Sunday 25 November 2018

Graffiti special

Two volunteers set out to have a go at removing the graffiti painted on to our bridge parapets last summer. Our Santa Special month is nearly upon us, and we don't really want the passengers to see the offensive language sprayed along our bridges.

Graffiti removal is a new experience for us, so today's mission was a bit of a test case to see which method worked at all, or worked best.

As we started at Gretton, a charity Santa Special e.c.s. passed us on its way to CRC. We may be in the off season, but that doesn't mean no trains.

We had a motorised power washer with us.

Although it took limestone off a concrete floor in a test off site, we were surprised to learn that it did not take paint off bricks. It also quickly drained our supply of water, albeit that we had 8 of these jerrycans with us. We came prepared.

We had a spray can of graffiti removal solution - did you see that at work on the Paddington documentary? - and a small jerrycan of it.

The spray can treated one parapet, but again the power washer was unable to remove the result.

We then tried the next option, which was removal by an electric drill fitted with a wire brush. That did the trick!

A follow up with the power washer did not improve the look a great deal, so we decided to stop after the rotary brushing treatment, which largely flung off the undesirable bits.

Here's one we did earlier. There are still traces of red paint here and there, but whatever there was is now certainly illegible, and looks pretty cleaned up actually, we felt.

David here is removing the letters one by one, with some success.

We think they were applied during the summer holidays. More graffiti in the same style appeared in May next to the new estate at Bishops Cleeve, which is where we guess the culprit is located.

After a while 2807 returned, this time with a train load of happy children (we hope). The destination was Santa's grotto in Winchcombe. Actually, make that 'North Pole'.

Next, the lineside cabinet, equipped by our teenage varmint with what looked like a pair of scissors. A test with a rotary sander was a failure; it was too rough and shined up the metal underneath. Your blogger later returned with a tin of grey primer, which did the trick.

One neater lineside cabinet then. On to the next item.

David came with an impressively equipped van, which had everything in it you might wish to need. It was fitted with extra knobbly tyres, and coped admirably with our somewhat overgrown trackside roadway.

The nearest point to the new housing estate at Bishops Cleeve is this underbridge. The abutments are completely covered in graffiti, so much that removal in the way we did it today was not really on. We concentrated on the top side, which is visible to our passengers.

The abutments beneath are probably best painted over. They have also been protected now by a strong anti vandal fence, which also makes access to the trackside more difficult from there.

Happily our teenage varmint signed and dated his scrawls - anyone know who he is?

This too has now been removed by us, so our beautiful line is now clean again, until perhaps the next summer holidays.

And now back to what we are here for - steam trains ! 2807 is bringing the happy children back to their starting point at CRC.

2807 has shut off steam for the speed restriction through Bishops Cleeve station area.


  1. I can never understand why people paint over graffiti like that - it's barely an improvement! Paint the whole thing or at least make a neat rectangle!

    1. If the work is not up to your standard you could always volunteer and do better.

    2. Being 400 miles away makes that rather difficult. The point is why go to all the effort of getting the paint etc. to the location then waste all that effort for the sake of a few extra brush strokes? As it is the result is hardly any better than the graffiti when it could so easily be done properly.

  2. A big well done for what must have been a pretty soul-destroying job.


  3. That first wall completed looks really good from the photo. It just looks like different bricks and baking times for them.

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  5. Have you considered using a grit blaster? This would also come in useful for removing rust etc during restoration work on locos and rolling stock.

  6. Contact the Bluebell Railway probably Ex Chairman Roy Watts. Their Brick viaduct into East Grinstead was covered in Graffiti and cleasned up with an Australian designed solutoion

    On Wednesday 18th January 2006, Graffiti Removal Limited with support from East Grinstead Town Council removed the graffiti from Hill Place viaduct. The process used employs proprietary chemicals that are non-toxic, environmentally friendly and are neutralised by the water used to wash the treated surface. The task was completed in about six hours

  7. This just drains the funds away from what the line is here for! Maybe before the next holidays some simple signs "SMILE YOU'RE NOW ON HIDDEN CAMERAS THAT TRACK YOU!" This might be enough to detour them! Well done with your efforts though, don't be dismayed with what you have achieved, all your efforts are appreciated.
    Paul & Marion.

    1. Nothing will deter these muppets. We will just have to live with it.

    2. No, we don't. I have successfully dealt with this issue in the past. But it requires short term effort - it is necessary to remove or overpaint it (properly)as soon as it appears.
      I kept solvents for felt pen and tins of the various paint colours used around the common areas of the building, when I came back from work in the early hours of the morning I dealt with anything which had appeared. The effect was that there was no point in graffiti in that particular location as no one ever saw it, so after a while they gave up doing it.

  8. There are anti graffiti coatings available from Amazon UK.

  9. J.L.S. are a pop band, so my guess is that this is J.L.S. with a kiss (x) on the end. So you're looking for a J.L.S. fan on the new Bishop's Cleeve housing estate. That'll narrow it down to two then!

    1. The letter J does seem to feature, as he did another scrawl at Gretton 'J+I'.

      It would be nice if people would post comments with their names, rather than 'Unknown' and 'Anonymous'. Don't be shy :-)

  10. A few years ago we had a big problem with this in Perth the council decided enough was enough and organised a squad to remove it if its gone within a couple of days these morons soon gave up and we no longer have any on our streets Bernard Newman

    1. Exactly. The longer it is left the more that appears as the impression is that no one cares. Prompt removal sends the message that someone is watching and taking notice which means a higher risk of getting caught.

  11. I had a similar problem in a block of flats where I lived.
    definitely keep on top of it.
    In my case the yobs were using felt pens on white painted surface, twice I cleaned off as much as possible and re-painted after second time when paint was dry I coated the paint in clear silicone grease. The next day yob came back and tried to tag the wall again but you could see where he had started then found his pen ruined with the grease and tried scribbling on the wall to no avail. All I did was wipe the ink off with paper towel. Yob never tried again and I would guess his pen was ruined so stopped his antics.