It's been a dry and sunny week, which makes for almost perfect working conditions for the contractors, except perhaps for the heat. The flow of water trying to pass through the culverts was relatively modest and work building new head walls could proceed in the dry.
In the background is Cleeve Hill, an obstacle that the original GWR builders decided to circumvent via a short (-ish) Greet tunnel, rather than a long and expensive tunnel straight on, that would have come out at Southam.
The two walls in the middle distance are those of bridge 3, Pry Lane, and beyond the contractors can be seen at work on the Malvern side. In fact, there are several locations active at once, with men moving from one to the other as requirements dictate. A small amount of work remains to be done at culvert 5A before it can be released to traffic, as it were, and at the moment they are working on 3A and 3B.
The drainage gang was also on site today, and we grasped the opportunity to ask them how the culverts are actually numbered. What is the significance of the letter for example?
Andy P was agreeable to lifting a corner of the veil. It's simple really - each culvert is related to a bridge, and lettered alphabetically going south. Hence culvert 5A is the one the contractors started with immediately south of Little Buckland bridge (being bridge 5) and as it is the first one along, it is 5A.
The two culverts now being worked on are south of Pry lane, bridge 3, and as there are two of them, they are 3A and 3B. Got that? Now all you need is a list with bridge numbers.
Just before reaching Pry Lane, the new fencing recently put in by Steve appeared on the left. In fact there is quite a bit of new fencing in this area now, all ready for occupying of this part of the trackbed.
Steve has also worked on the other side, disposing of a large pile of material from the horse gallops that were temporarily installed on this part of the track here many years ago.
To give you an idea of the size of the enormous stump that was removed, we asked Andy P to stand next to it, and the stump stands almost as tall as he does! Not something our clearance gang would have handled easily. In the background the 360 continues to dig out the area around the headwall; most of this involves standing on a slope.
Looking at it from below, you can see that about 8ft of ditch has had to be dug to find and expose the original headwall of the culvert, which here was substantial enough to merit its own brick built tunnel. It is still in good condition, but too far back.
The solution adopted for this end is to pipe it back to the fence line. A job still to be done; in fact the contractors will be here for another two, perhaps three weeks.
The next culvert along, towards Broadway, is 3A, i.e. a bit further along towards Pry lane bridge.
Here the solution adopted has been to build a new headwall. It might look a bit thin from above, but in fact there are two courses, with a cavity in between with a sheet of reinforcing, which will be filled with concrete. With the blue bricks in use, it will look very neat.
The welders have been back at Laverton, and successfully welded up all the remaining joints from the breather near the stop board up to the bridge over the road to Laverton. That's it from them for the time being.
Next we need to remove the northern Laverton loop turnout, fill the gap with plain rail and then relay the former, roughly laid headshunt. To do that, more rail will be ordered.
A priority job in the meantime will be addressed at Toddington, where yard end of the loading siding needs to be relaid. This will happily overlap with the time that the contractors are still on site on the extension, so further extension work is on hold for a few weeks.
Harvest Home (as was)
It has gone!
A further contractor's update should be possible in a week's time.