FIRE-HIT CHURNET PLEDGES REBUILD
The Churnet Valley Railway has vowed to have a new Carriage & Wagon workshop up and running by Christmas - after the existing facility was wrecked in a disastrous fire on the evening of September 24. Estimated by Operations Manager Greg Wilson to have caused around £250,000 worth of damage, the blaze wrote off BR Mk 1 First Open No. M3095, which had only just arrived on loan from the Cambrian Heritage Railways at Oswestry. The CVR was due to keep the vehicle until 2019, in return for restoration work. Power tools, stocks of paint, wood and furnishings were all damaged, along with compressed air canisters electricity supplies, and four carriage lifting jacks. Welding work is believed to have caused the fire, which took hold three hours after staff had left, the railway stated: “Despite the use of approved welding practice, it appears that some smouldering was not detected.” Four fire appliances were needed to tackle the blaze, which left large holes in the roof when the panels melted. Although complete demolition of the singleroad building cannot be ruled out, it is hoped that the main structural steelwork may be fit for re-use - and with the cost covered by insurance, the CVR aims to rebuild the workshop by Christmas. Said Greg: “As well as the fire brigade, we’d like to thank the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which is loaning us another coach for the ‘Santa Specials’. It shows that preserved railways stick together.”
The gutted shell of BR Mk 1 First Open No. M3095 in Cheddleton’s devastated carriage workshop on October 1.