Monday, 20 December 2010

Seasonal Greetings

All of the 'Gang' at the Ashmanhaugh Light Railway would like to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
Justify Full

We hope to see you in 2011 !

Monday, 6 December 2010

Winter Wonderland ?

As we shiver in this sudden wintry spell, which to be fair, has left us considerably better off than those in other parts of our country, we plod on with those jobs that the weather hasn't prevented us from doing ! We have taken in all the signals, locating them in their new home in the Laurel Sidings Running shed, (to give the shed its posh new name !) and we are in the process of replacing the spectacle glasses which have faded in the sunshine (remember that stuff?). Then, hopefully we will get an eager 'volunteer' (or two?) to repaint the posts so they are all spick and span for next year !.

Signals stored in their racks in the Laurel Sidings shed

Work is now progressing well with the new toilet and 'staff'' locker room areas with the new partitions up, and ceilings and doors being fitted. Soon be ready for the painters ! When this is done we are to redecorate the Clubroom which is now in need of a 'refresh'!

The two upper photos show the area opened up ready to form the new toilet
and locker room areas, with the lowest one showing the new partitions forming
the new toilet lobby area, looking towards the existing toilet door. The new staff
locker room door can be seen at the right hand side.
All Photos: Brian M

Even managed to find an hour to pick enough sloes to make some more lovely Sloe Gin, yummy !

We still have a long list of 'things' to do (where do they all come from?) which will keep us out of mischief over the coming months which will enable us, and you (!), to further enjoy our railway........

We are also looking forward to our annual Christmas meal at a local Hostelry next Friday evening. Christmas is rushing upon us at a very rapid pace !!!!!!! Hope you are not getting tooooooo stressed over the Christmas shopping !


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Award winning Cottages !


As you may be aware, there are two luxury self catering holiday cottages adjacent to the ALR which were converted from the old farm buildings by Jane & John some years ago, into the popular holiday Cottages that you see as you approach the railway today. Well, we are delighted to tell you that the Cottages achieved 'Winner of the 2010 Regional 'Enjoy England' awards for Excellence for Self Catering Holiday of the year' at the annual ceremony held at Ickworth House recently. The award covers properties in six counties so this is a fine achievement.
But not only did the cottages win that award, on Friday evening at the EDP Tourism in Norfolk Award ceremony held at The Holiday Inn, North Norwich, the Best Self Catering Establishment was awarded to Plum Tree Cottage, the larger of the two, capable of sleeping up to six people in 3 bedrooms.

Well done Jane !

Should you wish to find out more about these lovely properties (with a miniature railway very close !), you can go straight to the Cottages' website by using the link (East View Farm Holiday Cottages) on this page.


Asmmm you may be aware, there are two Well, we are delighted to tell you that the Cottages achieved 'Winner of the 2010 Regional 'Enjoy England' awards for Excellence for Self Catering Holiday of the year' at the annual ceremony held rfolk Award ceremony held at The Holiday Inn, North Norwich, the Best Self Catering Establishment was awarded to Plum Tree Cottage, the larger of the two, capable of sleeping up to six people in 3 bedrooms.
Well done Jane !

Should you wish to find out more about these lovely properties (with a miniature railway very close !), you can go straight to the Cottages' website by using the link
cottages adjacent to the ALR which were converted from the old farm buildings by Jane & John some years ago into the popular holiday Cottages that you see as you approach the railway today. Well, we are delighted to tell you that the Cottages achieved 'Winner of the 2010 Regional 'Enjoy England' awards for Excellence for Self Catering Holiday of the Year' at the annual ceremony held

But not only did the cottages win that award, on Friday evening at the EDP Tourism in Norfolk Award ceremony held at The Holiday Inn, North Norwich, the Best Self Catering Establishment was awarded to Plum Tree Cottage, the larger of the two, capable of sleeping up to six people in 3 bedrooms.
Well done Jane !


Monday, 8 November 2010

No Guy & Damp Squibs !

Friday evening, being November 5th was our now, Annual Bonfire night 'do', 46 hardy members, family and friends turned up on a very damp evening to enjoy a mega display of fantastic fireworks (well done Daves!) and some tasty soup, hot dogs, baked potatoes followed by a variety of gateaux, yummy! (well done John, Jane, Val, Alan & Jill ).
We were delighted that our new 'Woodpecker Lodge' is already proving its worth, providing a valuable, dry storage area for the fireworks on the night.
Unfortunately due to the rain, we decided not to run any trains so we were able to spend the whole evening mixing and mingling and having an enjoyable time!

