Work at Minehead has been slowed and interrupted yet again by COVID restrictions. November was lost to us due to the English national lockdown, although work was restarted in early December with six full days worked before Christmas. Understandably, the WSR, which was in a tier 2 area, was not allowing tier 3 inhabitants to the railway, be they volunteers, contractors or paying visitors. This has meant that a good few of our regulars, especially amongst the painting teams, have been unable to attend.

Recent work has been a continuation of what we have been doing for the past few months, namely:

• Cladding painting – more or less as finished as it can be until it is fitted

• Cladding test fitting, adjusting etc including renewed supports on the firebox sides

• Non-cladding painting – focussing on running board angle irons and a few homework projects

• Packing of piston rod glands

• Blowdown valve and elbow have been trial fitted. As expected, it makes fitting and removing the middle front mudhole     door much harder. Quite why it was so designed is lost in the mists of time!

• Air brake pipework installation – after a long hiatus, excellent progress has been made eitherside of November’s lockdown.

• Electrical systems – work on both the tender and the engine, mainly planning and behind the scenes rather than work to see but that will change very soon, we hope!

• Support Coach. The support coach is very near to being finished; the new wheelsets are expected any day now. We have not been able to visit Arlington to see it as no visitors to their site are currently permitted. COVID-19 aside, however, we expect it to be ready for us in early 2021. Our intention is to move it to Minehead as soon as possible to allow us to undertake a refit of the kitchen.