Bury Standard 4 Group - Restoring 80097 and 46428

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Wagon Group History

The wagon group was started in 1988 by the late John Bolton; we had only one locomotive then the standard 4 Tank 80097 and only a few wagons on the railway. John asked around to see if anyone would join him to buy an oil tanker from the East Lancashire Railway, this was one of the two ex. Burma oil tankers which we eventually turned into the Spur Petroleum tanker. Once the work on repainting was done John asked the railway for the other oil tanker we transformed it into Shell oil company livery, this vehicle has subsequently left the railway along with the Esso oil tanker.

Our next vehicles where two iron ore wagons from Stockport, one we still have the other was sold, the Gardners wagon, later two more vehicles were found in Kirkham, Lancashire, one was a LMS brake van and the other a BR 12 ton box van, they turned up in the summer of 1989. Next to arrive were three more oil tankers from the Esso oil company who kindly donated them to us they even provided a road crane to lift them onto our road transportation vehicle back to Bury.
Work was on going with John Bolton most days, the next tanker painted was painted in the Millican livery in 1990. This was the year of the first freight train with the class 24 diesel locomotive to Ramsbottom with five of our wagons and the railways newly delivered ferry oil tanker from Crib Ltd. of Stoke on Trent. Later in the year the freight train was out again with the new steam locomotive 76079 again with the same wagons which were the two Spur Petroleum oil tankers, the Millican, an iron ore wagon, a Medfit, the ferry tanker and the LMS brake van.

Later in the same year we did a “wagon push” from Ramsbottom Station to Rawtenstall Station to raise some restoration money. In Ramsbottom station we had the diesel locomotive 40145 and a brake van behind us to act as a buffer stop in case we ran away with the wagon. From Ramsbottom Station it is uphill to the site of Stubbins station and this proved to be the hardest part, we nearly came to a stop. By the time we got to Stubbins it was noticed that the brakes were binding, John Bolton wasn’t very popular! Once this was rectified the next stop was Irwell Vale, then onto Ewood Bridge and Horncliffe, (see the photo on website with John Greenhow, Martin Tetlow and Gary Ryan). Other people who took part were myself, Joyce Lexstone, Steven Butley and other members who have since moved on.

1991 – John Bolton put in a bid for some wagons from the Royal Navy; this consisted of a London and North Western Box van, a Great Northern flat wagon, a low roof Gunpowder van and two 4-plank wooden vehicles. These arrived at Bury by the late summer, work continued on repairs to the iron ore wagon and another oil tanker was being painted.

1992 – We had two more “new” wagons delivered, the GWR Toad Brake van and a NER engineers riding van. The Toad had previously been used as overnight accommodation so it arrived complete with bunk beds, a cooker, a sink and a gas fire. The NER van was painted up in the company’s blue livery.

1993 – This was a big leap for our group with the arrival of seven box vans from the ROF site in Chorley. This consisted of two Gunpowder vans, one LMS and one Great Western and the rest were BR Box vans. Before these were delivered the floors had to be taken out due to gunpowder contamination. Towards the end of the year we were asked if would take delivery of a Lancashire and Yorkshire Tar Tank, this was restored by Nigel Barnes and his friends. Once finished we were asked if we would like buy it which we did, it now resides in Castlecroft yard.

1994 – We had a bad start to the year as two youths deliberately set fire to our LMS Brake van, they got injured in the process, fortunately some people happened to be around and they put the fire out. Thankfully, the van wasn’t a right off so it was rebuilt and put it back into service for another fifteen years.

1995 – This was the start of regular charter trains so a lot of vans were giving a quick re-paint to make them look presentable for the charters. Other work was completed on other wagons. The main wagon to enter service was the GWR Brake van which only managed a few trips up the line before the springs gave way; it was put to one side for the time being.

1996 – General maintenance on our wagons.

1997 – Another LMS Brake van was obtained and brought onto the railway. This had also been used for overnight accommodation. It had been built in 1933, one of seventy five, it was in good condition for being sixty four years old, unfortunately after a few months on the railway this also got burnt out whilst on Platform one and this time it was a complete right off.

1998 – Two more wagons turned up for us, a 25 ton Lowmac to put our Locomotive boiler on and the other being a 12 tonne Box van.

