NEWS 2018

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June started off with what has now become our regular attendence at the Hertfordshire Steam Fair, held in the grounds of Oaklands College, with our large marquee.

We took a new exhibit of a simple circle of track and had one or other of our two garden railway engines running round it. As the right-hand photo shows, this got surprisingly popular at times!


Out in the garden we put in an extra pulley to take the wire from the LNWR ground frame to the Midland Railway main signal away from the ground signal, on which it had been catching.


Further work took place on the wire run from lever 32 in the box to the other Midland Railway signal - this had become rather stiff to work, and a seized pulley was found in the run. With this pulley freed up, the stiffness was successfully removed.

At the end of May we attended the Community Rail Partnership "Family Fun Day" at the St Albans Abbey station with our Publicity stand. On loan from one of our members was an old British Rail sign displayed at one of the line's stations.



Our 20,000th Visitor!

Ryan Frake thought that he was just travelling home with his family from Margate to Nottingham on Sunday 8th April. However there was a surprise in store for the nine year old railway fan as the family diverted to visit St Albans South Signal Box on our public open afternoon that day. Not only that but Ryan turned out to be the 20,000th recorded visitor to the Signal Box since it began open days in 2008. He was presented with the souvenir entry ticket. Ryan's Dad Bob said that the visit had been planned for a long time and the family were not disappointed. "Our son Ryan was fascinated not only with the signal box, but the passing trains too. The day out was made even more memorable by him being awarded the title of the 20,000th visitor."

Signal Box Trust Chairman, Tony Furse, commented that it was a huge achievement on the part of the Trust and its members to have reached this milestone in the story of St Albans South Box and its restoration. It was a delight to welcome Ryan and his family along with all the other visitors who ventured out on what was a miserably wet afternoon.

The photograph shows Ryan holding his souvenir ticket along with his sister Erin and parents Bob and Cath.


Station Lights
In June 2016 we erected two old telegraph poles with the intention of fitting them with railway lights of some type to light the staircase to the first floor of the box and the area between the box and the lamp hut. But we looked in vain for the lights to fit on them - until January when two "Station Lights" were spotted for sale on the Internet and were subsequently bought. The first two pictures show one of the lights 'as bought'.
                        1                                                     2
Photo 1 shows one of the lights in general - the photo has been turned to help show how it will look once erected. (The lamp is not lit - just the strong sunlight present when the lamps were photographed!)
Photo 2 shows the decorative ironwork at the top of the "Swan's-neck" pipework

These lamps are thought to have come originally from the Brighton area, hence the green paintwork for the Southern Region, althougth the deep green was popular also with lamp-makers, not just for railway use.

                    3                                      4
Photo 3: The control gear removed and rewired for an LED general service lamp;
Photo 4: The shades and other parts of the lights after cleaning and while being repainted.
We have managed to get two new metal-clad external waterproof switches, which are in the style of the sort of switch used fifty or sixty years ago, to help keep the right appearance of things by the box.

               5                               6                          7                                 8

Photo 5: Station light at South end of the box, seen from the box door on the 1st floor.
Photo 6: Station light near lamp hut, seen from the window on the 1st floor.
Photo 7: One of the new light switches.
Photo 8: The stairs lit at night by the new light.


Snow and more snow
The snow fell twice during March, providing a natural blockage to the running of trains, not only the full-size ones but our model as well.
March 3rd                            March 18th                           Cold Passengers

By March 21st the snow had gone and our passengers were enjoying some sunshine:

Waterloo and City Line Track Diagram
The original printing on this in-house made diagram had rather faded, so it was stripped off and a reprint added:

The diagram has also been mounted in a frame for better viewing.

New St Albans South Sign

Made from small cast concrete letters laid onto small stones for a background. This is at the north end of the lawn. (See photo 2 below.)


This took place on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th, at the end of English Tourism Week. We had extended opening from 10am to 5pm on both days. There were 115 visitors on Saturday and 235 on Sunday; 350 in total. Sales and donations made a welcome addition to our funds.
A selection of pictures from Sunday:
Photo 1:                   Photo 2:                                                            Photo 3:          

Photo 4                    Photo 5                                               Photo 6

Photo 1: Outside in the carpark, our friends from the N London Society of Model Engineers ran their railway.
Photo 2: General view of the box grounds - not visible are those serving tea and greeting visitors. The new St Albans South sign mentioned above is visible behind some of the visitors.
Photo 3: Garden Railway watchers; this was central to many small visitors' attention!
Photo 4: Visitors have a go on the Midland Railway ground frame.
Photo 5: Down by the lamp hut we had our lit lamps.
Photo 6: Our President, Keith Webster, does one of the numerous demonstration upstairs in the box to a full house.

We now have less than 100 visitors to go to our 20,000th recorded visitor!


Open Afternoon Surprise
An amazing new record was set on the 11th February for the visitor numbers at an ordinary three hour-long Open Afternoon - no less than 121 people turned up, despite hail, snow and sleet showers! Previous best was in October last year when 103 visitors came. We edge closer to our 20,000th visitor - only 500+ to go, and in under 10 years of public opening.

Restart on Fencing

One section of the external fencing that wasn't given a fresh protective coating last year was that at the back of our two car-parking bays. Work hadn't been done on these due to wind and rain after October last year bringing things to a halt. But a bright Sunday afternoon with little wind gave an opportunity to start again.

Photo 1:                                    Photo 2:                                                       Photo 3:

Photo 1: Shows the fence concerned.
Photo 2: The flat tops of the fence pales have encouraged some to rot - so we have sawn a bit off to give what is actually the correct Midland Railway appearance. This should also shed the rain much better.
Photo 3: The fence after the top foot or two had been coated - time (and temperature) prevented further work.


The Garden Railway Extension
Work on this continued and was completed in time for the first Open Afternoon, followed over the next two days by classes from a primary school in Bedford doing a project on transport.
The following pictures are a recap of the development of this railway over less than two years:

In May 2016:                                        Extended late 2016:  

Early 2018:                                                                    Completed by 14th January 2018:

Chiltern Model Railway Association Annual Show, Stevenage, 13/14th January
We were again invited to take the Publicity Stand to this major event.

After setting up:                                                      and with visitors: 
New features of the stand included improved lighting, display of our large banner on a modified framework and a pair of working block instruments as well as bells. A modest amount of sales were made and a lot of people spoken with and leaflets given out. Thanks to our volunteers for manning the stand and to the CMRA for giving us the space.

Open Afternoon, 14th January: Meanwhile, back at base our first afternoon opening of 2018 saw some 75 visitors.

Elstree and Borehamwood Museum: "All Change!" - 150 years of Rail
Through our membership of the Herts Association of Museums, we had been aware that our fellow museum was planning an exhibition to commemorate the arrival of the 'London Extension' to serve their area in 1868, and the changes that this event had brought to an essentially rural community, including it becoming Britain's "Hollywood". We have lent them some items from our collection, as a result of which our Chairman and Publicity officer were invited to attend the formal evening opening on Monday 22nd January. A few pictures of their excellent display, which we warmly recommend you visit - details on the flyer.

Flyer:                      "Station Entrance"     Milk churn & trollies*   Block Instrument*    Bardic hand lamp*
                                                                                                      and hand lamp*

*Some of the items loaned from St Albans South

The above exhibition will now continue to the end of September due to it's popularity!