During the past couple of weeks we have been busy sorting out the 'old' loco shed, which now has a workbench, paint and electrical storage cupboards, a smart gardening tools rack and a lot less clutter. We are finding stuff we didn't know we had!
The running shed ceiling insulation is well advanced, and the loco pit covers are made ready to be fitted.
The trackwork in the station approach area has been lifted and its geometry altered to make a 'smoother' entry curve off the back straight, and the track boys are planning their winter maintenance work schedule.
We have also started work on forming the new toilet and locker area so you will see some changes when you come to see us next year!


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Some Interesting feedback !

ALR Autumn colours
Photo: John Pond

From time to time our 'technical person' delves into the dark world of Bloggs and websites to come up with some interesting data which we thought you might like to hear!

During the period 24th April to 24th October 2010, the ALR 'Blogg' has been visited 1905 times with visitors spending an average of 2.03 minutes on the site, during which time there were 4738 page views. The average page views per visit was 2.49 minutes.

58.64% of these visitors were new and the visits 'spiked' on May 1st, June 6th, July 4th , August 1st and September 5th, which coincide nicely with our Open Days!

17.43% of the visits were direct, 31.23% were 'referred' and 51.34% came via search engines.

Our most viewed pages were 'About the ALR, 'How to find us', 'Locomotive 'Sergeant,' and 'Locomotive 'The Shay' !

The top 5 visits by country were UK (1777), USA (30), France (11), Australia (10), Germany (6). we were visited by visitors from 40 countries in total, wow!

All of which tells us just how valuable the site is in spreading the word, excellent. Thank you all for looking, and please continue to do so !

Our thanks to Neil for the research.


Friday, 8 October 2010

Another busy week

The scene as the locos were being steamed up for their 'test' .

On Wednesday we welcomed Brian (71/4" Gauge Society President & Hemsby stalwart), & Reg (of Hemsby & 'Britannia' fame!) to the ALR to carry out the inspections and tests required on both our locos for their 'steam tickets' to be renewed. All went well, we are pleased to report and an interesting morning was enjoyed, culminating in a trip around the circuit for our 'guests' behind Hotspur. We also managed to rectify the lubricator, on Hotspur that had not been working properly, (or even at all ? for a while) thanks to Andy & Ray, and oil is now being sent to where it is required! We also found that air is getting into the smokebox which would explain the difficulty we have had in maintaining steam pressure on Hotspur for any length of time, so this now should also have solved that problem! So, all in all a good session!

Hotspur comes round past Bamboo Junction (see the sign?) after her steam test.

Hotspur with Brian & Reg enjoying a well earned ride coming past Birchwood Junction.

The boys have now also fixed the track over the new pit and Lucille did the honours by being the first loco to use it, as you will see from the photos. This facility is going to be a really useful asset to the railway as we will now be able to get right under the locos for inspections, maintenance and repairs.

Ray tries out the new pit (and approves!)

We have also started the winter maintenance of our track with some pointwork in the station area being uplifted for some rebuilding work. We are also making a metal paint cupboard in an attempt to start to organise our stores (good on yer Barry!) within the workshop area which can now be cleared out following the move of our locos into the Laurel Sidings running shed. We are also about to fix insulation to the underside of the Running Shed roof to prevent condensation forming during the Winter.

One of our new signs (at Cobnut Junction).
All photos: Brian M


Monday, 4 October 2010

This 'n That

Woodpecker Lodge nearly complete. Photo: Dave Jones

Hi, several things going on recently,
We have now erected our cedarwood Summer House following a very kind offer from some friends of one of our members to have it. We have just been waiting for the 'OK' from the local Planning Authority before putting it up. It will provide a very useful facility (as you can see from the photo), mini clubhouse, display area, storage etc, is to be called Woodpecker Lodge !
Just trying it out are we chaps ? Photo: Dave Jones

We have also now erected some junction signs around the track to remind us where we are, very smart we think ?

The new loco pit at Laurel Sidings has the trackwork in position across it so we are nearly there with this job....

The insulation for the running shed roof is now on site so there's another job to do which should stop the condensation dripping all over our nice rolling stock during the Winter!

...and last Saturday we took our Display stand to the Broadland Model Railway Club's annual exhibition at Aylsham where we had a very good day talking to lots of visitors and managing to find time to admire some lovely model railway layouts. Well done Chaps! Good show !


Last 2010 Open Day sucess !

