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News from the Bunk Line

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December 2013- Extra 'Forces Personnel' Santa Trains- 30 Nov and 01 Dec.

We added two extra running days, with a half price offer for current and retired services personnel- see the events page.

April 2013- D9520 replaced by D9523

NGB 1 at Wallingford- Sept 12IT IS WITH REGRET THAT D9520 WILL NOT BE ATTENDING OVER THE 2 WEEKENDS 4-6 & 11-12 MAY DUE TO A FAILURE OF THE MAIN GENERATOR, HOWEVER WE HAVE NOW MANAGED TO BOOK D9523 FROM THE DERWENT VALLEY RAILWAY AND THE EVENT CAN NOW GO A HEAD AS PLANNED.

WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE D9520 GROUP FOR THEIR HELP IN MAKING SURE THE EVENT GOES AHEAD.

February 2013- Class 14 Diesel Visit

NGB 1 at Wallingford- Sept 12The CWR will be welcoming its first visting diesel loco this May, and we will be operating some extra running days to make the most of it. On the 04 05 06 May and 11 12 May ex BR class 14 Diesel loco number D9520, will visit us from the Nene Valley Railway. The visit is courtesy of Iron and Steel Traction Group Limited.

February 2013- 09 March Charity Loco Pull

On 09 March come down to Wallingford station to see a group of people pull a steam engine into the platform. Money raised is going to comic relief.

January 2013- Motive Power Update

NGB 1 at Wallingford- Sept 12 After failing with hot axle-boxes NGB No.1 has now returned to Darlington. We are hopeful of her return, once steaming issues have been resolved and subject to a contract being agreed. Peckett 0-4-0 Ivor remains resident on the line, happily sleeping until Easter when he will be steaming again.

September 2012- New museum open for business

JObs Our new museum is open for business. It's only a small museum, but it has to be said the standard of it is excellent! It has taken a couple of years for a small group of our volunteers to complete. These are the same people who are keeping the railway running, so work on the museum has had to fit in with other more pressing tasks.

For the first time, the history of the railway is told, with relevant exhibits to bring the story to life. The museum is divided into four areas, GWR, BR, Preservation and a fourth area for changing exhibitions. There is a computer showing numerous photos of the line and visiting locos. More interactive exhibits for the younger generation will be added.

September 2012- Northern Steam has arrived!

NGB 1 at Wallingford- Sept 12 Good news, our long awaited visitor, 'Northern Gas Board No.1' has arrived! At the time of writing we have two operational steam locos on the branch. You may catch them steaming together at the mystery weekend- who knows!

NGB1 is a 1953 Peckett 0-4-0 saddle tank steam loco. This loco worked at the John street gas works Darlington,it was later sold to St.Anthony's Tar works,Thomas Ness Ltd,Newcastle, which was part of the National Coal Board from where it was rescued by members of the Darlington Railway Preservation Society and put back into working order in July 2012.

August 2012- Northern Steam on it's way!

BB Good news, our long awaited visitor, 'Northern Gas Board No.1' is steaming! We now just need to get her here, and we hope she will arrive in August. NGB1 is a 1953 Peckett 0-4-0 saddle tank steam loco. This loco worked at the John street gas works Darlington,it was later sold to St.Anthony's Tar works,Thomas Ness Ltd,Newcastle, which was part of the National Coal Board from where it was rescued by members of the Darlington Railway Preservation Society and put back into working order in July 2012.

July 2012- Museum Progress

BB Its taken longer than we hoped, but our new museum is nearing completion.........
Gradually, all of the museum artefacts and railway archives have been located and moved to the Cambrian coach, so the work of actually setting up the museum could begin. The museum layout is arranged so that when visitors first enter the coach they are in the Great Western Railway area, containing mostly GWR artefacts. Then moving to the left the next area contains the British Railways archive and then through to the area containing the history of the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway Society. These three areas will stay predominantly the same, whereas the final area will be used for special projects, new acquisitions and topical items, after viewing all these sections the visitor arrives at the exit.

