Saturday 3 November 2018

Foot crossing at Broadway, and heading north?

Ten volunteers met this morning, and split into two gangs for the following:

Gang 1 went to Toddington with Landie 1 to fit new insulated fishplates south of the platforms, and

Gang 2 went to Broadway to replace a number of lifting fishplates with ones that were more accurate, after a season of operation.

In Gang 2 there were 3 of us in the new Landie.... it was very snug. Very. Luckily we were good friends, and Bert's gropes for our knees in the vicinity of fourth gear were interpreted most generously.

As the new car park entrance isn't finished yet we took the long way round to Broadway south, entering the track at Little Buckland and driving up.

We're not sure if these have appeared on the S&T blog yet, but there are 3 additional signal posts (S&T can never have enough signal posts) still waiting to be planted in the approaches to our new station.

This one is just north of Pry Lane bridge, and

this one just north of Childswickham Road bridge.

We'd like to say they were the outer home and advanced starter, but won't - GWR signal parlance, like its gauge and so many other things, was a case apart.

You can also see some of that troughing, removed from P2 (320 lengths still to go!) laid out and ready to be installed.

We screeched to a stop at the southern turnout and found our targets - a number of loose or missing clips in and around the turnout, and some 'lifters' that need replacing with others, like this one. When the track was laid last year we used new rail and standard fishplates, but in the station area some second hand material was used to save cash, and to join up such rails you need fishplates that allow for the different rates of wear. Sometimes, as here, our measurements didn't get it quite right and we needed a plate with a higher lift for example. We are talking about tiny differences like 1/16th inch, but they do stop the wheel hopping from one rail to the next and leaving a gap of an inch on top.

We changed some plates and replaced quite a few clips - they wriggle out, hard to believe - and here at Pry Lane the track walker had found a missing nut on a bolt securing the 'breather'.

The Cockney in your blogger wants to say 'eavvy breaver' to this rail expansion joint, an inclination that is hard to shake off, even a year later. You just are who you are, it seems.

Back to the mess coach to eat our lunch, where we found Dave who was doing a good deed - replenishing the hydraulic oil in our bottle jacks and testing them. Well done Dave, you have earned all our gratitude, and perhaps even an extra helping of Mrs B's home made cake in a moment.

Gang 1 at Toddington also came back and replenished their stock of insulated fishplates, which are particularly heavy. Ade managed this one quite well, although one anonymous poser carried two, one on each shoulder !

After lunch both gangs returned to their respective work sites, although for the one at Broadway it was now a measuring excercise. Tim and Bert here are standing on the site of the future southern barrow crossing, one of the many things on the list of things still left to do at Broadway. Remember, it was 'get that station open and start that cash flow' but the list of jobs to do is still there.

We enjoyed mostly lovely sunshine today, but mid afternoon clouds started to mass on the horizon. Here Tim and Bert prepare to measure the first of 4 panels of track.

We had a specialist gauge which enabled you to measure the exact rate of wear on each rail used. As we need to move these rails around a bit, it is important that we match them, or else find appropriate lifter fishplates for them.

After adjusting the little wheel the gauge comes up with a reading in millimetres.

Bert then wrote it all down in a scratch drawing of the site, so that we know what is what and where.
To get the rubber pads of the crossing in, we need to have FB rail and the correct sleepers here, and the current layout does not quite meet that requirement. Things need to move around a bit, preferably without a train every 5 minutes.

Tim has a go, and doesn't get the same reading. Hence the knowing smile from Bert, who can do this in his sleep.

This view shows the site of the future barrow crossing at the south end, between Tim and Bert, and the bracket signal.

When back in the mess coach as a group, we reflected on this day a year ago, Saturday 4th November 2017. We couldn't get our mind round the fact that on that day we were laying track through the station, an yet now a year later the track is in, declared fit for running, and we have already had a record season behind us.

This is us, 364 days ago.
We're laying track under the footbridge.

Where did time go? Surely it was much longer ago than that?

This is Broadway on Saturday, November 3rd 2018. An immaculate historic station, built to such a degree of loving accuracy that two parts of it have been promoted to the finals of the 2018 National Rail Heritage awards. We're talking about the authentic riveted canopy, and the 2 crowd barriers in the booking office. We haven't won a prize yet, but might well do. Fingers crossed, and thank you for your support. You made it possible!

