St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

Platinum Jubilee – Puffing Park Sat 4th June – Mike Joseph

The main events in Chipperfield were happening on The Common in front of The Two Brewers pub. These varied from a bouncy castle, an ex-LT RML bus on display, craft fair, old cars, real pizzas (yum!), a well stocked beer tent to a murder mystery, jazz and a comedy night in the marquee. We were given a spot next to a stall raising money to assist the education of the 10(!) Ukrainian children in Chipperfield at the local school. On the other side of us was the PTA for the school. In terms of our target audience it was perfect!

Well, it turned out to be a great day. The gazebo was erected on Friday on The Common (there was overnight security) and the Saturday morning was spent putting up signage to direct potential passengers to the Puffing Park. I will hereafter refer to the P.P. as the Puffing Field because that is what the local

‘Chippites’ call it even if they did not know where it was and I am local.

Set up at the Puffing Field was from about 10.00 am and was easily complete by our nominal opening time of 11.00. The rain came as promised, at times moderately heavy but since the previous days had been substantially dry, we were not worried. We had a gazebo as a focal point near the steps to the track, the leaflets etc and one musical sweet tin for a gift to the children (of all sizes) on their way out. As a bribe it worked very well by getting sometimes slightly wistful children away and back to the main event. (There is a very large tub left over for future events).

Initially the flow of passengers was very slow due to the rain and cold, possibly no more than about 15 in two hours? Then the weather brightened a lot and they came in a very steady stream and towards the end of the day there was a wait of about 20 minutes but thankfully, as far as I could tell, no one was getting agitated and it was great to have them there. Some children (and a couple of adults!) burnt off energy safely on the ‘island’ in the middle of the track and it really went well. We finished about 5.30 by the time we had given rides to all those waiting. We carried about 132 passengers.

Alice performed very well on the whole but in her second stint towards the end of the day was struggling a little. Zahia (little green engine – not my partner!) worked very well, especially after the two driving trolleys were removed – it is thought that they may be  slightly wide to gauge and one bend slightly narrow creating a lot of friction. There was enough left in the battery to use Zahia for 45 minutes after Alice came off ‘winded’. All told, Alice worked for about 3.75 hours and Zahia for 2.5 hours.

Packing up went well but I cannot remember what time we left. I dismantled the gazebo on The Common and the signage was removed.

In absolutely no order at all I want to record my thanks to the helpers:

Roger Stephen, Michael Wood, Chris Hillier, Richard Mills, Rob Briancourt, Matthew Cadbury, Michael Watts, Alan Day, Kevin Blake, Zahia Rogers, and Steve Knapman. I also want to thank our chairman Mike Collins for advice at critical times. I sincerely hope that I have not omitted anyone – please forgive me if I have.