Saturday 25 November 2017

Out of the station, and... over the bridge !

Too wet last Saturday? Well, today it was too cold. Zero degrees to start with, rising to a vertiginous three degrees C. Woo-hoo. Our cup runneth over. And we were working at the bridge end of the Broadway platforms, a notoriously breezy spot too. Thick coats came out, hats galore. A thin winter sun illuminated our activities.

This low sun makes photography quite difficult, with dark shadows alternating with bright light. Here is the opening shot for the day, with two panels left to lay in between the Broadway platforms.
A clipping up session has started on platform 2, after the last panel was bolted on.

The 48 missing BH sleepers were soon added, followed by a first rail on the right.

Here we have Paul playing the Stilsons. Yes, it's maitre d', the very same. Spaghetti for 22, or a pair of Stilsons, it's all the same to Paul. Just check your plateful carefully next time.

(The Stilsons were used to rotate the BH rail properly into the bed of the chair)

48 sleepers and 4 rails later, both P1 and P2 tracks were neck and neck at the end of the platform ramp. You might say that this completes the Broadway relay, further south is next. However, that down line is pointing straight at the centre of the bridge, we need men on bars down here.

It's amazing really how something as heavy as a track panel can be moved by human effort with bars, if you throw enough of them at the problem. Soon after the photograph was taken, the track panel was straight.

We then started laying Pan 11 fitted sleepers on the up line. The first 4 here will support a barrow crossing.

Laying efforts were interupted by the noise of the rail disk cutter, which featured Chris all dolled up with safety gear, while the others stood around in a wide circle and watched the proceedings.

Rail cutting completed, the sleeper laying on the down line reached station road bridge, another milestone.

Two of us can be seen levelling the ballast bed, which has been rutted by the constant passing of vehicles. Note Jim in the centre shovelling ballast with his one good arm. How does he do it... marvellous how plucky our Jim is.

At lunch time a maximum number squeezed into the Broadway cabin and hogged the seats. Lovely and warm in there, but - oh no - Mrs. B's cakes were outside. How to score two fairy cakes, without losing your place?

Lunch was all too brief, and it was back to laying sleepers on to the bridge.

In the background Bert Ferrule and Stevie are bringing in FB rail, which starts at the barrow crossing.

It's quite tricky getting the rail to end up further ahead than the JCB can drive, but Steve did it.

Here is the first length of FB going in, on the up line. We were glad to have FB rail again, as the BH sags like wet maccaroni, and is difficult to manoeuvre.

Things got trickier still when we sort of built ourselves into a corner on the bridge. No room now, see, and that rail had to be dragged around a corner and had to end up in a position where it was not in the way of laying the next lot of sleepers on the down line.

The first two lengths of FB rail have now reached the bridge. A short length is cut off by Nigel, so that the rail joint is off the bridge, but not too far away to exclude a single length across it. We need one whole length across the bridge, with no joints in the middle.

The up line sleeper laying gang was prodigious, but unfortunately no one had told them to stop once they got to the other side of the bridge where the concrete sleepers start. We actually had to lift them again, just like BR in 1979.

Well laid, yes, thank you.

But in the wrong place.

Take them up again and put them in the down line.

The reduced number of sleepers was then fitted with the second pair of FB rails.

These are the ones that stretch right over the bridge, so that there is no joint in the middle.

Behind us, fishplate expert Leigh was bolting up the rails laid.

An interesting joint was this one, where bullhead rail meets flatbottom. This is an unusual combination, and needs a special fishplate.

To get just the right shaped fishplate, to accommodate the difference in height of the railheads, you need to measure up the relative thicknesses of the rails on both sides. This is what Leigh is doing here, with a special gauge.

A hybrid lifter fishplate is then used to bolt together FB and BH rail ends. You can just about make out that the RH side of the fishplate is higher than the left.

After bolting it all up, a last check is performed to make sure that the two ends of the rails are perfectly level, and that there is no bump when the wheels of the train pass over it. If there is after all, you soon get a dropped joint, and possibly a broken fishplate (one such on the running line was repaired by us today, as well as all of what you read here)

Station road, looking towards Broadway
Station road, looking towards Evesham.
With the PWay gang visible on the bridge today, passing traffic could see that we meant it when we said open by March 2018.

You could also hear us - the 'Animal' was used with great enthusiasm on the fishplates of the rails we laid today. A boot holds the bolt in pace until it is too tight to move any more.

This scene looking into the setting sun shows the bolting up in the foreground, and a rail being laid in in the background.

We are now definitely out of the platforms, and heading over the bridge.

Some end of the day shots now.

