Tuesday 20 February 2018

The tamper reaches Broadway

One of several tamping days with the B&R tamper, but it's the first one, and it was a lovely, cold sunny day, good for photography.

Here is our report.

The B&R crew arrived at Toddington today, with their machine having been delivered the day before.
For reasons of expediency it was decided to push the regulator up the extension at the same time as the tamper movement, so that it would be ready when required without further movement.

The regulator was parked by platform 2 at Broadway. It looks like the crew will be here for 3 days in a row.

As the regulator has no buffing and drawing gear, it is transported using a bar, which is being detached in this picture.
Some of these regulators did have buffers, so that is perhaps an accessory to think of for the future.

The tamper then did a measuring run back down to near Pry lane, just north of the point where it left off last time.
Here Bob is just taking a couple of minutes to go through the results of the measuring run, which unrolls like a scroll on the screen. You slowly tamp your way back to the beginning, and you get a beep when the computer says you are nearly there.

Here is the tamper just setting off from the Pry Lane area, destination: Broadway station! The weather was, on occasions, very sunny but with a biting cold wind out here on the embankment. All the pictures were taken when there was a gap in the clouds. It wasn't that sunny, you know.

Here you can see where tamping has resumed, and you can make out how the track is lifted out of the ballast.
A pass will be made with the regulator and this should enable some of the voids left by the tines to be filled again.

Looking the other way you can see how the track has different heights before and after the tamper passes. The rail is quite bendy in the middle.

That's the old Broadway goods shed in the distance.

After an hour or so the tamper can be seen approaching the Childswickham Road bridge. It's so slow, you can take a picture from both sides, and it's still up there. But this is the pretty, sunny side.

So slow in fact, that you can walk back up the road after your photograph, and still take another as it crosses the bridge from above.
No, we didn't have a large camera crew here, it's not the BBC you know. It's all done by one reporter.

Here is the tamper a few yards further, as it starts to pass the former goods shed. We had lots of Caravan Club visitors emerge from their 'vans and come and stare at us.
Note how the sleeper ends are now bare, after lifting. More ballast is needed here to secure the track.

This is a peek at the screen that shows the measuring run, and how it unrolls backwards back to the starting point. The red figure at the top left tells you how many metres still to go. The line on the right is your blogger's heartbeat, after someone offered him a brew. Yes, please !

After lunch we arrive back at point zero, just short of the turnout, where we started the measuring run. Now we will go in the opposite direction, over the turnout and into the station. That also needs a measuring run.

As the tamper does its measuring run for the next section, a Chinook chops its way along overhead. The regulator is parked by the P2 starter.

Here is the tamper just starting its somewhat trickier session over the southern turnout.

This model can handle turnouts, but with all the diverging rails on them it's a much slower job. We do the through road first, i.e. straight on to P1.

This machine is very versatile compared to earlier models, and the tamping sets can be split and worked one bank at a time. Normally the tamper is operated by one person sitting in the gondola underneath, with a lookout in the cab in front. For pointwork both operators sit in the cab, and work one side each. Here is Rick tamping just one side, while Bob is off somewhere.

In this picture you can see what Rick (just visible in the gondola top left) is doing. As the rails on the turnout diverge, one tine is folded away and only a single one is used.
A hook (just next to the tine in the ballast) is used instead of the normal flanged lifting wheels.
This tine has a chunk missing on the end. It's all too easy to hit a rail or a sleeper with it, as each movement is controlled manually and sometimes you just get it wrong. Then it's an expensive  new tine and a scowl from the boss.

There's a video of the tamping in progress at this spot here:

Near the end of the day the sun is low as the tamper slowly crosses station road bridge at Broadway.
The absence of traffic - just like in the 1950s picture in a recent Cornishman here - is a fluke, normally there are loads of cars on this road, despite the bypass.

As we near the station, the last volunteer still there at the end of the day wanders out to see us in action.

Tamper, regulator and the station buildings bask in the low evening sun at Broadway.

Behind us is the job we did today: a nice level line and even curve heading back off towards Pry lane.

A last look of the tamper and regulator at rest. We then packed up our kit and took the big machine back to Toddington.
More tamping at Broadway tomorrow, but also regular PWay track work. You will read about one, or the other.

Finally, some more 'Early GWSR' pictures have been released on to John Lees' album on Flickr:

Take a look and wallow in nostalgia (if you were there, otherwise it's just interesting to see how they put all that track back on to a recently emptied trackbed)


  1. Well !
    An unexpected but very welcome post. Yes, I know you said in an earlier post that the tamper would arrive at Broadway this week. But I wasn't expecting a post so soon. Thank you very much.

    What the tamper does I think I understand. How it does it I don't understand. But you sound pleased with it, which is what counts. The whole thing is fascinating. It is very generous of you to show us what was going on.

    I hope, we all hope, the PW team can sort out the second turnout at Toddington and the problem of the height difference with the running line. I look forward to seeing how the PW team cope with that.

    Then you have the relaying of the line over the bridge at Gotherington. So much to do ! But you'll do it. I know you will.

    By the way (and I should know), decaffeinated tea/coffee will make all the difference in an ECG, if ever you need one. I hope it will never come to that !

    Bravely done, and well reported.

    Thank you and good luck with everything.


  2. Hello Jo, thanks for the report and pictures, although I asked if it was possible, you managed it! well done and a great report with well taken pictures. Your camera crew and director are doing a great service(LOL!)
    It is good see that it is all starting to come together for the lines re-opening, just a few short weeks away now! Will Foremarke Hall be making a gauging trip to Broadway before the official opening? Again thanks for the report and looking forward to the opening of the line for the new season. BTW, when relaying the track at Gotherington bridge will that be on the bridge blog or the PW blog? Thanks again.
    Paul & Marion

    1. - Will they make a gauging run? I don't know the answer to that one, but it sounds like a good idea. The hall has the widest cylinders I'm told, but of course we have to finish tamping first
      - The Gotherington relay - gosh, I think blog writing has overtaken this question :-)

  3. Interesting to see the Toddington plans on the Early GWSR Flickr site. I remember the plan to bring the narrow gauge line accross the car park and terminate next to the standard gauge bay platform line.

    This was a controversial proposal at the time - probably the first real argument between those who wanted to restore the station to original condition, and those who wanted to create a tourist attraction without bothering too much about originality.

    I don't think the plan ever got as far as setting out platform arrangements for the narrow gauge, but there was definitely an intention to create some sort of cross-platform interchange between standard and narrow gauge. I remember someone who was in favour of the idea saying, "We'll have a joint station!"

    The idea was set out in an issue of The Cornishman (which was then just a typewritten newsletter) and I recall picking up a copy at Toddington to find someone had scribbled "NO!" over the relevant paragraph, in thick black pen!

    Well, as we know, it never happened, and that's probably just as well. Not only would it have compromised the originality of Toddington station, it would have been a nightmare in practical terms - creating a bottleneck at the entrance to the car park, and taking up far too much space. Apart from anything else, where would we have put the toilet block and the Flag & Whistle?

    But it does show that there's always been a certain amount of tension between the Heritageists and the Tourist Attractionists...