Saturday, 19 August 2017

Siding completed

A number of notable absences from the team today, as the effects of the summer holidays began to bite. They didn't really affect our progress though. That said, it was decided, rashly in the opinion of the tea drinkers, to skip the tea at Toddington and go straight to the site at Broadway.

Feeling a little dry, and while waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive, three of us availed ourselves of a cheeky cuppa in the Broadway mess room. They have it nice there...chairs, a patio, watch the world go by. Here comes the Landie though.

We got the tools out, and shortly afterwards the Telehandler arrived with the first load of sleepers, taken off the Warflat - loaded on Monday - at Childswickham. It's a tricky drive down the single trackbed that is available for us, just hit the fence once (sorry about that).

The first load was dropped off at the end of the Malvern side siding, which we then started to extend further southwards, in the direction of the platforms.

Once we had laid down 26 sleepers, Stevie came down from Childswickham (where he had been sorting sleepers) to lift in the first rail of the day. This shot shows the depth of the cutting north of Broadway, which was used as a quarry in 1903 to get material for the goods shed embankment and mainline down to Peasebrook.

Nigel then brought another 12 second class sleepers for the siding, where 120 were left to lay to get to the end of the plain track.

Here they are being stacked temporarily at the end of the northern turnout, from where they are brought to the rail head in smaller batches.

Just before we lift in the rails, Steve comes and drags down the next pair.

You can see us here getting increasingly close to the northern turnout, on the left. 

This picture shows the second length being prepared today. The double track seems to extend into the distance, all the way to Stratford, the way it used to...
We are now so close to the station that it is possible to climb the embankment for a photograph like this, thanks to recent bramble clearance by a member of BAG. On the right is the new inner home signal, with its route indicator attached.

As we approach the turnout with the siding, thoughts turn to the layout of the track at this point. Just how long is this siding anyway? Where does the turnout for the siding start, how much more track do we need here?

Nigel and a number of gang members consult the drawing for the northern turnout, to see where we are. 

Another one watching was Speedy the snail, now getting a little concerned about the banging around the rail end, which was his home until this morning. Where to go? 

Speedy eventually jumped off the end (if a snail can do this) and vanished under a sleeper, which hopefully will offer him a new home. 

We continued laying in the sleepers. It's quite hard work as we are unable to use the spreader bars and the JCB to drop them in. Instead they have to be manhandled into position with bars, first roughly off the wobbly forks, and then more carefully into their exact positions, left or right, forwards or backwards.

By lunch time we had passed the signal post, and we felt we deserved a rest. The weather was dry and pleasant, so we sat outside on the track and ate our salads.

Shortly afterwards the cakes were made available. This coffee and walnut one had been eagerly awaited by Neil, and there it was! Yes!

After lunch, we lengthened the siding some more, and it now started to overtake the mainline headshunt. Tail wagging the dog here!

The Telehandler brings in another load of sleepers, making 26 and time for another pair of rails to be laid in. 

As the siding was now longer than the main line head shunt, Steve was able to position himself alongside, which made lifting in the rails a lot easier. This was the last panel constructed today, four in total. From here on the track in the foreground meets the turnout from the loop to the siding.

Our white spacer board is having a hard time. It was made specially for us, and has been in constant use throughout the extension. Today the grab handle fell off, a sad reminder of its deterioration. The question is, will the remains last to the end of the extension track laying?

At least Steve L will now be able to use the handle for his plastering jobs at home. Just like this.

Having completed the siding, our attentions were turned back towards the northern main line turnout, which we had left well started, up to sleeper no. 26.

Now, where is no. 27?  Naturally, it is always at the back, or on the bottom of the pile. To boot, we were also short of bars today (where are they all, they're not in the site safe?) and you can see Ivor here trying to lever one timber off another using just a bearer from stacking.

Batches of 4 timbers were laid out in the right order further up the trackbed, and then brought down and dropped off roughly into position.

Their precise position is critical, as they have two tracks that gradually diverge, and you can't get the rail in if the angle of the chairs does not fit underneath.

Here Neil shows Pete where to point... put your finger just here. It takes skill to know that, not everyone has it.

After consulting the diagram, each sleeper was precisely positioned in relation to its neighbour.

In the picture we are up to no.40 already, but there are plenty more to come. The timbers get longer and longer (centre left) until they gradually interlace with those of the adjoining track. We haven't quite got there yet though.

You can see on this closing picture that the timbers are just about to do this (centre). The turnout on the right is main line to loop, and the one that will go in by the site safe is loop to siding. The two turnouts will meet in the centre; the whole thing is known as a crossover on double track.

