Saturday 24 March 2018

Point to point

Back to the two turnouts at Toddington today. They are nearing completion, we felt quite chipper about it today.

Here's our opening shot. On the right the 'one we did earlier', and ahead the second turnout we are linking to it.
As we sized up the job Foremarke Hall hissed past in a vast cloud of steam.
Only 13 of us today, a small but perfectly formed gang. We managed to split into two halves, one half working at each end.

Having laid out the rails last week, we started to screw them down on to the sleepers, but needed to drill the holes first.

We did the straight, through road first, as that is the easiest to line up properly.

Once the holes had been drilled and the chairscrews hammered in, we got the big TB2 machine to screw them down. The 'animal' is not man enough for this job as the Jarrah sleepers are very hard.

Some of us are stronger than others, but everyone contributes.

Here is a pile of chair screws, each one having been gingerly dipped in the grease.

We noticed that afterwards the volunteer in question had scratched first one ear, then the other. The first ear had a lot of black grease on it as a result, the other ear a bit less...

We then had a visitor, or rather two. It was 37 215 with an eviscerated class 47 in tow.

The pair slowly trundled over the the A frame, where a number of refurbished cylinder heads were lifted into it.

There was a pile of these on pallets next to it. Quite interesting to see the sheer size of these. In an ordinary car such a cylinder head would cover the whole engine block, but with a big diesel loco it's just for a single piston, and there are 12 of them in this 2600Hp loco.

At 12.30 we repaired back to the nearby mess coach. It's really handy when it is parked so close to the job.

Time to have a cup of tea and consult the Formula 1 race results.

Mrs. B didn't bake a sponge cake for us this week, but to our delight a large Panetone emerged from Nigel's bag.

This cake is very airy, so you can have lots of slices of it..... lots and lots...

After lunch, a brief site discussion about where we go next.

Nigel is explaining to Stevie that one group will continue to secure the through road, while a second, smaller group will help him lift in the last remaining rails.

Before doing so, Stevie was asked to nudge the curved closure rail, as we weren't entirely happy with the curve it had at that point.

Then we went with Stevie to get the next length of rail from the pile beside the track.

Chris wrapped the chain around the end and then Stevie dragged it out of the undergrowth.

This straight or stock rail was destined for the Malvern side of the headshunt.

Things got a tad complicated then, as we had to start from this end, which needed to be level with the other rail end, hidden behind the green box. Once that was in place, we worked back towards the far end, where there was a gap. A gap filled with an offcut needs to be at least 15ft long, so we cut a bit off the long rail, to make the last bit fit the minimum length. Got that?

At regular intervals trains would interupt our activities, such as this DMU service, which had about 20 people in it. It also had a new catering counter in the centre car, which is a great idea.

After cutting the long rail to size, we also had to cut the short one (the minimum 15ft one) to size, which Chris is doing here.

The place where it is due to go is right in front of it.

This turnout is now really taking shape, it looks just about finished here (but it wasn't of course).

Then another train came by, this time from the Winchcombe direction. Strange, we recalled Foremarke Hall going out with it, but here is 2807 pulling it back.
But there's a tell-tale whisp of steam at the rear...

... and yes, here is Foremarke Hall at the other end. Perhaps 2807 wanted to go out for a canter? At least the passengers inside got the benefit of that.

Still while the first team were drilling and screwing down, the small second team started to lay in a second closure rail, this time on the Cotswolds side. This also had to be cut, the offcut being visible in the foreground.

Here it is, going into its allocated space in the area between the two turnouts.

Then Foremarke Hall came back, this time without 2807 in tow. Another pause in our work, everyone step back. We have acknowledged the driver's warning whistle, he replied and now he's cracked open the regulator a bit further.

The big advantage of the PWay gang is that, while you work outdoors anfd get freezing cold or wet, or hot and burned, you do get to see the trains, which is why we are all here.

The new 8 coach long trains take ages to rumble past, they are so long.

