Saturday 8 September 2018

A manpower issue

Not enough volunteers today, just 8. We were going to finish stone blowing at Manor Lane today, draw a line under that activity, but the low turnout prevented this.

Instead, we tidied up the yard to meet requests from C&W and the Usk project team.

C&W wanted access to the back siding behind the mess coach, so we fired up the Telehandler, moved the TB2s and trolleys out of the way, and shovelled back this pile of ballast.

While the Telehandler was out, why not clear up some stuff that had been unloaded, but not yet tidied away?
That went for a pile of fishplates here, and this interesting length of Brunel bridge rail, which will come in useful for authentic signage.

Those Telehandler forks also came in useful for removing this ancient sleeper left in the 4 foot of a siding.
It's ballast now - it comes from lightweight MOD type flatbottomed track, no good for future use with us.
Nigel tickled it out of its bed with the tips of the forks.

On the opposite side the little 03 shunter D2182 was at the head of a short freight train today. A line of restored wagons was being pulled out of the bay, to make room for the Santa coach and the Fruit D, recently restored, as backup.

Did you know D2182 used to stand in a childrens' playground in Leamington? What a tale to rescue that, and make it run again. It's been a faithful runner over the years, first with the PWay relaying team and more recently as the yard shunter for C&W.

In anticipation of slewing 50 yards of siding as part of the Usk shed relocation project, we cleared up the space next to the siding and removed a number of rubber pads that had been stored there.

We piled the pads on to a new pallet, ready for Nigel to take away, and to give access to this plastic stillage, which was also removed.
Trains kept on running today, and they still looked reasonably well filled too. Foremarke Hall and 2807 were out today.

In the afternoon we did a different little job, part of the snagging list for the new turnout at Toddington south.

Here we're fitting a better lifting fishplate, to give a smoother ride over the new joint.

We didn't have a jack with us, but never mind, some well fed gangers on bars were just as good.

Hurry up though, we're killing ourselves on these bars here.

While we weren't working on the running line, it was polite to stop and wave to passing trains. Technically that is 'acknowledging the warning whistle'.

We also fitted a set of insulated joints to the turnout. Here is one - brand new. The point motors are also still outstanding.


 The plucky little gang of fishplate greasers went out along the line.

We've now done Winchcombe to the viaduct, and the other way Winchcombe to the Gretton end of the tunnel. Depending on which bit we are doing, access may or may not be difficult. This time it was difficult, as the starting point was the southern mouth of the tunnel, virtually impossible to reach except by a long detour by road.

We put the trusty Landie on the rails.
You can see how much bigger the steam engines are, when you look at it here, in the mouth of the tunnel at the Winchcombe end. We had all the lights on, and even tooted before we entered it.
We then got swallowed by the whale.

At the Gretton end we found the last fishplate we did, and unloaded the TB2 using the on board crane. This was really handy, as we could put the heavy machine straight on to its trolley, behind the Landie.

Soon we were unbolting, greasing, bolting up again, here at the level of a famous pub. Once, in the early days, we planned to have a halt here, to allow passengers to get off and go straight to the Royal Oak pub.

It's up there, in the background. Try it, you get a lovely view of the passing trains from the garden.
We fishplate greased our way slowly round the bend, on to the long straight.
How disillusioning this must have been when they first laid the track back in the 1980s - that straight looks endless.
And so it is today for the little team greasing the fishplates.

As is our wont, we have our picnic lunch at the 'apogee' as it were, i.e. the point farthest from where we start, the place where we turn round and do the other side. Here we are at the distant signal, sitting on the trolley. It's a dry day,  but humid. At least it's not raining, out here in the wilds.
We were joined for half the day by John, who told one or two jokes. Or three. Or four.
Mrs. D's hazelnut cake remnants came out of the freezer and were lovely, although not when coated liberally with fishplate grease, as everything else was. John was amazed that it got onto his newly washed trousers in just a few minutes. What the.....? How the....?

At the end of the afternoon we arrived back at the tunnel, working down the Malvern side.
This is a very remote area, and very pleasant it is to be out here. To the left is a large cleared area, which we think carried a navvy camp during the construction of the line. It also gave the name to the nearest (very small) road: Working Lane.

Echos from the past.

Monday we're recovering some scrap rail from Stanton. That should put some pennies in the bank.

Earlier at Broadway

A trip to Broadway to fit the wooden feet to the new platform benches was frustrated by a complete blockage of the station drive.

We returned later in the day to ascertain the cause.

The modesty screen at the end of the building has been fitted. That's great, it was being assembled in the cafe kitchen and we need the space there.

The 4 new benches we are assembling for Broadway are in 1904 style, but somehow an interloper has arrived that is from the 1940s.

It has the later period shirt button seat ends.

The reason for the station approach blockage was a large crane, being used to cut down some of the 100 year old pine tress for which this line was well known.

At the end of the afternoon it was just packing up, after working from the adjacent field, to access trees to be felled on P2.

A total of 4 trees have been felled in the area of the footbridge, more along the drive.

The timber was piled at the bottom of the drive, from where it was collected by tractor.

The pile of timber by the garage workshop.

Footbridge steps

Work is going great guns here, with a record of 4 working days this week.

The steel cutting is pretty much finished, so now we are at the pre-assembly stage, with various different bits being bolted or welded on.

Cleats receiving a weld around 3 sides
Cleats fitted to stringers

Some of the cleats were manufactured from angle salvaged from the construction of the canopy. This had primer on it, which was removed with an angle grinder.

The bolt holes are for the rivets, but bolts will be used in the first instance to hold them together.

The angle cut to size for the roof of the steps also had supports welded on the ends to allow them to be riveted to the uprights.