The sun set behind the looming clouds, and Landie 2 with its little crew bounced back along the trackbed to Little Buckland

At Toddington we found Gang 1 just completing the last of the insulated fishplates for today.

Leaving Broadway, we also saw that the contractors have completed their share of the car park job, and have vacated the site for the second contractor, who will complete the bellmouths. (and no doubt complete the electrical installation, ticketing etc.)

The date of departure coincided with the date of arrival of the same contractor at the site of the aqueduct. Work started on November 1st and the Bridges Blog should be able to post some pictures of that when it gets interesting.

This is a view from the inside, showing the first few (disabled?) parking bays, and the permeable road surface used. The height of the barrier is 2.05m, so measure your 4x4 now.... and take down that wardrobe from your mother's house.

Meanwhile, in the yard at Toddington....

 ... the ballast regulator was being loaded by Allelys. It's B&R's machine of course, so no doubt it will be going off to a job somewhere.

In the loco shed, the riveting team was back in action, with more - riveting. Well, it's what we do.

The intermediate landing supports have been laid out - inside out we are asked to say, before we get an 'I think you'll find' comment - and connected back to back with cross braces. This arrangement allows the 'Jammer' to prop itself against the other one when we rivet from the outside.

There were five of us today, with John 'on heat' and here Tom is joining up the air supply to the Jammer, held by Baz. Neal keeps an eye on things.

Tom was rivet runner again, and in this picture he has just popped one into its hole and is giving it a few taps to seat it home.

Heating the rivets is not a simple job. Well holding the torch is, but there is more to it than that, such as guessing the correct temperature that makes a rivet ready for collection.

If you overcook it, it goes crusty, and then it won't fit the hole.

We've made it a little grill here, out of old bricks.

It's also an idea to prepare a second one, while you heat the first to the peak of its performance.

The second can then warm up, saving time and precious gas.

After a shout of 'READY' from John, Tom grabs a rivet and comes bowling round the corner, red hot rivet leading. You'd better not stand in the way.

It was great to see how much more coordinated and efficient we became as the day proceeded.

While passing through the loco shed on the way to you know where, we came across this large lump of iron in front of 3850. Your blogger has seen numerous steamers on many different railways, but never a lump like this. What is it?

Enquiries made, perhaps also on the part of the readership, revealed that it was a sand box annex cylinder block support. It sits behind the two cylinders, attached to the two frames.

Underneath the two actuators left and right are voids filled with sand, see also the lids attached with chains. But the centre part is not hollow, quite the contrary. It is a massive solid block, and weighs in at around three tons. It took ages to get out, but there it is. What a thorough overhaul for this interesting locomotive.

Its removal also revealed what was suspected in that the rear of the LH cylinder is also cracked. You can see it running top to bottom just to the left of the central row of bolts. A replacement casting has already been made, and is awaiting machining. So it's nothing worrying, but very interesting, and the loco is in good hands.

We did two landing supports in the morning, before breaking for lunch. They had 21 rivets to do each, so that's 42 rivets done.

In this picture Baz is reaming out more of the holes. They have to be a bit bigger than for the bolts as the rivets swell up, and we can't have them catching on the second of the two plates we are attaching together. Sometimes there is a lip; we test for this with a rivet.

A cold one, of course.

All the holes on this side are now free, John is heating up the next batch, Tom is ready to pounce with the nips and here Neal is all dressed up and ready to go with the gun.

It's just a short burp, and it's all done. So quick.

Sometimes it happens that a rivet doesn't come out right, like this one. It's not the tight fit it's meant to be. The reason could be, as in this case, that there was a lip of weld behind the head, or else that the Jammer was prevented from pushing it home by another rivet or an edge of something.

In that case, all you can do is remove the rivet again and redo the job. It has to be perfect.

On the left is a row of perfectly executed rivets. Today we did all the ones in the trapezium here, four times. That makes 84 rivets done, not counting two that we did again.

On the right Neal is cutting off the head of one little miscreant.

Then it's time to drive him out with a large hammer and a drift.

Or an even bigger hammer. But neither did the trick. Although the rivet wasn't seated properly, it was in tight. What now?

Neal knew the answer - get the rivet gun on it, in reverse.

You can see John holding an old bolt into the rivet hole from above.

Then Neal jumped on it with the rivet gun, and RAT-A-TAT-A-TAT the miscreant rivet was out! Simples really.

