Thursday, 31 December 2009

Bye 2009

Hotspur & Lucille working up the bank approaching the Lake crossing. Photo: Aldridge

Well, we finished the year in style with a flurry (yes we did have some snow too!) of events, including the Club's Christmas Evening meal at a local Hostelry where some 20 of us enjoyed a lovely meal and convivial company, then there was the trip to the Cromer End Of Pier Christmas Show, good old fashioned Christmas entertainment, two and a half hours of singing, dancing and merriment!, and to round the year off, on Sunday some 25 members, families and friends visited the ALR and enjoyed mulled wine, sausage rolls and mince pies punctuated by some trips around the circuit behind Lucille and Hotspur, excellent!

Happy New Year Everyone !!!!!

Sunday, 13 December 2009


All The Gang at the ALR would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and all our best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our Open Days in 2010 !


New coach progress

We just thought you would like to see how good the new coach (still not sure whether she is Mavis or Maisie, we'll have to see what the posh nameplate says when it's done !!!) looks in her smart new paint scheme seen here standing proudly in the station area on 12th December 2009.

Photos: Brian M


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December Update

We are now concentrating on progressing some of those jobs that we didn't have time to do whilst we were making sure that all was in order for our Open Days during the summer, which include....

.Mavis, (there is still some doubt whether she will be Mavis, as several alternatives have been suggested, and one which went down really well was a 'Barbie' version in a tasty pink livery, but this is unlikely !!!!!) this new coach is in the painting stage, so is progressing very well.....

..The hydraulic loco lift is also coming on well with the last few bits to be welded on and then this item will be ready for a paint job (Hi Vis yellow we think so nobody will trip over it ?)

...Work is also progressing well on the track circuiting installation, with the fitting of the insulated fishplates on the 'H' section timbers out on the circuit, as well as the mimic board which has now been tested and is very impressive! So, all being well this sytem should be in use in the New Year, making life a lot easier for our signalling personnel.

....The underground conduits and cabling are now all laid ready to connect up to the remaining signals yet to be installed, which again we are hoping to have commissioned in the Spring (2010 that is!)..

.....We are planning to start work on the revised toilet area in the Spring so that this should be complete by the first 2010 Open Day in May

......and we are having a 'Mince Pie Specials' event for members, families & friends on the Sunday after Christmas which should help to blow away any Christmas cobwebs !!!!!


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

'Mavis' develops

The Boys were busy in the workshop today working on Mavis's bodywork, which is taking shape nicely, as the photo shows. She will soon be ready for a paint job......

Photo: Brian M

Meanwhile, outside in the very blustery, but not cold (13-14 degrees), weather, John & Dave were fitting more of the 'H' sleeper supports for the isolating track sections.

Back inside, we were also doing some work to The Shay which involved fitting an operating rod to the new bell to give a positive action rather than the sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't ring we had with the cord method used on the old bell. Some touching up of the paintwork was also done.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Website feedback

We did a check recently to see what kind of use you nice railway fans out there made of our site, and were pleasantly surprised ! We found that since January this year we have had 2313 visits from 1578 unique visitors. You looked at 5726 pages with an average of 2.48 page views per visit, with the average time spent on the site being 2 mins 6 secs per visit.... So we have doubled our traffic in the last year with still 2 months to go! Our new versus returning visitors in 2008 was about 60/40 % returning whereas this year it's more 70/30, highlighting that we have a regular audience.
So thank you very much, we hope we can continue to improve and hold your attention ! We do have one or two new 'thingys' up our sleeves!


Friday, 6 November 2009

Le Lit d'Ashmanhaugh

As promised, photos of the embryo hydraulic loco lift/stand taken on Wednesday in a raised position, whilst we were assessing the method of modifying said bed into a mobile loading/unloading/repair/maintenance stand. The rusty box section (suitably cleaned and painted of course!), will be attached as shown with an angle iron 'stop' at the right hand end, and a pair of box section 'rails' will be fabricated to fit into the left hand end, detachable & hingeable to rest on the track for loading/unloading. We may fit a winch to assist in getting locos on and off the stand be used when the 'driver' doesn't fancy driving the loco onto it !.......

