Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat !

Hi there, yes we are zooming along in December now and Santa will soon be here, bless him, however does he do it? 
We are skipping along too, with much effort being concentrated on the new trackwork for the Laurel sidings area. The 'Y' point is made and positioned, which will provide storage and easy access for the MOW (maintenance of way!) wagons, and the three way is nearly done, coming along nicely in the workshop.

Brackers, Ray and John working on the 3 way point

The track panels for the additional sidings behind the loco shed are made, and all will be connected once the three way is completed (soon!).

General view of Laurel sidings, with new facing point off mainline at lower left, new sidings track laid out at right, with the gap at bottom centre where the 3 way will go.

Brackers has been attending to the signal 'wiggly bits' one by one (some at home), to ensure all the electrical storm damage is rectified, and we have a 'posh' new telephone system installed (by Richard), which will give us additional extension capacity. Tis right up to date 'cos you can leave messages or music just in case the extension is busy!!!! Just like the real thing!!!! ......Hey can you just imagine the driver of a train stopped at Signal 10, waiting for another train to negotiate the flat crossing off Den section, ringing in to the signal box to report he has been stood there for yonks, when he hears.....'thank you for calling, your call is important to us, one of our operators will speak to you shortly. You are presently number 30 in a queue !!!! Could be interesting????
and of course we just can't not have a photo of Mr Ball admiring his handiwork (well, his and others it has to be said!) Sorry JP!
Photos: Brian M

So, we would like to take this opportunity of thanking you all for coming to see us in 2014 and for following our website, we hope you have a lovely Christmas wherever you are and all the ALR Gang would like to wish you Health and Happiness for 2015.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Viceroy looking smart in the new livery
Well modern technology is wonderful, some might say, when it is working! Unfortunately the telephone and Broadband service that yours truly uses to circulate this Blog, has been, I think the expression is, 'down', for a week now, but now that it seems to be 'up' (????) again, we can bring you up to date with some ALR stuff!
We had a good Annual General meeting on 8th November during which and afterwards, in the 'Club members chat', we came up with some good, we think, decisions. We shall be continuing with our very popular Open Days on the first Sunday of the month from May through to October, albeit with a slight increase in ticket prices to help keep up with the ever increasing costs of running and maintaining the railway. We also would like to encourage more visiting locos to create more interest with our visitors and ourselves, now that the circuits with the signalling and track circuiting are well proven! We will continue to offer the 'Footplate Experience ' sessions, but in a slightly different and longer format, at the same price. However, it has been decided that there will be no Birthday Parties in 2015.
There is a strong possibility that we shall build a further two coaches to help to ease the queues a bit during Open Days, ensuring that there is always a spare set ready to go. We also have the prospect of another loco coming to live at Ashmanhaugh, as one of our members is currently building, in his home workshop, an American outline diesel loco, 24 v battery powered, which should be a powerful loco using the excellent power bogies from Paul at Ride On Railways, whose interesting Romford workshop was visited by three of us recently to collect the bogies. We look forward to seeing the loco in action! Ray's Viceroy has received its new paint scheme now and is looking very smart, which with one or two more 'embellishments' is going to be another welcome addition to the ALR fleet.
On the jobs front, we have excavated and ballasted the area for the two new sidings at the back of the loco shed, and the Boys have been busy making up track panels for this area. Rainwater gutters are to be fitted to the loco shed so the rainwater (considerable after a downpour!) can be disposed of via a new soakaway in the trees. (well not actually in the tress but in the ground amongst!!!!)

The Boys get to grips with the new soakaway!
Coach maintenance is underway and the loco inspections are also in progress so we can assess what needs to be done before the 2015 Open Days start. Gardening work continues as always, and Richard has been doing a bit of planting in the 'wildlife areas to make them more colourful.
...and as the Festive Season approaches, we look forward to our annual Christmas meal in a local well used hostelry with some 30 members family and friends booked to attend

 We dig it out, we assemble the track panels and then we place it in position !  next!!!
All photos: Brian M


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Baby It's Dark Outside!