As visitors walk through the museum they will find a set of storyboards, relating the history of the line. This year as it is the Queen’s Jubilee, we will have a display highlighting the Bunk lines royal connections. In years gone by the royal train was often berthed on a branch line overnight and this included our length of line. There will be on show, a coat originally worn by a guard on the royal train and a photograph and description of the royal train. It is possible that not all of the displays in the museum will be completed by the time you visit, but please bear with us, as this is something of an ongoing task. While the museum is being set up, we will complete and inventory of the museum artefacts and archive material.

November 2011- Carriage and Wagon Update

BB We've been busy making progress with wagon reastoration as well as keeping the Mark Ones in traffic:

One of the doors on open coach 4508 had to be locked out of use last year as the door pillars had swollen up due to corrosion. As the offending door and the associated pillars were dismantled the corrosion was found to be worse than expected and the amount of work greater. Fortunately we had a pair of new steel door pillars in stock and these were welded in together with the brackets for the hinges and a new section of the body panelling either side of the door.

The door itself had some rust holes showing through the steel skin so the door was completely stripped down and several patches cut out and welded in including the entire bottom 8” section. Timber repairs were also required to the door framework. All this meant a considerable amount of extra work to return the coach to traffic. In the meantime we started overhauling some of the spare doors ready for next winter. A luggage door has been stripped down and again the bottom section will require replacement. Given the difficulty making a new section for 4508 it has been decided to construct a folding tool to allow us to produce these sections, as a number of doors will require this repair in the coming years.

Work also recommenced on the repairs to the Kemble van. A team undertook roof repairs including new roofing felt making the vehicle smart and watertight. The exterior planking on the western side was found to be in worse condition than that on the eastern side which had been repaired last year. One complete section has been removed and largely replaced with new planking machined to size. Bob Harrington also cut out a section of rotten steel plate and welded in a replacement. There is one more section of planking and one more door to repair before the vehicle can be repainted in BR bauxite livery.

June 2011- CWR & Didcot Railway Cente 08 Sunday- 31st July 2011

BB 08 Diesel fans are in for a treat and chance to travel behind 4 different 08s at 2 locations in Oxfordshire:

Didcot Railway Centre and nearby Cholsey and Wallingford Railway have got together to offer diesel locomotive enthusiasts the opportunity to ride behind four 08 diesel shunting locomotives in one day, on Sunday 31 July, for the first time in South Oxfordshire.

Better known for using steam traction, the use of a diesel locomotive on passenger trains is something of a first for Didcot Railway Centre. This is also the first time that Didcot has hosted a joint event with the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway

In celebration of this link, there will be admission discounts at each venue, on production of the admission ticket from the first. First Great Western runs trains from Cholsey to Didcot (normal First Great Western fares apply), with trains from Didcot to Cholsey departing at 21 minutes past the hour and trains from Cholsey to Didcot departing at approximately 6 minutes past the hour. As always with preserved locomotives, the usual clause of ‘subject to availability’ applies. At Didcot Railway Centre the diesel locomotive is expected to be in action on the branch line between 10:30–12:00 and on the main demonstration line between 13:00–14:30 and 16:00–17:00. The GWR diesel railcar will also be in operation (and for the steam fans 5322 and Fire Fly will also be hauling trains). Built by British Railways between the years 1952 – 1962, the 08 class of diesel shunters was the largest single class of diesel locomotive ever built in the UK, numbering 1193 in total. Two of the three 08 locomotives at the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway also saw industrial service after being retired from British Railways, both going on to work for Guinness of Park Royal, London, in 1985, for a further 12 years, before entering preservation.

May 2011- Steaming on The Bunk from 29 May!

BB We are very pleased that we will be having steam hauled trains from 29 May. Southall Railway Centre's No.7386 'Birknehead' will be arriving before the 29th and staying until at least June.

25 May- Birkenhead has now arrived! Shown arriving on the lorry at Wallingford.

...and in steam at Wallingford, 28 May 2011.

BB

May 2011- Singing the Blues

BB We are pleased to announce that visitors to Wallingford Blues and Beer festival can get a discount on travel on Sat. 11 June. The Blues and Beer Festival is a long established popular event in the Wallingford calendar.

There will be Blues Performers on the train on Saturday.