.....and just couldn't resist including these photos of another lovely Ashmanhaugh Autumn !

All photos: Brian M

Monday, 2 November 2009

This 'n that

Hello again.... just a short update regarding on going 'jobs' on the Railway. Some time ago we were given a 'surplus to requirements' hospital bed, you know one of the hydraulic foot operated ones, which we thought we could turn into a lifting platfom for carrying out maintenance and repair works to our rolling stock, safely and at a convenient and comfortable height for our maintainers ! some of whom are no spring chickens anymore !!!!). Well, now that we have a little more time, our engineering 'crew' have had a closer look and are confident that for very little cost (our 'honourable' Treasurer will be very pleased to hear this!!!), we can convert it into the said lifting ramp. This will be another step forward for us and will enable us not only to safely and comfortably carry out works to our stock, but will enable us to load and unload locos onto trailers whenever we want to take a loco elsewhere or receive visiting ones at the ALR. It will be used off the concrete area in front of the workshops with the help of short section of portable 'ramp' track to gain the foot (300mm) or so height of the ramp at its lowest level. Work is underway, photos to follow!

Our latest coach, Number 41, currently under construction, is to be named 'Mavis' we hear........

The Shay is having a new bell fitted which is much louder and more 'masculine' we think, than the existing one, and new suspension brackets are being made. We have the bits to fabricate a rear lamp for the loco which will contain red and white lights, and we are looking at making or obtaining a suitable 'chime' whistle, air operated, which will really annoy one or two ????? but you will know where the loco is ! It was suggested recently by our revered loco boiler inspector that the loco was just crying out to be converted to steam ! Thank you Brian, but we are very happy with our lovely loco the way it is thanks!

.....and, we are hoping for a nice dry evening on Thursday when the Club is holding it's 2009 'Bonfire Night' do, about 40 members and friends are expected so it should be a good evening...


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Autumn works on the ALR

Engineering Crew reassembling Set 3's final bogie. Photo: Brian M

As we enjoy this lovely 'Indian ' Summer, we are progressing tasks on several fronts, now that our 'operating season' is finished, The Engineering Boys have been busy turning wheels out of EN8 steel blanks for the first of our coach sets to be rewheeled (16 required & turned !). The photo shows the last bogie standing complete shortly before refitting to Set 3 on Wednesday 28th October 2009..

We are also busy constructing another single coach (Number 41), in similar style to our existing ones, that may be attached to any train giving us more flexibility, and helping to reduce passenger waiting time on Open Days. The bogies are more or less complete, and the underframe, made out of Beech, is also just about complete as the photo shows, with Dave & Ray giving it a coat of paint on Wednesday 28th October.

The two bogies awaiting their 'superstructure outside the shed on 28th October 2009. Photos: Brian M

Work is ongoing out on the track, with adjustments being made to the gapping and levels where necessary, and some re sleepering is taking place. Dave is also busy fitting the track circuiting wiring and isolating 'fishplate' material around the circuit as necessary.

It's good to note that the Lake is filling up a bit now that we have had some rain, so it is doing its job, even after this long dry spell during which it didn't quite dry out !


Monday, 5 October 2009

The ALR loco fleet

ALR loco fleet 10th September 2009. Photos: John Pond

We took the opportunity recently to get all our locos out for a photo call so you could see them all together, and here they are posing in the September sunshine.
Just in case you don't know all our locos, they are, starting at the left, 'Lucille' & 'Hotspur', on the middle line, 'Sergeant,' 'The Shay' & 'Titan', and on the right, 'General' & 'Thunderbox'.


Last Open Day for 2009

The Shay & Thunderbox ready to commence the day's running. Photo: John Pond

We were blessed with a simply wonderful day on Sunday for this year's last Open Day, with warm sunshine all day. Lots of people came to see us, enjoying rides round the circuit which is looking great in its Autumn colours.

Sergeant comes through the trees with a short goods! .
Photo: George Aldridge

'Lucille', 'The Shay', 'Thunderbox' and 'The General' shared the afternoon's duties, with 'Sergeant' making an appearance with the goods wagons. 'General' got tired and had to be stopped during the session, and Hotspur was unavailable due to an expired boiler ticket.