Meanwhile 2807 has returned to the yard, and fished out the class 73, in a sort of 'diesel replacement service'. Yes, with steam!

With all the rails now either laid in or even screwed down tight, the turnout might be tempting enough for someone to use it, which is not the idea. So we G clamped it in a safe position, leading to the headshunt.

As we loaded up the tools the turnout looked finished, It isn't of course, we need at least another week or two to do that. More rails need screwing down, it needs to be joined up to the headshunt, and it needs ballasting all round.

Seen from Stevie's JCB, the fruits of our labour over the last month. The yellow ferrules sticking out show where chair screws still need to be fitted, and of course the JCB is standing in the bit that will link the turnout to the headshunt behind the camera.
The whole turnout is now at the same height as the running line.

Some notes from Thursday and Friday.

Thursday was the second day of running with volunteers and larger shareholders, and for your blogger it was an opportunity to go lineside and take a few shots along the new extension. It felt amazing how trains were now running here. It seems not so long ago that you could walk from Broadway to Laverton through the trees, along a narrow footpath in the middle.

Here is an 8 coach train being hauled by 35006 P&O up the new extension, just north of the former Laverton loop. A public footpath follows this stream for a short while.

The weather was grey on Thursday, and the skies seemed wide open as this long train headed further up to Broadway. The extension is not easy to photograph as much of it is on an embankment, giving the camera too much sky to deal with.

Here is the same train coming back down again, this time captured at Little Buckland where the curve offers you a view of the front and side of the train. Our relatively modest speeds and the high wind that day blew the steam sideways. This area is not accessible to the public, although you can photograph the train from the road as it passes along the embankment here.

Friday saw our friends from the foundry arrive with a pallet of replica GWR 'BEWARE of TRAINS' signs in cast iron. This is the real deal, they are incredibly heavy, and a faithful copy of an original purchased from a supporter. Most of our current Beware of Trains notices are actually Midland designs, or Cambrian, and in fact along the GWSR these are the first GWR examples ever to be used.

Four are going to Broadway, and will be located at the 4 corners of the platforms where there are barrow crossings. Lengths of bullhead rail have already been positioned and cut to size there.

Four more have been bought by CRC.

This is the original from which the replicas were cast. We can cast more if there is a demand, from within the GWSR, or from other railways, in which case any profits will go towards other heritage items such as these. If you are interested, send an email to breva2011 (at)


  1. Many thanks for the news, and for the photos of trains going by. You have an excellent spot there for watching the trains !

    "The whole turnout is now at the same height as the running line." Now that is the piece of news I've been waiting to hear. I wondered how you would deal with the height difference. Oh yes, I understand the turnout is not finished yet. In fact, there's still a lot to do. I can see that. In fact, I think that now even I understand how to construct a turnout. You are a very good teacher !

    And thanks for all the photos. The "Refreshment Room" signs at Broadway seem a shade premature, but are a welcome sight !

    Again, thank you, and good luck with everything.

    Good luck with the rest of the job.


  2. It it is good to see that the new turnouts are progressing really well and that you have had sone reasonable weather, fingers crossed for next weekend though.

    Thank you for the photos, you really have a knack for finding some good photo spots. With eight carriage trains now it is always going to be difficult to get it all in one shot without looking far away. The cast iron signs will make a nice finishing touch to Broadway and enhance the heritage look of CRC.

  3. The turnout, (where did we ever get the word point from?), is coming along well.
    Excellent photos again, especially of P&O and the Western rake going to and from Broadway.
    The cast signs look really good.
    Regards, Paul.

  4. 2807 has just finished winter maintenance and so was probably doing some running in. I know it's been requested for next weekend as I understand something special's happening then! I shall give the place a wide berth until after Easter but I'm still pinching myself that I was able to travel on the train to and from Broadway that you photographed on Thursday. Agree with Blazey chap about the cast "Beware of Trains" signs, they look the biz.

  5. This is what 2807 was up to ...