Wednesday 30 May 2018

Out along the line

Three groups of us today, all out along the line. Overnight there had been heavy rain, and this morning looked equally dire.

After an extended tea drinking session in the mess coach, in the hope the rain would let off a bit while we drank and chatted, we selected our various groups to join for the day:

A. Took the Telehandler to Toddington to recover some second hand sleepers for Saturday
B. Fixed plastic numbered tiles to a stretch of rails for future trackwalk identification purposes. The glue, we were told, was so strong that it would resist all efforts for the tile to come off, rain or shine. Experience will tell if this is indeed true in practice, but you have to try.

It has to be said that group...

C. Replace missing SHC clips on a track defect list at Stanton

...was working from a list which said things like '2 1/2 panels south of the aqueduct' and 'the panel by the apple tree north of skew bridge' and while this was great fun and always allowed us to find the missing clip in question, it wasn't very methodical really. So the tiles could be a way forward here.

Group C piled into two products of JLR and rumbled along the trackbed at Stanton. It wasn't long before the first train appeared from Toddy.

This was the huge lumbering shape of P&O, one of two Pacifics out today. Plenty of steam to see as the air was quite cool to start with.

Guided by the trackwalk report and desperately looking for apple trees and 2 1/2 track panels, we slowly worked our way south from the B4632 skew road bridge over the line.

This is all CWR here, laid about 10 years ago as the railway slowly started to explore north of Toddington, culminating in the triumphant arrival at Broadway this spring.

This is the sort of thing. For some reason SHC clips, even driven in with a chunky keying hammer, seem to work their way out again from time to time.

If the SHC clip appears to replace too easily, we need to fit an extra rubber pad under the rail. This makes everything tighter.

First though we need to lift the rail up, so Dave here digs a little hole to make room for a little jack.

Then P&O comes rolling back down from Broadway, here just about to pass under the B4632 road bridge. Now it's facing south, which is much better for the camera but the next picture was blurred - too little light, train too close.

There may be a busy road above, but down on the tracks it is peaceful and a haven for wildlife, away from the roar of the traffic above, just a few feet away. This deer appeared out of the undergrowth and crossed over to the other side, then back again.

We got ourselves a big sack full of these clips, so plenty of ammunition to replace missing ones (and often as not the ones adjacent to the ones reported as faults as well). As we slowly worked south, the real object of our desires appeared, tender first. It was 70013 Oliver Cromwell, still in service. Who needs a gala if you are a trackside volunteer?

Between trains the little gang worked on its own in the middle of the lush, verdant Cotswolds countryside. The cutting sides have been beautifully flailed, releasing grass, Buttercups and Marigolds to push their way up. Beautiful.

Even more beautiful of course when you have a massive pacific locomotive burst out from under the bridge. How lucky (or well connected) we were to get to borrow this for a few days. Of course as an ex main line we are the ideal playground for it to frolic on.

Lunch was back at Winchcombe, where the mess coach is now located, back where it used to be before its temporary stay at Toddington. Here 'Ollie' slowly pulls into the station before a crowd of admiring C&W volunteers.

After lunch it was back to Stanton, to find 'Ollie' returning tender first.

We were getting into our stride now, and did really well, considering that we replaced more clips than were actually outlined in the track report.

Doug acknowledges the wave from the driver here.

Then it was back on the job, with Doug here pushing the little jack under the rail in order to lift it far enough for us to replace or double up the pads, as the case might be.

We also found the footprint of a mysterious track walker. Just the sole remained, the rest no doubt instantly vapourised by a hot blast from Paul's famously strident tongue! Too late for dinner, eh? Only five minutes, you say. It might just as well be 5 hours - you, young man, are in the dog house.

Under the Skew Bridge we came across this fledgling in the cess. It appeared to have fallen out of a row of nests just under the steelwork, so it would be a young crow or similar.


The little chappie was quite docile, and allowed Paul to pick him up without any difficulty. We placed him a little further along in the grass.

The end of our labours took us to the ballast depot at Stanton - easy to remember for next time, as the job isn't finished, we could go all the way through to Toddington like this. At least the destination is in sight from here, and the cameraderie was excellent.

