"1949 Not Out" - The movement of the DD to the "Hill"
"So Kev this is it - D DAY" Bill said to me as he picked me up on a cold June Friday.
"You look how I Feel old boy " I replied to Bill - knowing that both of us had had a rather restless night worrying about what we were gonna do, what could happen and the certain humiliation we faced if it all went very wrong. Jamie - the younger Nile looked on giving a cheerful smile - he didnt care he just finished his school sentence and exams and was a now a man of leisure - (he was as worried as his dad was!). I suspect mother Nile ordering to him to keep on eye on a beleaguered dad, his function this day.
Anyway thats the scene the day we moved the Double Decker would prove to be a day of fun, hard work and general running about.
At 08.15 Bill, Jamie & myself appeared at NLR to prepare the Coach for movement to the Hill by low-loader, which as we saw was already there, Nick, Andris & Ivor duly materialised along the rest of Nick's cohorts who all had a vested interest in the move.
The loading was done in quick time and before we knew it we were speeding ahead to Hunsbury to prepare the ground for the arrival of the beast.
We appeared there and by coincidence the gypsies who were in the process of moving on were kept in the field by the appearance of a combined load of about 80 tons - the Beast had arrived and it was then our problems started. Anglia News had appeared and wanted a press release - well I can't remember everything and I gave her my usual spiel about the Beast and some papers I had prepared for something else. Anyway she got some great footage and with Andris Dauksta in front of the camera he gave a 30 second speech which said it all. The Chronicle & Echo appeared also and we all saw the picture of Nick in the paper - great publicity and with a well timed Internet broadcast we achieved maximum publicity,
Anyway the unloading of the Beast was something that will live in my memory for many, many years. First of all the lorry had trouble traversing the crossing, which had been removed the day before by the combined efforts of Bill, Jamie myself, Nick and Young Eddie. We had hoped that the preparation we had done would be enough to enable a smooth reversal in straight in to the yard. How wrong we were. We were first faced with the problem of severe lack of traction that the lorry had, but with the rapid laying of some ballast and stone we quickly overcame this. We had one other small problem - the gate. We knew we could get through with six inches spare on each side, but with the constraints of the lorry and other factors Nick made a decision with the Railway committee - aka Chris Osbourne to remove a panel of fencing, this done the shunt went smoothly.
We had one other small problem - we had the sleepers laid and ready for rail installation, unfortunately Alleys had forgotten to bring it with them. All though was not lost with some fast thinking from Grant & Eddie we soon had found 120 foot of rail which was laid as the and gauged on the sleepers as the DD slowly moved down the ramp from the trailer.
Anybody there on the day will remember the amount of people who were running about with rail on rail dogs, people with crowbars and the general looks of panic on the people as we frantically tried to make a bad idea look like a good one.
It got to the point when the all of us were pinch barring the DD along the panel of track and the tractor unit desperately tried to give us a helping hand, how the tractor did help I will not divulge as I never saw what happened. All I know is that one minute we had 20 foot of space and the next I was I was shouting stop as I called to Nick to slowly draw up to the end of the panel of track.
That done we made our piece with the world and christened the DD in the only was possible and maybe for the first time she got her first proper christening - of champagne.
In the meantime Nick, Simon & co were slowly re-erecting the panel of fencing as the people who appeared suddenly disappeared, before I knew it - Nick & myself were all alone with our thoughts as we talked rubbish.
Anyway the Double Decker is here at Hunsbury Hill - we as a group are very pleased to be here on this site and look forward to years ahead. When we will move 4002 around at least half the running line, the future for the site is good, the future of the DD is secure and in October we celebrate the 50th birthday of the design.
Finally we owe the following people thanks - the Hunsbury Hill Management Team for their assistance, Northants Police, Northants County Council, Mother Nile & family for keeping dad sane - one hell of a job, one bottle of Vodka (in joke I heard all about young lady!) Nicks Missus for keeping him sane, Simon, Brendan and the others who broke their backs we thank you all.
Finally thanks to Oliver Vernon Snell Bulleid for creating the DD.