April 2011- Rolling Stock Progress

GWR 184 We were unable to complete the final topcoat on coaches 35129 and 4508 before the visit of pannier tank 6430, but the coaches still looked better than they have for some years. There are some nice videos of 6430 in action on our line on Youtube which are worth searching out.

We have focussed on the Kemble box van recently. The replacement planking was fitted on the eastern side and some repairs undertaken on the doors. On the western side one of the doors was found to be beyond repair so an excellent new door was fitted. There will be some more planking to replace on the western side followed by a repaint in BR bauxite livery.

The repaint of the GWR Grampus ballast wagon, which is now in all over black awaiting another topcoat and lettering.

A start has been made on the Toad brake van, which was looking very tatty with the old “InterCity” livery showing through in places. The open veranda on this vehicle is made of steel sheets riveted to an angle iron frame and is prone to corrosion at the joints. The last time this vehicle was painted several holes were filled but this time it was necessary to cut out a large section on one side and weld and bolt in a replacement section of plate. The opportunity was also taken to straighten up veranda sides, which were leaning inwards due to a build up of rust.

GWR full brake 184, which serves as the carriage and wagon stores van is also looking pretty tatty. This vehicle was built at Swindon in 1935 and it typical of this era, having a wooden body framework clad in steel panels. A number of the steel panels are rusting through so we have been removing these and replacing them with new galvanized panels.

April 2011- News from the Lineside.

Museum We’ve had a busy winter along the line with good progress being made on many fronts. At long last we’ve got new toilets for our customers. The old cabins had served more than 20 years and had literally began to disintegrate. We’ve not quite got to the stage yet where we can construct a purpose built station building, but the new toilets we make sure that our customers have decent facilities in the meantime.

We had a change of plan and decided to get a ‘new’ ish cabin in, rather than try and rebuilt the ‘pagoda’ loos that we have on site. Our permanent way gang continue to invest lots of hard work to make sure that our line is more than fit for traffic, an important but often unseen job. Before the winter weather set in some of our rolling stock got some much needed attention.

We now look forward to our operating season and celebrating 30 years with optimism for the future.

February 2011- New Museum Progress

Museum We have been making stirling progress on transforming our Cambrian Railway coach into a new home for our museum. It is going to be a tight squeeze, but we hope to create a much more ordered, focussed and interactive museum that will appeal to adults and children.

The musuem will be split into three bays- GWR, BR and Preservation era. The photo shows one of the bays being installed. This is all being done whilst minimising any damage to historic fabric of the coach.

The museum will tell the story of the railway with each stage being brought to life with the exhibits. The museum will feature:
- A recreation of a station office
- Talking telephones
- Computer exhibits
- Items that children can touch and explore.

This won't all be ready for April 2011 and make take a little longer to develop the more interesting exhibits.

August 2010- Bristolian meets Bunk Line?

No.6430 at Wallingford- Sat 14 Aug 2010

28 August was a true Great Western day at Cholsey Station. There was high hopes of picturing King Edward 1st storming through on the up 'Bristolian', with the Pannier Tank in the bay. Sadly, the late running of the Big Train meant it wasn't to be.

The 11.35 Bunk to Wallingford waited and waited, but there was no sign of The King. Driver Goodenough lept down from his cab at around 11.45 and said, 'that's it we've got to get cracking else we'll be late all day!' With that, The Bunk reluctantly set off, and not long after the thunder of KE1 could be heard- not on the main as predicted, but on the relief (platform) line.

Having heard the King approaching, Driver Goodenough slowed the train just before the bank, so that those on the train could enjoy the sight of a mainline express engine storming through Cholsey. Just one trainspotter got a bit grumpy as he'd drove miles to get a shot of both together, but it couldn't be helped- running trains ain't just about taking pictures. As a helpful woman on the platform pointed out- 'you could just photoshop it'! And that's just what we've done above.

August 2010- Bank Holiday & BunkFest Trains

No.6430 at Wallingford- Sat 14 Aug 2010
Note- the planned charter on 28th August has been cancelled- sorry for any dissapointment

We've not had such a busy August in a long time, with steam trains running every weekend. We will be running every day over the bank holiday with GWR No.6430.

