Our first picture with Albert

Newsletter 2

Welcome to our 2nd newsletter of 2024, we have quite a bit to catch up on so let’s get started.

March was a month of getting engines ready and with the season soon to start it was steam test time for the rollers at Amberley. Both the Marshall roller and Wallis roller were ready and waiting for the boiler man. Good news all passed and ready for the season so it was out the shed with both of them and a day running around Amberley, and of course the Foden had to come out too, couldn’t leave him in the shed on his own. It was a great steam- up, the weather was good, the daffodils were in bloom, and it felt great to be out.

Wally with the daffodils

Then time for a repair to our lovely living van, we have had a piece of wood on the A-frame rotting off for a couple of years now, so it was decided to make a new A-frame. This was done by Lloyd who then fitted it to the living van, and it looks great, always nice to tidy the living van, next is Wendy tidying the inside before we are off to our first event.

Lloyd working on the wagon A-frame

Moving onto April and the weather was awful, seemed to be non-stop rain! But Victoria had both her cold test and steam test booked so she was already for the boiler man, and we can say she passed with flying colours and is ready for her season ahead. We also had a lovely run out with her in the middle of April, the weather was good so we went for few miles steam and visited a friend at his farm, a lovely day and Victoria went well.

Victoria out in Liss

As some may know the West Sussex Marshall roller, “Joan”, who lives at Amberley has spent many years without lagging around her boiler. She had been out of steam ticket for years but last year we got her back together and back out at the museum but didn’t have time to put her lagging on. This year Nick, who is head of the road steam group at Amberley, really wanted to get her lagged so we decided that we would spend the day there and get on with it. We had no idea how long this would take. We got up on a Saturday morning and got to Amberley for about 8.30am – we live nearly an hour’s drive away, so it was an early start. We decided we weren’t coming home until it was finished. Unfortunately, Nick and Hannah couldn’t join us as they were busy in the day but would join us later. We spent hours firstly putting on the new wooden lagging which we had to measure and cut every piece as we had no previous pattern to go by, but it was happening. Lloyd, Jack and Seren worked hard all day only having a break to watch a livestream of our friend, Neil Gough, race his K.R.I.T. car at the Goodwood Members meeting. Nick and Hannah joined us later in the afternoon and we spent the evening carrying on with the lagging, thankfully we did it! By about 9.30pm the engine had been lagged and the lagging sheets and brass bands where back in place after 10 years. She looks great and we were very pleased that we had finished her, it was a long hard day but a great result.

Wendy, Lloyd and Seren then had a few days away in their caravan in the New Forest, the weather was ok, and they had a lovely time and nice for them to get some chill time.

On holiday in the New Forest

April, now this is an exciting month!! I’m sure many of you have seen that we had a new engine join us, Albert the Fowler has come to join the VTT crew, he also features in the first book Wendy ever wrote, “Victoria’s Busy Day“, we will do a blog on this at some point.

We had for years dreamt of owning Albert as he and Victoria were both new to Lloyd’s great great grandfather, Victoria in 1886 and Albert in 1895, so it was important to us to get these two back together if we ever could. And although they are not yet back together physically, Victoria is still in Hampshire and Albert is in West Sussex, at the moment their time is coming.

So, April started with what had been a long wait, finally after nearly a year Albert was ours and all we needed to do was get him back from France where he has been living for the last 22 years or so. With lorry sorted, dates sorted, ferry sorted, all paperwork eventually sorted and with that all done on Sunday 21st April the lorry boarded the ferry to start its journey to collect Albert. The driver headed down to the south of France on the Monday, loaded Albert on the Tuesday and drove some of the way back through France and then Wednesday afternoon we got the call to say he was on the ferry and heading to Newhaven.

Sitting at home at about 6.30pm and Lloyd had a thought, “Let’s go and see Albert come off the ferry!” Wendy wasn’t keen, with it being over an hour and half away from us, but the more she thought about it the more she wanted to go and see Albert arrive, so at about 7pm they jumped in the car and headed off to Newhaven.

