Monday 7 August 2017

A ballast run

A quickie today - four of us met at Peasebrook farm to start ballasting the next 1000m section of CWR.

The Dogfish were already filled in a previous session, so all we needed was a loco and the Shark.
There was a bit of a delay before this turned up, and the reason then became clear as, unusually, the train was propelled by a class 20, instead of the ED. The latter was not well this morning, we heard.

Here the train is slowly reversing into Worcestershire. We are the GWSR, after all.

We opened all the centre doors, and Neil then propelled the train further into Worcestershire, up the extension.

Not much to do for us while this happens - the hard work is in opening the very stiff doors. John is holding a special orange coloured implement, specially made to give the operator more leverage when turning the wheels.

Under a large cloud of dust the train slowly passes over bridge 4 at Peasebrook Farm.

It is soon empty again, but for this we have positioned a 360 and operator Adam at Stanton for a second load.

While the train is away being filled again, we spend the time usefully in 'tweaking' the track. This saves time for the tamper later. Better now, than when all the ballast is in between the sleepers.

It takes an experienced eye, and good coordination with the JCB driver to do this. Even so Stevie would get out from time to time to check how it was going. It's always ' You're doin' well, it's foin'. Well, we are a Gloucestershire gang.

At this point we had to stop using the Shark, as it's going to be the next pulling point here, so it needs to be clear. Stevie sorted it out 'manually'. This being the central pulling point, we've ballasted 500m here, half way then.

Neil came back 90 mins later with the Dogfish refilled, and we pushed further north. A third trip, with the rest of the ballast remaining at Laverton completed the day's drop, about 600m in all. We need another day's ballasting like this one to complete the job up to the next pulling point.

This is as far as we got today. We're past Peasebrook Farm, over bridge 4, but not yet up at bridge 3, Pry Lane.
Neil climbs back into the whistling class 20 and burbles off back to Toddington.

A last look over what we did then:
Lots of new ballast from the Forest of Dean. The current limit of operation is at the start of the curve in the distance.

On the way home, while closing the gates at the Broadway access, we met one of the Broadway volunteers with an interesting item, just secured at auction:

This pre-grouping GENTLEMEN door plate is one of the last missing pieces in our search for doorplates for Broadway. A replica will now be cast off it, and the original kept in store.


  1. Wow speedy progress indeed. Will you be extending the operation further when welded up etc?

    1. Not sure what you mean by that, but the next section of CWR will keep us busy for quite a while. There'll be tamping, regulating, stressing, sweeping, clipping up etc to do over these 1000m.

    2. I'd read that as "Will you extend the Laverton/Buckland DMU service be extended another kilometre once you've completed the 3rd section of welded line?"
      I rather expect the answer to be a No to that, but rather focus on the March 2018 full line target.

    3. I think the words "will" and you" have been transposed. It should read, "You will be extending the operation further when welding up etc." (Sorry!)

    4. Ok, I get it now.
      No, the next section to be opened will be all of the rest.

    5. Thanks, yes that is what I meant.

  2. "This is the ballast train crossing the border,
    Spending the cheque and the postal order"
    Apologies to 'Night mail' by W H Auden.

    Looking great, can't wait until next year. Well done.

  3. Why do you open all the doors on the wagons at the same time?
    Surely that increases the risk of derailing on heaped stone?
    On Renewals on Network we never opened more than one set of doors with 2 more cracked open ready to go when the first hopper stone flow starts to slack off.
    And that was with anything up to 24 Seacows.

    1. Get yerself down there Bryan and take charge.

    2. There are no heaped stones over the rails. The ballast makes a heap under the doors and stops coming out until the Dogfish reaches an area that hasn't got any ballast on it. Works fine.
      The Shark behind then pulls the centre into the cess/6ft.

  4. I have been following the blog for a fair while now and one thing I have not seen much of is any form of setting out for track alignment.
    Is it mainly a case of relay the track roughly along one of the old alignments and then tidy up with a tamper later?
    Or are there pegs lurking in the bushes to give an offset measurement from?
    Is there a new scheme in place for Cant or Crosslevel design?
    As with 25 mph max the original cant values will no longer be valid.

    1. It's the first one, mostly. Sometimes we change sides.

    2. In the very early days of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Society the first bit of track to be restored, between Toddington and Winchcombe, was simply laid on the old ballast which had been left behind when the original track was taken up.

      The track had only been lifted a few years previously and there was more than enough good ballast remaining to lay a single track. It was very deep, clean ballast, as you'd expect on a former main line - and profiled to give a fairly drastic cant on the curve into Winchcombe. I think this section had a 60mph speed limit originally.

      Reprofiling the ballast over such a distance was too much of a big job for the railway in its early days, so the new track was laid with the same cant. Theoretically that gave us a 60mph curve between Toddington and Winchcombe!

      The track was adjusted to suit 25mph running a few years later.

      There's a photo of the curve through Hailes, taken after the line was closed, on Martin Loader's railway photography site. You can tell that the track was laid for speed. (There are also some good photos of other locations along the line, including Toddington and Broadway, on this site).

    3. The general speed limit on the entire Stratford-upon-Avon (Evesham Road Crossing) to Cheltenham (Lansdown Junction) section was 50 m.p.h. during the latter BR years, certainly from 1969 onwards. The only exception was a short stretch of 40 m.p.h through the junction at Honeybourne East Loop Junction. Of course, lack of maintenance was taking its toll by 1976, and there were several "temporary" speed limits in place. Of course, this was very different from the line's heyday as an express passenger route. Unfortunately, I don't have an SA from any earlier than 1969 to check the speed limits.

      The progress with the extension is going at a cracking pace. Hats off to all involved.

      Nick Jones

  5. Can you get a genuine GWR 'Gender Neutral' toilet sign for these times?

  6. Memories of the Stourbridge line, except that we used two 20's nose to nose in multiple.
    For those who have not worked with them and wondered why they appear in photos so often in multiple and always nose to nose, the answer is that BR, always ones to save money wherever they could, only had to supply a Driver and Guard for the train as, even in the 80's, a 20 on its own would require a Second Man (Drivers Assistant), because of the poor forward view of the 'nose' of the engine casing.
    There. You can learn things by reading these pages! LOL. Regards, Paul.

  7. Nice,to see a Class 20,on the ballast train!.Living here,in Evesham,I,do like the "Wellcome to Worcestershire",sign at the boundary!. Anthony.

  8. Excellent blogs you produce, thank you very much.

    1. You are very kind, glad you like them.