Derbyshire 8. Barrow Round House, a few steam trains and another weekend homeless

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November 30th 2013
Published: December 1st 2013
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Saturday and the weekend is here. Another weekend of being homeless.

Well its now 30 days since we sold our home in North Wales. And what an eventful 30 days it has been.

We hadn’t expected to be in Suzy this long. Originally we had hoped to sort the move out that once we moved out of our home we would move into the new one straightaway saving the need for storage and moving our furniture twice. Once to the lockup and once to our new home. We had already lost one home due to the cracks in the side walls and were on house number 2. The hope was that we would only be homeless for one or two weeks. One week in the campsite near to the A55 and the second week at Delamere. Of course all plans do go wrong sometimes and our move has been fraught with disasters one following the next.

We moved to the site at Teversal two weeks ago and were still at that time discussing problems with the deeds with our solicitor and issues over the road. Little did we expect to find ourselves still homeless almost five weeks down the line and on house number 3. Looking back we have wasted almost £700 on surveys but without them we might have bought the wrong house. Luckily the weather has been reasonable. The snow promised by our weathermen has not materialised and the toilet block is one to die for. Always clean, always warm and always welcoming. Mind you not sure about next week the weather man has said winds from the Arctic which means cold and lots of it.

Life has slotted into a slower pace as we sleep late, breakfast late , send emails to our solicitor to ask for progress updates. The latest developments are that we have paid our money over and are just waiting for the contract to arrive. As usual the vendors solicitor has been on holiday and this has held up our move by a few days but they promised to type it up four days ago. We sometimes wonder what on earth we are waiting for. We just want to move in the house, get our furniture around us and settle down to live here.

We are surprised just how many people are on the road. Each day new people arrive and others leave. The site is alive even at the end of November and beginning of December. Tuggers arrive with their bikes , they leave their cars blocking the roads . I don’t know what it is but I am beginning to dislike their attitude to other people. I try hard to understand them but they take so long to park up, pick their spot and move their van backwards and forwards before settling down. They leave their vehicles blocking the roadways . They seem to only care for themselves. Perhaps a generalisation but the more I see of them the more I find they fit into this pattern of behaviour. With the motorhome you find your spot.park up and get the kettle on within a few minutes. You don’t block the road as you arrive nor when you leave. I am as I write watching a tugger who arrived , backed in and out and has now left his Mercedes in the middle of the road whilst he has stood outside for the last ten minutes talking to his next door neighbour. Not a thought for anyone else apart from himself. Why not park up and talk later.

Kathrein is misbehaving again going up and down at will as if she has a mind of her own. She wont come down first time but takes three sets of commands to force her to park up. There is obviously something wrong with her software but heaven knows what it might be.

Water picked up, grey water emptied, dinner on and it’s the weekend. Our SIM card has not arrived back from Motorhome WiFi. It is now three weeks since we met Addie and gave it back. After a few days he told us it was set incorrectly and should work. But even he was having problems and needed to check with the Italian company to find out if there was any credit left on it. There should be over £50 as it never worked but it could be that someone else hacked our account and used our credits. But three weeks later we still have no resolution. I know the Italians are slow but ………

The tugger has finally stopped talking to his neighbour who is putting up his Christmas lights on the van. He has got in his car, started it up and has finally
Barrow Hill Round House Barrow Hill Round House Barrow Hill Round House

The round table on which the trains turned
moved it into its parked position. Rant over .

We have started to consider next Mays holiday and picked the four weeks starting the beginning of May. The week of the first May Bank Holiday. I have this horrible feeling that next year I wont get a month off. I am only being lucky this year as I booked this month and September before I moved offices. We hope to visit our friends in Brittany having not seen them for the last five years. There are a number of aires in the area that look interesting, a few towns we have always wanted to visit and in particular Fougeres with its medieval ramparts. From there down the west coast of France or through the middle to southern Spain. Our route to southern Spain looks as if it might be over Millau again and through the south of France.

As it was a Saturday we ate late watching Football Focus. After it had finished we had the problem of deciding where to spend the afternoon. The problem with this time of year is that everywhere closes. Once half term at the end of October/beginning of November has passed the world shuts down with the odd exceptions. A few English Heritage/Cadw or National Trust properties open at the weekend. A number of the National Trust properties open for Christmas making full use of the visitors who want to buy Christmas presents and perhaps have nowhere else to go. Given the number of visitors to Teversal I cannot for the life of me understand why opening is so limited over the Winter months. Why waste most of December? Why waste the whole of January/February and well into March when there are people about who have cash in their pockets and want to spend it.

Being limited there was only Chatsworth which we had been to before, Bolsover Castle again visited some years ago on the doorstep. We didn’t want to travel too far and in the end found Barrow Roundhouse. Nothing to do with postholes or the Bronze Age but a unique example of a piece of 19th century railway architecture. It was built to house the freight locomotives which served the nearby Staveley Coal and Iron Works. It is the last surviving example of an operational Roundhouse engine shed in Great Britain and hidden in the tiny hamlet
Barrow Hill Round House Barrow Hill Round House Barrow Hill Round House

A diesel from British Rail days
of Barrow Hill near to Chesterfield.

In its heyday over 200 enginemen would sign on for duty every day to take coal from the local pits to the industrial regions of Derbyshire and beyond. It fell into disrepair and in 1989 the Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society was formed with the intention of saving and maintaining the Round House. Entry is free but donations are welcome. Demolition was threatened in 1991, the buildings were saved and the dedicated volunteers acquired all the redundant buildings and worked to preserve them and bring them into use again. By 1996 they had purchased all the railway yards from British Rail.

The buildings house a large collection of diesel locomotives and steam. Special steam days take place when the resident trains are joined by other heritage trains. It is possible to see the turntable in operation and also to ride the trains along the line to Springwell branch. Shame today nothing was running. The next open day will be in February 2014

The main sights around the site are the restored signal box which was saved from nearby Pinxton. It dates from 1897 and is apparently the closest style of box to the one that would have stood at Barrow Hill. I walked along the Coaling Stage viewing platform a mound above the area where the tendors were filled with coal prior to leaving the depot. A future project for the society is to return this area to how it would have looked in its heyday. We visited the Deltic Depot and Museum which houses the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the country. Why don’t people know about this little gem of a museum in the middle of nowhere? We could see the engines taken apart and the work that was being carried on them by the volunteers.

The Roundhouse itself is a huge cavernous building where the locomotives were stabled and cared for. The set up reminded me of the small railway museum we visited in Slovenia. Rather untidy, smelling beautifully of steam and oil. Noise coming from the workers painting and lovingly cleaning the huge trains. The two final areas to visit were the Drivers Signing on room where from 1870 all enginemen had to report for work and receive their shift duties for the day. There was an interesting display of railway signage and artefacts. Not huge but interesting. From here we visited our last point of the tour – the outside Water Tower. An impressive brightly painted structure which holds 23,000 gallons of water. It is filled now with rainwater which is recycled around the site.

An unexpected little gem which made up for another day of waiting to move into our new house.


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