1. From the Valley Chair’s desk
2. Recent happenings at Valley Heights
3. Large exhibits
4. Small exhibits
5. Our models
6. Around the grounds
7. Shopping trends
8. Buildings and services
9. Safety matters
11. Our coming events
Plenty of water under the bridge, (in the tender and out the chimney?) since our last cosy chat! From a publicity viewpoint, the major initiative was the creation of our first ever Halloween event. During a visit to the U.K. in 2016, wife Eileen and I were (reluctantly) persuaded to take a Halloween themed ride on the Epping-Ongar Railway (EOR) in London’s north-east. We were so taken with the enthusiasm of the many volunteers and visitors who had engaged with the whole event, by dressing up, face painting and so on, that we felt it was a great opportunity for the Museum to attract a new market (and have some fun along the way!) More of the details later, but suffice it to say that an even bigger Halloween event should appear on the 2018 calendar.
Change at the helm! After a highly successful three-year stint, Bruce Coxon moved aside from his role in the top job and at November’s AGM welcomed our new chairman, Henk Luf. Well-known to most of you, Henk has a close association with the railway industry, both as a businessman and rolling stock designer, especially in his native Netherlands, and as a journalist, with editorial input to Motive Power magazine. Henk became the Museum’s Large Exhibits Manager in early 2017 and has already made a valuable contribution since joining the Committee. Although no longer holding a post, Bruce’s time will be well spent in assisting Henk with project management on the major infrastructure developments onsite. We wish both men success in their respective endeavours!
In compliance with the Museum’s Constitution, at the first Committee meeting after the AGM, two Vice-Chairmen were appointed. In a great show of confidence, both Ted Dickson and Jeff Russell were re-elected on a show of hands.
Welcome to 2018! With the New Year just beginning, I would like to voice a well-deserved "thank-you" to all our Valley Heights volunteers for their great effort during 2017. A job very well done in terms of preserving Blue Mountains rail heritage as well as providing sound educational and entertainment values to the wider public
The coming year will be an interesting one with the forecourt reconstruction taking place during February, X206 coming 'on-line' and a busy 2018 open day schedule and special events all in their planning stages.
Safety was a major priority at Valley Heights during 2017 and 2018 will be no different. With the help of THNSW and our volunteers we did a good job getting a lot of safety matters dealt with and maintained. There are still some safety issues to be resolved and I am confident that, with the ongoing assistance of THNSW and our own volunteer efforts, we will deal with any matters outstanding.
Among my own priorities will be, together with Bruce Coxon and Ted Dickson, to see the forecourt reconstruction carried out successfully, to see X206 becoming operational together with our tram friends, to deal with all outstanding safety issues and together with our publicity team, to promote Valley Heights as much as possible at every opportunity. And yes, I will still be running the DC model railway layout during open days as my R & R activity.
In all, we have a good, solid year ahead of us so all that is left for me for now is to wish everyone a "Prosperous and Happy 2018".
Henk Luf, Chairman VHLDHM
The Museum’s inaugural Halloween event on the extra Open Day of Sunday 29 October was greeted with a high level of enthusiasm from volunteers and visitors alike. Following several weeks of preparation, with valuable assistance from Steve Dive, Frank Coy, Adrian Duffy, Dave Grove, Dennis Brown and my wife Eileen, the decorations purchased, created and borrowed, transformed the Museum for the day. Ann Frederick and Rod Hawkes kindly facilitated the loan of items, including costumes, from Thirlmere and a great selection of props arrived from my niece on the Central Coast. Articles in the Blue Mountains Gazette and the BM Record, as well as a paid presence on Facebook, an interview on local community radio (RBM89.1) and a brief mention on ABC Local Radio (702) helped spread the word that the “DRACULAR SPECTACULAR” was ready for action. New member Frank Coy and Steve Dive worked creatively to prepare signs for the locos and our thanks go to them.
