Wednesday 7 March 2018

Holy Doughnuts !

The 'Beast from the East' turned into 'Hysteria from Siberia' as panic buying emptied the supermarket shelves! The resupply seems to have faltered, which meant 'holy' doughnuts this morning.

Oi ! Where's the jam !
The jam in the middle of the doughnut was replaced by air this morning, this being all that Paul could find due to the empty shelves. After some protest, they still got eaten - they were doughnuts, after all.

With thanks to Paul Challis

The snow was odd. It was very shallow in some places, and very deep in others.

Despite a 9 degree temperature at the end of the afternoon, our railway still had remarkable drifts, such as this one here, spotted today near Bishops Cleeve. No problem though for a 100 ton steam locomotive.

We spilled out of the mess coach after tea, to find 76077 - gone ! Completely vanished. The whole of the car park was clean too, well done those sewage contractors. We are gearing up for the first public trains again this year.

We split into three teams today. One to do some drilling on the main line turnout recently installed at the yard throat, one to go to Broadway to tweak the ballast, and one to go to Gotherington Skew Bridge, with a similar mission.
Here is a shot of the famous Skew Bridge. It's open to traffic again, and our sleeper depot, which once held 7000 concrete sleepers, is now empty, neat and tidy.

Our job was to add another Dogfish of ballast to the running line over the bridge, to fill voids left by the tamper that did the line there after its reinstallation. The ballast train still had two full Dogfish in it, and they had (we hoped) now warmed to a point where it would run out when we opened the doors.

The olive green Dogfish was selected, and parked precisely so that the dump would begin after a fishplate with bonding wire on it that we did not want affected.

With a toot the class 73 set off slowly, leaving a trail of ballast in the four foot, which the Shark behind then spread outwards. Just perfect.

The train soon left again, this time to head for Broadway, where it was parked in the headshunt. Peace resumed over Skew Bridge again, interupted by the clang of shovels on ballast. Four of us stayed behind to complete the drop by uncovering any buried wooden sleepers, and by ensuring that the sleeper ends were well supported against lateral movement.

It's rural out there.

We were somewhat spellbound by the spectacle of a large flock of sheep, galloping before us hither and thither on the opposite hillsside. Several small dots could be seen running around it, until the flock was quite concentrated in the middle (accompanied by two human figures, we should add). Normally you see this on TV (One man and his dog) and here it was, unfolding before us.

Human figures also contributed to this scene, only a few hundred yards away on the right. Centres of population are increasingly encroaching on rural England, with Bishops Cleeve marching in big steps towards its neighbour Gotherington, just behind the camera.

We carried on regardless, and at the end of the morning had spread the excess ballast very nicely into any voids left by the tamper, or up against the ends of the sleepers as here.

Job done as far as we could, we returned to Toddington for lunch and to meet the rest of the gang, to see what we could do next.

On the way back, we stopped at Winchcombe.

We dropped in at the ever friendly C&W shed to see how they were doing with the restoration of this padded waiting room bench for Broadway.

It was last used in a pub at Swindon, and came to us with only 5 legs. This was not only unauthentic, but also a concern in view of the increasing weight of some members of the public, so we were keen to have it equipped with a maximum number of legs. The carpenters at C&W are doing a wonderful job here. The old wood has been stripped of its black paint as found, ands the new will be stained to match the original and then varnished. Green vinyl has been sourced for the upholstery.

After lunch, BROAD_AY. Something not quite right here...

It seems that the 'W' made of plywood in 2013 started to delaminate. Although we have a duplicate set of cast aluminium 12'' letters, the plywood 'W' will be replaced in the first instance to get the show on the road for opening. At some time in the future when things have calmed down the full set of cast aluminium letters will be fitted.

The Gotherington 4 joined the gang working at Broadway, but sadly there was no reprieve from shovelling ballast. Luckily we had Steve on the mini - mini digger (the cabless one) and he was able to scoop around a little bit, although that didn't relieve the rest of us from shovelling.

After tamping, a supplementary ballast drop and regulating, there were still strips of too much ballast, and strips with not quite enough. Using the Permaquip trolley we shifted a lot of it from one to the other, but even more could be done.

With this 'drone's eye view' you can see another load of ballast being brought up, this time loaded by hand (ouch!) as Steve was working alone in the distance. By this time, mid afternoon, the constant shovelling was starting to cause exhaustion, so we called it a day.

The BAG gang did extremely well today, having laid this orange final layer before tarmaccing over several days on their hands and knees! The material was dumped on the forecourt by a 20ton lorry and was brought in by a fleet of wheelbarrows. Very hard work, and you can see that everyone is really giving their best in order to get the station as complete as possible before the opening.