The afternoon's running was completed with 'The Shay' and 'Thunderbox' performing our now mandatory double headed train with two trips around the circuit!

The double header sets off . Photo: JohnPond

So, thank you to everyone who came to see us this year, we hope you had a good time, we certainly have enjoyed showing you our wonderful little railway, and we hope to see you all again, (and some new faces? ), next year.
Thanks from all the ALR Gang !

Impressive view of Lucille ! Photo: George Aldridge

Bye for now!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

'Doris' (Coach 40) problems cured !

The Shay and train ready to depart Ashmanhaugh Station. Photo: John Pond

Circumnavigating The Puddle! Photo: John Pond

We were very pleased yesterday when, after spending the morning fitting a point motor to one of the shed access points, we had a bit of a 'play' after lunch. The Shay was fired up and trundled round to Laurel Sidings to collect a coach set and Coach 40 (affectionately called 'Doris). The boys had carried out further mods to the bogies after consulting with our 'Eaton Park' friends, (who use the same ones on their coaches), and this seemed to have cured the problem. So we thought we would do a few circuits in a train to see how she performed. It would also give two more of our members experience at driving The Shay. We were delighted that the coach ran perfectly and didn't fall off once, the ride was comfortable and it seems that after a few more circuits, the coach should be ready to enter service! Well done Chaps! Now where's that Tram ?

Ditto (Barry riding Shotgun!) Photo: John Pond


Monday, 7 September 2009

September Open Day

Happiness is------double header on the way! Photo: Jane Pond

We were delighted that last Sunday's weather was very kind giving us a warm sunny afternoon to welcome our visitors and run some trains on our penultimate Open Day for this year. It always pleases us that our visitors are prepared to travel such distances to enjoy our railway and this Sunday was no exception with people arriving from such places as Eastbourne, and Hereford. Blimey!!

Top table crew (can't read, obviously!). Photo: Anon !

Bottom Table Crew relaxing . Photos: Brian M

We used Lucille, Hotspur, The Shay and General, with the Sergeant making an appearance on a goods train, and all performed impeccably, (helped of course by their drivers!.) As a 'grand finale' we like to run a double headed 'special' and this Open Day was no exception. We ran a full train of our three coach sets around the circuit, twice (much to the delight of one of our regular young attendees whose previous best number of rides was 18, exceeded on this occasion by 1! ) So he was happy, as were his long suffering Mum and Grandma! We aim to please !!!!!

Sergeant enters the station area Photo: Brian M

We were nicely busy but not too hectic, so we were able to circulate and chat to our visitors, when not 'operating', which we do enjoy doing.

Hotspur passing the Signal Box to enter the Den section. Photo: Brian M

General comes through the station. Photo: Brian M

Hotspur sets off on another circuit. Photo: Brian M

By all accounts it was quite an 'Anglia TV' get together too, as there were several people there who did work there or are related to staff who did!. Now there's an idea for a reunion event Folks!!!!!!!!
Lucille arrives back at the station. Photo: Brian M

Double header prepares to leave. Photo: Brian M

The two steamers restart after a signal stop (which tested 'em), but they succeeded! Photo: Brian M

Coming over the lake flat crossing. Photo: Jane Pond

Thanks for coming to see us, we had a great afternoon! TTFN

P.S. Sorry there are no photos of the Shay, which worked hard as well during the afternoon , but as I was driving the loco , couldn't take any action photos! Did anyone get some ?

Thanks, Brian M

Saturday, 5 September 2009

ALR Summer (just!) BBQ

Mr B with Lucille, all ready to go! Photo: Brian M

Last Wednesday evening was the night when some 22 ALRC members, families & friends enjoyed a tasty BBQ (thanks to Ray, Geoff , Jill & Alan ), and enjoyed some chat and took some train rides. Lucille, The Shay, General, Thunderbox (complete with Xmas tree lights!) and Sergeant trundled around our track into the darkness until rain stopped play just after 8pm.