Well it is, very early, now that the clocks have been put back, but it's still very mild so that's a good thing.We are putting things away and getting into our Winter maintenance routine now. The steam locos are drained and tucked up cosy and warm in the top workshop, along with Nelson and a coach just in case we want to do some running while the track to Laurel Sidings is severed whilst we install the longer siding there. We are also going to put in a couple of sidings to the rear of the loco shed for additional storage, which will also give extra 'steaming' roads on Open Days when there are several steam locos being fired up!. There will also be a short siding installed off Track 1 to accommodate the wagons so they can be 'got out' at any time without having to move stock out of the shed.
The biggest job at the moment is to remedy the damage done to the track, signal and pointwork electrics, following a severe electrical storm we experienced about three weeks ago.The Guys are slowly working through the system to see what has 'blown' and starting to put the damage right, could take a while !
The signs are all inside and the Gnomes are happily cosy and warm in the shed now. Wagon maintenance is underway and Viceroy's bodywork is receiving a paint makeover into a very smart sort of  'Somerset and Dorsetish' dark blue. Other bits and pieces have been checked over so this fine little loco will be fit to for use on the railway once the driving tender wheels are turned, but that's another story!
Horticultural works continue with more trimming and pruning, some planting and weeding has been done and JP is letting some of the grassed areas grow into 'wild flower' places which hopefully will attract more birds and wildlife!

Think that;s about all for now, take care.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Busy October Finale

Our members enjoying their prestart refreshments in the lovely, warm sunshine!
Well, did you do us proud on Sunday! Thank you all for coming and making that lovely sunny, Sunday afternoon one of the best ever !!! We had a great afternoon, and for once we were 'overflowing' with locos, thanks to the Halesworth and the North Norfolk Boys bringing along their locos. The Sweet Williams enjoyed their time with us again, and the Tobys were amazing, hauling a three car set, what power these locos have! So there was a good variety of locos out and about with our resident Isabel, Lucille, General, Thunderbox, Nelson, The Shay and Sergeant all coming out to play! 
So lots of happy, smiling people enjoying our last Open Day of the year with lots of teas, coffees cakes etc being consumed, along with all the ice creams (fridge is empty!). We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it was nice to have some time to chat to people too....marvelous!!!!!

                                                                             Sweet Williams being prepared

Isabel entering 'Den' section
General runs through as Isabel's next train loads

                                                                                                                                                        See you next year Folks !!!!!! but we will keep you up to date with what we are up to (mostly!) through the winter months.....take care.....and keep smiling !!!!!!!!


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Tis October !

Hello...this year is disappearing fast, and this coming Sunday sees us holding our last Public Open Day for this year, when there should be plenty going on....we have John and Dudley bringing their excellent Tram locos again to impress us with their power (and hopefully bring a few smiles to some youngster's faces?), and the Halesworth Boys are coming to help out with their lovely 'Sweet William' locos, which enjoy a romp around our slightly longer run than their usual one ! And, all our three steam locos are serviceable (well they were yesterday, so hopefully they won't get the sulks on Sunday?), so with the rest of the ALR loco stud ready to go we should have a good afternoon, hope to see you there!
Remember trains will be running from 2 til 5 pm, weather permitting (and the forecast looks OK), and you can have a cuppa, a cake or even an ice cream  if you fancy one !

