Saturday 17 March 2018

A day away

A morning at a local auction today. Mission: to bid for a GWR wooden WAY OUT with finger sign.

It was to go here, but sadly the modest budget of two GWSR volunteers was easily outbid, and we didn't get it. It cost the lucky buyer over £500!

At least we had the opportunity to sit in a nice warm room over a bacon roll and cup of tea, and chat to a former BR fireman about Honeybourne West Loop.

On which subject, a question: Does anybody have any reminiscences about this short lived set of sidings? We would be interested in some material for a forthcoming 'Cornishman' article.

We shall keep our eyes open for any similar signs at other auctions, and in particular the pointing finger, and any GWR 4 inch letters, unless someone knows of some? We do have a number of boards for Broadway now, bought and indeed donated over the years, but not necessarily the right ones. We could do with more. Once the bustle prior to opening has died down a bit, we shall give these some further thought.

Another item that would be fun to have is a GWR drop case clock for the booking office. One sold today for £1800 and again this is way over our sort of budget.

But we also had a success:

This is a railway tool shed of a well known, corrugated iron design. It was offered to us by its owner and was located in the Honeybourne area, not far from the railway. Its railway location was somewhere in the Evesham area, and it was originally painted black. On the door is a little brass worksplate, which we scraped clean to reveal:

Samuel Taylor, Manufacturers, Birmingham.
We would guess the date of manufacture around the start of the 1900s, and they were a common sight around any railway installation. Interestingly, there is a Samuel Taylor Ltd, with railway affiliations, still trading from Redditch, and this company dates back to 1899, so a connection there is possible.

The inside of the shed was in good condtion, and it still had its little shelf. At first we took it to be a lamp hut, but internet research shows that lamp huts had a vent on top to evacuate any fumes from the fuel. This was a railway tool shed.

The first idea was to move the hut as is, using a lorry with a HIAB. The heavy rain we've been having put paid to that, as it would deeply rut the lawn and the lorry might well have got stuck, so removal switched to Plan B: dismantling and removal in kit form.

This proved to be less difficult than at first thought, as it had been disassembled once before and rebuilt in its location in the picture. Most of the nuts and bolts were still loose enough to be unscrewed, with the exception of 3 that we cut through with an angle grinder, powered by an extension lead dangled from a window by the friendly donor.

After just a morning's work, the hut was laid out in kit form on the front lawn.

Now to ring the lorry company, could they come straight away, by any chance?

Indeed they could.

Here it is loaded on the back of the lorry. All of the pieces were of such a weight as to be able to be carried by two people. In this way it would have come by train from Birmingham, and perhaps the last half mile by horse and cart, for assembly on the spot. Neat.

As discussions over the donated hut progressed, as potential site for its reconstruction on the railway emerged: CRC2. Due to the race traffic and the need to remove the hut within the week, it has been stored in a temporary location on the railway, from where the Friends of CRC will pick it up.

Here it is in storage. A neat little parcel, an item that will make our GWR railway a little more realistic.

Tarmac story.

You will have read that the Broadway platforms were tarmaced earlier in the week. Here are some additional photographs taken during the two day operation.

The station approach was a maelstrom of lorries, dumpers and forklifts. The tarmacers started early, and by the time this photograph was taken the footpath was already done. The actual approach road and the station forecourt need further work done on their respective levels, and this will be done (and paid for) at a later date.

This very chunky tarmac laying machine, weighing 12 tons, didn't manage to get on to the southern part of P1 due to tight clearances, so made a start on the northern half first.

That bucket in front opens out when the hungry beast is replenished. Behind is a roller, and we hoped that it would miss our cast iron lamp posts. It did.

At the end of the first day the tarmac had reached haf way down the northern half and the supply of tarmac on site had run out.

The next morning no fewer than three 20 ton tarmac lorries were parked up the road, it was really busy.

The tarmac people had returned with a smaller tarmac laying machine, and this successfully negotiated the tricky bend on to P1 south.

Here is the forklift bringing in a supply for it.

In this picture you can see that the platform is partly done, and the forklift is filling the wheelbarrows for the areas around the lamp posts that were done by hand. At the back the roller is busy making everything nice and flat.

All this could be observed from the signal box - in great comfort. A signalman always sees to his comforts first, the signals however won't be working for a while yet. The kettle, an essential part of this scene, is off camera. And so are the biscuits.

Looking the other way, the S&T gang was actually very busy indeed. Here they are, posing outside their pride and joy. The current job now is to get the rodding stools in, no fewer than 67 being required along the up line. The cribs in the foreground have already been dug out to receive the signal wires emanating from under the box.

