Wednesday 24 January 2018

First train into Broadway north

Another grim day, with a storm racing through during the night, and we woke up and went to work in the tail end of it. Very breezy, and rainy, again!

The day started with the sight of this mound of clay outside the mess coach, just where we park. It was being loaded into lorries for removal. Of course we know a trench for a new sewer is being dug up the drive, but that much clay?

Just in front of the toilets was a big hole - too much temptation to resist, we had to have a peep inside. The hole that is, not this big white ball, because that, we were told, is where our sewerage will be held before it is pumped up the road. Ah.

So where was the mess coach? Still in the parlour road, behind that big pile of clay. We hurried inside, to get out of the rain and the howling wind.

It was a modest start in terms of volunteer numbers, but Paul was ready with the doughnuts OK.

Six for each table, and on top of that Paul W had a birthday today, and treated us all to blueberry muffins. Now that is very civilised, what happened on everyone else's birthday? We think this should be a regular treat. There must be more birthdays out there.

We had our tea and dougnuts and after a while Dave stood up to brief us about the day's work. Just as he opened his mouth there was an almighty rainshower on the roof, it was so loud we couldn't hear him speak. At the end of the briefing we are expected to get up and go, but today nobody moved. There were just a few nervous glances out of the window, one of which was leaking badly towards the inside.

Well, someone has to make the first move, and as we went to get the Landie keys we had a quick look into the most attractive worksite on the whole railway today - the shotblasting tent for 76077. It was nice and warm and dry in there, and members of the loco dept. were following on from the shotblaster and starting to primer the frames. Looking good !

On arrival at Broadway we found a huge sign advertising a low bridge - who knew? Well, now everyone will know, no one can say that they didn't. Good move.

The works are ahead of schedule, originally planned for a maximum of 42 days, but the repair has proceeded well. This notice was attached to the Heras fencing, advising of a return to normal by Friday.

Then it was on to the work site. We loaded up the Landie with the tools from the site safe, then proceeded to the clipping up area south of Peasebrook. As you can see from the clothing, it was still raining steadily, and still windy. We split into two teams, one do to the southern bit (SHC clips) and one to do the rest of the northern bit (Pandrols). When the teams meet in the middle, the job would be done. And it was, end of the day. High Five ! That one's ticked off the extension list.

While the clipping up was going on - with a respectable 19 volunteers, at least that's what Doodle told us - the ballasting train turned up mid morning and took 3 volunteers on board.

Here we are in the Shark, at the wheel of the ship as it were. It reminded us of this 1968 hit:
The captain of your ship
Remember that one? Are you old enough? We were.
Of course the big wheel is to let the plough down, what did you think it was for?

The train then headed off for Broadway, to do another run alongside the goods shed.

The purpose of the run was to boost the coverage of the sleeper ends (seen in this photograph) and at the other end of the train, to continue the ballast drop to the Broadway southern turnout.

And of course it's still raining, as you can see from this garden gnome we hired in to open the hoppers.

Broadway's in the distance, see it?

Here we are actually going past the goods shed, with the furthest Dogfish at the turnout now. We'll need another, partial, drop here, as now these sleeper ends are exposed.

We had time to do a second drop, so after a bit of a pow-wow we decided to push on through the station, given that we were released from the prohibition to cross the bridge, as the repair work had been successfully concluded.
To push on through the station, we had to do the drop in the opposite direction, and to get the plough in the right position for it we split the train, parking the Dogfish in the through road, and the Shark in the loop. Then the class 73 retrieved the Dogfish, and attached them to the brake, so that it was at the back.

This meant a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over a turnout that wasn't geared up to be switched yet.

Yours truly was dispatched with a bar to 'throw the lever' as it were, while Neil and Rob secured the blades each time. We got quite good at this, with the practice we had. Luckily S&T are well on their way to producing a ground frame to do this job properly, until one day it will be done from the box.

Then off we went, propelling through the station. Who needs a volunteer's invitation to the first train, when you can do it 2 months earlier as part of your job?
The Broadway gang was busy laying the 3x2s on the platform, a great step forward. But there's nothing like a bit of excitement when a pioneer train rumbles through.

Having guided the train safely through the platform - we bumped into a chair left on the trackbed, what on earth was it doing there - we trundled on past the 'future maintenance facility'...

... and right up to the buffer stops at the far end, where Lee was awaiting us to give signals.

Here we are, parked at Broadway north. Another first! The doors of the hoppers are opened to let an initial rush of ballast out, which stops by itself as soon as the pile reaches the doors. The plough is lowered in the Shark, and then we are off:

As someone commented recently, you can hear the wind on the video, and in the Broadway cutting we are sheltered, so imagine what it's like at Peasebrook. Luckily by this time it had stopped raining.

The class 73 sets off, with the escaping ballast hissing behind it.

Or is it an incoming train from Honeybourne? This is what it would look like.

This ballast drop was a very successful one, as you can see on the left. The train has stopped just short of the loop turnout, good timing here. Next week we will be back with two more drops. Both roads here will be ballasted, in answer to an earlier question.

And here is a driver's eye view of a connecting train coming in from Honeybourne.

The empty ballast train enters Broadway station from the north, correctly on the down line too.

We slowly rumbled through Broadway station, past the goods shed, and once on the tamped part of the extension, accelerated to line speed to drop the Dogfish off at Stanton, ready for reloading. The three volunteers in the cab were neatly dropped off at Toddington in the platform, how's that for service. Just a short stroll to the car then.