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Happy Sunday

We enjoyed a lovely, sunny, afternoon last Sunday for our September Open Day, with lots of happy visitors enjoying the relaxed  atmosphere with a variety of trains running again. The steamers were not altogether co-operative with Lucille having the sulks at first, but then following some persuasive words (?) from Alan, performed nicely for the rest of the afternoon. Isabel was OK, then wasn't, so had to be withdrawn with valve gear problems again, unfortunately. More tweaking required !
So, the task of keeping our trains moving fell largely onto General, Thunderbox, The Shay, Nelson and Sergeant's 'shoulders', and they didn't let us down, running faultlessly all afternoon! Great, we enjoyed driving them!!!!!!
We received some very complimentary comments again, which is very satisfying, thank you Folks, it's always good to know you enjoy your visits.
The Saturday evening prior to that saw some 30 of our members, families and friends enjoying a tasty fish and chip supper, very enjoyable, perfect evening, plenty of mingling with some train rides, too, excellent!
..and yesterday (Wednesday), Brian Reading came out to see Hotspur steamed, and was happy that all is OK with this loco, so she can now be used on Public occasions, which will be great. We look forward to seeing the loco in action again now that her new boiler is fully commissioned!!!

....oh, and we thought you might like to see how posh our new loco shed is looking now with its painted floor, safety handrail and yellow pit edging!!!!


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Oh Dear, what can the matter be????

mm dunno what do you think ?

have you tried ????? 

Poor old 'Thunderbox'  has not been well, sulking and coughing and spluttering, and on Wednesday just gave up!!! Just refused to start, not even a backfire !!!!!
Docs and medics were summoned from all corners with their helpers (as you can see), and they pored all over the poor old loco, for the best part of the day. Heads were scratched, suggestions were made (some unrepeatable here!) and worried looks were worn !!!!! Production almost everywhere on site stopped. Worryingly this 'characterful' loco is getting on a bit now, almost geriatric, so there were worries that he/she had seen her last days !!!!! No no no they said, not likely ! 
Everything, and do we mean everything!!, was checked, and rechecked, and checked again, never has there been such a service given to an old engine, (specially not 'ere!) and still the loco refused to co-operate, it coughed once or twice, but that was all.......'twas a complete mystery.........until the attending technicians got the point and tried something else.(subtle 'inhouse' joke here!).....and, joy of joys, the engine sprang to life and ran as sweet as ever, thank goodness!!!! sounded as it never did before and romped round the track like a good 'un. and not even a hint of any smoke, blimey!!!!
Well done Guys, a good day's work eh ????!!!!!!

Happy faces at the end of the day!!!
All photos: Brian M

Hope to see you all on Sunday afternoon (7th September) between 2 and 5, when Thunderbox and Friends will be coming out to play.!!!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Boring but interesting stuff!

We thought for a change from the usual, 'we have done this' and 'we have done that', and we have of course!, you would be fascinated by some statistics from our 'blog' !!!! For instance, last month we had 1468 visits with the main traffic sources being via 1) our website, and 2) Google!....The most popular time for visits is immediately before each Open Day ! The most utilised browsers were Safari (28%), Chrome (24%),  Firefox (22%) and Internet Explorer (16%).Windows was the most used operating system at 51%, followed by the IPad at 23% !
Our audience ranges from the UK (obviously !) forming 67%, followed by Germany (10%), USA (7%), then Austria, Ukraine, India and China at 3%, Shri Lanka with 2 % and France and Sweden at 1 %. There, thought you would be fascinated!!!! 

But, we know you would be really disappointed with no news from the railway, so you will be pleased to learn that the ALR has a new loco on its roster. One of our members has purchased 'Viceroy', the 0-6-0 battery electric owned by John Dabson, who sadly passed away recently. The loco was brought over from The Parklands Railway at Hemsby this week, and had its first run round our tracks on Wednesday when it easily hauled a 2 car set, with several happy members aboard! This beefy little loco will be a very useful,  'ready to go' loco at the ALR, and we look forward to seeing it out and about, often!!!

'Viceroy' being gently rolled down the newly completed ramp

and a happy Ray about to take the loco on its first trip round the ALR!
Photos: John Pond and Brian M

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Time's Flying by !!

So it's almost August, blimey, where is this year going to ????? We are keeping busy and although we are not complaining, it has been hot, just like a 'proper' summer!!!!, so some of our 'old bones' have been struggling a bit, but there we are, we often say "if only we had started this railway 10 or 15 years earlier" !!!!!