Cooking In Progress. Photo: Brian M

It's always fun to drive around in the dark (some of us can do that all the time!) when the railway is a different place, with the signal lamps gleaming in the darkness to allow us through or not. One of our Junior members was practising being a 'signalling ' person and did a very creditable job, which is not easy, especially when there are 5 trains on the circuit! and one or two of our members had a go at driving to gain more experience.

Lucille overlit (!) by Thunderbox. Photo: George Aldridge

At one stage we were 'attacked' by an Apache, yes it's real cowboy country on the ALR when you're out in the 'boondocks' ! This one was of the RAF type (we think), heading in the general direction of Norwich Airport, which as some of you will know isn't to far away from us.

Our 'Apache', rapidly disappearing! Photo: George Aldridge

So, all in all, another good night on our super railway, just enjoying and relaxing !!!!
Can't be bad eh ?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

2009 Aysham Model Railway Exhibition

On Saturday 26th September, the Broadland Model Railway Club, (based at the Ashmanhaugh Light Railway, meeting on Tuesday evenings), is presenting a Model Railway Exhibition. The show is being held this year at the Jubilee Centre at Alysham and will be open from 10.30 am til 4.30 pm. Some 15 layouts will be on display together with trade stands. (we are taking our display stand, and look forward to meeting you!).
There are Park & Ride arrangements with the Bure Valley Railway at Wroxham Station, and parking is available at Aylsham Station. A Routemaster bus will meet all Bure Valley Railway trains at Alysham, taking visitors up the the Exhibition venue and back.

Refreshments are available at the Jubilee Centre and the Bure Valley Railway's 'WhistleStop' restaurant at Aylsham will be open for full meals & refreshments.

Admission prices are Adult £3.50, Concessions & children £2.50.....also discounted exhibition & BVR train tickets are available.

Should be good !
Further information can be obtained at - - Tel 01263 734115

'Tis Nearly Autumn

As we approach the end of our 2009 Open Day season with just two more to enjoy, 6th September & 4th October, we are looking ahead & planning the jobs we need to do, apart from the normal day to day and end of season maintenance tasks on the railway, taken care of as part of our normal ongoing duties.

We have decided that we will build another, seperate, coach to match the existing timber sets that we obtained from The Little Melton Railway, which will help out a bit on Open Days and give us flexibility in running varied train sets. Eventually we intend to convert the existing 2 coach set into a 3 coach set as & when funds & resources permit.
We are also looking at providing a loco lift facility to make maintenance access easier for our personnel who are not getting any younger! We are lucky in that we have obtained a 'hydraulic' hospital bed kindly donated by our local St John Ambulance friends, and we think that this can be 'adapted' for this purpose. If the 'loco lift' is mobile then this could also be used as and when locos come to us, or go to other railways in the future (another activity that we would love to do!). In this respect we are looking at providing a pivoted section of track alongside the signal box so this can be used to load/unload stock onto road transport. We also have a trolley and ramp that came with the Shay that could be used.

We are also conscious that our toilet facilities are a bit 'meagre' on Open Days and currently are looking into providing more W.C.'s to help out for next year.

Our Junior members are currently building a small 'N' gauge model railway that will be push button operated for our Open Day visitors to amuse themselves with!

The Club's Social activities are always very enjoyable and we have planned a Club BBQ in September, a Bonfire Night 'do', our traditional Christmas Dinner at a local Hostelry, a trip the the Cromer 'End of The Pier' Christmas Show, and looking ahead, our ALR Weekend Away will see us heading 'up North' to North Yorkshire where our erstwhile Social Secretary will have some good excursions for us to enjoy, no doubt !

Can't wait!


Monday, 17 August 2009

Fun Day !

Locos lined up ready for the 'off'

Last Saturday saw us having a Club running day when we spent all day enjoying our railway, with some of the members trying their hand at new tasks, or just getting more experience with their existing ones, and others just enjoying the rides and the relaxed atmosphere! It was, again, a very lovely day, we are so lucky with the weather generally, it's been very enjoyable!
So members were practising driving, guarding, signalling, andbeing a Person In Charge, with Lucille, Thunderbox, The General and The Shay all in use. A good day, as we hope the photos will show!


Lucille being 'prepped'

OK Guys, so who's doing what !