We were delighted with the response from our visitors on Sunday following our decision to go ahead with the afternoon despite an 'orrible weather forecast! We had expected to be sat there looking out at the pouring rain, drinking tea, gloomily, thinking of all the other things we could be doing! But instead we managed to run all afternoon to satisfy a really good turn out of visitors, with some light rain now and then during the session, thank you all for coming. (we had one family who had travelled 200 miles to be with us, thank you so much!).
We had a really good time with Hotspur, Lucille, General, Thunderbox and The Shay all making appearances during the afternoon.
The steam double header 'Grande Finale' was not, as the two steam locos could only manage 75 PSI of steam between them so they didn't both make it! Hotspur got lost somewhere on the circuit leaving Lucille to limp home, but everyone took it in good spirits and it just proves once again how tricky these lovely 'little' engines are to keep going for 3 hours!
So another first for the ALR, we didn't have to cancel one Open Day this year! Well done everyone and many thanks to all our visitors, (some very regular) who make such nice comments about the ALR, we are flattered and very pleased you enjoy your visits so much!
See you next year?


Monday, 20 September 2010

September time

As September rapidly disappears we are still keeping busy, although we are into the 'late summer holidays' time when some of us hope to catch some lovely Autumn days somewhere on the Planet !
We welcomed another happy Birthday Party visit last Saturday, followed by a 'Footplate experience' session which was thoroughly enjoyed by all (well done Steven! and Alan of course!).
On the jobs front we have replaced the Shay's handbrake cable, (not easy but our erstwhile engineers like a challenge!), continued with the gardening (bit like painting the Forth bridge), and we have installed six Junction signs (photos to follow), very smart, so our drivers know roughly where they are on the circuit?
So something to look out for when you visit on our next Open Day on SUNDAY OCTOBER 3rd. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The ALR track detection system

After 18 months development, the ALR Track Detection system is up and running, although there is still some fine tuning to do. The basics are that the track detects when a train is present by a short circuit being detected across the two rails via the metal wheels and axles of the engines and carriages. This triggers a low impedence relay which is housed in the trackside distribution boxes (in batches of four- one relay for each track section - see photo).

We spent some time experimenting with different relays until we found one that had suitable impedence and drop out voltage characteristics. If these were wrong we found it difficult to achieve relay switching in wet weather conditions because the resistance across 200 wood sleepers drops dramatically when wet, and holds the relays on. Also the length of track sections had an effect.
The track is divided into 16 sections. The switched contact of the relay is fed to the input of a 555 electronic timer circuit which is designed to give a 5 second consistent high on its output as soon as it detects a train. The reasoning behind this is to give a constant output even if the track is dirty in places resulting in relay judder. This 5 seconds also allows the next section of track to be detected and displayed in the signal box before the last carriage leaves the previous section.
The output of the timer circuit is then fed via another PO type relay to the display board in the signal box which lights up relevant LED's on the display board. As you can just see in the photograph, there are three sections lit, 'Bamboo', 'Home straight' and the first ''Lake' section which indicate there are 3 trains running.

At this month's Open Day we had 4 trains running simultaneously for the first time and the track detection system enabled the signalman to keep trains evenly spaced ( most of the time!) around the circuit.

2010 Open Day Number Five-excellent !

Lucille makes her way around the Lake

Our latest Open day for this year last Sunday (5th September), was another very enjoyable day for us all, and we hope our visitors too, you all seemed happy, and if you are happy, then so are we!
The weather once again was excellent, with a steady breeze and plenty of lovely warm sunshine......

The stars of the show were, The General, Hotspur, Lucille, The Shay and Sergeant who all performed very well (good driving I say!). Hotspur decided to take its own route rather than the one the signalman had set as it entered the station area on one trip, which resulted in the loco having a rest in the ballast! But we like a challenge, and after a few minutes the loco was on the rails once more, the trackwork checked and we were on our way again! We decided not to use 'Den' section for the remainder of the afternoon just in case there is a problem with the pointwork, and so with a slightly shorter ride we were able to keep the queue moving steadily forward.

It's also good to be able to spend time chatting to our visitors and on Sunday the local railways were well represented with staff from the North Norfolk, the Mid Norfolk, the Fenland Light Railway and the Little Orchard railway visiting us! Particular thanks to Andy P who gave us some invaluable advise on the mysterious art of steam loco firing!

So one more Open Day to go and that's another year almost gone!


P.S. Just been reminded that good 'ole 'Thunderbox' tramped round on Sunday too....ooops !

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Birthday Times !

