Workday 3rd October 2020

First of all, our stealth Drinkwear salesman Mr Mark Hopwood (also known for being in charge of a railway company or two) continues to do stirling work advertising the magnificence of the Third Rail and the SETG. If he keeps this up there might be another mug of tea & really nice biscuits for him when he next visits Strawberry Hill. Thank you very much, Mr H!
Do you want yours? Would you like to drink the hot beverage of your choice like a Managing Director? Then wait no more, dear reader – follow the link below and fulfil all your SETG Merchandising desires!

Now; enough shameless enterprise – on with the news. The Minions were once again on-site at Strawberry Hill on the 3rd October 2020, busily engaged in Train Fiddling For Fun and Frustration. Today was a day to be thankful that we have a building to work in because the rain was unremitting. Had we been working on the unit outside, as we have had to do in the past, we would have had an extremely uncomfortable day indeed. (More on the importance of the building later.) This was another of those “a bit of train, a bit of depot” days but happily we had enough manpower on site to deal with both! The first order of the day was a task we have been meaning to complete for a long time – restoring the main gates to the compound. In the dim and distant past, one of the main gates was removed and judging by the state of the hinges it wasn’t removed gently. Bending 1/2 inch steel bolts and the frame they’re fixed to takes some doing! The SETG has had the original bolts straightening and re-welded to increase their strength, and then on Saturday morning we manhandled the gate back into position. The best way to envision this process is to imagine an Amish barn being erected without the calm expertise, but with more high-visibility vests and a lot more swearing. Oh, and a lot of rain. But despite the weather (and probably thanks to the swearing) the gate was replaced without any serious problems, as demonstrated below by Senior Minion Chris Buckland sporting his “Happy With The Gate” pose!

Meanwhile inside the shed Maggie – our seamstress extraordinaire – was back behind her sewing machine and working on expanding our supply of serviceable seat bases. We have been storing these seats aboard the unit on the parcels storage/bike storage/ unofficial smoking area (delta according to travelling experience) of Motor Brake 62236. We have also been bug-bombing this small area to make life uncomfortable for any remaining Clothes Moths that might be considering having a quiet lunch from our new moquette. So far we appear to be winning this particular fight, and better yet thanks to Maggie & Lynn’s efforts we now have enough trim to completely fit out the saloon on Long Trailer 70797. We still have a slowly shrinking stack of seat bases to rectify, and we are whittling the salvageable ones out of that stack. Those which are beyond our skills to repair will either be sent away for specialist attention or scrapped and replaced as funds allow.

The second important job of the day was conducting a survey of the shed structure. Strawberry Hill is, as far as we know, the last LSWR engine shed still in use and we are proud to have breathed life back into what would otherwise have been a redundant and unloved structure. However a building constructed in 1892 needs maintenance and we are keen to make sure that the old place is kept in fine fettle – Strawberry Hill Shed is as critical to the success of the restoration of 3417 as any tool, material, method or Minion. Make no mistake; without having access to this building the restoration project would not have progressed as far as it has. We intend to look after the building with every bit as much care as we tend our 4VEP. So, thanks to the assistance of a kindly friend (Railway Architecture, television, gets enthusiastic about working lever frames in signal boxes – you know who we mean), we have made an approach to the Railway Heritage Trust regarding a possible grant towards improving and protecting the fabric of the building. We hope they will look favourably upon our enquiry. When we get news on that front we will let you know.

There was only one other needful task for the day, and annoyingly it’s the one that we can’t tell you about at the moment. All we can say at the moment is that it is very exciting for us all, and raises the tantalising possibility of a very very good New Year for 3417 and the SETG. It’s not set in stone yet, and as such we are keeping quiet. But we hope to have some news for you soon.

Until then here is one of the upshots from that work. We hope you enjoy it!

We’re working hard at Strawberry Hill, and we remain glad to have your interest and support. Stay tuned folks, because we believe the best is yet to come!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

*: Please note that all Important Jobs are secondary to the preparation and consumption of Tea. Please see Depot Operating Instructions below: