A new Engine for 'Little Cliffy'
Its an Ill Wind
For about a year it had been noted that at the Ground Level station the sandstone wall, where our passengers queue, had been leaning towards the field and had been considered dangerous. This lean caused by the roots of the adjacent trees. The Rangers barriered off the whole length whilst Wirral Borough Council decide where funds could be found to re-build the wall, £10,000 having been quoted.
During the week commencing 20th February stonemasons had been engaged and demolished the whole of the wall and mechanically excavated a trench, in the original position, to pour concrete footings for the re-build. This excavation cut through quite a number of the roots of the trees lining the wall leaving them exposed.
On Thursday 23rd Storm Doris arrived and duly blew one fir tree down right across all the tracks with the crown finishing in the bushes at the far side of the footpath leading to the Raised Track. Another fir tree was blown to lean such that it was considered it should be taken down. On the Friday a Ranger sawed the fallen crown back to within 4ft of the paling fence, leaving the main trunk sprawled across all 5 tracks. The footpath was taped off, at both ends, so that walkers had to walk round the Eastern edge of the Mere to access the field. This resulted in the railway being unable to run from the station on Sunday 26th but was able to run a successful journey, with a four-coach set topped and tailed with locos, starting at the Workshops and terminating at the Halt. The public soon appreciated this unique experience and kept staff busy till 3.40pm.
On Wednesday 1st March the fallen tree was cut into sections and by use of the tractor, the sections were craned to the side of the footpath. The leaning tree was then felled without damage to the station fences and was dropped into the gap formed in the previously broken paling fence. This was removed to the side of the footpath. This fall damaged line 2 rail near the turntable and a short section will require replacement. With some effort in clearing up it will be possible to run trains normally on Sunday 5th March but not use line 2. Head Ranger has said that the remaining four trees will remain despite the previously recorded root damage. It may be some days before the footpath will be re-opened for the public because there are some damaged limbs on other trees which may pose a risk till dealt with.
This report was penned by Alan Pennell on Thursday 2nd March.
The photo(s) were taken by Derek Jones on the day after Doris struck.
With apologies to the author and photographer for the delay in publishing this item (Ed)
A Special Anniversary
Members of the Society were very pleased to pay due recognition of a significant milestone in the life of one of its members at the 'Quiz Night' at Thornton Hough on 16th February.
Les (John) Dobbing celebrates his 90th Birthday on 19th February. We had hoped to recognise this on the due date at Royden Park but Les had already made his own private arrangements for that day. It was decided the best we could do was to celebrate with him, and his wife Kit, on the nearest meeting to his birthdate.
After the Quiz was finished a chocolate cake was wheeled out adorned with two candles representing 90 which Les duly blew out. He was presented with a Birthday Card signed by many of his friends in WMES and was assailed by a rendering of 'Happy Birthday to You' from the assembled multitude. The cake was cut and distributed with the usual tea and coffee. Kit was particularly pleased with the cake as she is a chocaholic!
Les now joins an elite small group of members who have reached their 90th birthday - Bill McGlade (92) and Albert Canes (91).
Image Geoff Goulding