The day started in great style. The mess coach was coming to Broadway at last. Traction was to be the class 20 D8137. The snow had melted again, but it was cold, minus 3 degrees. The class 20 lived in a nice dry shed and, having been pre heated, it started immediately.
Here 's a little video of it outside the shed, an excuse also to try out the camera's controls. If it's a bit wobbly, promise to do better next time. Not enough fingers for everything you have to do, and it was freezing.
Dimore moved off shed with a huge plume of steam, to position itself to haul the ECS to Winchcombe, where the Santa visits take place. Once that movement out of the way, we coupled up to the mess coach and tool van, and propelled through Toddington station up to Little Buckland LOO, then increasingly slowly over the recently stressed 1000m of CWR, over unballasted track and up to the top of the Childswickham Road bridge, where further progress was prevented by the extension train wagons, being unloaded and loaded again for removal on Tuesday.
We took this proud picture of our arrival:
|Gareth (second man) and Richard (driver) pose with D8137 on the Childswickham Road bridge, at the start of the Broadway goods yard. Never been here before.|
The ground was frosty still as we screwed down the brakes and shut down the loco, which would pick the train up again at the end of the working day.
The Class 20 whistling away to itself, the tool van and the mess coach parked on the Childswickham Road bridge. It was to be a warm base for the day for the PWay gang with frozen fingers. Tea and mince pies awaited us.
Then, off to work. Last week (camera failure) we laid in the switches, which represent about one third of the work on a turnout. Everything was covered in frost. Although the timbers - here one is being brought in by Alan in the Telehandler - were numbered, you couldn't read the numbers as everything was white.
As more timbers arrived, you could begin to see how the two tracks diverged. Here we are on timbers 29 and 30, out of 51 required. They were laid out roughly, then aligned and measured for distance apart. This has to be precise, and it was all written down before this turnout, from Laverton South, was taken apart and brought up here.
As the two ends of the railway advanced towards each other the room for manoeuvering became scarcer and scarcer.
Alan just managed to squeeze in here with the next timber, but now he's facing the wrong way. Someone move that Landie please!
What gate posts? No problem for Stevie. With the positioning of the turnout here, the road up the embankment (indeed created by Stevie himself many years go) needs to move along a bit. The entrance on to the trackbed is now about 10m further south.
The whole thing still needs tweaking, remember that this is not the final position of all the track. Did we really lay all that in just a few weeks?
What a long way we have come: road bridge refurbished, station building erected, footbridge centre span put up, replica signal box constructed, 5 signal posts put up, over 400m of platform wall built. We're not quite there yet, but what an achievement already.
An email between two PWay oldies this morning mentioned that of course all this track had been laid by the younger ones, those under 70 years old.
Yes, but mostly over 65 !
This umbrella is here is a bit hopeful, because it is far too cold for it to rain. Us old crocks are doing pretty well though. Many have been here since the early 1980s, and we're putting their photographs of those early days on the 'early GWSR' collection on Flickr:
Early GWSR on Flickr
The chap with the umbrella held a pilot's licence and took several pictures of the nascent railway from above - we will put those up as well, during one of the dark winter evenings at home. Well done John, still going strong!
Then it's time to use that mess coach. You don't have to announce that twice, we all clamber on board in a trice.
In side the atmosphere is warm and fuggy, it's all those kettles boiling and giving off steam.
Next is an important piece, the crossing itself. This was dragged up from the far end, and on arrival was found crammed full of indescribable muck and ballast stones. Better to poke it out now, with shovels and fingers, before we lay it in.
With the crossing cleaned up, we were in a position to lift it in, bit by bit.
No, the concretes in the foreground are not for another turnout for that loop to the next bridge, they will be slewed over to the left. Pity though. Maybe next year.
While we were working on the crossing in the middle, other teams were tidying up behind us - clipping up, drilling and fitting fishplates, or as in the picture here, with Steve and Pete fitting an insulated stretcher bar to the two switch blades.
|Mike proudly bears today's masterpiece down to the mess coach.|
With the switch basically in, Steve could concentrate on laying the few extra concretes we need to join everything up.
In the foreground are timbers 50 and 51. They're all in now, and the frost has melted so you can see where you are in the puzzle.
While a gang clips up the first check rail on the right, the second check rail is being brought in on the left.
In the foreground Pete and Tony are fishplating the end of the turnout to the plain track at the southern end.
The orange of the setting sun has caught the signal box windows and the back of the bracket signal.
We're not quite there yet - we are still not connected to the plain track, and the whole caboodle has to move over to the Cotswolds side a bit. There's also a lot of clipping up to do by the goods shed, and more fishplates to fit. Plenty more to do then, but we are going to meet our promise of getting the track down by the end of the year. How's that for efficiency!
As it was getting quite dark we packed up the tools and most left for home - back next Saturday, the 23rd. Three stayed behind to take the train home.
Lots of atmosphere in the cab of the class 20, with Richard at the controls and looking ahead out of the window.
The 'whistling wardrobe' crept along at walking pace until we were back on the operating section, and then opened the throttle under the road bridge - you have to have some fun !
The class 20 pulls into a lit but deserted Toddington station, to drop off the token before going on shed.
What a great day we had. Same time next week, guys?
NB: there is also a bridges blog update today:
Bridges blog update