An interesting arrival during the day was a pallet full of gusset plates.

These were cut to size by laser in a factory in Redditch.

Good to know there is a local supplier, the UK can still make stuff.

We were impressed by the neatness of the cuts. They were so fine that you could put two separated plates right back together, and you could hardly tell where the cut had been made.

Neal showed us where some of the gusset plates will go. This one will hold two stringers together. Lots of holes still have to be drilled by the mag drill before we can actually bolt / rivet something together yet though.

Here's the same gusset plate in its original location, in this instance on the HIA steps.

This gusset plate is for the top of the intermediate stair supports. They have already been made up and are standing to the left of the picture.

In this picture of the original Broadway bridge you can see the same trapezoid shape, and where it will go.

With several holidays coming up now, we won't be working 4 days a week for a couple of weeks now though. At our age we no longer have school age children, so we take our hols when the little brats go back.


  1. Lovely work as always, great to see the screens up it really does make the station look great, just to enquire, was there a particular reason why the pines had to go, I’d have thought they were protected considering their size but I do know that sometimes trees need to go due to safety or some other more important issue.

    J.Mitchell, blog reader!

    1. James,

      RE: "...was there a particular reason why the pines had to go, I’d have thought they were protected considering their size..."

      I am glad that I didn't have to 'sign off' for their destruction and for me personally, sad to see and read that trees have been felled...

  2. I believe that was indeed the case.

  3. The Railway made an application to Wychavon District Council in March, under reference TPOA/18/026 which is shown as approved on the Council's Planning Website. Unusually, there is no copy of the application or the report of the tree experts referred to in the approval summary on the website, which is probably an oversight by the Planning Dept.

    1. Peter,

      RE: "Unusually, there is no copy of the application or the report of the tree experts referred to in the approval summary on the website, which is probably an oversight by the Planning Dept."

      Perhaps one day we will get chance to read it and FULLY understand why this decision has been made...

    2. Mark, I'm sure if you are so eager to understand in full you could approach council and ask for a copy of the paperwork or even drop the board an email.

      To get any tree removed (or worked on) which is subject to a Tree Preservation Order is a robust process which can take time to complete in full. I am therefore confident the railway would not have acted in this way without due concern.


    3. Graham,
      My comment was in response to the observation by Peter Lee;

      "Unusually, there is no copy of the application or the report of the tree experts referred to in the approval summary on the website, which is probably an oversight by the Planning Dept."

      With regards to your observation;

      “Mark, I'm sure if you are so eager to understand in full you could approach council and ask for a copy of the paperwork or even drop the board an email.”

      Surely it would be better for this to be made publicly available to everybody, I certainly DON’T want special treatment, so that ONLY a select few should know the facts…

      I will wait patiently instead!


  4. Jo,

    Enjoyed reading this report on the PWay activities. The photographs of the sidings I found intriguing, especially with the old sleepers still 'in situ' and with over growth around.

    Putting the 'landie' on the rails, going through the tunnel on a steaming day seemed perilous, but you 'guys and gals' know your job.

    Great to read about the ongoing work. Is there any plans to change the name of your 'blog' from 'Extension Blog', to;
    [1] GWSR Permanent Way, or
    [2] GWSR PWay. reflect the 'team effort' on the whole GWSR network?

    [3] GWSR Network PWay Squad!

    Just asking Jo!!

    1. 'A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet'.

      The blog covered several days (I'm not writing a blog entry for every day I'm on the railway, sorry) and the trip through the tunnel was on a non-running day, and even then we make sure we inform the ops dept.

      There will be bit more about the siding in the next Heritage Herald issue.

  5. I can remember the rusting wreck of the little D2182 hunter being on Newbold Common in Leamington Spa, it was climbed on by children and me, never thought in a million years it would be working again, but nice to know. It's appreciated to know the progress on the footbridge construction.

    1. Newbold Comyn....

      But wasn.t it a Peckett steam loco in Newbold and the diesel shunter in Victoria Park?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Loco history D2182 post BR

      To A.R.Adams Loco Hire 11/68.
      To NCB Coal Products Division Carephilly Tar Works, To Linsey Parkinson Co. 02.69 to 06.72.
      Sold to Lindley Plant Gatewen Disposal Point Denbigshire 09.73.
      To NCBOE Bennerley Derbyshire 1981.
      To Wentworth Stores 18.03.82 back to Bennerley 06.05.83.
      To Coalfields Farm Disposal Point Hugglescote Leicestershire 07.83 (never used).
      To Warwick District Council Leamington Spa 20.04.86. Victoria Park
      To Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Rly 11.01.93

  6. Peace and quiet in the countryside is wonderful at any time of year, but quite magical in Autumn!
    The Broadway update is appreciated as always, especially the update on the footbridge steps.
    Regards, Paul.

  7. How about planting some small replacement pines, so the GWR station look will continue over time?


    1. Noel,

      RE: “How about planting some small replacement pines, so the GWR station look will continue over time?”

      That does sound like a great idea.

      In fact, what about along the whole embankment, up to the fencing, at the end of the double track?

    2. Mr Baker, I'm sure is was a diesel engine at Newbold Common, can remember it disappearing ans wondered what happened to it. I didn't know about the engine at Victoria Park.

  8. After a bit of research the only engine being at Victoria Park Leamington Spa I can find is a 8 ton C class steam roller, built by Aveling & Porter Ltd of Rochester, which now is restored and used in Cheshire steam rallies. The steam roller was supplied new to the Royal Borough of Leamington Spa in June 1924, this was one of two owned by the borough, the other being manufactured by John Fowler & Co of Leeds.

    1. Google Victoria Park Leamington, Images, and scroll well down.