It was the top one in this picture.

Getting that tightly wedged rivet out finally put a big grin on John's face.

All that was left to do was put a new rivet in again. Here it is just appearing at the business end. This is the bit that Neal will flatten out with the round headed gun.

Restoration of the rest of the Honeybourne line.

As you will know, after the extreme labour of completing our 3 mile extension to Broadway and construction (most of) the station from scratch, we have declared a breathing pause for the next few years.
Nonetheless we need to keep a wary eye on what is happening further north along our line, and something that raises concern has cropped up on the Stratford planning portal:

The two planning applications are: 18/01892/OUT & 18/01883/FUL. They concern the construction of 3100 houses on the former Long Marston airfield, and a (section of) new road skirting the south of Stratford.

It has always been the long-term aspiration of the GWSR to see reinstated as much as possible of the rail corridor between Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham. The two new planning applications pending before Stratford-Upon-Avon District Council however could, if approved, adversely affect any reinstatement of the railway between Long Marston and Stratford.  That's not good.

It's very difficult to get all the facts together, and the essential parts are certainly not revealed in the two planning applications.

Have a read of this Rail Magazine article a year ago:

It seems to back up what we have heard from other sources that when the plans to construct 3100 houses on the airfield were initially announced, the developer agreed to put £17m section 106 funds towards the rebuilding of the commercial rail link between Stratford and the Long Marston development. (there is a second already under way, called Meon Vale, also adjacent to the former rail line, with other major housing growth at Honeybourne itself)

With the current planning application, and now as per the developer's own website, this section 106 money is now being switched to the new road. No explanation is given.

What we see is the withdrawal of the financial support for the rail link, in favour of a partial road link. This is what the two applications signify for the GWSR.

Please also do your own research, but if the withdrawal of the £17m for the reinstatement of the rail link is also of concern to you, then make this known to Stratford on Avon District council by objecting to the two applications. You can do this with a simple email to:

Please give this some thought, as it very negatively affects the long term future of our rail corridor. Building more roads is no longer of our time, particularly to provide mobility to two very large housing projects right next to a former railway line that led directly to Birmingham.


  1. Great blog Jo. I may be wrong but if I recall the rail link was investigated by SDC but WCC as transport authority did not back this and it is not included within the infrastructure delivery plan for Stratford. The best thing to do is ask the case officer for the application who will be able to explain this.
    I have personally asked the case officer for clarification but I am yet to receive a response.
    If this is the case then really the time we should have engaged was during the work to approve the infrastructure delivery plan.

  2. Please note that a zero was omitted from one of the application reference numbers, which should correctly read 18/01892/OUT & 18/01883/FUL.

    The blog text has been amended.

  3. Sad to see a height bar going in on the car park. Campervans not welcome then? Please at least make sure it is signposted in advance.

    1. Remember it's not our car park and we have no influence over what is built.

    2. As a substantial local business of course you have a voice with your own council. They are supposed to be public servants not masters.

  4. Re-Signal naming. GWR and BR(WR) policy was that anything in rear(i.e. approaching) a signal box was a Home Signal and anything in advance (i.e. beyond) was a Starting Signal. The first Stop signal after the Distant was always called the 'Home', subsequent signals as far as the box being 'Intermediate Home' (if there was one), then 'Inner Home' Note that there was no such thing as an 'Outer Home' on the Western!

    Starting Signals, commencing from the box, were 'Starting' 'Advanced Starting' and occasionally 'Outer Advanced Starting'

    Hope that makes things clear!

  5. I was just looking at Google Maps, planning a visit next year, and noticed that the satellite images have been updated to show the extension being constructed. I'd imagine that you can work out the date when the satellite was overhead from where the rail-head is? You can certainly work out the time because the Land Rover is clearly heading for the mess coach at Meadow Lane :)

    1. My best guess (merely from reading the blog and looking at the imagery) would be April 8th 2017, probably around lunch time due to the lack of "orange army" on the track, the convoy heading towards the mess coach and the absence of any sign of the bonfire they lit later on. You can also see the tracked tractor mentioned in the blog for the day. See

  6. Why do we need barrow crossings at both ends of Broadway?

  7. After all the excitement of Broadway opening it seems strange that the line is on shutdown already, where does the time go? In answer to the above, a barrow crossing is needed at both ends not only to facilitate disabled needs but to bring the station back to it's full former glory as it was. (Well this is my interpretation anyway!)Thank you Jo for another informative blog report, I only managed to get to the line once this year due to unforeseen circumstances so your blog reports are the only way we can see what is going on and happening. More reports would be great but we know your time is precious so even if they are just captioned pictures that would be very good!
    Again thanks for the reports and here's to next years running season being even better than this year as word gets out about the "Cotswolds Smiling Line" great experience to go and see, hear and smell and take part in!
    Paul & Marion.