In this one you can see the full extent of the track laid today, with the up side over the bridge and even a first concrete sleeper pushed under the end.

The down side is one panel behind, but has most of the Pan 11 sleepers it needs in place. It was getting dark here, so we called it a day and put away the tools.

A last shot the other way now. Double track has reached the bridge. We ought to have some sort of celebration here. Quick, before the sun disappears over the horizon:

The track laying gang has now laid double track all the way from Springfield Lane bridge, through the station and over Broadway station road bridge. And we're proud of that. And it was all made possible by our kind supporters who bought shares in our venture. We couldn't have done it without you, and we didn't let you down. Hi there ! And THANK YOU !


  1. So many congratulations to each and everyone of you, we wonder what you will do when you have finished and caught up with outstanding work a good rest perhaps!

  2. Brilliant work guys, well done!

  3. make sure that the Railway mags have the news asap ,the Bala lake railway made the front cover headlines in HR this month so we should be seen each month ahead .Well done lads , daily M.

  4. Excellent progress with the track laying. What length remains to be laid to meet up with the track being laid northbound from Toddington direction?

    1. Maybe 100 yds, but more importantly, a turnout to construct.

  5. The Magnificent 7 x 2, Great Stuff.

    Rod in Italy

  6. Rightly proud! I am continually heartened by the progress made in (usually) dour weather! When you join the two track systems, you could have a 'topping out ceremony' in the form of a Christmas tree! If it had roots, it would last for a very long time too. Well done to you all. Regards, Paul.

  7. Last picture, Guys get out of the way there's a Castle coming! (well it looks like it could!) Magnificent.

    1. It would be great to let Tyseley give Clun Castle a run out on our line next year, no?

    2. I don't think Tyseley allow their locos to go out on low loaders, so you'd better get that main line connection in at Honeybourne PDQ!

    3. I think Honeybourne is possible at some point maybe 10 years, but (with respect) some younger PWay members (maybe myself?), possibly as a joint venture with Local Authorities and Cheltenham Racecourse, maybe even Network Rail(!?!, although beware of strings attached), but Stratford to Honeybourne needs to be left to the (semi-dormant) plans to reopen that as part of the national network.

    4. By the way, I mean those who will still be wanting to do the hard graft in another 10 years!

    5. Just look at what the Varsity line has done, oh and all the track will be ripped up to make way for new, maybe use this for Broadway to Honeybourne?

  8. Looking forward to seeing those dogfish dumping (a few hundreds of tons of?) ballast on the newly laid lines! Can't be long now. But first that turnout to complete!

    1. Dogfish on the bridge by the platforms, that is going to squeal and creak, as you say Peter, it will look great!

  9. Great work, but a dumb question, ignoring the practicalities of having fishplates and chairs in the same place, why are the joints twixt sleepers, surely being supported would remove the problem of dropped joints?

  10. You can't ignore that practicality I'm afraid. You can't have a joint on a chair or base plate, it doesn't fit. The best thing to do is to weld the joint, which we are increasingly doing elsewhere, but not in station limits for the sake of authenticity.

  11. Thanks chaps. I've been waiting more than 30 years for this moment and the events of the next 6 months on this railway. Did the 1985 sponsored track walk, and dreamed. About to become reality thanks to your dedication.


  13. New Years honours list will be published soon. Never mind time served bureaucrats and ageing pop stars, you guys should all get knighthoods, OBEs or whatever. Brilliant all of you.
    Chris Roberts

    1. They/we already have, the Queen's award the other year is the group equivilant of an MBE.

  14. WOW!.Track across the Evesham Road bridge!. Another milestone!.Excellent work!.Soon one'll be able to imagine a Castle,approaching with 10 coaches, as The Cornishman!.Is the FB,rail across the bridge new,or ex Laverton?. Anthony,

  15. Very well done! And we're proud of you and your efforts!

  16. Just a-maz-ing! You guys have slogged long hours through all weathers to achieve this - and you deserve all credit!! Good luck with the last yards!

  17. great work guys you all deserve the cafe when the railway opens hail the Orangemen.

  18. Another milestone by the Orange Army, well done to you all in the cold that was Saturday morning! Soon be time for a gauging train to test out the track and clearances so get the locomotive department to warm up Foremarke Hall! Now as you all seem to work so well in all weather and temperatures, how about putting in for a little contract to lay some more track, I think it is called HS2, could be a nice little earner for them!!!(LOL!)
    Seriously though great job by everyone, BTW, did they get a hot meal? Because it looks like Paul, the MaƮtre D, was helping to lay track.
    Paul & Marion