Saturday 18 November 2017

Through, and out of the station

A surprise visitor was found this morning in the car park at Toddington:

It's newly arrived 5526, a visitor from the South Devon Railway. What a classic branch line engine, such elegance. She was built way back in 1928, and has now done more than a million miles in traffic.

After inspecting the visitor, we had tea and biscuits, and then set off for Broadway.

Here Steve was already on site and busy dragging up rails for us.

We had quite a few sleepers left from last time (without rails laid in) so the first job was to do just that.

The weather was pretty awful today. No one seemed to anticipate it, but we had a steady and very wet drizzle that lasted all day, without let up. We got soaked.

We alternated the laying in of rails, first with the Malvern side and then on to the Cotswolds. In this picture we are laying the last panel in front of the station building - soon we will be through.

The rain got so bad that one unnamed gang member even got out an umbrella. Well, the Broadway gang was working indoors, so why not us? You can't do much track laying while holding on to an umbrella handle though. Pass me that... oh, never mind.

Much hilarity resulted from this little 'incident' (we don't seem to have accidents any more, although this looks very much like one) where the reversing Landie suddenly wouldn't go backwards any more, even though the accelerator pedal was firmly pressed down.

Ah, that could explain the lack of backward progress.

Now what?

No problem though, we only find solutions!

The Landie was hooked up to Steve, and its driver told to drive forwards, its back end hanging in the air.

Who did this, who is the perpetrator? Tim put his hand up.

He then said that he was going to Singapore immediately, although it was not clear whether that was out of shame, or to glower at us triumphantly from under a tropical sun.

More rails were brought up by Steve, here crossing the site of the future southern turnout. Double track will continue up to this area, after crossing the bridge.

The rails laid in continued relentlessly throughout the day, here in a neck and neck race to the end of the platform. The building has already been left behind.

The rain continued.....

In the hope that it might stop while we had our lunch, we decided to break a bit early. The cake siren sounded, and the gang marched en masse down to the cabin (we recommend - it has a new heater!)

The Pway gang is so tough, a number even sat outside in the drizzle over lunch. Possibly it was because the fastest among them grabbed all the seats inside in the warm. Mrs. B's cake tin in the middle here was exposed to the gentle autumn rain, but not for long. It was swiftly emptied.

Car parking is getting very difficult now at Broadway, what with the trackbed up on the embankment largely occupied by ballast bed and vehicular traffic going up and down.
Luckily the big pile of trackbed scrapings at the bottom was removed by Adam and Steve, and taken up the station drive for re-use. In this way 5 extra spaces were created, which were gratefully employed today. It's still crowded though.

This is the latest view on top today. Steve has put up the new fence aloong the edge of the embankment on the left. Sleepers and a pair of rails wait to be used. Everything is black and slushy. There was even a complaint that the Landie was dirty - now that must mean really dirty.

Having laid in as many rails as we could, we had to resume laying down sleepers.

With the exact spacings here a bit in question over the last few days, we are careful to get the measurements from the platform edge just right, here using our track gauge.

The BROADWAY running in board and signal box now form the background to our work.

In this picture the loop road has almost reached the end of P2. Steve has squeezed in on the down line to lift in another pair of rails.

Pete is thinking about stuff. Sometimes it's good to stop and reflect on things. Where did I leave that corkscrew last night?

The rail going in here gave us a lot of trouble. At first it went fine, after all the sleepers were eyed in to give a nice straight line along the open chairs. The rail went in OK, except for one chair, where it decided to hang. The usual method for recalcitrant rails, a speedy bang on top with the digger bucket just gave us a loud 'clang' but didn't shift it.

After watching us struggle with this rail from inside his nice warm and dry cab, Steve eventually got out - yes, really! - to give the situation the benefit of his 30 year experience with the GWSR.

Some hearty whacks with a keying hammer were prescribed, and effected. They didn't help either. Hmmmmm....?