Our Honourable Treasurer achieved the 'Magic 70' last Wednesday and very generously threw a Birthday Party at the ALR on Saturday evening for quite a few of his many friends. We all had a great time, enjoying a delicious Hog Roast, the odd drink or two (or maybe more?), a few train rides ('General', 'The Shay' and 'Sergeant' had a wander round), and much hilarity. The weather was extremely kind and so a great evening was had by all.
Thanks Al !

Alan prepares to tuck into one of the biggest (& nicest !) pork pies we have sampled, kindly donated by one of our members !!!

The 'Hog' smoking nicely !

Guests enjoying the 'Party ambience' !

'General' approaches the platform full of happy party goers, with young Ben driving and Dad guarding!

The Shay about to set off

Meanwhile, the new loco pit progresses, more gardening is being done, the 'fitting out' of the new running shed continues, final signal installations continue, and we look forward to our next Open Day, this coming Sunday, September 5th.....we hope to see you there!
Trains will be running from 2 til 5.

All photos: Brian M

P.S. On Saturday we were treated to the wonderful sight of three, yes three, Buzzards working the skies above the railway. These superb fliers are breeding in the area now we hear, and at least one of the three, we think, must be this year's offspring.

Monday, 16 August 2010

August Update

Aubrey enjoying his Driver Experience session with 'Lucille' on Saturday 13th August.
Photo: Brian M

Hi there......lots going on this spite of holiday absences !.....

Our August Open Day was an enjoyable one with a good attendance (thank you!), and good weather. We were nicely busy but not rushed off our feet so it was good that everything behaved enabling everyone to enjoy the afternoon. Following a suggestion by one of our Ladies, we have started to have a 'picnic' session after we have cleared away on Open Days so those of us who want to bring along some nibbles, sit, relax, have a drink and a chat can do so, nice idea!

We have concreted the base to the new loco pit at Laurel sidings which will enable us to construct the concrete block walls and get the pit ready to use.

Pit concreting in progress on Saturday 13th August.
Photo:Brian M

We are fitting levers to replace the handbrake wheels on the coach sets which should give a firmer and quicker hold when required. Some rewiring to the alarm systems is also in progress..

'Jonesy' working on 'Doris'
Photo: Brian M

On Saturday afternoon a lucky man, Aubrey, came along to have a go at driving a steam loco on one of our Driver Experience sessions, which he and his family and friends thoroughly enjoyed (we did too!). Big smiles all round, and what a lovely afternoon for it !.

Aubrey oils round guided by Alan & Ben
Photo: Brian M

We were also busy with tree and bush trimming, track maintenance and fitting out of the new shed at Laurel Sidings so we can move the locos down there permanently. The plan is to use Laurel Sidings as the running shed where locos will be prepared and disposed of, and where we can make up the train sets ready to come straight into the platform, when required, via the 'layby siding', rather than changing locos at the platform.

Our Social Secretary has been trying to organise a 'Fish & Chip' Supper on the Mid Norfolk Railway, but unfortunately this had to be cancelled as we could not get enough people to attend , so instead, 21 of us enjoyed a very nice meal at a local 'hostelry' last Friday evening......excellent. We should do that more often !!!

Finally we are taking our Display stand to the 'Flying Pigs Eastern Rail 2010' exhibition on Sunday 22nd August. This exhibition, being held at the Neatherd High School in East Dereham, is for '0' Guage railway modelling and above (up to 71/4" ) and will be open from 10.30 to 16.30, maybe we'll see you there !


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Super Saturday

An excellent day last Saturday saw our members busily working away on lots of jobs........ but first we had a Birthday Boy who kindly provided Pork Pies and cake, yummy!!!!
Thanks Dave, 37 ?, yeah right, you wish!!!!!!

Dig in Chaps !
All photos: Brian M

The two steam locos got a much deserved steam clean (naturally!)

The platform fence painting was completed

Trackwork in Laurel sidings received attention as the recent hot weather had taken up all the rail gaps which caused one or two gauging problems!

and some final wiring connections to the track circuiting installations were being completed into the signal box.

We even had a play during the afternoon , firing up 'Lucille' so we could 'train up' (sorry!) more drivers....Sargeant came out to play hauling Doris and Mavis for a while, and 'The General' had a few trundles round, testing the track circuiting work that was being done.......
We also used the righthand leg of the triangle to access the Lake section for the first time, it is rumoured !

Ray is fixing a slight leak on Lucille prior to her being fired up.


P.S. Will you be coming to see us this Sunday ? Hope so, trains running from 2 til 5pm.......