Finally, two more photographs taken on Monday while at Broadway during the gala.

Here is Britannia 70013 Oliver Cromwell just opening the regulator as he (she?) passes the end of the 10mph station limits speed restriction by the Childswickham Road bridge. What a sight!

The blue King faced the other way and was a bit more difficult to snap in the Broadway area, but here he (she?) is just giving its train a final bit of regulator to get the 8 coach train well into the new station.

Before we forget, we are likely to pay another visit to the foundry that makes our GWR replica castings, so if you are interested in a GWR lamp post, a GWR 'BEWARE of TRAINS' notice, a ball topped gate post or possibly a pre grouping 'PASSENGERS are requested to cross by the BRIDGE' sign, now is the time to express your interest to breva2011 (at)

Sunday 27 May 2018

Signage and the gala

No volunteering on the PWay this Saturday, due to an important mission to secure a cast iron sign for Broadway.

Mission accomplished, is the good news. But first, work on the V boards at Broadway.

On Friday a small group set about mounting the original V board from Bletchington station - generously donated by a well wisher - after restoration by a volunteer.

It was found in the wreckage of the station during demolition, and we are delighted to be able to use it, unchanged, over the platform doorway for the booking office at Broadway.

The original brackets were designed to be bricked in during construction, so we had to make up a new set, which are being bolted on here by Peter.

The interesting bit with a V board is the angled bar and hooks that attach it to the facade. Peter had made a replica set, and is here drilling a long hole right through the brickwork under the corbelling. The hook above has a long threaded bar on it and a nut inside the roof. This allows it to be repositioned in and out a little bit, in order to get the board perfectly level.

Then came the big moment. It was screwed on from underneath, and the bar with the hooks attached to the top. Would it be level?

It was !

Here it is in situ, compared to the first two by the toilets. Now on to the next one....

The next one will be over the front door. It needed a lot of head scratching and pen sucking. It had to be the same height, so which brick is that?

What would it look like when up? There wasn't a V board here before, but neither was the door with its canopy.

We also have plans to widen the canopy to extend over the two windows, because at the moment it does not work well as a shelter from rain, and looks a little odd being so small. You can see that it is actually wet underneath.

The new boards will hang here, but of course we will have to change 'OUT' to 'IN'.

We are considering having more letters cast (4 inch and 6 inch) to make up these boards, as well as REFRESHMENTS on the platform side.

If you have any spare letters that you could give us, (4 inch or 6 inch) that would of course save a lot of trouble and costs. We also need two 'Fingers'.

Meanwhile in the cafe, there is slow but steady progress. The walls have been painted yellow and the interior woodwork will be Brunswick green.

Mike is busy here, while earlier Neal had completed the skirting boards, and we have agreed a price and a source for the new slate fireplace. The order should go out any day now. It was entirely sponsored by a group of well wishers who were willing to pay that an original black slate fireplace would go in. We have used an original at Toddington to get the shape and sizes. A grate and hearth are also part of the deal, thanks to the external funding.

Now, back to that cast iron bridge sign.

See it here on the right? (Above it is the WAY OUT that we have, but not the pointing finger it should come with)

An alert reader drew our attention to a recent auction of railwayana, and yesterday two of us duly set off in the hope of acquiring it for Broadway. Fingers crossed...

And..... mission accomplished! Against fierce postal bid competition, and by putting our hands very deeply into our pockets, we managed to get it. It is the correct size and with the correct wording (a later version no longer 'requested' people to use the footbridge, but told them to do it rather more bluntly). A bottle of wine is included in the picture to give a comparison for the size, it may have been consumed later in a rush of exuberance!
It is likely that we will have a duplicate cast by a friendly foundry, as a second one would have been located on P2.

Then, at last, our 2018 gala. Today was already the second day of the three. The decision to go for 2 ticket hatches at Broadway was a wise one, as they were both busy today, and we haven't even got that car park yet. We heard that yesterday was busy enough to make even the finance director smile - no mean feat, that. Today was slightly more muted as the weather forecast, as announced, was not so good but in practice it was fine and Broadway stayed dry all day (not so Toddington just 5 miles away, we heard).