Volunteers lined up early to have their faces painted by the local Girl Guides who stayed on to decorate many of our visitors, as a fund raiser. Any grave doubts as to the success of the day were soon dis-spelled (sic) as patrons were suitably scared, enthralled or excited (or all three!) by their experience on the “Silver Scares” and the “Tram of Terrors”. Everyone rode the “Spooky Express”, past the last known resting place of “Trainosaurus Wrecks” and the “Ghost Train” (with “real” ghost) – “Terminating at a Dead End”! Megan Tolhurst created, set up and ran a colourful “Pumpkin Bowling Alley” that was a great hit for the younger ones. Dozens of “Lost Finger Rolls” were sold in the café and no permanent harm came to anyone, despite the “Mangling” sign on the front of the Steam Tram! There were ten witches hidden around the site for the ‘Spot the Wacky Witches’ competition and also an opportunity for story writers to submit a short piece using ‘Silly’ station names.
All seventeen volunteers involved on the day had a great time and we have plenty of positive feedback from them and our visitors. We appreciate the effort put in by all concerned and the degree of engagement is a good omen for an expanded event next year, possibly over two days with an evening session on the Saturday?
As part of our commitment to support essential services in the community, the Museum hosted Fire Brigade training on Thursday 9 November. The unit learned and practised skills in rescue/retrieval from under the U-boat carriage (ETB6039) that provides a great resource for these frequent exercises.
The Museum’s AGM on Saturday 11 November was attended by nearly 50 members and invited guests, followed by a sausage barbecue. The meeting was marked by the standing down of hard-working Museum chairman Bruce Coxon, who was instrumental in taking the Museum forward on many fronts: major re-timbering of the roundhouse eastern fascia, completion of the southern boundary fence upgrade, development of the project to relay the “bull-ring” (between the roundhouse and turntable) and the imminent transfer of the Valley Heights Civil Depot for the Museum’s expansion. These major projects are a feather in Bruce’s cap and incoming Chairman Henk Luf, will continue down a similar path of progress and improvement with emphasis on increasing visitor numbers.
A large group from the Museum attended the THNSW AGM at Thirlmere when Life Memberships were awarded to Ray Beharrell and Roslyn Reynolds. Ray is a past president of the Rail Transport Museum board and has dedicated many years to the rail heritage preservation movement, including over 20 years on the Valley Heights committee. Roslyn has toiled tirelessly since the late 1980s to beautify and maintain the Museum’s landscape, often working long hours in all weathers and in the company of her late husband Keith for many of those years.
A small group of Clubman cars visited on Sunday 12 November. A Clubman is “a lightweight, open, two-seat roadster generally designed for both road and track with an emphasis on simplicity, performance and road-holding” (courtesy Clubman Drivers Club of Australia Inc. website). Some of these colourful vehicles were snapped in the Museum car park.
On Monday 20 November we hosted a very large group from nearby Springwood Public School. They walked to and from the Museum, with two crossings of Tusculum Road, so we arranged, via the local police, for two Highway Patrol cars to attend. Hi-vis wearing volunteers escorted the group for some of their journey. Henk Luf, Bruce Coxon, Ted Dickson, Jeff Russell, Ray Beharrell, Andrew Tester, Grant Robinson and I were on duty for the visit, conducting interesting and informative tours of the Museum, including both model rooms. Steam Tram rides and turntable demonstrations provided by our STARPS chums were also greatly enjoyed. The precision timing vital for such a visit was sometimes challenging, but guiding the six classes around the site was basically hitch-free and the occasion provided yet another great example of the Museum’s ability to engage with the community on several levels.
“Santa” made his annual journey to Valley Heights over the weekend of 9–10 December. Twice on each day our “special visitor” boarded the Tramcar accompanied by his two elves, much to the delight of the many children already on board. Dozens more excited boys and girls greeted Santa and his entourage as they made their way to his “throne” in the roundhouse, where they could chat and pose for family photos with the huge decorated tree and steam loco 5461 providing a unique backdrop. A gift bag of goodies was a further treat for all the young ones before they had another ride or enjoyed the Museum’s many activities, including face painting, again provided by the Girl Guides. Our Steam Loco barbecue was fired up and many tasty sausage sandwiches were served, with thanks to Sue Fulton, Roslyn Reynolds, Adrian Duffy, Dave Grove and Jeff Russell, all well co-ordinated by Andrew Tester. Our special thanks also go to Andrew for his role in the beard and red suit, as well as Bruce Irwin and Glenn Hargrave who again shared those duties. Of course, the Museum’s favourite elves were again brilliantly portrayed by Megan and Lydia Tolhurst and all are to be congratulated for their effort under hot and steamy skies. Later on Sunday, we hosted a Christmas party for the children of Winmalee Rural Fire Brigade members. The STARPS Tram crew kindly stayed on to provide one last ride, before Santa dispensed gifts to the children while the parents put our barbecue to good use. A long day for many but the Museum’s volunteers again coped with the large numbers over the two days and extended hours.