The following weekend, we round off our summer steam with Wallingford BunkFest Singing Trains. BunkFest, is a festival of 'Music, Dance, Steam & Beer' that is named after our railway. You'll find all except dance (due to space) at Wallingford Station and on the trains. In Wallingford Town Centre and the 'Kinecroft' you'll find a lot more Music, Dance, Steam & Beer to enjoy, with most entertainment being free.

July 2010- Pannier Tank No.6430 to return this summer

No.6430 at LLangollen Railway. Photo: George Jones There is a summer of steam to look forward to at The Bunk Line, with the return of Pannier Tank No.6430. This 1939 Pannier Tank in BR Livery visited us in June 2009 to celebrate 50 years of The Bunk and returns to celebrate 175 years of the GWR.

We have some extra operating days throughout August, so don't miss out. GWR Pannier Tank No. 6430 comes from the LLangollen Railway, and will be an authentic pairing for our BR MK1 'Chocolate and Cream' coaches.

The photograph shows No.6430 at Cholsey in June 2009.

June 2010- Extra trains for Rugfest- 3rd July 2010

Photo: Bob Spong Let the train take the strain and travel to this great music and beer festival, located just a short walk from the station. Change from mainline trains at Cholsey. The festival also takes place on Friday 2nd, but trains will not be running.

Visit the Rugfest website for more information. Normal timetable applies.

April 2010- New cafe opens for Ivor

Photo: Bob Spong Thanks to the hard work of a number of volunteers, our new cafe opened in time for Ivor the Engine at Easter. The new portacabin offers better facilities and a better working environment for the staff. We now need to strip out the Cambrian coach in preparation for its new role as museum. In the meantime, the musuem remains closed, but we hope to open it later this yerar.

Meanwhile, work on the new toilet block continues. It has been gutted inside ready for re-building.

184 undergoing repairs- April 2010 A lot of work has been completed on the Mark One coaches this winter. A number of doors and frames have been rebuilt, which should now be good for another 20 years.

Our GWR full brake No.184 is currently in the platform for some remedial paintwork and weather proofing. Perhaps she will be restored for fully in the next couple of years?

Work on Carpenter continues- the main task at the moment is sanding down and undercoating, in preparation for a full repaint into black.

New We have some new benches for the platform. These have been made from reclaimed old sleepers, finished with a teak top also reclaimed from a scrap-heap in the yard.

March 2010- Diesel Driver Experience Courses Launched

Photo: Bob Spong We have launched diesel driver experience courses. See our New Web-page for details.

With a visiting steam loco, we may also be offering steam driver experience days- watch this space for details.

December 2009- New Toilets and Cafe for 2010

Photo: Bob Spong As part of our drive to improve visitor facilities, we will have a new cafe, new toilets and a refurbished museum for the 2010 season. Some of our temporary buildings, have not been so temporary. The toilets have been on site for nearly 25 years! The photo shows the new toilet building that will be commissioned to replace the old ones next year. They even have a GWR Pagoda style to them.

The cafe is being relocated from the Cambrian coach to a new portacabin, which has much better kitchen facilities. Work on this is advanced and should be completed in January. Once this is complete, the museum will be re-located to the Cambrian coach.

These new facilities are medium term, and will allow us to offer decent facilities for the next five years, whilst we work on providing a permanent station building.

November 2009- New DVD and 2010 Calendar on sale in the shop

Photo: Bob Spong We have too excellent new items in the shop, which make ideal Christmas presents.

Against all Odds- The Story of The Bunk Line and how it was saved
A 35 minute DVD telling the story of The Bunk Line, from its construction, through to present day. A significant share of the proceeds from the sale of each will go to boost CWR funds. Featuring original footage from the BR days, as well as very recent events, such as the Anniversary trains, City of Truro and the recent visit of 'Cumbria'.
£12.50 each

Bunk Line-2010 Calendar- Featuring 12 monthly pages of high quality Bunk Line photography. Buy or reserve your copy at the station shop today.
£6.99 each

When not in stock, they can be pre-ordered.