We had some good 'Isabel' advice from Brian B the other week, (many thanks Brian, much appreciated) and so we are obtaining some stronger springs for the rear axle which it seems should solve the 'timing' problem as there is too much rear axle movement and the rear wheelset is not level. So hopefully once these are fitted she will be 100% again, lovely loco!
Hotspur has been trundling round on running in sessions as we get to know this 'new' loco's traits, she certainly wants to steam. We are ready for Brian Reading to come along and carry out the tests required in order for the loco to be 'certificated', so she will be available for general use. So, the prospect of us having 3 steam locos in action is almost (I did say almost, this is the ALR don't forget!!!!) a reality!

The ramp being assembled in the workshop
Our new offloading ramp is almost complete (well done Engineering Boys!) and the 'Civil Engineering Team' have completed the bases, so once the ramp is painted and the base concrete 'cured', we can install the item and test it !!!!! It will be positioned on the track next to the signal box just behind the gate so trailers can be reversed up to it and stock rolled down onto the track.

and that's where it's going!

We are trying to keep up with the gardening as the greenery is still romping away, and track tweaking continues, plans are afoot to construct the track sections required for the Laurel Sidings headshunt soon, so this job can be got on with after our last Open Day on 5th October
We have been promised by John and Dudley, a visit by their two tram engines on our October Open Day, so we are looking forward to seeing these lovely little, but powerful locos around the circuit (much to the delight of the visiting youngsters no doubt, who'd have thought they would see not one but two Toby's again!!!!! )

Looking forward to our next Public Open Day this coming Sunday (3rd August) when we will be running trains from 2 til 5 pm, weather permitting (and the forecast looks OK at the moment!), maybe we'll see you then?



Monday, 28 July 2014

May we have your attention please ?

Could we just remind those of you who would like to come and look around our railway, (and we are always pleased to show off  our 'creation'!), that we would be grateful if you would contact us first (, or call 01603404263, thanks) so we can arrange a time and date that is convenient. The reason for this is that the ALR, a small private Club, is situated on private property and is only open to the General Public on our Open Days on the first Sunday of the months of May to October, and there have been several instances recently of people just driving in, expecting to be able to look around ! In addition there are two holiday cottages on the site, and 'Guests ' come to stay in the lovely cottages, expecting a quiet, peaceful break !
We hope we can rely on your co operation in this matter, as we are sure you wouldn't be too happy if  you had car loads of strangers coming up your drive for a look round your garden unannounced ???
Thank you......


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Hotspur steams !

A 'pleased as Punch'  Barry gently coaxes Hotspur out of the shed area with the loco's first steaming run.
We were delighted on Saturday (12th July) when Hotspur was steamed up for the first time following the fitting of the loco's new boiler. All was good with just one or two tweaks required,so big smiles all round with particular pats on the back to Ray H & Barry who have been involved with the major part of the work on the loco. 

The happy duo approaching the bridge
Photos: John Pond


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Sweet Steam !

Double headed final train on Sunday with 'Remus' and ' Little Olive'  in charge.
We had a great weekend, thanks to our Friends from the Halesworth Club who came across on Saturday with three steam locos, for a play! So our thanks to the Davids, Paul, Simon, Chris and Paul for bringing their two Sweet Williams, 'Holkham' and 'Little Olive', and the Romulus 'Remus' !.  Many good runs round were enjoyed and some of us had the chance to drive too, which was really good!!!  So, an excellent day which gave us chance to relax and enjoy seeing these lovely engines working their way around our track.

Relaxing fun on Saturday as our visiting locos get to know the route(s)
The Boys were more than happy to come back on the Sunday to help out with our Open Day, although, sadly, Dave had to return home with 'Little Olive' as she had suffered a problem with one of her crank pins which would need a bit of 'workshop' attention.
We were delighted also that 'Hotspur' was wheeled out into the sunshine on Saturday for the first time in a long time, with her new boiler and fittings almost ready for an air test, (on Wednesday, all being well).

Hotspur looking good and just about ready to go again.

