Rowsley Carriage Shed
The Right Opportunity
I can't recall exactly when we started talking about a carriage repair and restoration shed as the conversation would always start with “If only we had a shed we could ....”, but that day has now arrived.
During 1999 Adrian Lewis discovered a Nissen building located on a farm near Wakefield that was to become redundant as the farm was to be absorbed into an adjacent gravel pit working. The building had been used as a potato store but latterly for storage of steam traction engines and other vintage vehicles. Its structure also seemed ideally suited for use as a carriage shed.
An Economic Solution Found and the Time is Right
The ‘Nissen’ type shed measures 36ft × 88ft at ground level and 18ft high at the centre of the semi-circular cross-section. The cladding is by curved sections of galvanised corrugated steel each piece measuring 8ft × 2ft 8ins, a double sliding door at one end is 22ft wide × 14 ft high. The condition of the building was therefore assessed as acceptable and photographs were circulated amongst the members and it was decided that we should go for it.
Following sanction from the directors of Peak Rail plc to erect the shed at Rowsley an offer was made to the owner which was accepted on condition that it would be removed from site before June. There then followed detailed discussions on the procedures to adopt in order to dismantle the shed safely and transport it to Rowsley. It was found necessary to purchase additional tools and engineering pallets to facilitate these requirements. Hence on the Saturday of the Spring Bank Holiday eight eager workers arrived on the site. The first major task involved removing the cladding by cutting the hook-bolts, which attached the sheets to the steel frame, and lowering these to the ground safely. Each sheet was numbered on a plan as an essential aid to re-assembly. At the end of the first day all the curved sheets were removed leaving only a few of the end panels and the doors to be removed the next day.
On the second day we had to dismantle the steel framework consisting of 12 semi-circular hoops of tubular steel connected together by rows of horizontal steel purlins bolted to the hoops. Removing these purlins involved unscrewing over 700 nuts and bolts and here, Harvey's compressed air operated socket spanner saved an inestimable amount of time. The then free-standing hoops were lowered safely to the ground using a rope attached to Adrian's Land-Rover. This particular operation was executed slowly and carefully but it was still possible to get a meal of fish and chips locally at 10 p.m.
Monday was a tidying up session in preparation for the loading onto transport to Rowsley the next day. The lorry we used is owned by a steam roller owner who uses it to carry the roller to events around the country. The shed components were delivered to Rowsley on Friday 2nd June 2000 where all the hard work of unloading was undertaken by a rail mounted crane.
The Long Haul and Professional Advice is Required
During the summer and autumn 2000 a small team of members prepared the components for re-erection involving scraping loose paint from the sheeting and painting it with an etching primer. The structural members were cleaned and painted with a two pack paint. Work came to a halt during the very wet autumn and winter but recommenced in the spring as and when conditions allowed.
During this time an approach was made to the contractor who at the time was erecting Peak Rail's locomotive shed frame, a quotation was obtained to install concrete foundations, floor and erect the steelwork frame for us. This development provided the deadline required to complete the laborious preparation works.
Whilst all this was going on, Peak Rail staff assisted us with the preparation of the site and with the foundations for the floor. Thanks must be extended to Rob Saunders, Derek Ankers, Tim Oaks and last but not least the Wednesday and Sunday gangs.
Behind the scenes Derek, John and Alison found themselves coming out of retirement and doing the associated paperwork. We are also grateful to the management of Peak Rail who smoothed our path in very many ways.
As a result 15 months later the LMSCA carriage shed was at the point of being re-assembled.
The Phoenix Rises
The steelwork erection stage was completed after some delay and the structure became visible from the A6 road nearby. Additional work in assembling the sliding doors and front and rear personnel doors was completed. Thanks to Colin Fearnley's Land Rover Discovery the GUV (86163) was pulled to the back of the shed for ease of access.
Shelter and Fitting Out
On the 27th December 2001 the final and major job of assembling the cladding on the framework commenced. The weather was cold and wet but good progress was made and it soon became clear that the numbering of the panels all those months ago was to pay dividends. The final panel was fixed on the 21st January 2002 all accomplished by good planning and teamwork, completed as quickly as possible to minimise damage and safety concerns due to wind pressures on the partially clad structure.
Arrangements were made for the installation of an electrical supply to the building. A considerable quantity of electrical equipment and fittings were salvaged from a Birmingham building due for demolition. We procured and adequate supply of light fittings, switchgear, fuse boxes and much more needed for the fitting out. Working areas with benches and storage facilities were added and a considerable quantity of pallet racking was adapted to provide a permanent access staging. A visitors information area has been constructed where details and pictures of the LMSCA's activities can be viewed.
It is over a year since we put the last sheet of ‘wriggly tin’ on, when for the first time ever we were able to work on carriages under cover. Currently LMS Third corridor 3031 is undergoing final conversion for use as an exhibition carriage sometime during 2003. Inside it we hope to create an exhibition illustrating the LMSCA's work and aims. The work on the shed culminated by the placing of a name-board above the shed door which proudly declares the LMSCA CARRIAGE SHED is open for business!
Our thanks go to all the cast (apologies for omissions), who did not appear in the following order: Adrian Lewis, John Leather, Alison Leather, Derek Mason, Harvey Coppock, Chris Lings, Lee Sharpe, Alan Taylor, Rob Saunders, Derek Ankers, David Pont, Jackie Statham, Jeremy Clegg, Trevor Riley, Sid Wheldon, Colin Fearnley, Jane Fearnley, Mike Hancocks, the ‘Sunday Gang’, the ‘Wednesday Gang’ and the Directors of Peak Rail plc.