The Boys find out what's what on The Shay!

The 'Young Ones' in charge with The Shay on the back straight

Lucille coming up to the Lake flat crossing with concentrating driver!
All photos: Brian M

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Another good day

Wednesday was another very warm, sunny day which makes 'working' on the ALR an absolute pleasure. It's amazing what you see if you 'look' and yesterday was no exception. There were frogs in the grass, shrews, ladybirds, newts, grasshoppers and ladybirds (or Bishy Barnabees as they are called in these parts), all of which makes us realise what a lovely spot this is......We managed to get a few more jobs done, grass cutting, strimming under tree belts, more work on Coach 40's chassis
(we are getting there slowly!), and we got the Shay running. It was a very 'gunged' up carburettor, and the loco is running fine now, as some of the gang (Ashley, Ben & Dave) who drove it round the circuit found out, it is very easy to drive. It also allowed the boys to test the track circuiting system on the first sections installed, which worked fine, so all systems go now!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Excellent August Open Day

We were delighted that the weather was very kind to us again yesterday, allowing everyone to enjoy a lovely, sunny and warm afternoon for our 2009 August Open Day. We ran a 3 train service for most of the afternoon, with Lucille, Hotspur, The General and Thunderbox in charge. Unfortunately, the Shay was failed just before the session due to a flooding carburettor caused by a worn or faulty needle valve which we hope to replace this week..
So, we were pleased with the attendance as the queue was not too long, everyone was in 'happy' mode, and a full crew allowed us to have time to chat to our visitors, which is always a nice thing to be able to do!


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Hello !

Well here we are again, we haven't forgotten you!, it's just that we have been 'distracted' by holidays and family things ....but rest assured, we have been quietly beavering away on a variety of tasks to keep everything in order and to improve our railway.
Following our visit to the Great Cockrow Railway on our way back from Devon in May, we took the decision to install a 'failsafe' system of track detection, (which we had been thinking about for a while) and our S & T boys have been sitting at some of our electrical cabinets fixing 'things' with soldering irons !, and a mimic diagram is being made to hang in the signal box above the window overlooking the platforms so, eventually, our signalling personnel will KNOW where the trains are instead of having to guess which one will emerge from the 'boondocks' first .
We have also been doing some works on our Shay loco, including moving the 'oil tender top' back to give us a more comfortable driving position, with the controls moved back slightly too and a new fuel tank has been fitted with a sight glass so we know when to refuel! We now just need to source a proper American chime steam whistle that the Shays had, but operated by air, so if you have any ideas on this one, please let us know.
We have also, of course, been gardening, isn't stuff growing quickly, and there's a lot of it! it's like painting the Forth Bridge!!!!!
We have also installed some concrete bases for some more signals which are to be installed to control trains entering and leaving the Lake section.
and, talking of the Lake (which at the moment is more like a big puddle!), we spotted some newts and fish in there the other week. The fish were a bit small to identify but we thought maybe tench or catfish? surely not? we'll see.......
We recently bought a wheel press to make the job of fitting/unfitting wheels onto our rolling stock axles much easier, and our engineering boys are still turning out wheels from steel blanks to replace the wheelsets on our coaches, and tomorrow...... we have our August Open Day, so we have our fingers crossed for good weather, and maybe we'll see you then?

Monday, 6 July 2009

Successful July Open Day

We were delighted that the weather was kind to us on Sunday (5th July), and that our motoring friends from the Cambridge, Norwich & Broadland MG Owners Clubs managed to find us with their fascinating variety of MGs, old (and newer models too!). We were delighted to welcome them, they all were very happy, and we hope our visitors enjoyed them too !
We managed eventually, to run a three train service (albeit that we were a bit short staffed due to holidays etc,), with Lucille, Hotspur, The General, Thunderbox and The Shay all taking their turn. So apologies if you had to wait a little while for a ride, but it was a lovely afternoon and everyone was in good spirits, so thank you for coming to see us !

The MG 'convoy' arriving

Parked inside the 'Tunnel' circuit

and two of the trains... The Shay ready to depart

and Lucille heads towards Laurel Sidings

All photos: George Aldridge