Saturday 20 April 2019

Dagger bored

Friday at Broadway

Too cold was it, for you? Now it's too hot! Twenty two degrees on Friday, and an unrelenting sun for those working up on the scaffolding.

The day started well for the station, as there were two buses outside and our 'Auntie Wainwright' bric-a-brac shop did good business. Anything you buy there goes straight into making Broadway even better. People get off the coach, wait for the train, and browse. Or get a cup of tea and a bun.

Foremarke Hall duly arrived with its long train, and rumbled by our mess hut. If you're a volunteer on the railway, you get the best views. Reason enough to join up, isn't it?

The Hall then trundled past the signal post (still with its cross on) and ran round its train, while we sorted out our tools for the day.

Only Neal spent much time on the scaffolding today, the other two members of the canopy gang were down by the containers scratching their heads over the manufacture of the dagger boards.
There are an awful lot of them to make....

They're being cut out of lengths of T&G which is being primed and undercoated beforehand. A little painting studio was set up on P2, which included the painting of some box section steel which is due to form part of the new the gate for the B&B.

'I'll do you a little drawing, it's like this: '
So what do all these dagger boards look like, Neal? There are 4 different kinds on the slopes, and another 4 sorts on the level bit, the intermediate landing. That makes 8! The grooves can go this way or that, also the tongues, and don't forget that the groove on the board is slightly off-set from the centre. Got that?

Neal's job today was to mount the final board along the roof of the steps. He did that too, and now they are all on.

He's also been giving some thought on how to bend the corrugated iron to allow for the break in the downhill slopes caused by the intermediate landing. We're not quite there yet though.

Here he is sawing the last timber to size, to fit the other two leading up.

Meanwhile the cafe hosted intermittent streams of visitors, and had a very scrumptious selection of cakes out on display. Do come and try them.

A small improvement to the feel of the room was noted with the change in (most of) the switches and sockets to a 'Bakelite' version.

This is much more authentic than the refrigerator white we had before.

The finish is a tricky choice of course, because originally these rooms would have been lit by oil lamps, and we can't reproduce that. So Bakelite switches is the nearest thing, in terms of the period chosen.

The second train of the day was headed by 2807, a magnificent heavy freight locomotive, just right for this long rake of coaches which nearly disappears out of sight in this picture.

In the afternoon you can get a fair shot of the building from P2, and it occurred to us to see if we could compare it to the 1904 picture taken from the same spot.

How about this:

Broadway 2019

Broadway 1904

What do you think? It does strike you how our new building is indeed 50% longer, due to all the extra toilets we had to accommodate. Also, our V boards are smaller, but that is dictated by the originals we found, the size of the doors over which they go, and the texts which they carry. All these things have changed.

Of course the P2 building still has to be built. We are thinking about that.

It would be nice to set this photograph up more carefully, and get people in similar period dress, and that bicycle up against the fence.

At the moment our footbridge is still in the throes of construction, it will be like that for (most of) the rest of the season no doubt. A few details on the main building are still to come, not forgetting the canopy overhang at the far end. That's for the next closed season.

Friday's last picture is of the DMU coming in at 16.06.  The hoped for glint shot of the last incoming train at 17.06 didn't work - the sun is still too high, too fierce. Maybe one day we will have an evening train, then the orange glint will be there.

Saturday out along the line in the Cotswolds

Another beautiful day.

Other people thought so too, they were up in this hot air balloon over the Cotswolds edge. What a lovely drive to work! It sure beats the one hour commute to do 10km in Brussels your blogger used to have.

Past Broadway upper High Street, very quiet this time of the morning. This is the old A44, believe it or not. It used to get steeper and steeper and go up Fish Hill in the background. In the late 1990s Broadway was relieved of the A44 through traffic by means of the bypass. Now the upper High Street is a dead end, free of shops and tourists, and very tranquil.

There was that balloon again, now hovering over Broadway. How did they manage that?

This lovely row of houses is one of the reasons people take our trains and get off at our new station.

But yeah, we did have some work to do.

Last week, on a commercial train 'just testing the track' using our free travel and some refreshments, we noticed quite a dip where we dug out a wet bed earlier in the year. You can see the sleepers have been pumping with the whiteness on top. This needs packing; the ballast we put in has consolidated.

Bert Ferrule had some speed restriction signs made up, and using one of the two new barrows we have had, he ferried out a concrete block and one of the two new signs.

The barrows are brilliant, after the feeble ones we were given to build the wall at CRC. These are sturdy, and have puncture proof tyres, a godsend with all this bramble about.

At first we have to determine the scale of the problem, and put some pan jacks under.

It's done with en eyeball, our tamper is only a rented one, and it's not here.