Slowly the tarmacing machine and its forklift supply shuttle moved past the box along P1.

Here is the smaller machine, freshly supplied with a load of hot, steaming tarmac. It only just fits alongside the lamp post, behind which a strip has already been done by hand. The men worked very quickly and efficiently.

The corner bit was a bit tricky, as there was an inspection pit in an awkward spot.

This area was also done by hand, the laying machine having vacated the platform a few minutes earlier. The new gates were taken off their hinges and parked by the building on the left.

Then P1 south was finished, a very creditable job here. But P1 north was still to do.

Here the larger machine was used again, as access to this part of the platform was easier, through the site of the future canopy overhang.

On P1 north the tarmac layer slowly reverses towards the footbridge, leaving behind a smooth surface spread out by means of an archimedian screw in the centre, and guide rails left and right.

The larger dumper was used for this stretch, and you can see it here dropping a final bit at the end of the run, which ends just this side of the footbridge. The rest will be left for the slab laying team to fill in.

Here is the job done, with just a 9m gap left in the foreground. This will be filled with more slabs as in the foreground, and will constitute the floor of the circulating area under the canopy overhang.

Only a few days later the gap left open had been filled by the slabbing team - they really work quickly. All the platform is now complete, you can walk right through from one end to the other.

The rougher area on the left is where the footbridge steps will come down.

Just 5 days before the first volunteer train runs.

Out front, the Heras fencing has been removed to reveal the Edwardian lady unencumbered at last. The gap in front of the kerbs has been filled in temporarily, to give a level surface for the opening.

Finally, a lovely composition photogtraph by S&T member George Bryant, using a photograph of the test train with Foremarke Hall a few days ago, and an original photograph that he took on 29th August 1962:

The original B&W picture shows 5026 Criccieth Castle with the down Cornishman. The Broadway signal box used to stand behind the buffer stop, up against the wall. It closed on 10th October 1960 and was soon demolished.

The telegraph pole visible on the left was absolutely enormous. It stood at the foot of the embankment and was almost 50% longer than visible in the picture.

Back to PWay work next week. Check out today's icy work on Nigel's Flickr site:


  1. Well, an unexpected blogpost so early I the day ! But many thanks for all the news.

    I'm very glad to see Broadway Station has finished the surfacing of Platform One. It is most important that with eight coach trains soon to be arriving and departing, passengers can walk safely along the entire length of the platform. So that, I think, is the main job done. And very well, done, too.

    Yes, I know they have all sorts of work to do before opening, but I'm sure they will manage. Of course, I suppose they can always fence off any areas of "work in progress". No worries there, I think.

    Congratulations are due to the brave men who stuck it out and laid all those paving stones. A magnificent effort. I thought the snow might have interrupted work, but the security camera seemed to show Broadway free of frost and snow. Same here in the North West : a dry sunny day (it still is, even as the sun goes down). A bit chilly.

    No PW news ? I hope all is going well there.

    Good luck with everything.


  2. I remember Honeybourne West loop from the late 1970s. As a teenager I cycled there from Cheltenmham to explore it. I spent a happy afternoon poking about on the track - completely illegally. 35-odd years later it's probably safe to admit this!

    The sidings remained in use after the line south had closed, as a reversing spur for trains heading to Long Marston off the Cotswold line. The signal box was retained to control these movements. It was all a bit over-complicated, but the direct northbound connection between the Cotswold line and the Honeybourne line had been removed so this was the only way to do it.

    A few years later the direct connection was relaid (and still exists today) so the West Loop box and sidings could finally close. I remember some of the track on the main line towards Cheltenham was FB rail on concrete sleepers, and there was one colour light signal amid the GWR-pattern semaphores.

    There's a good photo of the area in the state that I remember it on Martin Loader's railway photography site. The colour light signal can just be seen in the distance:

    A northbound view - the track still in excellent condition. Honeybourne station is some way off to the left on the high level line. The bridge was rebuilt by Network Rail when the line was redoubled a few years back and a short length of track was placed underneath as a kind of symbolic gesture. However, the rails were stolen shortly afterwards...

    Here's the same view in 1984. If you want to ride on a train like that nowadays, you'd have to visit the GWSR on a Diesel weekend! This entire area is now massively overgrown, but I do wonder what railway artifacts lurk in the undergrowth:

    1. Thanks for that, Michael. It helps me build up a picture of the sidings.

  3. You have all done wonders. Truly. The lady that you have created at the moment is an Edwardian debutante, a fresh-faced and beautiful new arrival.
    I fully expect over the next year or two, with the addition of the footbridge steps, canopy extension, P2 and other delightful detailing like period poster boards, lanterns and V boards, the debutante will only mature into a lady of true Elegance and intrigue!
    It can only get even better...
    I hope you guys are getting your dickiebows all nicely pressed for next years HRA awards!

