May Rally 2022

The rally started a few days before the actual weekend, when Richard W, Bob and Dave M collated all the entries to allocate the different turns to the drivers. This was then entered into a computer program that Dave M had created some years ago, which amongst other things enabled all the needed information for drivers, signalmen and shed staff to be printed out. There were 38 locos on the Saturday and 34 on the Sunday. This rally there was a shortage of large locos i.e., 4-6-2 but a lot more medium sized locos i.e., four B1’s, but there was enough to cover all the turns without too much trouble. Paul Gammon had spent some time with the track cleaner on the Thursday making sure the rails were as clean as possible.

Friday as usual was the gathering day when people turned up from around the country, not sure who travelled the furthest. Dot and Pauline had done a mammoth shop, arriving at 11.30 and straight into getting everything into the club house and then providing hot soup and bacon buns. Fridays are different to how they were a few years ago, then they were all go and hectic with lots of loco’s running, now there is a more casual approach with only a handful of locos running during the day.

Saturday started early with locos off the shed at 8am to go to Erimus Yard to get stock out of the bunker and into the yard. Those who drew the short straw were Mark Bottomley with his 15xx tank and Stan Jackson with his J94 tank, followed
by James Ardin with his WD 2-10-0 and Chris Newton with his O4 2-8-0 who worked trains to get stock into the various yards. Then followed at various times all the other locos. To note just a few in no particular order – Adrian Strachan with a B16 4-6-0, Matthew Andrews with a Jubilee, his father Steve with a V2, Ballan Baker with his K1/1, Joe Gibbons with Doug Hewson’s Standard 2-6-4 tank which has improved to be a reliable loco. The home team were represented by Bill Sharp with his A1, Linden with his B1, Mike Aherne with his King Arthur, Dan Holbrook with his Southern L1, Tom Readman with his Standard 2-6-4 tank, Walter with his Class 37 (he was even seen to be smiling at times!!), Jamie Felgate with his 57xx tank. Richard Wills disappeared into a yard at various times during the day with his Y4. There were three home team 350hp shunters (later designated class 08) belonging to Paul Gammon, Johnny Ward and Douglas Willis.

Signal boxes were manned by myself in Gilling box, Eoin and Sam (both a welcome return after a few years’ absence) in Erimus box. Richard Wills, Johnny and Dan provided relief as required in either box. I’m sorry those who did a good job in the Up and Erimus Yard, their names escaped me, but it is a vital job that makes or breaks how well the trains run during the day – any volunteers for August?? – training can be given. Brother Douglas manned the Down Yard both days, he knows that job backwards now and importantly knows how to deal with buckeye couplings. The shed was dealt with by Alan Worden, assisted by John Cook and at times when not driving, Bill Sharp and Linden. It is not easy arranging for locos to be on the steaming bays in the correct order to raise steam, especially as locos (or is it the drivers?) take different amounts of
time to raise steam in time.

The day had a poor start with difficulties in getting stock out to the yards and various locos not running well or failing. No names mentioned here!! By 11.00 trains were running up to ½ hour late but we caught up by 12.00. From my point of view if everything went well all the time it could be boring, having to sort various running problems out even if a cause of a swearing fit adds interest.
Various members were always at the right time and right place to deal with problems as they arose, from running out of water to needing the coal bunker filling. From the S&T point of view the signalling worked correctly all weekend (breathes sigh of relief).

The catering was manned (womened/personed ??) by Pauline and Susan who made all the sandwiches and served the rally attendees with copious tea and coffee, etc. In the Village Hall Dot and Jane dealt with bacon butties for the rally people first thing then set to dealing with the general public; there is a large following (groupies?) who come to every rally for trains and refreshments.

The Sunday was the same locos with a couple of additions and losses, an unusual addition being a LNWR Precursor 2 -4-2 tank, this was an electric model. Unfortunately, towards the end of the day this had problems with the plug and socket from the controller, a bit different to injector problems!!!

Signal boxes, shed, yards and village hall were manned by the same experienced people as the Saturday, a change was in the clubroom where Pauline was joined by Angeline. The rally people and the public were all given good refreshments over both days.

In brief, the rally was a big success and enjoyed by all that either came to run locos and work in yards etc or came just to watch the trains go by. It was good to see Doug Hewson on the Saturday afternoon, he enjoyed seeing his Standard 4 2-6- 4T and a Standard class 4 tender loco built to his drawings double head on a passenger train.

As always it was sad to see the rally draw to a close as the trains stopped running and locos and wagons were put into cars and driven away, just leaving a lot of tidying up to do. The thing that meant a lot was people saying they are looking forward to coming to the August rally.

One of the visiting Public was Neil Howley from Australia, who made a special effort to include Gilling May rally in his itinerary, Walter looked after him and Neil tells me he very much enjoyed seeing it all.