The main item of news to start off this, our second Newsletter, is the successful acquisition and transportation to the SVR of the centre pair of driving wheels ex BR Standard Class 4 2-6-0 no. 76080.
The move was featured in the April issue of several of the hobby magazines, most notably in "Heritage Railway", where journalist Keith Langston - an enthusiastic supporter of the project to build the next Riddles Class 3 tank - really did us proud. On the subject of surviving components of Standard locomotives, Keith told us of the continued existence of a complete 77xxx cab in the South of England, but also said that its owner wanted a lot of money for it. Of course, money lies at the root of what we are going to do - so more about this below! In the meantime, we do appreciate the co-operation received from officers of Stoke-on-Trent City Council: for a reasonable price, the Council's Streetscene division looked after the entire move and wheel swap, involving collecting the replacement 08 wheels from Cheddleton, exchanging them for the Standard wheels at Pitts Hill and transporting the 5'3" drivers to the Severn Valley Railway. They really did simplify what could have been quite a difficult logistical exercise.
Thanks are also due to Potteries-based engineer Philip Oldfield, owner of Riddles Class 4 tank no. 80136, who supplied and repainted the replacement wheels. They look very smart on their plinth - many thanks for all your help, Philip. The wheels now lie safely adjacent to the four-foot on the Up side of the SVR running line at Eardington, where the eagle-eyed might just spot them from a passing train immediately before the road bridge to the north of the halt (incidentally, now receiving some much-needed TLC from an enthusiastic group and starting to look much better). A brief inspection indicates that they are in quite reasonable condition, though the tyres are worn to scrapping size and there is some superficial corrosion around the weights, caused by long exposure to rainwater during many years of open-air display at Stoke.
We intend to start initial restoration work on the wheels this summer, so if any of you fancy spending a few hours in the deep peace of rural Shropshire - just skylarks, passing steam trains and the odd car - please let Tony know! It has to be stressed that there is no access to the SVR lineside for the general public (even SVR members) and that anyone wishing to join working parties must undergo the Railway's induction course. This is a simple, straightforward course on basic safety and would allow you to become a working member in other areas of the SVR, too. Again, get in touch with Tony if you are interested. Access to the courses is arranged by Pete Edkins, the SVR's friendly Volunteer Liaison Officer.
It has been suggested to us by the SVR that the wheels might go on display at the new facility at Highley, which seems a good idea - as is anything which will raise our profile. We are contemplating a small exhibition, with the wheels as centrepiece, also featuring our 77xxx chimney and other, smaller parts in our possession (for a list of these, by the way, get in touch with either Tony Massau or Chris Proudfoot). This, of course, is subject to the agreement of the SVR.
The other main activity to report to you is our continuing efforts to find sponsorship for the construction of the boiler and firebox - by far the most expensive part of the job. As you may have read in the hobby press, Roger Pridham have quoted us approximately £300,000 for the item, untubed at our request as prolonged storage with tubes fitted could set up a damaging electrolytic steel/copper reaction.
We are convinced that success with this part of the project will guarantee success with the rest and see the loco built reasonably quickly. The problem is raising the funds and bridging the credibility gap which we inevitably face and which will keep many hands firmly glued inside pockets! Present company excepted, of course, and we are very grateful for your support and promise to do our very, very best not to disappoint you (or ourselves). A preliminary application to the Heritage Lottery Fund seemed promising at the outset, but was unfortunately rejected, though we believe the project precisely fulfils a number of criteria that are relevant to the idea of "heritage". If any of you would like to see a copy of the letter sent to the HLF, please get in touch with Chris.
We are far from finished on this front, though, so watch this space!
Other news is that member Paul Wilkes has offered to help us to establish a website, and that we continue to add to our library of Riddles Class 3 tank engineering drawings (thanks here to member John Cutler and to Paul Johnson of the SVR).
To finish with, here are a couple of quotes from authoritative sources to encourage us all:
"Get the boiler and firebox done and everything else is just metal-bashing!"
"If you can get the funding to build the boiler and firebox, this loco could be running in two years."
Thanks once again for your support - and please, please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any constructive ideas or comments.