Good morning everyone. The Minions have been busy this week, working at Strawberry Hill on Tuesday and getting out on the road into deepest darkest Kent on Wednesday.
Before we go into Tuesday’s work, here is a little background on why the work was carried out. A few weeks ago we discovered that persons unknown had attempted to gain access to the shed. Thankfully Network Rail contractors who were working in the area at the time had noticed these little herberts and challenged them. The herberts promptly ran rapidly in the Direction of Away, and the contractors notified SWR depot management. SWR depot management contacted us within 10 minutes of that initial conversation. Fortunately myself, Darren and Lynn were available and on-site within an hour of the phone call with SWR. On inspection, we discovered that someone had clearly attempted to force open a door. After inspecting the rest of the shed we contacted the rest of the SETG team and agreed a course of action in conjunction with SWR depot management. We take the security of the shed seriously, and are anxious to ensure the safety of 3417 and the depot as a whole. We’re also very much aware of the significant and generous support we have had from you all, and felt compelled to act decisively to protect the work that we have all put into this project. We took the decision to install CCTV to the shed and Portacabin to provide 24-hour surveillance. The funding for this has come from the small pool of funds built up through the generosity of our regular contributors as well as the money generated through retail sales of SETG merchandise.
Paul Cooper, our Digital Minion, and Potter worked through Tuesday to install the system. The SETG would like to place on record our gratitude to Paul who sourced the system, donated additional equipment and installed it for us (whilst allowing Potter to occasionally hold a power tool, count screws or hold a ladder) – thank you, Paul.
The system is monitored both by the SETG and SWR staff and we hope that this will deter any ne’er-do-wells. So as well as working on 3417, the SETG are investing to protect and enhance the fabric of our micro-depot, and to increase the security of the site for the benefit of both ourselves and SWR and it’s staff.
On Wednesday, matters went back to 3417 itself. We, along with other 400-series restoration groups, are constantly on the lookout for equipment that can be salvaged and re-used to benefit the few remaining units. Peter Spokes, the owner of hybrid 4VOP 3905, is a major figure in EMU preservation not only in his efforts to support restore his own unit at the East Kent Railway, but assisting other groups in sourcing spares for their units as well. We were fortunate to be invited by Peter to the East Kent Railway to rake through his array of stores and spare parts. In his words, “I’ve enough gear for both units, and you’re closer to running than I am.” So Potter, Lynn, Darren and Peter convened at the East Kent Railway to explore and relocate some of Peter’s stock of 400-series spare parts.
After a degree of what Lynn generously describing as “anorak spares faffing”, the SETG left with a van heavily loaded with parts ranging from dustbins and handbrake wheels to line breakers and brake blocks. These spares are now in quarantine at Strawberry Hill until our Chief Engineer can sit down and go through the consignment. From there it will go onto our shelves for use either on 3417, or for use on other units if required. On that subject there has been some conversation about establishing a full database of spares not only held by us, but my Peter and indeed other owning groups to ensure that should a part held by any group be needed by any other group, and exchange can be made. After all, these spares are precious and we are all together in our desire to see these machines doing what they were built to do; namely carrying passengers. We will be looking further into this as the group matures.
So there we are – a busy week. We are indebted to the input and hard work put in by Paul Cooper, Darren Franklin, Lynn Abrahams, Doug Abrahams, Chris Buckland and Oscar Martin to secure the shed, and to Peter Spokes for his generosity in sharing his spares float to the benefit of 3417. We would also like to express our gratitude to all our SWR friends at Strawberry Hill who have gone far above and beyond the call of duty to keep such a close and interested eye on 3417 and the shed. We are doing everything we can to protect 3417 and the work and support that we and you all have put into this unique piece of railway history.