Broadway bits

With today's fine weather, the Broadway gang made good progress, as you can see from this photograph taken from just south of the signal box.
In the centre the first row of engineering brick corbelling has been laid on the platform closure. The wall is now too high to just step over, hence the steps on the right.

The canopy sees work almost every day now, and the woodwork on it is coming on in leaps and bounds. The white lines on the canopy end represent the start of the typical chunky moulding that the GWR canopy has here. It will have a second moulding fitted on top of it, and finally an angled piece to support a short overhang in the corrugated sheeting on top.

This is the chunky second moulding that will go on top of the white strips in the last picture.

At the northern end, the second canopy end framework is being constructed.

This framework is almost identical to the first, but will be removable in order to add on the canopy overhang to the footsteps that belongs here. When we can afford it.

The diagonal length of wood was used to check that the wooden supports fitted to hold the sheeting are properly in line. And they are.

Calling all GWSR oldies

A veteran Broadway member Terry has made available some old colour prints of the first days at Toddington. We'd like to share these with you, but we're not too sure who is on them. Can anybody say more, or provide some reminicences?

This shot was taken in February 1984 at Toddington. 

The platform 2 waiting room is still derelict. Platform 1 has been rebuilt.

There's a Midland lamp post on the platform; it's not there any more today! 

Also taken at Toddington in February 1984, this shot shows the same short train in the background, with other industrial stock in the foreground, none of which is on the railway today. In those days you took what you could. 

The steps to the carriage on the left are marked 'Autocoach'. Where is that today?

All we know about this one is that it was taken in February 1984. It's thanks to these guys that we are running trains at Toddington today, but can anyone identify them?

If you are old enough maybe you recognise this crew? They were snapped by Terry in 1981, right at the beginning of the GWSR revival of the Honeybourne line. Note that there is no track at all in this picture, which was nonetheless taken at Toddington.

And what about this Barry wreck! Recognise it? Now that P&O is up and running, it is easy to forget the enormity of the project taken on by its owning group. It didn't even have a tender, but it certainly does now. It just makes you appreciate what they have achieved.

If you also have some old photographs you want to share, you can send them to breva2011 (at)  Once we have some captions for them, they will go on to the Flickr site here:
which includes a section on old GWSR photographs.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Out and about on the extension

Two blogs in one today - a day loading sleepers, and the regular Wednesday activity on the Pway, and an odd job at Broadway too.


A select crew of three spent the day finding and loading sleepers on to the supply train, based on the area around Stanton.

This rather satisfying activity involved finding odd piles of sleepers, and stacking them on the train for re-use at Broadway. Clearing up, and finding sleepers, two birds with one stone. Here is a pile of 60 odd south of Stanton. It has been here since this was once the terminus of the northern extension.

Here is Steve, 'digging in' into the pile. They were almost all of the SHC type, and of mixed quality, some main line quality, some siding.

Quite a number were found alongside the running line, usually a pair associated with a catch pit. This arrangement dates back to the time the catch pits had covers of discarded concrete sleepers. Now that we have our excellent drainage department, our catch pits have been fitted with their normal concrete covers, and the sleepers were usually found in close proximity.
Here are two being dragged out, with Neil acting as slinger.

As there were quite a few of these 'catchpit sleepers', we became more methodical. We dragged them all out and put them square on the second trackbed, and then Steve could sweep them up and load them on to the Warflat.

Our pile on the Warflat is growing nicely as we approach Stanton, where another, smaller pile was reported.

Indeed - there were 15 sleepers here, but just look at that forkful - three different types in one load.
We loaded them all up, but they will need further sorting at Childswickham to separate the types, and the siding from the main line quality.

We then carried on heading north, finding more 'catchpit sleepers' between Stanton and Laverton.

By the end of the day,we had tidied up this stretch of the trackbed of all the odd sleepers, and found 128 of them for stacking on the train. What a good haul, basically out of nothing!

At the end of the day the train was pushed back up to Childswickham.

At the northern end of our sweep, we (re-) located a sleeper pile that had been lost to mankind, but Steve still knew where it was. It was just to the NE of the foot crossing (just visible top right) and totally covered in brambles. Steve gave it a whack with the bucket, exposing the end of one sleeper, so that it could be found next time. The arrow marks the end of the sleeper - can you see it?

Here is the partially loaded train at Childswickham now, ready for Saturday. There's also a bit more new rail left. Vic from Broadway has walked out to see how we are doing.

The day started with a 'quickie' at Broadway, where the gang wanted to plant the second running in board post and needed some help. This post is our only original, and so being was used as a template to make three replica copies. Two are already up on P2, while the third was planted a few days ago at Broadway.