A half day’s work on 13 December involved shunting diesel loco X206 to the tram carriage shed, the S-truck to the roundhouse for signwriting and rearranging Stevo and the Steam Tram over the pit in road 1 for stripping down prior to annual boiler inspections.
5711’s tender has seen further preparation for the planned riveting. The hole drilling process is time consuming and tedious, but aided by a magnetic drill stand, Ted Dickson made a great job of completing the task, well assisted by Steve Dive and Tony Silvers.
Professional lettering has been applied to our cement hopper by member and ex railway signwriter Frank Coy, and the wagon now awaits accreditation to join the “Valley Heights Mixed” on running days. The “Mixed” will be brightened in 2018 by the wonderful paint job recently done on the LFA carriage operated by STARPS.
Following complaints by a member, the wall panels commemorating the Blue Mountains 150th anniversary have been removed from view and put in storage, pending the Committee's review of items to be displayed on the back wall of the Roundhouse.
A set of Avery platform scales, plus a pair of wheel sets (thanks to member and fettlers’ trolley enthusiast David Lewis) and some lengths of rail, timber sleepers and dog spikes to suit, have been donated to Blue Mountains City Council. The items, considered surplus to our requirements, are part of the upgrade to Glenbrook Park and will add to the railway theme of the children’s play area. Plaques will be mounted to recognise our involvement and this led to an intensive search for historical details of the scales and wheels. Following a search of websites and information from the U.K. we established the early 1900s as the era for the Avery scales, Luckily, David’s book collection includes Triking the Length by Jim Longworth that has pictures and a good description of the wheels as used on fettlers’ “Pole Trolleys” in the late 19th century. When the project is complete, drop into Glenbrook to see the outcome of our involvement with Council.
The main emphasis in recent times has been on confirming work already in place. A 13.8 volt power supply had been installed in the No. 2 end High Tension (H.T.) compartment, replacing the combination of an old truck battery and charger in the machinery compartment. On a couple of Open Days the opportunity was taken to test the new power supply arrangement by turning on all the lights in the locomotive (headlights and marker lights at both ends) and leaving them on all day. The system worked satisfactorily with the power supply showing only modest warming. Some time ago, small coloured lights were installed at various points in the power control system so as to provide a visible demonstration of the 46 class control system operation. These were disconnected when it was found that the voltage at which they operate was not compatible with the voltage required for the simulator interface. During the month a means of inserting a dropping resister in series with a couple of these lights was tested, so that they could operate on the same voltage as the simulator. This was successful, and so it will be possible to eventually re-install all of these lights. The simulator (computer and interface) was powered up a couple of times and run for a couple of hours to confirm that it is still functioning correctly. Work has commenced in making up suitable brackets so as to mount the computer screen on the windshield, in front of the driver. The long term aim is to replace this screen with a larger screen.
It appears that operating approval is slowly progressing. Some testing has been carried out and it is expected that with some assistance from THNSW and regulatory authorities more extensive testing and training may soon commence. I have also been looking at having the unit repainted in its original colours and have been contacting various paint suppliers. We have a picture of the unit in its original colour scheme.
A group of interested parties is working on a total plan for the back wall of the Roundhouse and a scale drawing has been prepared.
Planning is also being done to stop vibration and dust damage to the small exhibits collection during the forecourt rebuild. Many items will have to be removed, covered properly or put in storage to avoid damage (so if you see gaps in the Museum’s collection, don’t panic!)
A team is also developing some new child friendly exhibit signage.
Some kinks had appeared in the tracks on the new loop and it is thought that the hot weather had caused this. These are not detrimental to running and two of the passing loop tracks have now been fixed, the others will be worked on by our track experts on as time permits.