October 2009- Furness Railway Trust 'Cumbria' to visit Bunk Line

Photo: Bob Spong Passengers can look forward to steam hauled trains on The Bunk Line this winter. Hunslet 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST 'Cumbria' will be be visiting us from The Ribble Steam Railway and will be with us in time to haul the spooky halloween trains. No. 3794 is owned by The Furness Railway Trust and this is the first time this loco has headed this far south in preservation days.

This trip is something of a homecoming, since the locomotive was based at the MOD site in Bicester for over 10 years during its working life. You can find more details of the locomotive on the The Furness Railway Trust website.

We are running extra operating days on 7, 8, 21, 22 November.

June 2009- Enthusiasts flock to re-create 'The Bunk'

Photo: Bob Spong Fifty years on since the last run of 'The Bunk', the Wallingford Branch, once again hosted a GWR Autotrain. The train, which can run in either direction, without the engine running round, is very similar to that which would have been used on the line. Both locomotive and coach were in late BR livery as would have been carried by the original 'Bunk'. See photos on the gallery page.

April 2009- GWR Autotrain to visit- 13 14 June 2009.

No.6430 at LLangollen Railway. Photo: George Jones On 13 14 June 2009 an authentic 'Wallingford Bunk' train will be recreated to mark 50 years, since the last run of 'The Bunk'. Bunk Line train spotters will know that the branch was operated by a GWR autotrain. This is a locomotive and coach that work together, without the need to run the locomotive round. GWR Pannier Tank No. 6430 will visit from the LLangollen Railway, which will be coupled together with an autocoach. No. 6430 is larger than the 14xx class locos that were used on the line, but makes an authentic Western Region pairing nonetheless.

The photograph shows No.6430 at the LLangollen Railway. Photo by George Jones.

January 2009- Official opening of run round loop to take place 11 April

Run-round loop Ivor the Engine will be helping us commission our new run-round loop at Cholsey over the Easter weekend. We now look forward to developing a loop and better facilities at Wallingford Station.

October 2008- Run-round loop complete at last!

Run-round loop From October 2008 onwards, the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway will be able to run-round three coach trains at Cholsey Station. This means that we no longer need to "top and tail" most of our services and can run our regular train with one locomotive.

This has been made possible by the completion of the run-round loop (pictured). As well as laying the track, much work has gone into ballasting and providing the necessary levers to operate it. This is all thanks to the hard efforts of a small band of volunteers.

August 2008- Martello puts the Steam into BunkFest

Martello Musicians on trains, ale and a visiting steam engine all helped to make ""Wallingford BunkFest" a sucessful weekend for the railway. BunkFest, named after the railway, is the town's annual festival of "Music Dance, Steam and Beer".

We added the steam with the help of our second visiting locomotive of the year in the form of No. 662 ‘Martello’. Martello is a London Brighton and South Coast Railway 0-6-0 tank engine. It was built by William Stroudley in 1875, making it 133 years old. These two-cylinder engines were known as the 'Brighton Terriers' and were in service for up to ninety years. Martello was withdrawn in November 1963.

March 2008: City of Truro to return to The Bunk Line

City of Truro By kind permission of the National Railway Museum York, the Great Western Loco “City” class no: 3440 City of Truro is to visit the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway on Saturday and Sunday the 28, 29 June 2008.

Built at Swindon Works in May 1903 its most astonishing achievement was in May 1904 when hauling a train of ocean mails from Plymouth to London the magic “ton” was exceeded as the train descended a gradient at Whitball in Somerset reaching a claimed top speed of just over 102 mph.

The visit of this famous engine, will be the highlight of the year for our line. See our events page for more details. This visit has only been made possible by the kind permission of the national railway museum and the help of the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway.

