donations towards the Corris General Fund, which will assist with the continuing costs during the suspension of operations and their eventual resumption, and also for the works on the ongoing Southern Extension can be made via Paypal at www.corris.co.uk

Corris Railway Needs “A Window” In The Weather And More Funding For Southern Extension Work

Having completed the wall of stone filled gabion baskets during the long spell of dry weather in May and early June the return of wetter conditions had left the Corris Railway looking for another sunny period in order to further advance work on the embankment south of Maespoeth Junction.

The embankment will be made up of stone, slate, earth and some geotextile material and when complete will be 170 metres long and up to 6 metres high in places. It will have steep sides to meet flood amelioration requirements in the Dulas Valley. Construction therefore will have to be by professional contractors using heavy plant and machinery. This will use the estimated 12,000 – 15,000 tonnes of material obtained from Dolgellau but will still leave some work to be done. There is a risk that if the construction is not able to advance the Corris Railway may lose the material, which will be frustrating as if work resumes this phase of the job can be done in around one working week.

There has been some optimistic talk among enthusiasts of having the embankment complete and the running line extended along its top by the end of 2020 but the Corris Railway is keen to point out that whilst this is not impossible (although potentially further complicated by Covid-19 and possible consequent limitations for volunteer workers) it will certainly not happen without enough money being available. Even with all the earthworks in place, ballast, sleepers and track fixings have to be purchased. A complete 10 metre length of the new track will cost £795, so that work will absorb around £13,500. The Corris Railway has a supply of rail in secure storage.

However current donors can be assured that all money received during this stage of the Southern Extension Project will go into materials and construction. The Corris Railway wants to be running its trains over a longer distance in the Dulas Valley as soon as possible. Track has already been laid, and used, on the northern part of embankment that has previously been constructed.

Donations for the Southern Extension and, if necessary, to help the Railway through the Covid-19 crisis, can be made via the Corris Railway website www.corris.co.uk. The website is updated with information and pictures as progress is made and video reports are posted via the Corris’ Facebook page and embedded in the website. Cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9SH.

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