    1. M o r e blog reports? You must be kidding, Paul! I already do 2 a week, and write 2 more on behalf of other departments. I think Mrs. Blogger would have something to say if I didn't make an appearance at home from time to time.

  8. It came as a real surprise to me that any residential developer would want to contribute considerable finance towards the reinstatement of a portion of former rail route. Was this an altruistic move or was it done purely out of further vision as to the way things might develop?
    Pity then that a road got priority.

  9. It's a legal obligation:

  10. If we're having two Barrow Crossings, would it be possible to have one (probably the southern one) as a traditional wooden one? I appreciate the rubber ones are far more convenient, but they stick out like a sore thumb, far more than a security camera or PVC plug sockets. The SVR for example seem to manage with wooden barrow crossings - at Hampton Loade for example it's the only way of crossing and there are no problems.

  11. Re: the planning applications and the Stratford - Honeybourne Rail Link being quietly dropped. Jo's link takes you to Page 2 of the Rail article, don't miss out on pages 1 & 3 as they're equally worth reading. The final sentence of the article "RAIL is happy to lend its voice to promote such a worthy reinstatement scheme that is indeed a ‘no-brainer‘." says it all really.

    If anyone needs further convincing then the map on the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group's website makes the vast improvement in the rail links possible abundantly clear. They also issued a press release on 5/11/2018 saying that they're calling on the Secretary of State to call in both planning applications for review because of the failure to properly address sustainable transport links to them. The full text is here

    All to the good as the current government seems to be taking more notice of people power than ever before. An example being the Chancellor's announcement as part of the budget that the Treasury would make a charitable donation equal to the VAT they receive from sales of WW1 commemorative items - £3m.

    1. An excellent contribution - thank you !

      The failure to address sustainable transport links for a brand new, huge housing project is particularly significant.
      Who still builds more roads today? It's old hat. The railway line is right there!

    2. Agreed. I thought that whole mindset had a gone out with the 1980s!

    3. Many thanks for your kind words Jo!

      Not being local means I've had to look through the planning applications for a map etc. to get some idea of what's being suggested - as usual 100's of pages of waffle in which hide the really important stuff (or hide leaving it out altogether!).

      Even without knowing the area the relief road they're suggesting is just going to move the congestion by a few miles and that's without the extra traffic generated by the developments being factored in; it's been proved 1000's of times across the country. It's like watching others scream after 'shooting themselves in the foot' time and time again and then complaining about it being painful when you do it yourself.

      Public transport's the way to go. Even in London & the South East the message has finally got through with Thameslink, Cross Rail and Thameslink 2 starting to make huge differences or expected to - seriously large amounts of money but the only real solution; although their case has probably been helped by not having lovely green fields available to slap a road over!

      People power really counts in 2018 - locally the council were looking to build a large Marks & Spencer on one of their car parks. That provoked enough vocal opposition in the village concerned for them to "revisit the proposal" and it seems to have been have been quietly dropped.

      The Section 106 money from these developments would significantly reduce the cost of re-instating the link if not fund it entirely. It's the only option that makes any sense.

  12. Hi Jo, I have submitted my 778-word objection to both planning applications and now have Stratford DC's official acknowledgement of receipt. I hope my humble contribution helps the cause. Regards, Richard

  13. Well from the comments it seems that people power can shift (Warwickshire) mindsets, so everyone please make your views known on the two planning applications, and in particular to the moving of the section 106 monies from rail to road.

    Don't leave it to someone else, your vote can make the difference.

  14. Brilliant, thanks.
    Together, we are strong !

  15. I still get frustrated when I read “former” airfield in their documents. There’s nothing former about it, it was specifically closed to build the houses. Massive loss to the area, bringing many jobs due to the events. For example 2 local B&Bs have already gone.