THE HISTORY OF KIDDERMINSTER TURNTABLE

Ordered by the LNER from Cowan Sheldon Ltd. of Carlisle in July 1945 for installation at Fort William. The order called for a 70ft vacuum operated turntable with reserve tanks. The longest locomotives allowed to Fort William were K4's - "The Great Marquis" class which were 60ft long. The reserve tanks and 70ft length were required to turn the observation saloons that were carried at the rear of some of the trains. The table was designed to turn a 176 ton locomotive through 180 degrees in two minutes.

The construction ofthe pit at Fort William by Sir Robert McAlpine & Co. was carried out in 1948, therefore the table was installed into BR ownership. It is presumed that the table was used into the late 1960's or early 1970's. The Merchant Navy Preservation Society purchased the table from BR and moved it to Horsted Keynes on the Bluebell Railway, but it was not installed.

A small group of SVR volunteers bought the table in 1980 for installation at Bewdley, being moved from the Bluebell in 1981. The kit of parts rested on the Cleobury Mortimer branch trackbed during the 1980's while its owners raised the funds for its eventual installation. The purchase of Kidderminster Yard by SVR meant a change of plan, the table was now to be sited in an unused corner of the yard. Trial borings were done in 1991 to investigate the make-up of the ground. A small group of volunteers started work on restoration early in 1992. George Law Ltd., of Kidderminster, were contracted to install the ring of concrete in January l994, the rest of the work being carried out by volunteers. The table was craned into its pit on April 12,1994, the first turning being the 6 ton steam crane on 31 July. The first large engine to turn was GORDON on 9 September, 1994.

The centre bearing can carry 115 tons and consists of 21 steel ballbearings, each 2in in diameter. Each of the outer running wheels can carry 34 tons. The table is moved either by manually turning the handles or by the twin cylinder vacuum motor being operated by the locomotive's braking system.

The pit wall was constructed using 8,000 blue engineering bricks, laid in English Bond, backed by concrete building blocks. A turntable pit wall is normally designed to have only a recess built into it to allow inspection of the ends of the table. From early days of this project, a "hedgehog escape tunnel" was decided upon. This idea was expanded to be an access ramp suitably designed so that any wildlife falling into the pit could get out again. The ramp also allows easy access for maintenance ofthe table, its width will allow tractors etc. to enter the pit, if necessary.

Our table has been used, so far, to turn visiting main-line locomotives, coaches and engines for filming or to allow restorers easier and safe access to the other side of vehicles. The main use will be to turn our passenger coaches to even out paint wear, as the west side fades much quicker than the east.

The main task left to complete is the provision of diamond pattern edging stones and brick pathway on and around the top ofthe pit wall. This visitors' weekend will, hopefully, raise funds to allow this task to be completed.

Further plans include the provision of safe visitor access to the site and general improvements to the turntable spectator area.

BRIDGNORTH TURNTABLE FUND

Kidderminster turntable has now been completed and is proving to be of great value to Severn Valley Railway. To gain maximum benefit, a second table at Bridgnorth is essential. This would allow all large tender enginee to run chimney first, giving great benefits in terms of safety and wear and tear on engines and track (also pleasing our visitors!).

Kidderminster turntable was financed almost entirely without SVR company financial assistance, the total cost of 35,000 being largely raised from YOUR contributions. YOUR help is sought again to complete the purchase, dismantling and installation of a second 70ft motorised turntable.

Please support this project and help keep the "Premier Line" in the lead in railway preservation by sending a contribution, however small, to:

Bridgnorth Turntable Fund,
c/o The Lodge,
Station Road,
BEWDLEY,
Worcestershire,
DY12 1BT.

I enclose a cheque/postal order, made payable to Bridgnorth Turntable Fund to the value of:


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Name...........................................

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