The final and successful diagnosis was a burr under the second hand rail we were using. Moving the sleeper in question along a bit eventually solved the problem, after the rail was lifted out, and back in again. This time it did indeed drop down.

You can't beat experience with a book.

As we were laying in a curve, the inside rail was starting to overtake the outside one (well done that spotter in the last blog post) so Nigel stepped in with the disc cutter to even things up.

This allowed us to lay another 24 sleepers, enough for the up line to reach the southern platform end.

The first rail of the last panel today has just been lifted in here.

With both rails in on the last panel today, you can see here how far we got today, in one of the wettest days we've had so far.

There are just 48 sleepers to lay on the down line, to bring both roads to the platform end.

We're not sure just what we laid today, it's something like 7 or 8 panels, a brilliant result in the conditions.

Here's an end of the day view of the track now through the station.
Signal box, track, station building, footbridge... it's all there now. This is pretty much what Broadway station will look like. The track still needs fettling and ballasting of course. We'll do that when it's joined up to the running line.

Looking the other way, the double track is laid past the buildings and seems to stretch into the distance.

Of course there's a gap of a couple of hundred yards to close still, and a turnout to be laid.

Broadway station with double track

At the end of the day the bedraggled PWay volunteers trudge back to their cars. We were wet and cold, but triumphant.

Broadway station track is almost done, just the gap over the bridge to fill now.


  1. What excellent progress!, especially in the horrible weather. the expression for the Land Rover must be "Off the road"! The dagger board repair can be clearly seen at the moment. As one blogger stated, it will blend in nicely when filled and top coated and no one will be the wiser!, unless you see a digger with a vinyl sticker depicting a pair of dagger boards, that is!

    Great news about the Cafeteria! Soon be queuing for cakes and tea there. I have a picture of what GWR catering staff at stations wore in the 20's if you would like to see it - but it may not conform to todays H&H regs. Who knows. The progress today has truly been wonderful. Regards, Paul.

  2. Well done to all to have pushed on through despite the weather, nearly there now.



  3. British Railways sold off the track
    But GWR are putting it back
    Here it was once an overgrown trail
    Now its adorned with replacement rail

    Come rain, cloud, hail, sleet or shine
    They’re steadily rebuilding the line
    Soon again it will take the strain
    Bearing the wheels of a loaded train

    Delighted faces will alight on the platform
    Briefly noting what it took to reform
    The derelict site back to its glory
    One day a book might tell that story

    Well done for what you did in that miserable weather. Richard

  4. Congratulations one and all, you rightly deserve that sense of pride you have.

    1. Indeed, much hard work often carried out in less than pleasant conditions such as yesterday. It's all coming together though.

  5. Looks like a dislodged edging slab at the south end of platform 1.

    Anyone put their hand up to that one?

    Expect the BAG team will be glad to see track laid past it so there's be no more steerable traffic creating the risk of this sort of thing.

    Assuming the first train through the station get's through cleanly... (Joke, have every confidence it will).

    Out of curiosity, what are you using to gauge against? I wasn't aware until a recent conversation with a NR friend just how many different gauges there are on UK rails.

    Now understand why I have to get on a skip with bogies to get to work, as opposed to the 'south easters' who get a swanky air conditioned Hitachi!

    Perhaps GWSR can get in quick and grab a pacer before they're all crushed, just to preserve the horror that is a couple of buses welded together and slapped on freight chassis!!

    1. Personally, from what I've seen of the new Hitachi Azuma's interior, I'm not actually looking forward to travelling in one - too much like the Pendelinos, which are arguably one of the worst designed "new" trains on the rails today behind their cousins the Voyagers. It's airline seat cattle truck class all over again.

    2. They have to be the worst trains imaginable, used on Mid-Cheshire Line, need travel sickness tablets they are so bouncy.

