Photo © P. Hetherington 9/1/10.
|This sorry-looking pile of bits used to be part of a 'D' type container, and until anyone proves me wrong I believe are the last surviving parts. This container is thought to have been on a wagon involved with a derailment; it was dumped on the cattle dock (now long-since buried under a housing estate) at Ruddington on the GCR before the line closed, and discovered when the preservationists arrived some years later. After some years of open storage they have now been stored in a box van, which should at least help to conserve them for the time being. It is not yet clear how many parts are missing (some certainly are) or whether there are sufficient parts to form the basis of a replica, but if anyone fancies a challenge, let me know!|
On Saturday March 15th, Frank Nicholas and I went to the Avon Valley Railway to dismantle (demolish, more like) their fire-damaged container BD50342B. A van load of salvagable parts (with some rotten wood attached) was duly recovered, including enough doors to make our consecutively-numbered example BD50343B a viable restoration project - although it is still some way from actually getting restored. The doors will need considerable work to make them useable, but at least we now have all of the steelwork and enough of the timber to use as patterns.
Thanks are due to the Avon Valley for their hospitality and for allowing us to recover these parts, and to Frank for his help. No thanks at all are due to the weather, which ensured that we got absolutely soaked!
Photo © P. Hetherington 5/6/07.
Photo © P. Hetherington 5/6/07.
The two AFP containers left Quorn on 5th June and moved to a more suitable storage location to await their turn for restoration. BD50343B was re-located too, by about fifteen feet. Nothing fell to bits, so I suppose that's encouraging!
10th January was the day, and it started at 7am as that was the time that access to the site with the AFP containers was possible. Logistical problems on the day (which I won't go into) meant that we had to drop the containers off in the yard at Quorn & Woodhouse - far from ideal - but the intention was to pick them up again later and move them to Swithland.
Second job was to move a shocvan body which had been temporarily stored on a spare box van chassis. Then back to the first site for a box van body which we put on said chassis. Nothing to do with Conflats, but a favour for someone else.
At this point things started to go wrong. Next site visit was to the AF container in Northamptonshire. It took much longer to get there (and get back) than I expected, the hi-ab lorry was in danger of sinking into the mud, and the container turned out to be so structurally poor that in the end we had to give up and leave it there. One less to restore, I suppose, but an expensive and time-consuming mistake.
So, back to Loughborough, and we collected BD50343B from alongside the loco shed and moved it to Swithland. At this point it became apparent that the pre-prepared 'landing pads' weren't going to get used just yet, as the lorry couldn't get that far into the yard due to the mud. So we had to offload that one in a less-than-ideal location from where it will ultimately need moving again.
Finally, back to Quorn, by which time it was 6pm, dark, and too late to move the two AFPs. In any case we can't get them into Swithland until the ground is harder, so they'll have to sit there until warmer weather. Again, far from ideal.
On the plus side, the diagram 3/256 container had most of its number readable on the good side (which was previously hidden by the 3/257 container). Gently rubbing down the paint revealed the missing digits, so the container is now confirmed as AFP66414B - the 99th container from the first batch of 100. On the minus side, although this container did lift reasonably well, the bottom fell out of the floor. An interesting puzzle for another day, perhaps.
Meanwhile, the fibreglass 3/257 container - now identified as AFP16496B - turns out to have a floorpan with steel 'sills' which, unsurprisingly, aren't quite as pristine as the top half. That'll be an interesting repair then...
The whole exercise took twice as long as it should have done and cost twice as much, mainly due to the wasted trip to Northamptonshire, and none of the containers ended up in the right places, much to the annoyance of everybody. Still, they're safe, for now.
After what seems like an age with no progress, things suddenly started to move very quickly in December when the GCR's loco department decided that BD50343B and the adjacent BC container had served their time and were due for the chop. This wasn't entirely a surprise, but the speed at which it happened was! There followed a mad panic to salvage anything useful off the BC (it was always too far gone to be a candidate for restoration in its own right), and to stow the parts inside BD50343B as the most convenient way to move them. The BD, meanwhile, had been reduced to a skeleton by the removal of the doors and side cladding, but this does not necessarily preclude its eventual restoration. The framework looks to be in reasonable condition, so we'll see how it survives the move. Incidentally, during the dismantling the BC was positively identified as BC9937B.
The need to hire a lorry to move BD50343B meant that a phonecall to the current custodian of the two AFP containers was in order. This triggered another mad panic, as it transpired that the site they were on had been sold to developers, the paperwork being signed only the previous day!
A day was spent preparing for the move by clearing the brambles from around the AFPs, and another day was spent cutting back the hawthorns from where they were supposed to move to. I have numerous scratches to prove it!