Monthly Archives: April 2012

Well what a terrible day weather wise, but…..

Yes I know this blogs a day late as I normally blog on the day rather than the day after. But I have trying to think of words to describe yesterday and none of the ones I can come up with are suitable for a blog on a public medium.

In plain terms weather wise yesterday was a total disaster we had driving rain with high cold winds for most of the day. We saw other than a booked party who I will come to shortly a total of five people and four of those were together and were Jason and his family.

But I am always one to learn from problems and setbacks and to make the best of what we have.

First train yesterday we had a booked party and even though it was a terrible morning and bucketing down with rain they were smiling, So we did the same, they were a lovely bunch and were smiling when they returned on the second service. They are the reason we open, they were determined to have a good time and despite all that was slung against them they seemed to be succeeding.

Paddy was with me yesterday so that was a little ray of sunshine as he as always was happy, in his flat cap he looked like a bookies runner!!

Now we look forward to the coming weekend and it’s May Bank Holiday. Lets hope the weather gods are on our side, because after the weekend we have just had we certainly need their help.

Nothing exciting

Well what a dismal day.

We had rain for most of it and a darn cold wind down the platform.

Sally and Nigel helped today, and as always it was a pleasure to work with them.

City of Peterborough ran today, and because of work on the crossover the second service both ways ran through platform 2.

A bit of a hike over there to see it out, but all good exercise.

Here it is approaching platform 2 on it’s way to Peterborough.


A nice picture spoiled by the Graffiti on the side of the station building, put there by some of the local low life.

Did well on tickets with a group of tourists, but other than that the day was a disaster, 3 bars of chocolate and a couple of hot drinks did not make for a successful day in the shop.

Despite today being shorter than yesterday I found it much more tiring, and from a business point of view not really enjoyable.

We have Paddy helping tomorrow so that guarantees a lively day, shame the forecast of for rain for all of it.

Lights!!!! Camera!!!!! Rain!!!!

As anybody who works on a heritage railway will tell you a nice source of income is from film companies.

Well today at Orton Mere we had a film company using the station for the day.

So at 5.30am I was at the station chipper and ready for action. Well to be more accurate I was at the station.

Crew arrived at around 6am and started resigning the station, including for the purpose of the film giving the station a new name


Now before you ask me I have no idea why that name was chosen.

Now to this day of filming we had the additive of rain. When I got up at 4am it had been bucketing down but by 6am it was much lighter, though it rained on and off with the emphasis on the word on all through the day.

Now when you meet people you sometimes just know your going to have a good day and this was the case with the crew and later the two actors, you could not have met a nicer bunch of people and it was a pleasure to look after them through the day.

Now once the two actors arrived the days filming could begin. I will be honest and say that I did not recognise either of the actors, but then again they did not recognise me so that made us equal.

Here is a picture as they prepare for the first shot of the day, the tension was mounting.


The cameraman was a really happy soul as can be seen from this shot where he played to the camera.


Here is a shot of the actors and crew between takes with the actors being kept dry from the rain.


Lunch time was interesting as lunch was delivered by Jayne from Wansford and very nice the baked potatoes and toppings looked to. Shame Jason (Who was helping me) and I had just finished fish and chips. Some of the crew looked with glazed eyes at the fish and chips!!

The afternoon was really a repeat of the morning even down to the rain showers.

It was interesting to watch them in action as they knew what they were doing and it all seemed to go like clockwork.

After seeing them safely on their way Jason and I clocked off just about 14 hours after I had clocked on.

I must admit I am shattered but it was a super day spent in the company of some super professional people.

Thanks especially to young Rachelle who was my contact and who had an endless supply of bright smiles through the day.

Now for two days of normal services.

Bring on the steam train on Saturday.

Rising from the semi dead

Regular readers of the blog will know that a couple of years ago we had quite a garden and allotment.

Well for numerous reasons none of which I intend to go into here it fell a bit by the wayside.

Nathan has taken the bull by the horns and started bringing it back from the dead so to speak. Here are a few pictures of his efforts today.

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Still a way to go but a vast improvement already.

I will blog the progress of the garden on a regular basis.

So thanks Nathan for your efforts today they are much appreciated.

A day of two halves

Variable would best describe today.

We had sunshine, we had showers. We had steam, we had diesel.

Jason was with me today and on top form.

Steady flow of people considering the weather and we managed to take some money in both tickets and the shop.

Nothing to get excited about but then again anything is better than nothing.

Same locomotives as yesterday, the J94 and the Class 31.

Here are pictures of the two of them, yes I know they are the same locomotives as in the pictures yesterday but the two pictures show two extremes of weather as well. Sunshine and dull.

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The sun timed it well in the first shot and came out just as the locomotive arrived, the second shot was taken between showers.

They go to show how different pictures can look with just an hour or so between them.

No regulars in today, but most don’t come out in dull showery weather so not really surprised.

Four days away from the railway now then a twelve hour day on Friday for some filming at the station.

Looking forward to that as it will be different.

All’s well that ended well

Well I am pleased to report that the day ended well with all the steam locomotive back in action hauling the third service and also taking the civil engineers train back to Wansford at the end of the day.

Here is a picture of the locomotive waiting to depart Orton Mere towards Wansford with the civil engineers train.