    3. I've had a couple of journeys on Class 800s, and I have to admit I was more impressed than I thought I'd be. Given that the trains were specified by the Department for Transport, who seemed to change their mind every five minutes, and in many ways amount to a package of compromises, they're surprisingly competent. Far more spacious than the Pendolinos, and with astonishingly fast acceleration, even in diesel mode. Seats are like office chairs, though.

      I must also admit to a grudging appreciation for the horrible old Pacers, too. They were very good at the job they were designed for: an ultra-cheap train that would reduce operating costs to a level that would enable loss-making branch lines to stay open. We probably wouldn't have railways to places like Barnstaple or Whitby if it hadn't been for the Pacers. The trouble is, over the years they've been used for work they were never designed for - such as peak-hour commuter trains into Manchester.

      Once I travelled to Exeter St Davids on an HST, and along with many other people changed to a Pacer for the run up to Barnstaple. As soon as the train hit the jointed track of the Barnstaple branch it started lurching and crashing about so much that some of the passengers looked quite worried. It was a bit of a contrast after the nice smooth HST. Seeing everyone's faces, the conductor grinned and said, "Welcome to a real train!"

  6. Now it's starting to look like a proper station! On the subject of the cafe - may I suggest investing in one of these may be a good idea:

    The Flag and Whistle currently do not have this capability, and the advantage of this machine is it's very quick (so ideal for people wanting a quick snack while the train turns around) and can cook wide range of hot foods such as toasted sandwiches and teacakes which most people will definately like. A cafe that sells decent afternoon teas (scones and cakes etc) and toasted sandwiches is in my experience just what the railway is currently missing.

  7. Good progress, Jo, in that wet weather! I assume that you will now have to put in flat bottomed rail where you've reached at the end of P2 for the southern barrow crossing? And will the wooden sleepers continue until you've crossed the bridge?

    1. Whoa, too much detail.
      As you say, next it's a barrow crossing with FB. After that, I don't know.
      Watch this space then...

  8. Thanks guys your efforts are appreciated, especially by those of us who will get to drive locos there and back again.

  9. Many thanks for another comprehensive update. It does go to show that the sun doesn't always shine on the righteous. We had awesome sunshine here in North Yorkshire yesterday but I'm sure you won't really want to concern yourself with that snippet! Regarding the idea from Lee about the serving of hot food, I seem to recall that food serving regulations are somewhat more stringent for this but I'm happy to be corrected. In any case, I'm sure I'd avail myself of some were it to be offered! To me, the "displaced edging slab" appears to be an optical illusion.

    1. Some of the slabs on the slopes have indeed been nudged, and they may need repositioning a few inches further in.

    2. I don't know the exact details of the regs around hot food and grills, I know you have to cook meat seperately to non-meat and at one point you had to use one grill for meat and one for "veggie" fillings, but more recently I've noticed places like Costa and also the cafe at GCR Rothley seem to be using a a method which uses baking paper of some description to protect the sandwich when cooking on the grill. But you'd have to ask an expert.

  10. Excellent work,on what was a really dreary,wet day!.It really looks like a railway station,at Broadway,now!.I,expect you'll be laying timber sleepers,over the road bridge?. Anthony.

  11. Sorry to sign in as "Anonymous", but my Google account isn't working properly. Congratulations on the wonderful work you've done in miserable conditions. I hope you've dried out now. Personally, I would carry a hipflask of something warm to keep out the rising damp, but I suppose you have to abstain from strong drink when handling machinery !

    Toddington Ted was right about the fine weather up here in the north. In this part of Lancashire, we had some very nice sunny spells. Not fair, is it ?

    Better luck next time with the weather.

    Well, it's not so far to go now, and you are doing us proud. Thank you.

    Peter Wright

    1. Thanks for your support, Peter.
      Anonymous is fine (I know how tricky it is establishing these identities) when you say who you are.
      Anonymous and no signature at all is not fine. Stand up and take ownership of what you say!

  12. Fantastic progress, really loving the blog. Greetings from a soggy Sussex!
    I last visited around 10 years ago - I will be back next year to ride the extension (and eat cake!)