We didn’t have a clue where we were going but found the port and parked up waiting. We checked the app for ship movements and could see the ferry had docked so now they waited. Before too long a few lorries were coming through the exit and then after about 45 minutes there was the lorry with Albert on, we jumped out the car and took a couple of photos. Wendy said, “It was very emotional, I had a tear or two, it was just wonderful to see Albert.” We followed the lorry, and he stopped in a layby, Lloyd went and introduced himself and soon we could have our first quick look at Albert. The whole family were there, Lloyd, Wendy, Jack, Seren and Alice and it was great to have that moment, although it was pitch black and couldn’t really see much, but it was great, nonetheless. This is where Albert would spend the night and we would meet him at the yard at 8am the next morning, we got home just after midnight but what a great evening, so glad we did it.

Coming off the ferry

Jack, Seren and Alice taking their first look at Albert

Early the next day, up and over to the yard, as we pulled up Albert had just arrived and was waiting for us. We then unloaded him from the low-loader and could get our first look at him, he needed some cleaning and polishing and he did look a little tired but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. We spent the day just cleaning and checking him over, we had a great day.

Dirty footplate needing a clean

On the Saturday we all headed back to the yard for a busy day. We started with taking a photo of us all with Albert, we hadn’t really told anyone about this big news in our lives, so Jack decided to take a couple of photos and announce it to the world. We would like to thank all of you that sent messages of congratulations, it is very over whelming, and we feel very fortunate to have both Victoria and Albert, we can’t wait to get them both together.

On the Sunday we decided to steam Albert and check for any issues he may have, he did, nothing too much we thought, just a few leaks and repacking needed, so we enjoyed our day with him. Not having a V5 document at the moment, we can’t take him out on the road so we just chuffed in the yard and he felt great. He had a problem with his injector so we tried a few repairs to fix it, but it just wasn’t happening. We also notice that the flywheel had a wobble on it, so we needed to look at this before we took him anywhere. We had had a great day for the first time steaming up and now had a list of jobs to do!

Albert's first steaming with us

The next few days Lloyd spent working on Albert, they had to change his injector and now this is working well, glands packed, leaks fixed, and the flywheel was a bit more of a bigger job. Thankfully, Albert was sitting next to a crane so the flywheel was taken off and inspected, after some head scratching and thinking we think it is fixed, we will find out this weekend when we steam him to check.

We also went to our Foden at Amberley to steam him up, we spent a great day with him, he was joined by Nick and Hannah’s roller “Wally the Wallis”, it’s always good to have a steam round with the Foden, puts a big smile on your face, a great little engine.

The Foden and Wallis in steam at Amberley

Looking ahead, soon we will be off to Hollycombe Steam Collection in Liphook for their steam rally, we will be taking along Victoria and the Foden for the weekend, this will be on 1st & 2nd June, do come along and see us.

We are then off to Amberley, we will be steaming Victoria, Living van and trailer there somewhen in June, not sure on date yet. The Foden will also be heading back to Amberley but on a trailer, a bit far for him to road! And, of course, Albert will be joining us too. The Steam Show at Amberley is on 6th & 7th July, there are plenty of steam engines visiting and of course it will be the first time Victoria and Albert will be back together in over 20 years. Please come and visit and say hello.

We have a few events at Amberley throughout the summer months and we will also be off to Balls Cross Rally at the beginning of September, so lots to look forward to.

Book News…. Wendy is working on her 6th book and hoping to have it published soon but to do that we need to help her spread the word of Victoria’s Torton Tales, please tell your friends and family and of course support her by purchasing the wonderful storybooks.

To see many more pictures of our adventures please follow us on Facebook or keep an eye on our website.

We hope to see you all very soon and look forward to meeting you all on a rally field somewhere.


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