The locos kindly donated by Don Chandler (DD117) have been modified for DCC operation and on testing were running a little stiffly and may have been unused for some time before acquisition. A little oil and some long running-in seem to be solving the problem. The locos also brought out some small imperfections at a couple of places in the track work and these will be fixed soon.
One thing leads to another! The great paint job done on the LFA carriage meant that several months’ growth on many overhanging branches and bushes had to be trimmed back. Luke Tolhurst and Keith Ward did the preliminary work on the coal road and I finished the job. Our thanks also go to Steve Tolhurst and Stevo’s engine crew for trimming from the ash road to the signal box.
There has been some discussion about a perceived decline in visitations and revenue over the last few months. This is not supported by the data. We are actually growing: every month, from August on, was better than the previous month! You have to go back to the first Open Day in October to see us register under 100 visitors and November saw both total gate numbers and retail sales around double those of 12 months ago. A few comments about sales: books seem to be back in town, with revenue from books exceeding food for three out of the first five months (of the financial year) while DVD sales have picked up.
The shop now has a number of copies of The Strike That Never Ended, following requests. Byways of Steam 32 was expected to arrive in December, following the success of earlier editions. Don’t forget that the shop is great source of interesting and unique gifts for birthdays of any vintage!
Our order for more of the noise making, pull back toy trains which have proved to be very popular, was not fulfilled before Christmas as there were none in the country. However the alternate toy trains purchased also sold well and the original model will be in stock soon.
We now stock children’s size hi-vis vests, with “Train Driver” emblazoned on the back, and sales are brisk. We have also purchased some of Transport Heritage’s 2018 transport calendar. This attractive item shows pictures of Sydney’s transport in the form of buses, trams and trains from various eras. Every wall needs one!
Well done to all who did a terrific job led by Chris Troy to complete the concreting of the Fettlers’ shed floor.
The initial avalanche of work on testing and tagging of machinery, tools, leads and appliances is complete. My thanks to Glenn Hargrave for his valuable assistance. Several leads have been condemned because they are rated as domestic and not suitable for industrial use. Some have had plugs and sockets replaced to clear type as now required for industrial leads. It is amazing that many electrical items seem to “appear” without any notification to myself so they can be assessed for suitability. If you bring electrical items of any description for use at the depot you must let me know as soon as they arrive. This important project is ongoing.
Thanks to Secretary, Ross Stenning, who has provided a second hand telephone that we are in the process of cleaning and re-assembling. This is destined for display in the red telephone box. (Start saving your small coins in case you need to make an urgent call!)
Safety is the first priority in any workplace. As an organization we are responsible to ensure that we provide a safe working environment for our volunteers and contractors as well as ensuring the Museum is safe for our visitors.
It is just as important to us as it is to your family that when you finish working for the organisation at the end of each day, that you return home in the same healthy state that you were in that morning.
Adjacent to the Members’ Amenities Room are two Safety Notice Boards. These are located on each side of the doorway so that they are clearly visible as you enter the room. The Transport Heritage NSW (THNSW) Work Health and Safety (WHS) Notice Board is located on the left side of the door while the STARPS Notice Board is on the right.
All volunteers should read notices displayed on the THNSW Notice board as this relates to all workers. The STARPS Notice Board is more specific to Rail Safety Workers (RSWs) who should take note of the content displayed on both boards.
ALL volunteers and STARPS members working onsite need to be aware of the information displayed on this board as notices are frequently added.
Key information displayed on this Board includes:
Please ensure you become aware of the content of both the Policies and the Safety Alert Notices.
THNSW and STARPS have obligations under both the Work Health and Safety Act and the Rail Safety Act when it comes to reporting safety incidents.
In addition to the guidelines available in the Transport Heritage Safety Management System and the STARPS Safety Management System, a flow chart will soon be displayed on the Safety Notice Board to step you through the reporting process.
Depending on the circumstances involved in an incident, timing, how and who the incident is reported to can vary.
It is important that all resources should be consulted to ensure our compliance with Incident reporting.
After many years of pursuing assistance to fund the renewal of the Roundhouse forecourt we are pleased to advise that work is scheduled to commence in February. All members should have received written notification of the impending works that will take place by now and a second notification will be issued at the end of January.