  13. ...and then the Udiam - Robertsbridge extension ;-)

    1. Hi Jo, I used to volunteer at the Rother Valley Railway, but left around 8 years ago through frustration with the management and lack of progress, it seems that things have moved on apace since then, and I am still passionate about this project, and am very willing to become involved again when I see the trackbed between Northbridge Street and Junction Road finally being worked on - no sign of this so far, although I understand that they have permission from the County Council to procede, I was rather annoyed to hear though, that some of the locals are belly aching about level crossing on the A21 and trying to make some faux arguements about damage to the environment (read Git orf moi larnd!) Hopefully this nonsense is dismissed soon and we should all be encouraged by the wonderful progress of the Glos Warks and see the benefits to the local economy and tourism etc...


  14. Amazing work & even more impressive to think that at the end of each shift you knuckle down to write and then publish an entertaining, educational & detailed account of what has been achieved. Thank you very much indeed! ����⚒⛏����

  15. An Edwardian themed opening with 2807 hauling and Edwardian dress would be great opportunity to restage the famous early photo of the passengers queuing for a day trip to Stratford at Broadway station. Sb

    1. I agree, it would be very fitting. Just the huge problem of obtaining the appropriate Dean 4 and 6 wheeled coaching stock or a clerestory coach or 2! Such beauties do exist but I don't think either Didcot or the SVR would part with any. We have (excellent) BR Mk 1 stock so we are always going to be back in the 1950s and early 60s I feel. (Not a criticism, but an observation.)

  16. Well Jo, another great report and pictures. Yes Saturday was wet wet wet! however your Orange army worked through it! Not like the Scaffolding team down the road from us who after one hour decided it was to wet to cold and no refreshments! There are bound to be a few incidents at the amazing pace you are all moving at, so the odd displaced paving slab or the Transit in a hole are bound to happen, provided no one gets hurt and all go home in one piece! Broadway is looking better every day and with tracks through the station at this rate there will be a test train by Christmas! Hopefully it will be Foremarke Hall with a rake of chocolate & cream coaches, purely for gauging testing!!!!(we dream because we can!)However you must start to plan ahead, when the track is finished what will Mrs. B do, what will happen to Paul the maƮtre D. ? All these questions need to be considered for the future of the Orange Army, they may well be needed for the future push to Stratford On Avon!!! Great work by you all, see you all very soon.
    Paul & Marion

  17. Having done my own stint at track- laying in Wales some years ago, I am daily delighted to read the progress report from Broadway. It doesn't have to include humour but wry humour whilst physically slogging away in adverse weather has to bring out the best in us all as the final goal is not so far off. It's the speed of progress that is so rewarding to us armchair onlookers. Well done chaps! And Mrs. B.

  18. The more I look at the photos of Broadway station, the more impressive it is as an authentic replica of the original Honeybourne Line stations, the North Warwickshire Line stations or the GC/GW main line.... the lengthy double track section will enhance the Main line feel!

  19. Adrian Lanchester-Hale21 November 2017 at 22:48

    What fantastic progress you are making. So looking forward to seeing the finished product next Easter and if we are lucky might even get a trip. Jo, I saw your article in The Cornishman, Pictures from the Archives (16)re Station Road Broadway and your thoughts re Springfield Lane. If you can locate a Cassini Map, sheet 150 should cover it, of a reprint of an old series printed 1828-1832, it may show the location of the road westwards out of the village and confirm your theory. Earlier this year I did walk Springfield Lane and certainly from the architecture of the buildings they appear to be a good deal older than the buildings in Station Road from the Winchcombe Road down to bridge. Regards, Adrian Lanchester-Hale

    1. Sorry to debunk the theory but I have checked the old maps and it is just a lane leading to Hayway Farm and Downlip Farm Regards George Bryant

  20. Brilliant blog and congratulations to the BAG for the amazing work they are doing! Looking forward to seeing the railway and the extension next year.