March 2008: Permanent Way Progress

Cholsey With Christmas over and done with, the busiest part of the year for the Permanent Way team commenced. On 5th January, we fastened a chain to one of our 08 shunters and attempted to move loco 803 to its new location along the headhunt at Wallingford. Our first two attempts to move this 90-ton monster resulted in the chain breaking with an audible crack. A more substantial chain was then found which completed the task satisfactorily. The next weekend saw us transport 60 tons of ballast, which was part of the 200 tons donated to us by Hansons, along the line to Cholsey. Our GWR ballast wagon (the dogfish) earning its keep for the day. The next few weeks saw us constructing the mechanical point operating mechanisms at each end of the loop. We have much of the equipment required to operate these points in the yard at Wallingford, but it has been there for many years and most of it is rusted solid. However, after a trip to the workshop at Manor Farm, where a liberal dose of Oxy-acetylene accompanied by some serious threats with some powerful tools the bell cranks, levers and fulcrums were soon moving again. At the time of writing, I can confirm that apart from a ground frame, we have all the equipment we need to make the loop operational. A ground frame has been found which is suitable, for our needs, only some transport has to be arranged.

April 2007: Ivor the Engine visits The Bunk Line

Ivor at Wallingford Over the Easter weekend, we were pleased to be able to host the UK's first official apprearance of Ivor the Engine. Ivor is a specially overhauled locomotive, that has been re-built to represent the favourite childrens character. Unfortunately, Ivor was not able to steam over the weekend. The good news is that Ivor is due to return to us in July, when he will hopefully be able to pull trains.

The picture shows Ivor at Wallingford station. Visit the gallery page for further photographs.

March 2007: Trackwork for Cholsey run-round loop completed

The Pway team at Cholsey Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a number of volunteers, the trackwork for the run-round loop at Cholsey has now been completed. This will allow locomotives to run round their trains at Cholsey and mean that we no longer have to have a locomotive at both ends of the train.

The project was first begun about 10 years ago, but abandoned with the pointwork in the wrong place. The latest work has involved shifting the point about 8 metres closer the the buffer stops, without the aid of any mechanical plant. This was acheived by splitting the point into three sections, jacking it up onto some runners and pulling it! Once in place and packed, the track had to be fitted into place. Point locking gear and levers now need to be installed before the loop can be used.

You can find further pictures of the work carried out at Cholsey at the following website:

CWR Permanent Way Photos

July 2006: Summer Steam with GWR 813

GWR 813, Wallingford, June 2006 After a late arrival, GWR 813 has made herself at home on The Bunk Line. She suffered a broken srping whilst in traffic, but this has been fixed by CWR staff allowing her stay to be extended. See the Events page for extra operating days.

See the gallery for furhter photographs



March 2006: 813 Confirmed for Anniversary Trains

GWR 813, seen here on the Severn Valley Railway.  Photo:  Paul Sharpe Severn Valley Railway based GWR Saddletank No.813 has been confirmed as our visiting locomotive to haul our 25th Anniversary trains. It was hoped that 813 would arrive in time to haul our Easter trains, but this may not now be possible, due to urgent repairs. If completed though, she will be moved directly to The Bunk Line. 813 is likely to arrive at the beginning of May and stay until June. It may even stay longer, if it is available.

This is the third Great Western Railway locomotive to visit the Bunk Line in the space of a year. Our previous visitors; GWR Prairie Tank No.5542 and No.3440 City of Truro are pictured elsewhere on this site.

This locomotive is a six coupled 0-6-0ST Saddle Tank No.813 under the Great Western Railway numbering system but was built for the Port Talbot Railway & Docks in 1901. As Port Talbot Railway No.26it was put to work in Duffryn Yard & served in this capacity until 1908 when the PTR was absorbed into the GWR system.

It was sold to a Backworth Colliery, Northumberland where it was again renumbered as No.12 & remained there for the next 33 years. As steam was replaced by diesel, older locos were withdrawn in the late 1950's & early 60's with 813 lasting until the summer of 1967. .

The loco arrived at the Severn Valley Railway in November 1967. Since that time much loving care & a good deal of money has been spent keeping 813 in its present condition. .

Visit trackbed.com for more information. Visit Sharpo's website for some more photos of 813 on the Severn Valley Railway.

March 2006: Crossing Replaced- All in a days work

The completed crossing: 20 March 2006 The hard work of 15 volunteers saw Winterbrook Crossing replaced in just one day.

This massive task involved completely stripping out the existing rotten wooden crossing and entirely replacing both the deck and sleepers. This couldn't have been acheived without some machine power, in the form of Dave and Tom Buckingham's Vintage JCB.