The turnouts have now been fitted with locking and operating levers, and one of these days a test locomotive will be taken through the station to make sure that everything works. When? Well, that will be a last minute decision.


  1. Many thanks for the latest news. We all appreciate it, you know.

    I thought Jo would be wanting to tweak the ballast here and there once the snow had melted. Well, it now all looks fine to me !

    Thanks for the photos of the English countryside. Let's hope it stays like that for a long time. Also, thanks for the photo of the Class 73. It is always a very lovely sight. Anywhere. (And I'm a steam engine fan, myself, but it is a gorgeous beast).

    I'm intrigued by the refurbishment of the bench seat for the waiting room at Broadway. Very nice, and coming from Swindon, very appropriate. But, I wonder what waiting room ? Well, never mind now. You'll tell us when your ready.

    Carry on, gentlemen (weather permitting).


  2. Hi Jo, is the second turnout at Toddington finished? or is this the Saturday job?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Phil, the second Toddington turnout is started. We couldn't continue on Saturday due to the snow.
      Back the day after tomorrow!

  3. Jo! Don't mention 'The day after tomorrow', in that film the snow was horrendous!
    Seriously, ballast shovelling is hard work. Worse, I imagine, than hard labour! Well done to you all who undertook this gruelling task.
    Great picture of the doughnut. Very short on bakery items at our Co-op STILL!, and I have a crumpet fetish.
    The bench looks good at Winchcombe., had one on the SVR but it was in rather poor state in respect to the upholstery.
    Here's hoping that you get reunited with your usual doughnuts soon.
    Regards, Paul.

  4. Very soon the line will be fully open and the PW Gang will be resting on its shovels just tweaking things here and there! Pity about the doughnuts, not the same without the jam! That's probably why you all started to flag at the end of the day! when we are next up I will make a delivery of proper jam doughnuts for you all. Many thanks for your teams efforts in getting the line ready for the new season.
    Paul & Marion

    1. Most of us are booked into a care home for respite , never mind frostbite ! like the idea of crumpets with either honey or marmite ! john M , Daily to his ballast breakers !

    2. We will see what we can do for you! I will bring honey from our garden for you guys, only the best for the team!!!!
      Paul & Marion

  5. Isn't it now time to update the map of the current raihead? It is still given for July 2017!

    1. Well, it's rather redundant now, as it has reached the goal.

    2. Need a Honeybourne one!

  6. I think a "Honeybourne Railhead" map would be a good idea as it would perhaps illustrate a longer term aspiration of the GWSR membership (if that goal is an aspiration). By putting an estimated cost per mile on the map it would illustrate just how unobtainable (or not) the scheme would be. Whilst I have no doubt that an extension to Honeybourne would be extremely unlikely, it would be a rather pleasant way of illustrating to me that I was wrong! Many thanks for the update as ever. Looking forward to visiting later this month.

  7. Honeybourne is 5 miles from Broadway. Comparison Laverton to Broadway was 2 miles. Main problems I believe are the poor condition of the bridges to Honeybourne. I thought the next extension objective was southwards closer towards Cheltenham town centre.

  8. I recall a previous Chairman saying at an AGM at Chelt R'course (2015?) that, to paraphrase, 'he wouldn't want the trackbed to Honeybourne if it was given for free'. I appreciate the of money, condition of bridges, Sustrans etc. but doesn't it clash with the Mission Statement for our wonderful line? Maybe its time for a review? I agree with Andy F, maybe south is, realistically, the next target but consolidation of Broadway/Chelt is essential with hopefully jingling coffers too before we burden our fantastic volunteer builders, not forgetting the talented management team behind them, with another significant project. The Broadway extension isn't just going to be a superb tourist experience but a serious business benefit to so many along its length so hope that no end of awards deservedly fall upon the line and, in particular, everyone who has given so much love to what we all see within these wonderful Blogs. Andy Toohig

  9. I can see this subject is in everyone's minds, but it's still a case, I think, of not yet.

    What do I think ? I don't know. It'll cost a devil of a lot of money. In the long term, the GWSR surely won't give up on its aspirations. There will have to be a viability plan, a thorough cost/benefit analysis, a share issue, and much, much more.

    But not yet. What's first ? Well, consolidation, of course. Enjoy the new extension to Broadway, so long desired and now achieved. Now consider the number of projects which are urgently necessary.

    And in several years who knows ?


  10. RE: "After lunch, BROAD_AY. Something not quite right here..."

    Similar spelling problem at 'Buggleskkely'....