The forecourt in its current state is failing and presents a major risk of trips and falls to our volunteers and visitors.
Due to the scope of the works and the equipment involved we have decided that the Museum will be closed while the work is in progress.
No members (with the exception of one or two required for the supervision of the contractors) will be allowed on site for at least the first week of the works. This is in the best interest of the safety of our volunteers and the public and will also ensure the contractors have unimpeded access to their worksite. After the first week it is hoped to allow members back onsite with restricted access.
Once this work has been completed we will have a much safer forecourt which will eliminate the existing trip hazards and provide greater accessibility for the mobility impaired and parents with prams.
Just a reminder about housekeeping in our workspaces. We need to ensure we clean up after ourselves at the end of each day. This includes cleaning work benches, putting power tools away, packing away extension cords and not leaving flammable liquids out in places where they can cause harm.
We work in areas that are accessible to the general public so it’s important that we don’t leave our equipment out where it could do damage or even be stolen when not in use.
The Museum has acquired a number of flammable liquids cupboards. These have been located in locations where work involving the use of flammable liquids takes place. These have been acquired to satisfy and improve upon our obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act.
In addition to these, one corrosive liquids cupboard and two cages for aerosol cans and LPG cylinders have also been acquired.
There are a number of matters currently on the agenda of our Safety Committee. The table below summarizes the status of some of these matters.
|Safety issue||Current Status|
|House Keeping||Permanent Agenda Item — Ongoing|
|Tagging and Testing of Electricals||Much work has been made in this space but this is continuing.|
|Local Risk Register||Draft has been developed thanks to David Honer, THNSW. This is a live document and ongoing maintenance is to continue.|
|Emergency Response Procedures||Document is currently being drafted.|
|Sleeper Retaining Wall||Investigation into its replacement. Engineering report received. Survey to be completed.|
|Rail Corridor Boundary Fence||Replacement of existing fence being negotiated with Sydney Trains.|
|Pit Covers||New Pit Covers to fit across the front of exposed Inspection Pits in the Roundhouse are currently being manufactured. The first cover is expected in mid-January for trial fitting.|
We would like to acknowledge and thank the invaluable support of Transport Heritage NSW for their help, guidance and assistance in addressing the safety at Valley Heights.
The Museum attracted 180 financial members in the calendar year, of whom 35 were new to our ranks. Please note that your annual membership renewal falls due on 1 January. The fee remains at $20 for adults and $10 for school aged children. A downloadable renewal form is on the right hand side of this web page.
If you have difficulty downloading or printing the form, contact me on (02) 4751 2471 or firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you one.
Please send the completed form:
We welcome you and hope you enjoy all the activities and facilities at your Museum.
We always need more volunteers at Valley Heights – particularly to ease the load of those already putting in super efforts. Please make contact and we can discuss your interests, as shown on your original form along with your availability to volunteer. If you have yet to be contacted please phone me as above. Unfortunately, I am not like TV’s master detective Hercule Poirot – my ‘little grey cells’ often go walkabout and they experience difficulty finding their way back into my brain!
I hope you all had a peaceful Christmas and wish you a great 2018.
Please note that the Museum will be closed to most members for at least four weeks from Monday 12 February due to the commencement of the forecourt work, and details are in Safety matters (item 9 above).
It is therefore vital that we create every opportunity to build visitor numbers so extra Open Days are planned for this year.The first of these has been gazetted for Saturday 27 January. There is a possibility that steam will be available for this weekend, dependant on progress with the boiler inspections due during January.
The Museum’s popular Trains, Trams & Ts event has been moved to earlier in February (for the same reason) and consolidated to just one day. So if you like some live jazz, veteran cars and curious to see Morse Code demonstrations, make sure that you mark Sunday 11 February on your calendar! Don’t forget that all visitors (members included) are encouraged to wear period costume and enter our competition – prizes to be won.
Teddy Bears’ Day Out. This highly successful event will be held on an extra Open Day - Sunday 20 May. Children with teddies are admitted free and can enjoy some extra treats – the “Teddy Bear Express”, the “Hidden Teddies” competition, a pack of “Gummi Bears” and a hoped for return visit of “Mama” and “Papa” Bear! Make sure that all the children in your family and circle of friends know about this one!
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