As some of you have already noticed, the Flickr site has a new chapter under the 'early GWSR' banner, this time with the photographs of PWay stalwart John Lees. John was not only in from the very first year 1981, he also had a private pilot's licence and decided to fly over the railway soon after, to record the trackbed from above.
How did you fly the aeroplane, and take pictures out of the window at the same time, John? It seems he flew with the joystick between his knees...

John Lees' early GWSR photographs

Enjoy the pictures, they are a remarkable chronology. If you have any further information about any of them, do say so in the comments, that's what they are there for. The first 73 are now up; there will be more. All we need is some dark winter evenings to scan in the pictures, repair them, and upload on to Flickr. Be patient.


  1. Great set of shots, Jo and it must be particularly rewarding to pass through your new station. The evocative shots from the north were particularly exciting. I have only one query. Having worked on the SVR P. Way gang for over 35 years and purchased an identical Shark in 1989, which I passed to the Charitable Trust last year, where was the clag from the van? First job in the cold weather was rake out and light the stove, then put the kettle on. It wasn't long before the van was a toasty refuge from the weather - and a brew imminent.


    1. You're right of course, but the main job of the day was clipping up and we only jumped in the Shark to do the two drops. And you can't pinch a bucket of coal from a diesel :-(

  2. PS Forgot to say, my van was DB993898 of Lot 3040, 1957.

  3. Excellent set of photos! I can never get too many of Broadway as it is such a photogenic station. Regards, Paul.

    1. You're right, it is a very photogenic station and, over the last few months, it's really come together, but then again, it should be coming together as time is ticking! Thanks Jo for a great update as usual. I'm always amazed when I see old photos of Toddington in the early 80's even though I was there. Much of the rolling stock in the photos was privately owned then and, sadly, nearly all of the GWR period coaching stock moved to other homes. However, to restore them at that time at Toddington would have been too difficult and Winchcombe Station didn't exist then. The Autocoach (169) is now being lovingly restored on the WSR. John Lees' photos show just how exciting the GWSR was back then (it's exciting now of course!) but also what a mess it looked! No wonder the local council had misgivings about us. That changed completely in 1990 when a steam gala was run with "Castle" class "Defiant" and 2 other GWR loco guests. The punters started to flood in with their money. Interesting to see the old Ashford turntable before its demise. The Siphon G seen in the photo collection is now approaching complete restoration and may run in a consist at some time. I've known John Lees for many years and it's good to know he's still doing his bit. I often wish I could be there helping out too like I used to. It was perhaps a good job that I didn't take my aerial shots on the same days that he did - golden airmanship rule - Lookout!

  4. In the picture on the platform, are the big galvanised grey things perched on the platform edge, being used as a hard hat stand, the columns for the canopy extension, or something else entirely?

    1. They are the wrong canopy extension columns, designed free-style in a non-GWR shape.
      When the canopy extension and footbridge steps get some funding, they will be replaced by GWR type columns. These should be square, with chamfered edges.

    2. The columns look very SR to me, perhaps the Bluebell or Mid Hants. or Swanage may like them. 'Mates rates', of course; but it may do someone some good! Regards, Paul.

    3. The square columns referred to were castings - can't the originals be re-used, or are they beyond restoration?

    4. We found 2 of the 4 originals, but they had been bulldozed and snapped off at the base. We can't use them again. The gutter downpipe went through the middle of them, and at the bottom was an inspection hatch. That being a weakness, this is where they snapped. But we can see what they looked like, so the new ones will be based on their shape.

    5. I was thinking of those that came from the HIA bridge, I'm sure the photos of the steps showed they were still intact when it was recovered.

    6. This is the photo I was referring to.....

    7. The HIA columns were shorter, as they only supported the roof of the steps, which at HIA were not part of the canopy.
      The new Broadway posts have to be taller.
      Originally the posts had a combined function. First to support the roof of the steps, and about 3ft higher up, also support the canopy overhang.
      That combination is now impossible due to the location of the footbridge vis-a-vis the station building, being too close and too far over to one side.

  5. You've done it again haven't you ? After an absolute pig of a day weather wise, you've found the time and energy to put up a new post. Thank you very much.

    Its been a rather lovely day here in the North West of England. Bright sunshine nearly all day, if a bit cool. Oh, don't worry. it's raining again now, so everything's back to normal.

    There's almost too much news here to digest in one sitting. But it's all very wonderful to read. I'll have to re-read it tomorrow.

    I thought on first reading that the big story of the day was going to about sewage, always a fascinating subject, I can't think why. But as I scrolled up through your post, I was struck by the sight of the road bridge at Broadway with all sorts going on. And It's open to rail traffic again ! That's wonderful news, and I hope you get to finish your ballast drops on time. Well, now we've seen the ballast train behind the Class 73 ( a rather handsome diesel locomotive, I always think, yes, even in British Rail blue), apparently coming down the line from Honeybourne. Only the new fencing spoils the illusion. What an extraordinary sight.

    And so many other things, and you men carry on, whatever the weather.

    I've said it before, but you're a wonderful lot.

    Good luck


  6. I assume it will mean loading a hand trolley with ballast and emptying by hand to complete the last half length up to the bufferstops?
    Seeing that the Shark was over it.

    1. They could marshal the shark away from the last dogfish then run the train right to the end, dump ballast from the dogfish up against the buffers. Then put the shark back on and use the plough on the end to push the ballast over the rails. That would leave just a few feet to manually ballast if they even bother!