  4. With regards to the Lamp Hut, the GWR versions didn't have vents in the roof, they seem to have been a Midland/LMS idea, so your latest acquisition is likely to be a genuine GWR item. Some interesting photos of the different sizes of these huts on here

    1. Thanks for that info, I didn't know that.
      Based on what you say it probably is a lamp hut after all then. I wondered why it would have that handy shelf at the back.

  5. I rememnber the pole-route alongside this embankment from BR days in the 1970s. As you say, the one by the Evesham Road bridge was very tall.

    So happy to see the preparations coming together now. Won't be long before the building site becomes a working railway station.

    Very well done to all concerned. Hats off!

  6. Yes, I would like to add to Ardvak11's comment on lamp huts. When I worked on the SVR, we were lucky enough to purchase the line south of Hampton Loade with all the infrastructure intact. We had two of those exact same huts that were original and contained lamps and oil drum ( with tap!). So yes, the GWR did use lamp huts without ventilators (H&S wasn't so fussy in those days). The lamp huts were not even near to the signal box but on the other side of the tracks, it being the lampman's responsibility to tend them - not the signalman's.
    Hope this helps.
    Regards, Paul.

  7. In old photos of Broadway it appears that there was a corrugated lamp hut immediately under the bridge on platform 1. Will this be recreated in the wide space just there?

    1. I very much hope so.
      There are two lamp huts available on site.

  8. Hope there'll be space for the lamp hut next to the resurrected junk shop that's evidently going in that area.
    The picture of the front of the building shows a very big change of level at the southern end of the building (near the double gates in the spear fencing). If that's replicated in the driveway, it may be that long vehicles will get grounded there. It looks as though there might have to be a lot of re-grading of the neighbour's driveway to get the new road reasonably flat here and at that new level.

    1. I do hope that they do not erect a garden shed on the platform, or at least not on a permanent basis. Another was recently erected on P2 at Toddington. It spoils the 1904 atmospshere.

      What you could put in that space is a corrugated iron building such as the one erected at Bodmin. That one is quite believable, and not too hard to erect from scratch.

    2. I agree that the memorial shed at Toddington is hideous in that position; it's lovely to have something of that ilk but not where it ruins the ambience.

    3. A brief comment in reply to Jo and Mr. Baker.

      I would not wish for the world, gentlemen, to hurt the feelings of the ladies who ran the bric-a-brac shop, latterly sited in Station Approach. Bless them for their loyalty and cheerfulness, and good efforts.

      But Platform One is no place for what Jo describes as a garden shed. Fair comment. And that is precisely what it was in its former location.

      I am very sorry. It gives me no pleasure to say this, but a garden shed or whatever, north of the footbridge, simply doesn't belong.

      Simply consider what it is they are trying to recreate here at Broadway. Don't spoil it. Please.


    4. Interestingly, when the sales shed was dismantled, there were quite a few suggestions from some blog commentators that it should be re-erected on platform 1 or even platform 2 (not accessible for a while there then!) so it would seem that pleasing everyone is just not possible, but a quick glance through these blog comments would confirm that! My understanding was that any sales shed re-erection would be only temporary but that may well not be the case of course. Additionally, temporary buildings can soon become permanent. I can't comment on the Toddington memorial shed but I don't recall that being very obvious, I must have a look when I'm visiting this week. I hope the snow in Gloucestershire is melting as fast as it can so that work can continue unhindered on this amazing project, shed or no shed.

  9. I,well remember,the West Loop sidings,at Honeybourne!.Occasionally,when on a Control turn,we'd be sent there,to relieve a crew,on a goods train,bound for Birmingham,or Banbury!.I,remember once,we took an iron ore empty,to Woodford Halse,via the the old S,M,J,line!.(There used to be a connection to it,between Stratford Racecourse Platform,and Stratford Old Town station!).Sometimes,one of the banking engines,at Honeybourne,would go to West Loop,to collect a train of wagons,for the marshalling yard,at Honeyborne Station. Anthony.

    1. Thank you Anthony, just the sort of thing I needed.

  10. There are a number of companies that laser cut letters & numbers in any typeface you care to name & in almost any material. Painted white & mounted on black painted marine ply, the railway could have all the signs it needed. They'd be almost indistinguishable from expensive prototypes. New signs for a new station?