1999 – This was the year we got four wagons all 3-plankers, three of them were in a state of poor repair but the fourth one was okay. This was the year John Bolton took ill so I took over the maintenance of the wagons. Work was needed on our shop beforeChristmas 2000 the vehicle was spruced up and given a lick of paint in preparation for the Santa Specials.

2000 – Work started first on an NER Box van to go inside the museum, it was painted as was the other NER Box van so that it could be used as a store for the shop. I also got involved with the Railway’s Queen Mary Brake van, i managed to get a new young helper, Stewart Howarth, he helped put a lot of new wood on the 3-plankers which was to cost over £600 per wagon, and this took up most of the year.

2001 – We got hold of a 16 tonne steel mineral wagon which was found at Shotten steel works, it was full of scrap metal which had to be removed before it could be collected. Another burnt out Box Van was picked up at the same time from Wigan which was going to be used in the “Thomas” train. Once delivered they were quickly shot blasted before being repainted.

2002 – Work was ongoing on repainting and general maintenance. Dave Cousins had another wooden frame wagon rebuilt and returned to the railway, it is still waiting to be finished off. Two wagons were prepared and repainted by Geoff and Pam Pinner for use at Rawtenstall Station.
The freight train was stopped needing new split pins in all of the vehicles and with seventy two split pins per wagon needing replacing which were all different sizes. This job had to be completed before the freight train could run again, this proved to be a big job as the vehicles had to be ready for the February 2003 gala, the work was completed in time.

2003 – Work then started on the Railway’s Standard Brake van repairing and repainting it. The Queen Mary brake van had all its windows broken so a start was made on these repairs with stripping down the old woodwork, repairing metalwork and shot blasting before rebuilding could properly start, this work continued until summer 2004.

2004 – The sales coach had its roof repainted and the sides cleaned again.

2005 – This was a good year as the freight train was out about ten times due to having the 8F locomotive on the railway, which proved very popular with charter trains. In the Winter one of the Brake van’s roofs was lost in the gales, this had to be repaired quickly has it was partly owned by us. We took delivery of a 24 tonne coal wagon with four doors, this wagon had come from Shrewsbury; it still needs a lot of work doing to it as it has only been repainted.

2006 – We ran an oil tanker train up the line to Ramsbottom Station with the Jinty, this was to make room for the Metro Link contract. Little work on the vehicles was done due to the ongoing work at Baron Street.

2007 – We set about rebuilding our rotten A Class container which took up most of the year as well as maintaing the freight train.

2008 – We started to fit new springs to our GWR Brake van, and then we started work on the body work which took a lot of rebuilding.

2009 – A bad start with the death of John Bolton the founder of the Wagon Group, and he also put the finishing touches to the GWR Toad van. A new helper, Danny came to help with the repair and repainting of the Conflat.

2010 – Work started on one of the 12 tonne box vans as we found out that the floor was falling out due to woodworm. This was a big job as the van was full of shelving and we had nowhere to put it. We were working in a confined space of seventeen feet, so we moved everything to one end and slowly worked backwards until it was complete, this took most of the year.

2011 – Another box van needed new doors, these were rebuilt and fitted but both sides also needed rebuilding and we ran out of time. In the summer we started on our rotten 4-plank mineral, it was stripped down to the chassis and then we found that we needed two new buffer beams and one new crossbeam.


2012 – Our LMS Brake van was now in a bad way with holes in the roof and floor, the Carriage & Wagon Department took pity on us and started to completely rebuild it for us from the chassis upwards. We repainted three medfits and the Queen Mary Brake van and continued work with the 4-plank mineral wagon.

2013 – The wooden 4-plank mineral took up most of our time which has turned out to be our biggest challenge for me and Ralph Devonport.

2014 – Our LMS Brake van was completed in early 2014 and was put to use on a freight train in the January steam gala, the brake van is now resplendent in bauxite, many thanks to everyone in Carriage & Wagon Department. Work on the wagons is always ongoing, anyone wishing to give a helping hand with the restoration and maintenance of our rolling stock, restoring the engines or helping in our sales shop, you will be made very welcome.

Keith Savory March 2014.