The Wansford Level Crossing Gates

By Tony Dwight

  On  April 20th we took delivery of a large consignment of timber for the construction of the bespoke workbench, which is needed for the assembly of the 4.5m wide gates. A prearranged area within the depths of the running shed was to be used as our manufacturing facility.

The workbench was not a simple construction as it needed to be perfectly flat (to prevent any warping of the frames) but also to be very robust as the completed individual gates will be very heavy.

We also took delivery of two new machines that were required to ensure the precision of the joints within the frames. These were a morticing machine and a bed planner both of which have been installed into the designated work area and coupled to the new power supplies that we installed along with the temporary overhead lighting.

By the 4th of May the workbench was almost complete but was ready to except the arrival of the Iroko hardwood gate timbers that had been machined by the supplier (Glendale Joinery of Woodston) to the required dimensions we provided.

Photo from the 4th May 2022 showing the workbench construction and the new gate timbers stored within its framework.
Dave and Alan surveying their handiwork.

Alan Scott and Dave Read were now set up for the manufacture of the first gate (D). Each gate is slightly different in widths, so they have been designated A-D with corresponding positions on the existing gates. The progress of the first gate was taken steadily as we couldn’t afford mistakes because the hardwood is not cheap, but by 23rd of May the first frame was complete with the tenon joints fixed by the use of dowels and wedges.

On the 1st of June the cross bracings for the first gate had been made and temporarily fitted as they will need to be removed to have the holes for the steel rods drilled in them.

The steel rods were also delivered on the 1st of June all twenty of them at 6m long, the first five of these rods have been cut to length and threaded at both ends by our colleagues in the main workshop, an example of inter department collaboration at its best.

The dowels fitted and sanded down smooth, and the darker looking wedges fitted to the tenon ends,
Gate D with the cross bracing temporarily fitted on the 1st June 2022.

Alan and Dave have spent a lot of time trying to devise a jig to facilitate the drilling of the cross braces at the angle, required for the insertion of the steel rods, but this has not been successful and after many attempts and various jigs it has been decided that drilling the cross bracings without any jig actually gives more precise results.

With both operatives having a week’s holiday within June, work has concentrated on the manufacture of the other gate frames and as of the 2nd July they have machined and dry fitted the frames for gates A & C which are ready for the drilling and fitting of the dowels and the end wedges.

I will report further progress on this most interesting project in due course.

The Wansford Charity Shop.

By Sarah Hudson Derry

Did you know that the Wansford site at Nene valley railway had a charity shop?

How it all began.

Back in 2019 I had a slightly crazy idea about opening a charity shop at NVR Wansford site to try and raise much needed funds mainly to sponsor small projects around the railway.

I had no idea of the Pandora’s box I would be opening or the adventures I would have. After running two successful pop up shops(both raising over £500), my search was on for a permanent location. With no money in the pot and the country just entering lockdown, it was time to get creative. My knight in shining armour came in the form of a previous employee who gave me a good sized portacabin. She was a little worse for wear and in need of some serious TLC.

The friends of NVR kindly donated me some money to transport the portacabin to Wansford and she arrived at the end of May 2020. Due to the country being in lockdown work was able to commence almost immediately by myself and my partner, Andy, and was later joined by several volunteers.

In June I was fortunate enough to employ two roofers who had been furloughed, they replaced the roof, made safe the floor and lined the walls, at last it was watertight, all thanks to a very generous donation.

My next knight came in the form of Warren who was also furloughed and painted the shop both inside and out.

Flooring was purchased by Sally, one of my supporters, and now a team member, who drove a very hard bargain in the carpet shop. Blinds where then purchased after another very generous donation.

Before long the shop was ready to open, and thanks to all the wonderful donations from volunteers, family and friends, it has been fully stocked from day one. In fact we had to purchase a storage container in which to store our excess stock.

What started as a small seed has now developed into a large triffid. We now also hold regular coffee mornings, pick a number competitions,  bingo nights and quiz nights. Emily, another team member also sells on eBay to raise more funds.

My aim was to raise £1000 a month, but most months we have exceeded that amount, meaning we have funded many small projects, but we are now aiming higher.

We have now started fund raising to purchase a purpose built disabled toilet, which will be clad to match the existing toilet block by the miniature railway.

I wish to thank each and every one of you that believed in me and continue to support.

The First Day of Summer.

Well today is the first day of summer and we have started off with wall to wall sunshine and a nice temperature of just over 27.5c at peak.

So what’s ahead for the railway over the summer? Well I guess the honest answer is that nobody knows. We have some super events announced and in the pipeline. I am sure that, weather permitting we will have a great summer.

If you’re reading this as a working member of the railway then enjoy the summer and above all have fun. If you’re not a member then please if you can come along and visit.

It has often been said that the railways greatest asset are it’s working members. So please come along and say hello to them, look round the stations and ride the trains. Or in other words have a great day out.

Please take a look at our website at nvr.org.uk and see what tempts you.

Southern Freight Driver Experience

Today sees another freight driver experience on the railway.

This time 92 Squadron is providing the pulling power.

Here it is running round over the bridge approaching Wansford station.

© Chris Walker.

Here we have the freight returning to Wansford crossing the River Nene.

© Chris Walker

Perfect day for playing trains though a bit on the hot side with the temperature here currently at 33.2c

Events like this are nice earners for the railway and enjoyable for those participating as well. No doubt a good day will be had by all.

Advanced driver experience.

Yesterday the railway held an advanced steam driver experience day.

The locomotive was Bahamas.

Here are a couple of pictures of the locomotive. Shame it’s leaving us on the 10th June.

Here the first picture shows the locomotive at Wansford station. Some nice rain clouds in the background.

© Matthew Alden Farrow

The second image shows the locomotive coupled to the carriages at Yarwell before running back to Wansford, then onwards to Peterborough Nene Valley station.

© Matthew Alden Farrow

Driver experience days, of all types are always popular. The opportunity to drive and fire a famous or large locomotive is always a draw for people of all ages.

My thanks to Matthew Alden Farrow for the images.

Wansford Miniature Railway

Wansford Miniature Railway

Our Jubilee Trains will be running on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd June from 10 to 3pm.

Rides only £1 each, our shop will also be open selling Union Jack Hand flags, a big selection of Trackside Models, OO Gauge wagons, books, DVD and much more.

Bring the kids along for a ride on a Miniature a Jubilee Train