To move this cast iron jumbo you need between 6 and 8 people. We had 6 of us today, and used slings to keep the centre of gravity low, so that we would not have to bend down.

The post came complete with its own 'ice cream cone' finial, although the replicas had finials specially cast for them. We have one original finial, which was found in the clay at Broadway early on. It almost certainly came off the modesty screen posts on P2, which were bulldozed backwards and it rolled off and into the fence, where it was later re-discovered.

If your GWR project needs finials like these, then get in touch with breva2011 (at), as we can take castings off our original. Profits go to the GWSR.

Thanks to good peparation beforehand, we already had the 70cm holes in the platform into which the posts were placed.

All we had to do was to lift the posts in, and then check the levels and spacing using a former made by our chippie, which represents the final board. In this way there are no surprises later when the actual board is fitted.

The nearest post is a replica, and has a sheet of plastic over the hole where the finial goes.

After a great deal of rooting around the various containers on site, we finally found the 4 finials we had cast, now almost 4 years ago.

Here John has just removed the sheet of plastic, and is about to fit the replica finial on top.

His smile tells you what a happy occasion we all thought this was. We have had the running in board posts for some 4 years now, but were unable to plant them until now, following the removal of the containers off P1.

The actual running in board will now be made up, using the cast aluminium replica 12 inch letters that we have sourced.

Here they are: The replica posts and its new finial casting (still to be painted) and on the right, the original cast iron post that we planted today. This post was donated to us by a nearby supporter of the railway, and we take this opportunity to express our thanks for this kind gift, and our apologies that it took so long to plant. But we did do it, just as promised.

Just as we completed the 'planting', the PWay gang arrived in the Landie. They brought the kit required to drill and plate up the two bufferstops at the northern end, and to raid the site safe for the tools required to do some remedial clipping up at Peasebrook.

After the welders had done their job, odd clip needed replacing here and there, and someone has to patrol the last 1000m of CWR to make sure that every sleepers has two clips in it. If not, then the sleeper will be left behind when the tamper comes to lift and tamp the track.

The track now needs 'tweaking', and then the last 400m or so to the northern anchor point has to be ballasted (the first 600m having been done a few days ago).

On this picture you can see the bit that was 'tweaked' and ballasted a few days ago, and the bit that still needs doing in the foreground. The anchor point is some yards behind the camera here.
The DMU is paused at the Little Buckland limit of operations.

Clipping and verification completed, we moved on to the next job, but not without picking up some of the track laying debris, like this cut off piece of rail here.

It was about 4ft long and quite heavy, but many hands make light work here, and it was soon on the back of the Landie for recovery to the Winchcombe scrap pile.

We then moves south to Laverton, where we met the other half of the gang, who were busy extracting the sleepers we found in the brambles on Monday.

Dave P and Rob had certainly found the sleepers, but the brambles fought back fiercely, until we gave them a slasher that we had brought up in the Landie for this very purpose.

An initial stack was made on the trackbed, to be moved later to a location that was more favourable to loading on the Warflat.

The enlarged gang, save for Dave P and Rob, still stacking, then repaired to the Broadway buffer stops. There was much debate about the best pair of fishplates to unite them with the FB rail, and odd combination with the well worn bullhead of the buffer stop.

We had a great deal of trouble with the bolts for the fishplates too. The nuts on them would not turn. Eventually we worked out that we had at least 3 different threads here.

In the picture one nut was stuck on the bolt ex storage. How to get it to turn? We fixed it in a vice of our own making, by jacking it up under a rail. Then the spanner managed to undo it easily enough.

Here is Peter on the nut runner, doing up the bolts that we could match with nuts. Nuts and bolts debris are scattered about.

Eventually we got the Cotswolds ones done up, although it would probabaly be an idea to exchange the lifter type plates that we had used on one rail with a plain 95lb pair, which worked well on the Malvern side.

Here is Peter drilling holes for the fish plates in the Malvern side buffer stop.

The Malvern side was slightly easier, as Dave D had gone back to Winchcombe to get a newer supply of bolts.

On the Malvern side the issue was that the stops were a bit too far away from the rail to allow the plates to bolt on, and without Stevie it was quite difficult to move the stops around using just the Duff jacks. We got there in the end.

Kilroy is watching you...
Some PWay members do all the hard work, and some give helpful advice, like Doug here. If there is anything you want to know, just ask.

The first passenger train from Honybourne rolls into Broadway
At the end of the day we had cracked about 80% of the buffer stop job. A bit more sleeper drilling remains to be done, and we need 3 more of the special chairs that sit underneath.
We loaded up all the tools, and gave our tired feet a 200m ride back to the site safe. Ahhhhhhhhhh!