Shunting the Engine House (2)
The Engine House Shunt – All Change Please!
April 2012 saw The Engine House have its first major reorganisation of large exhibits since opening just over 4 years ago in March 2008. In need of a refresh, a project was undertaken at the tail end of 2011 to relocate and introduce new exhibits into a more manageable and visual position within the Engine House. After many meetings with the Operations Manager Phil Brown and various Loco departments, procedures were put in place to conduct a safe and time managed shunt of The Engine House.
The specific objectives were:
- To return the ‘Travelling Post Office’ to display
- To retain King George VI Royal Saloon
- To invigorate the display
- To enhance the visitor experience
- To retain the Highley Coal Truck and pair it with an appropriate Tank locomotive
- Where possible, organise the exhibits in preparation for future movements
The departures from The Engine House were the Pannier Tank 7714 to Bridgnorth for a replacement boiler prior to its return to service; the grey box van and Freight brake van.
The main change saw the long-overdue return of the Travelling Post Office, an interactive exhibit on mail delivery, which allows visitors to sort letters and look at a great example of early mail carriages. Not forgetting the return of Lady Armaghdale who has been making an exhibition of herself in her scarlet coat elsewhere over the winter.
What will visitors see?
The Travelling Post Office has been shunted neatly up to locomotive 7325 our footplate experience engine and positioned opposite the Royal Saloon exhibition dating back from the 1940's. Having these three exhibits all on the main hall platform was a key part of the plan in allowing our visitors to have a fully interactive area, whether they wish to see how King George VI travelled with a bedroom and sitting room in his own prestigious saloon carriage, or are just curious as to what a footplate looks like, with sounding whistle for effect.
Also in place on the far exhibition road, Gordon shunted up to the TPO; during his short trip across the car park and back on the other line he managed to make his mark on the tarmac. The middle flangeless driving wheels might allow the loco to go round tighter curves, but the downside is that the fourth driving wheels are able to wander further off the rails. But compared with the initial installation of Gordon this was a piece of Highley Slice.
The two new portal engines, as people enter The Engine House facing opposite each other; are Lady Armaghdale and the Stanier 8F. Giving a dramatic contrast.
Not forgetting our flagship green engine Hagley Hall 4930 that moved neatly onto the back road followed by The Jinty next to the grey shutter doors. These locos were moved as a part of the future proof plan for potential works / restoration being carried out by the owning groups within the next year or so, which I know they are keen to start on. I shall be keeping an eye out for a Jinty shaped hole in the shutter doors Mr Cronin!
Also a big thank you to Bob Morris for a new addition to our exhibits with the loan of his Platform Seven sign which has been aptly installed above the main hall platform and illuminated. Rescued from the old Snow Hill station, Bob has been looking for a suitable home for some time now, Lucky for us.
Visitors will also notice we have improved our facilities for Education and Adult Group bookings, essential as the number of parties visiting is increasing fast. Particularly pleasing is the amount of repeat party business.
A Quick Thanks to:
The Engine House 'Friday Gang' volunteers who worked tirelessly before and after the shunt mainly removing infill platform edges, which have been put in place in the last couple of years as a safety measure to stop parents stuffing unwanted children down the gap between the platform and exhibits. They were back the following Thursday to rejig and put all the edges back again ready for weekend opening.
I would also like to thank everyone who helped contribute to the smooth running of this project, from the owner groups of the relevant locos, to the volunteers who came and gave up their time to help with preparation and operational side of things.
A couple of key names who need to take credit for the success of the Shunt on the day: Phil Brown, Malcolm Philcox, John Fisher, Keith Thompson, John Clarke, Bob Lloyd, Phil Crathorn, Scott Lewis, Paul Davis and Kevin Cronin. Again a big thank you to everyone who rallied around to help out on the day – we couldn’t have done it without you!
So all you need to do now is come and see the new layout for yourselves; do let us know what you think!
See you soon?
Nicky and all of The Engine House Team.