Sunshine at last! A larger than average number of volunteers - welcome back, the rain wimps - assembled in the mess coach at Toddington under a glorious sky. We found two cakes, oh joy!
We split into two teams. One went to Broadway to shovel ballast along the P2 road, and the other went to Winchcombe with two missions: sort out the large pile of cast iron chairs next to the running line, and if time allowed, recover the concrete sleepers exposed by the removal of a third party's rolling stock on the unconnected sidings by the yard gate. The latter job eventually had to be deferred to another day, as there were an awful lot of cast iron chairs to move.
Down to Winchcombe then, with a quick pause at Hayles Abbey halt.
What an idyllic spot though. The halt is well kept, the grass is weed free and recently mown. The cutting has been flailed with the remote controlled machine and now looks like it did in steam days.
At Winchcombe we started to address the numerous piles. Mixed up all together were GWR type throughbolters, spiked base plates, S1 chairs and specialist chairs for pointwork. Most of them were for bullhead rail, which we now use only in stations, although there are still penty of them out there from the 1980s reconstruction of the line.
Many of the chairs had already been stacked on pallets but not then subsequently moved, so that the pallets rotted underneath the pile.
Here Paul is sorting through a pile, with throughbolters predominating. You can recognise them with their sticking out bolts, which are impossible to remove as the nuts are rusted on solid. They give you something to grab though.
We have accumulated track components over 35 years from all sorts of sources from steelworks, an Army camp, a concrete plant etc so the inscriptions on the chairs make interesting reading.
This one is from the western region of BR, which decided to continue using the through bolts, whereas all the other regions were using chairs with 3 holes for chairscrews.
We suggested to the 2807 group that they charge a premium for GWR chairs, but they said that would complicate the pricing, so when you buy yours, you might be lucky with a genuine GWR veteran. Rumour has it that they will paint you a specific one in your preferred colour too.
This one has two holes for bolts, and two for spikes. It's from the Midland Railway, and dates from 1901.
It could become your boot scraper too, we found 3 or 4 of them.
This scene reminded your blogger of a similar photograph he took in China:
Anything coming? Can't really see, there's a summit just round the corner. After all, what could come along here in the middle of nowhere?
This could come along here, and did, moments later:
Back to earth, in Winchcombe. We also had a train go by, it too was steam hauled, but no iron ore here (not since 1965 in fact):
You can see the motley collection of piles by the track. At the end of the day they were (almost) all gone.
Dave's two part birthday cake experience is still with us in the foreground, but was fully consumed by the end of the day.
A further working session took place on Monday. Next to tidying up / removal of scrap and waste there is a small amout of building work still going on.
Here the cafe ceiling has just been completed. This is a false floor, made of scaffolding for the volunteers to stand on while putting up the ceiling. The actual floor is a further 3ft down. The fireplace can be glimpsed at the end. A handful of generous donors have clubbed together and raised the funds for a new slate surround and grate, so funding for that is secure.
A professional plasterer will come on Thursday to fit plasterboard to the walls and then skim the boards with the plaster in the bags on the right. There is traditional wainscoting up to waist height.