We thought Sunday was going to be a bit of a disaster as it rained continually until gone 2 o' clock, at which time there was only us present !!! Fortunately, however, the weather picked up as the afternoon passed, and so did the number of visitors coming onto site, (thank you Folks!), so in the end, although it was quiet, plenty of rides were enjoyed behind a variety of locos with 'Remus' and 'Little Olive' performing solidly all afternoon, with help from our resident locos 'General', 'Nelson', 'Thunderbox' and 'The Shay' (briefly!). 
A nice relaxing afternoon with time to chat which is always good !!!!!

Our 'refreshing'  Ladies relaxing before the fun  starts!!!

The 'doubleheader' works its way through the station.


Friday, 4 July 2014

Visiting Engines

The Halesworth Boys 'tweaking' whilst playing at ours last year!
We are delighted that our Friends from the Halesworth Club, who visited us last July with their two 'Sweet Williams', are coming again this year.....on Saturday (and maybe Sunday!), and it is possible that there will be a third loco which we understand to be a Romulus, so we are looking forward to that, should be a fun day !!!! Then if everybody is happy, they may stay over for the Sunday when they can help us with our next Public Open Day, on Sunday 6th July remember, 2 til 5, most things running except 'Isabel', she is not quite well enough yet !!!
We had a good day on Wednesday and all of our stock is serviceable, so as long we don't break anything on Saturday, everything should be out and about on Sunday, maybe we'll see you then ????


Friday, 27 June 2014

Mid Summer update

Laurel sidings area in the lovely sunshine on Wednesday 25th June

We can't believe that we are halfway through 2014 already, doesn't time fly when you are enjoying yourself! Still steady progress being made on the railway with the end nearly in sight on Hotspur's new boiler re fitting tasks, and it could be that a pressure test isn't too far away!!! We are really looking forward to seeing all THREE steam locos in action! wow!!! 

'Hotspur'  beginning to look smart again!

We have a little work to do on Isabel as there is something not quite right with her valve gear timing, and we were given some valuable advise from our Friends from the Norwich Club when they visited the other week, so hopefully we can put this right and have her 100% again soon. Lucille's injector, which has been a bit 'iffy', has been cleaned out so this should enable her to be fully fit again!. 
We had to fit a new amplifier to the Shay's sound module as 'someone', (yes, OK it was me !!!) connected the battery up the wrong way round, and there was an almighty bang, and a burnt out amp!!!! We have now altered the wiring so the battery leads can be only be connected the right way, so hopefully this won't happen again!!!!
We were pleased to be able to welcome the Rackheath Bombers Toddle Group last Wednesday when some 25 youngsters and their folks had their Annual 'Toddle' around the perimeter of the site to raise funds for the Barnardos Charity. Stories, refreshments and train rides followed and a good time was enjoyed by all despite the dampish morning!!!
We have started to excavate the trackbed for the proposed  lengthened headshunt down at Laurel sidings, so this can be ready for the necessary trackwork alterations to be implemented once this year's Open Days are finished. 
Excavation and edging boards going in on the new headshunt.
The metalwork for our new, longer, offloading ramp has arrived, so that should keep the Boys occupied for an hour or two?????

Next weekend, we are expecting the Boys from the Halesworth Club to come along for a 'play' with their 'Sweet Williams' and this year also a Romulus too!! Looking forward to that!!!!

View across the loco shed area
All photos: Brian M

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Boys Are Back !

The Boys enjoying a drink at Rawtenstall on the East Lancs
A Dave Jones photo
Yes, seven of us had a great weekend in West Yorkshire and managed to fit in some good visits. We travelled on the Keighley & Worth Valley (pretending to be the Old Gentlemen waving to the Railway Children.... somewhere!), interesting shed tour too!), 

A newly arrived visitor for the Diesel Gala weekend on the K&WVR
a ride on the East Lancs Railway with powerful, smart, speedy, saddle tank in charge (ex WD 'Sapper'), no shed visit unfortunately, but the Transport Museum at Bury was very interesting.