As you can see even the sun came out for a short period.

One person who impressed me today was Bill the driver of the steam locomotive, when he had problems at Orton Mere he just flowed through things totally unfazed and this rubbed off on his crew, despite their problems they spoke to visitors and passengers asking questions, answering them and even having time for a smile.

They also managed to get the locomotive back in service again, which I must admit I did not expect. In my opinion they were all without exception a credit to the railway. When they were recovered on the first service a customer on the platform commented on how impressed he was at the crews handling of the situation. This shows that even when we have problems the impression the public gets can still be positive, and that can do nothing but good.

The diesel crew were also good waving to the visitors and smiling away, whether this was due to them recovering a steam locomotive I am not sure, not that it matters it again showed the railway in a positive way.

Despite the problems today the working members showed me yet again why I enjoy the job so much, it’s a privilege to work with many of them.

It’s fixed!

Pleased to report that the steam locomotive is fixed and the third service of the day will be steam as advertised.

This is excellent news on what’s become a cool showery day that’s very quiet passenger wise.

Steam is always more popular than diesel, but due to the weather it’s a quiet day today.

Not many people about at the Mere, and those that are are dodging the showers. Not the weather to promote trade!!!

A new meaning to mixed traction.

Never let it be said nothing happens at Orton Mere. Here we are blogging live at the station.

We have just had the first steam service fail and a rescue by the class 31.

Here is the J94 arriving at platform 1

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As you can see a nice mix of smoke and steam, shame it then promptly failed!

Water was needed and out came the hose pipe and on went the water meter as we supplied some water from the station.

Here is the locomotive complete with hose pipe.


Sue reacted in typical form and filled the urn as the passengers got off and wandered down the platform. I am pleased to report we took a few pounds.

Eventually the class 31 arrived, here it is passing the Orton Box.


Then slowly to platform 1 where it could couple up to the failed steam locomotive.


Once coupled it has started to haul the train back to Wansford.


It’s a fair bet that the rest of the services will be diesel.

This is your roving reporter Arkwright reporting from Orton Mere!!!

More later if there is any more excitement.

The Torch dry run, minus the torch!!

Well the dry run has been and gone, and it was a funny old event.

The weather did not look promising as you can see from this morning shot.


It was all hands to the pumps to get the place tidy, even the park made an effort, here is a shot of the vehicles belonging to a crack team of park staff.


Thankfully by mid afternoon the weather had improved as you can see from this shot looking westwards.


A couple of hours before the main event a diesel arrived with some Police aboard just to check everything along the track was in order and that the odd length of track had not been stolen for scrap!!


The first of the reporting teams arrived with the van from ITV news, went over and had a nose inside.


Once this was in place the reporters turned up and went through a dry run. Here is the ITV reporter.

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The reporter from Radio Cambridgeshire, young Jane had great fun as you can see working things out..

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Then we had the convoy arrive to pick up the torch, I have never seen the car park so full since we had it full of travellers some years ago.

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By this time a few members of the public had arrived, and I am pleased to report a few spent money as well. Here they can be seen in a daze.


One chap proudly told me he had been on the Internet that morning, I  quickly congratulated him on his technical ability and he seemed pleased.

The a minute or so early “City of Peterborough” arrived. Now I would love to show you a picture of it in full steam but as the picture failed I can’t so you will have to imagine it.

Down the platform came the torch and escort, there was a hush amongst the expectant crowd, here was history in the making.

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Now the sharp eyed amongst you will notice one important fact…. There was no torch, they were carrying a miners lamp!! I am reliably informed that this was deliberate and that on the actual day the torch will be present and that it was untrue that due to cutbacks the Olympic Torch had been replaced by a miners lamp.

Joking aside the lamp will be used because the torch will be in a carriage and naked flames are not allowed but the miners safety lamp is hence the use of the lamp whilst on the railway.

Then safely out of the station they joined the convoy and they were off towards the city centre.

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The moment of excitement was over, Nathan and I had been interviewed by Radio Cambridgeshire. Some money had been taken in the station and the torch oops sorry lamp was on it’s way to the City Centre.

Nathan and I had a ten minute break to recover then started for home, safe in the knowledge that we had coped with all the excitement and had no drama.

Never let it be said that we don’t experience excitement. How will we cope with the real thing on 3rd July, the tension is building already.

Getting ready for the practice

Well here we are live from the station getting the place ready for the dummy torch run this evening.

The tension is mounting, even the park staff have been out with brooms and shovels.

All being well I will get some pictures of the event and then I will blog them later this evening.

The sky is clouding over and it’s trying to rain, so it could be a dismal evening weather wise.

Mind you at least it’s mild so not sitting here freezing!!!

Anglia News are supposed to be covering the event live from 6.25pm onwards I gather, but rest assured I will do everything possible to keep as far away from the cameras as I can, Not my scene at all, and as I have often said I have the ideal face for radio.

Nathan is out tarting the garden up at the moment, personally I think anything short of grassing it over will be a waste of time, but the lad is keen and we need all the keen people we can get, especially if they are young and keen.

Personally I just cant get into the right frame of mind for the whole Olympics thing and I do wonder how the railways visitor figures will be affected by the big event. As they say time will tell.

More from this exciting event later.