The photograph shows the completed crossing. See more photos of the days work by clicking here.

February 2006: Vintage Tractor Power helps with Permanent Way

Vintage Fordson Major at Cholsey, with 'electronically &13;&10;restored' toad. Dave and Tom Buckingham's 1960s Fordson Major has been lending a hand with the permanent way work near Cholsey. The vintage tractor is still going strong and has been employed to provide the permanent way team with power for their tools.

The generator, that provides the power, can be seen mounted on the back of the Tractor. Anyone who has seen our "toad" brakevan will know that it is not as tidy as this. It has been touched up with the aid of the computer!

December 2005: 5542 hauls Santa Specials

5542 heading towards Wallingford Bypass Level Crossing,&10;4th December 2005 West Somerset Railway based Praire Tank No.5542 visited the Bunk Line to haul our 2005 Santa Special and Carol Trains. 5542, in GWR livery made an (almost) authentic site hauling our three Western Region British Railway Mark 1 coaches.

5542 is seen here between Wallingford Station and the bypass level crossing on 4th December 2005.

5542 was built in 1928 for £3602, as part of Lot 251, also preserved from this Lot is elder brother 5541, now based on the Forest of Dean. Together with 5541 it was first allocated to Gloucester entering traffic on 2/8/28, then over next 33 years was based at Bristol, Taunton, Newton Abbott, It was last based at Taunton on 21/8/57, when it was transferred to Westbury, where it spent its remaining years before being finally withdrawn from Westbury on 8 /12/61 after having run 987, 429 miles. It was sold to Woodhams in February 1962. After 14 years in Barry 5542 was sold to the West Somerset Railway Association. In 1979 a Taunton based group of active W.S.R. supporters formed the 5542 Fund to save and restore it for use on the West Somerset Railway.

See the 5542 Ltd. for more information and our gallery page for photos.

November 2005: GWR Praire Tank for Santa Specials

5542 on the West Somerset Railway. Photo:&10; Courtesy of Tim Cowen, www.steampics.com West Somerset Railway Praire Tank No.5542 is to visit the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway this Christmas. 5542 will haul Santa Specials on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18 December. Following the visit of City of Truro in the summer, this is the second GWR loco to visit the line this year. 5542 is a typcial Great Western branch line loco, hence it is authentic to see it running on The Bunk Line. It is planned to shunt the train at each end of the line so as to avoid the need to have a diesel loco attached to the rear of the train.

The above photograph shows 5542 at Bishops Lydeard, West Somerset Railway on 08th August 2003. Photo: Tim Cowen. See more steam pics at http://www.steampics.com/

Other 5542 links:

West Somerset Railway

5542 Ltd.

June 2005: City of Truro Visits The Bunk Line

City of Truro close to Church&10; Bridge Cholsey, June 2005. Photo: Kevin Harvey The visit of this famous engine, which was the first machine to break the 100mph barrier back in 1904, must rate as one of the highlights of our small society’s history. Dave Goodenough and his team worked extremely hard to make this happen and we must not forget that it could not have taken place at all without the magnificent efforts of Colin Greenop and his permanent way gang over the winter to bring the track up to a suitable standard.

3440 arrived on Wednesday the 16th of June on two massive low loaders and was unloaded in the pouring rain. Thursday proved to be a fine day and a great deal of effort was spent by the loco crews cleaning the loco and generally getting things ready. At the end of the day 3440 was lit up to warm through ready for the test runs the following day. On Friday the weather really warmed up heralding the start of a three day heat wave. 3440 took our Toad brake van up to Cholsey for a clearance test, becoming the first tender engine on the branch since Burton Agnes Hall in 1969. BBC South Today filmed the run for an excellent slot which went out later that evening.

Having successfully passed the clearance test, two complete round trips were made with the coaches to practice the planned shunt and release procedures. In order that 3440 could haul its trains in both directions it was necessary to employ a ‘shunt and release’ operation at both Cholsey and Wallingford. This entails the use of a shunter to pull the carriages out of the station allowing the train engine to enter a siding so the shunter can push the carriages back into the platform and the train engine can come back on for the return journey. We had successfully employed this method working during the visit of pannier tank 9466 some years ago but because it involves propelling the train, passengers cannot stay on board during the shunting.