Sapper leaving Bolton Street Station at Bury on the East Lancs
and Embsay & Bolton Abbey (very damp !!!! great shed tour), but no seven and a quarter line working (rubbish weather????)

A very smartly turned out 'Beatrice' on the Embsay Railway
 followed by a 'Pondys' Mystery Tour round the Yorkshire Dales, (we even managed to see the Ribblehead Viaduct on the S & C complete with train), before heading back to our comfortable and friendly Ibis Hotel (Bradford) in Shipley. 
Our thanks to the Brighouse Crew for their warm welcome on Thursday evening where we had a great time driving, chatting and having a good look round, thanks Martyn, Brian & Co, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with you! 
Brian explaining the BNSF diesel's controls to Brian (Moi!) (heaven!)
Victoria coming out to play!
Thanks also to the Wakefield Club Crew who made us welcome on Sunday as we headed back home, a good break for a look at their set up, which again is very interesting and  we saw some lovely locos, especially the Darjeeling loco! 

The lovely Darjeeling loco just unloaded at the Wakefield Club
So, another great weekend with plenty of inspiration.....where next year Chaps??????


We should also mention our visit to Blackgates Engineering in Dewsbury on the way up where we purchased injectors, flue brushes and stuff for our locos, and where we  met Phil who said why not pop in to the Wakefield Club on Sunday as they would be running, and we did , thanks Phil!!!

Monday, 2 June 2014

This 'n that


Roy's Class 40 coming onto the ALR metals ready for turning on Wednesday 28th May 2014

 Hi there
We were very pleased with our June Open Day yesterday, lovely sunny afternoon, plenty of happy visitors, but not too many, so we had time to chat! All our stock got a run out and in spite of one or two problems with Isabel during the week, the Boys managed to keep her going, mostly, along with Lucille, Thunderbox, General, The Shay and Nelson. Sergeant also had a little trundle with Ben & James, on a 'photo' mission, but more of that some other time !!!!!

 Happy Boys preparing for the Open Day

 and Mr Ball doesn't usually look so happy with Welsh flags ????? new leaf AL?

Dave and Ray were busy on Friday and Saturday relaying the track along the Tunnel section, which was sitting on top of the ballast, we noticed during the week, when our visitors from the Nottingham Club came for a play with Roy's wonderful Class 40 (what a sound that loco has !), and his lovely coaches, and Keith's Class 08. Was nice to see Tony and Liz coming over for the day too! It's the first time we have had a full 'standard' gauge train on the circuit! We had a great day with several of us being allowed to drive the 40, thanks Roy & Dennis, very generous of you, and much appreciated. It was great to see the big smiles all round, even Tony had a go !!!!

Tunnel section track being relaid with AH 'Supervising'!

The louvre unit is placed on the new shed roof, and will be secured once we are happy it's in the right position, we are painting the pit floor and part wall with bitumen paint to keep the floor dry, (we pumped about 120 litres out on Wednesday morning, (thanks Ben!) after 24 hours of rain! Blimey!), but it was almost dry on Saturday so we thought we would get a coat on!

The loco shed louvre in place

Ray continues, with help from others it has to be said, on putting Hotspur back together again, and we are looking forward to having three steam locos available, wow!!!! but we are not saying when, just yet , are we Ray ?????

 Ray at his 'desk' with Isabel this time!

and, things don't stay as they are for long here, for a plan has emerged to put a longer head shunt siding in at Laurel Sidings, accessed by a facing point off the main line and then returning 60 feet or so along the main line just before the 'tunnel'. Tape measures have been out and lengths of track and edging boards laid down to see if there's room, and there is , so watch this space!!!!!

and, finally, seven of us are heading North early on Thursday morning, West Yorkshire bound, on our 'Annual Boys Weekend Away', (thank you Ladies! xxx) to see what we can find. Our base this year is Shipley and we have several visits planned, of which more details when we return!!!!

Posed on the bridge

                  Heading for the bridge

                                                             and Keith about to set off with his super little Class 08