Monday, 19 July 2010

A Very Good Week on the ALR

Hotspur approaching the Home Straight signals with a Birthday Party train on 17th July, with the Shay in the background en route to the Lake section.
Photo: Brian M

This week has been a very good week, (well they are all good but some just better than others!).
On Wednesday, we concentrated on doing some gardening and track maintenance work, Dave is tweaking the track circuiting set up as when the sleepers are wet, in some sections the resistance builds up and prevents the panel lights in the signal box from extinguishing! (think that's what he said?) anyway he thinks he may have solved it so more testing to be done on the bench first before he 'amends' the set up. The same problem occurs on the 'big' railways apparently.! We are hoping to give you more detail about how it all works once he has it working OK.

We ran Hotspur, General and The Shay during the Birthday Party in the afternoon, and the weather just about managed to behave with only one short shower catching us out on the circuit with the Birthday Party passengers ! Nevertheless a good time was had by all ! We used the Welsh coal that we are trying, and were pleased with the performance, good steady fire, very little clinker on the grate or residue in the smokebox, excellent! So we could be placing a bigger order !

Lucille heading along Home Straight with a Birthday Party train on 26th June
Photo: Brian M

On Sunday we took the ALR Publicity stand to the Potter Heigham Model Railway, Transport & Craft Exhibition which was held in the old School in the village. The Broadland Model Railway Club were also present, taking along 'Corru' with its first extension board, 'Gated', (don't ask, all will be revealed in due course!) & 'Tobyham', privately owned by Jon Bird, one of the BMRC's members.

Jon Bird's 'Tobyham' at Potter Heigham. Photo: Brian Lowe

We had a busy day, chatting to lots of interesting visitors, and hopefully encouraging those who haven't been to the ALR before, to visit us! It was an interesting exhibition with a good selection of model railways, model boats, NICE's (Norfolk Internal Combustion Engines) fascinating, working displays of some very old machines, arts & crafts, plants, and vintage cars.
We had a very enjoyable but tiring day !


Monday, 5 July 2010

Busy Weekend

Hotspur & Lucille approach Lake flat crossing on Sunday 4th July.
Photo: Brian M

We have had a great weekend on the ALR, and the weather was fantastic! Thank you !!!!
We had another sucessful Saturday Birthday Party session, during which we gave 'Hotspur' a run to test her 'whistle' which had been fitted with a stronger spring' ! It was a bit too strong but our engineering boys had a look (well done Rodger!), gave it some 'tweaks' after which it was fine, but up to that point yours truly had smoke coming at him from everywhere up front! Cough, cough, splutter, splutter! We also managed to get lots of jobs done in readiness for our Sunday Rotary Charity Open Day....
We are trying some 'real' Welsh coal (as advertised in the 71/4" Gauge Society mag,) to see how we get on with it, and first impressions are favourable after trying it out on Sunday as well.

'Thunderbox' loading. Photo: Brian M

'General' loading while 'Lucille' coasts by onto Den section for the 'final approach'
Photo: Brian M

Sunday, of course, was our July Open Day when The Rotary Club of Norwich presented a Special Charity Day. Rotary had organised refreshments, cake stall, raffle, face painting, an ice cream stall and games. The afternoon was a roaring sucess with one of the best turnouts we have seen on the railway due in no small part to the Rotary Marketing 'machine' doing a great job with all the local media. Our thanks must also go to Archant who sent along their reporter Tracey Gray, and photographer Colin Finch a couple of Saturdays ago to run a feature on the railway. That they did, with features in the Eastern Daily Press, The Norwich Evening News and a double page spread in the North Norfolk News! Excellent ! This kind of publicity makes us very proud of what we are achieving on the ALR, so thank you all for coming to see us and making all the hard work worthwhile!
We ran three trains all afternoon with 'General', 'The Shay', 'Hotspur', 'Lucille' and 'Thunderbox' all on duty, running faultlessly throughout the hot afternoon. Well done everyone!

The 'Grande Finale' double headed steam train runs down Lakeside cutting through the wild flower displays
Photo: Brian M

Friday, 2 July 2010

Party time

'Lucille' coasts down Lakeside cutting past the wild flowers with a Birthday Party train on 26th June 2010
Photo: Brian M

We are having a run of Birthday Parties at the moment, which are very enjoyable events, both for the lucky birthday boy or girl, their parents and friends, and of course ourselves, as we can enjoy running trains without having to worry too much about reducing the queues we often get on Open Days! It also gives us chance to practise the various skills required in running our railway in a realistic environment.

Locos being prepared for a Birthday Party session at Laurel Sidings
Photo: Brian M