There were just 9 of us today, a disappointingly small gang. We may have stopped building extensions for a while, but we still need you. If you are at all interested in joining us, you would be very welcome. Fresh air, bonhommie and cakes guaranteed. We have quite a few retired people in the department, although all the people in this picture also have full time jobs, so come on Saturdays.

David and Tim start packing the voids under the lifted sleepers with Kango hammers, powered by the gennie in the shade of the Landie.

Soon after, the Cotswolds Express steamed by with the first load of passengers out of CRC in the distance. It's an express, so does not stop at Hayles Abbey halt or Gotherington.

Although it wasn't standing room only exactly, we could see that the train was pleasingly filled.

We wave.

In the other direction came the DMU. Today being Easter Saturday we had our busy red timetable - two steamers and a DMU.

Even the DMU had quite a few people in it.

Working these Kangos looks easy - they are electric after all - but in fact it's pretty hard work. We take it in turns to do a few sleepers each, then give someone else a chance.

Here it's Dave and Bert Ferrule.

With two people on the Kango hammers, here on the other side, the others gather round to dig out next to the sleepers, or indeed fill them in again when the packing crew have passed.

While waiting for trains, we amuse ourselves with selfies.

Here are the three wise monkeys. The fourth monkey (there are in fact 4 monkeys in some variants of the story) took the picture.

Under a new rulebook we have, we now spend quite a bit of time waiting, so what to do? The new wheelbarrow certainly comes in handy, as 2807 with an Easter Eggspress approaches from Southam Lane bridge.

Finally it's lunch time. It was a bit later today, as we wanted to finish the packing job at Southam, didn't want to have to come back again after lunch just for a short spell.

Cake this time was provided by Diana, and it was huge! It had a special cream filling and had to be kept in the fridge while we worked.

Steve has the task of cutting it into slices.
We munched our sandwiches, drank the tea and each had a slice of cake. However, there were 10 slices and only 9 of us. What to do?

Dave, back from a track inspection walk that lasted all morning, came to the rescue.

Dave is well known for dealing with left over cake, so our hopes were high.

Two slices ought to do the trick.

Two slices, yes, but there was also the extra filling that had to be dealt with.

We understand that it found favour. Only one (large) slice left now, so we really need one or two extra volunteers.

In the afternoon we set out along the line to deal with 3 broken fishplates that Dave had reported. Dave certainly has a knack for spotting these, but he also has one of the oldest sections to deal with, with quite a few dipped joints in it.

This is the jobbie, it has a crack running in the traditional manner, from the bottom almost to the top.

As we wait for another train to arrive, we have a chat about how to deal with the broken plate.

We're at Gotherington Skew bridge here, with Three Arches bridge in the background.

The second fishplate was at Stanley Pontlarge, a bit further along, and this one was in a worse state, being broken right through.

Steve is holding the bits, as Bert Ferrule prepares to fit the new plate.

The third was nearer Gretton, as the Easter Eggspress went by at quite a trot, on this long, straight stretch of our line.

Some of us took a trip on the last train south, just to 'test the track' from the comfort of the buffet coach, while others went straight home, to wash off the dust and deal with the sunburn.

It was a great day though. Spring is here at last.


  1. Railway Heaven? Most informative blog (again) thanks.

    Powli Wilson

  2. Some great scenic shots and those of the station really complement the blog, thanks Jo.


  3. Best heritage railway blog,by a street,marvellous!

  4. A really informative blog, thanks, the pictures of the past and present show the fantastic job done in re- creating Broadway, interesting to note that the original platforms were partly in wood.

    1. The picture, undated, is a very early one, within a year of opening. At the far end of P2 you can see the first signal cabin, in use only during the period the first trains terminated at Broadway while the rest of the line was built.

      During this period the embankments were still settling and as the south end of the Broadway platforms is made up ground the early platforms were made of wood at this end. Later the were replaced by traditional brick and slabs. When we rebuilt platform 2 we found the return from the original platform, visible in the picture.

    2. Thank you Jo, makes perfect sense. Best wishes


  5. Brilliant blog - much appreciated by another OAP-Way slave. Wish we had such journalistic talent (and cake) at our place!

    1. This 'talent' comes from a former life, writing loan applications for major corporates.

      Now those were fairy tales..... :-)

  6. I am sort of surprised that Neal is thinking of bending the corrugated sheets. I expected the upoer sheets to simply overlap the horizontal ones at the "upper" end and in turn overlap the lower sloping sheets at the "lower" end. Maybe with a slight fall on the horizontal to encourage the rain to drain properly. Anyway I shall be watching how it's done with great interest!

  7. Peter We have a photograph of the cripple bend that was originally used to make a waterproof joint at the landing. When the Henley bridge was re roofed lead flashings were used at both joints on the landings

  8. Thanks Neal. I expected that you'd have some evidence!