At Cholsey First Great Western staff were on hand to supervise the crowds working with CWRPS station staff. In the afternoon the train carried the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and so was entitled to carry the four lamps of the royal headcode, another first for us. After the last public train had terminated at Wallingford, 3440 again took the Toad to Cholsey, this time to exchange whistles with 6024 King Edward II which ran through Cholsey with a main line special, a fitting end to the day.

Sunday saw further fine weather and 8 more packed trains and then it was over, except for the loco crew who had to return in the week to load 3440 back onto its low loaders ready to move on to the next railway on its busy tour.

February 2005: Major Permanent Way Works Begin

Taken from "The Bunk" Spring 2005.
An inspection of the permanent way at the end of last year revealed that the track-work requires significant upgrading if we want to continue to run trains in the future. Track Out- Feb 05 The worst affected section is on the Cholsey side of the Winterbrook Lane crossing, where some components of the trackwork date from the 1930s. Spot re-sleepering took place here about 5 years ago, however, the older sleepers have since deteriorated such that they require replacement.

The inspector felt that it was vital to have a plan in place and some of this work completed in time for the start of the season in 2005. With this in mind, the troops, or anyone willing to help, were mobilised after Christmas to begin the huge task of re-laying the track.

Since January, there has been a team of people, toiling away every weekend out in the bleak conditions of Winterbrook Curve. A number of wooden and steel sleepers were spot re-sleepered in the first couple of weeks. This involves digging individual sleepers out of the ballast, jacking up the track and removing the sleeper. This is then replaced with a new sleeper and the track re-aligned. It sounds simple, but can be back breaking work and is very time consuming.

New Sleepers In!- Feb 05 The fact that there were more bad sleepers than good in a number of panels, combined with the prohibitive weight of the concrete sleepers, meant that a different technique was then employed. It was decided that it would be more efficient to remove the track entirely, remove the ballast, lay new concrete sleepers and then re install the rails. Due to the weight of the concrete sleepers, this is not a task that can be completed by hand. Thankfully, Tom and Dave Buckingham were able to lay their hands on a forklift/ shovel. With the aid of this, an efficient operation was established, whereby the machine was employed to shovel up the ballast and to lower the concrete sleepers into place.

08123 Leads the Pway Train- Feb 05 Excellent progress has been made and over 200 sleepers have now been changed in this way. A further consignment of sleepers has now arrived and has been taken by train down to the works site. There are about 600 sleepers that will need changing in the not too distant future, so there is plenty more work to be done. If you don’t have a bad back and would like some exercise in the fresh air then please give us a call.

April 2004: Points Moved for New Yard

Temporary Track at Wallingford

With the help of Amey Rail, the railway was able to make a start of trackwork preparations for the new yard which will eventually be built at Wallingford. The main point that will provide the entrance to the yard was moved by one rail length towards the station so that it is now in a suitable place to link up to the yard where sidings will be laid.


As the yard currently has a thick concrete surface from its former use as the maltings yard, an innovative approach to track laying has been taken. A temporary siding has been laid directly onto the concrete without using sleepers. This siding will provide a point for loading and unloading stock and to stable goods stock during running days. Rail has been tied together at the correct width using steel tie bars as shown in the photograph.

December 2003: Winter Visitor for Santa Specials

Errol & Santa at Wallingford

The railway welcomed a last minute winter visitor over for the Christmas Santa Specials. Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST, No. 68011 Errol Lonsdale stood in for No.701 as steam heating equipment has yet to be completed on this locomotive. Errol Lonsdale’s home is on the South Devon Railway, however, it only had to travel the 10 miles by road from the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway where it had been throughout the Autumn.

The loco performed without problem on all Santa Services and is shown in the photograph with Santa at Wallingford. Errol has now returned to South Devon and it is hoped that 701 will be hauling all steam services for the remainder of the year.

© 2009 Cholsey & Wallingford Railway Preservation Society.
All services are subject to availability.