Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The North Wind Doth Blow

Well allright, it came from the West but boy did it blow and rain on Monday night.
The problem with an old building is always the roof but ours stood up to the storm force winds pretty well, with only two cracked panes out of the 4000 odd up there.

Its a big roof and keeping it in good order is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge (used to be). Each of the four bays has 800 8 x 3ft panes of glass, whilst the overall roof area is 40,000 square yards.

On the ground, the Works looks more and more like an MPD, with 57s and 73s in every corner. We expect to see more of them as the cold weather starts to bite later in the week.

All we've got to do is last out the storms that are forecast for the weekend

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday dear Eastleigh Works, Happy Birthday to us.

On the 11th December 2006 the first train to arrive at the newly reopened Eastleigh Works, courtesy of GBRf and Angel Trains.

The train consisted of 4 x 153 , numbers 302, 308, 355 and 374

We will have to celebrate this in 2012 I think

Monday, 5 December 2011

adieu to old friends

Last week we said goodbye to the 150s we have had in store. Smart looking units, its a nice way to start the 60th month since I first took the place on. Back then it was 153s and 158s from Wales and Wessex that turned up, shortly before Christmas 2006.

It was a very different site then, with new shiny transit vans infesting the place like parasitic growth, and rusty rails leading into eerily quiet workshops. Contractors were busy ripping out tracks at the back end of the Works and there were still a few Alstom bods holed up in the main office building.

Of course its easy to be wise in hindsight, and I always thought that the Works had a good future. Yet despite all of that, I don't really think I gave much thought to how things would pan out at Eastleigh, other than thinking that it had a good chance of survival, even if it didn't make any money.

The truth is of course that a good idea has its own momentum and its sometimes easy to forget just how green I was back then. I didn't know anybody at Arlington Fleet or Siemens and was just concentrating on storing 442s and 15X units for my friends at Angel.
Now the Works is once again a proper engineering centre and storing units seems to be a little straightforward and run of the mill, compared with the great things that happen in the main shops.
I never thought that I would get underground trains on site and yet last week I was happily driving an ex Victoria Line unit up and down the yard under its own power.
I also didn't anticipate the recession of 2008, or the fact that Eastleigh would have to stand on its own two feet from 2009 onwards, rather than be a satellite of our Shoebury operations.

The transit vans are long gone, the demand for posh vans having never recovered from the Banking crash of 08. Shoebury is now a clear of any commercial activity and staggers on under the dead hand of MOD management. Yet Eastleigh continues to grow from strength to strength.

I'm all toured out, having shown 4 groups around the Works in as many weeks. Its quite enjoyable showing people what we do, although it is getting harder to find the time away from the daily grind to do it.
Apart from the enthusiastic amateurs, I also enjoy showing potential customers around the place and last week we had a particularly satisfying reaction from one of their engineers. He did a perfect demonstration of jaw dropping when he looked into the front of Bay 4 and saw just how huge the place is. When I showed him another three bays like it his reaction was just as marked.
" I didn't think places like this still existed" was his comment.

Sums it all up for me, that

We all knew that there was a lot of interest in the work that goes on here at Eastleigh Works, hence this blog and the decision in 2011 to operate guided public tours. However, none of us really expected the interest to be a high as it is. We recently announced our first four tours for 2012 and all were fully booked within just four days!

Unfortunately this means we have a lot of people who have been unsuccessful in applying for tickets and who will be receiving letters shortly explaining this. We have to limit numbers to a manageable level or the visit takes too long and with the Works so busy it's already eating into the working day to provide the tours in the first place.

The up side is that all the people I've spoken to and those who've emailed and written following their visits have enjoyed it and many want to come again....we must be doing something right.

Let's not forget that the reason we've done these tours is to raise money for the Mayor of Eastleigh's charities and we're proud to say that we have raised over £1000 in 2011. Thank you to everyone for your support in this.