'What's a push-pull service then?' 'We start the DMU and push the Pannier out of here, saves massively on coal, see?'
First one in and out today was the Pannier with the 3 car DMU. Although it was the first train into Broadway today, it was already pleasingly filled we noticed.

You didn't have to wait long to see the next one, and it was Dinmore Manor, steaming right through the station to the northern end, with a loco trailing behind.

That loco was one of our visitors, Britannia 70013 Oliver Cromwell. What a smashing engine that is. Here it is pulling its fully loaded 8 coach train and Dinmore Manor out of the station.

When it returned after lunch, we took a video from under a tree beyond the goods shed, which you can watch here:

The film concludes with a lovely whistle as the train accelerates down the hill beyond the Childswickham Road bridge.

The next visitor to Broadway was the long awaited King. It faced north, so was a bit trickier to photograph into the sun, but 'luckily' the weather started to cloud over and Joe Public was still clustering around the station building, until the train stopped.

The arrival of the King shows perfectly how the length of the new platforms was calculated when we built them - 8 coaches, with a loco at each end by the ramp. It fits perfectly.

The 'future maintenance' container is almost hidden by the lamp hut, but perhaps it can be removed one day?

A second shot of the King was possible when the topped and tailed train pulled out of the station again a few minutes later (some turn around times were very smart at 9 minutes) and here it is passing the new BOOKING OFFICE V board.

The loco is being admired by our Routemaster bus driver, who (on request) waited long enough before setting off for the village centre to allow people with cameras a shot of the leaving train. Very kind, that.

Here is the Routemaster outside the station building. This too was well patronised. On ordinary days it is a taxi service with an MPV.

The next train - all you had to do to see them all was sit there with a cup of tea and wait - was hauled south by our very own resident loco 35006 P&O.

Here are driver and fireman waiting for the off from the guard further down the platform.

Tea and biscuits were provided today by the Broadway volunteers from a tent on the platform, and hopefully soon from the cafe itself. Takings were brisk, we heard.

P&O's train was backed up the the CVR USA loco 5197. It was a bit of a Marmite loco, some loved it, some pretended (we hope) to dislike it. We loved it, especially the atmospheric whistle. Today's Broadway stationmaster was certainly impressed.

Finally, an extra word about the surplus lamp posts in the yard at Winchcombe.

We've got a total of 7 (possibly 9) of them, of which 6 are identical to the top three here.

The cost is £150 + VAT each. They are sold by the plc, anyone interested can contact the office.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Out in the sun

What a wonderful streak of brilliant weather we've been having - hot - hot - hot every day.

We started our day in the mess coach, back home in the siding at Winchcombe.

It was John B's birthday today, and he brought with him Swiss rolls and cake, while Paul brought in the fresh doughnuts.

Which way to turn? It all goes with tea....

A small team of two went to check out a report of a noisy fishplate joint at Toddington (with a doctor's repair kit) while the larger team addressed two excess ballast issues at Laverton and Stanton. Shoveling again...

The Laverton job was handled quickly - it was really just to deal with a small, additional ballast drop, which had covered up the track fittings. Soonest said, soonest mended.

Then we said hello to the first service out of Broadway, a DMU on today's blue timetable (one steam, one DMU)

The next job was similar, but a bit further along next to our ballast loading point at Stanton. Would we clear the ballast here, enough to reveal the track fittings?

This was a rather larger job, which would take us well into the afternoon.

The picture shows the job 'before'.

Here we are now 'during'. Just armed with shovels, we found the job quite arduous and vowed to return after lunch with more suitable mattocks and rakes.
Luckily the team was relatively large, as there was a lot to shovel. Basically, the excesses of Stevie's enthusiastic ballast loading, the stuff didn't always fall squarely into each Dogfish.

The S160 was out today, which was very interesting to see. What a lovely whistle it has.

We had our lunch in our luxury mess coach, doors thrown open to give a lovely terrace on which to sit out and watch the trains go by.

John's birthday did not go unnoticed, especially with all the cakes offered, so we had a rousing happy birthday song for him, and a card. It put him into a reflective mood, but it's good to have your mates around you.

After lunch, it was back to work, and now armed with the aforementioned mattocks and rakes. It was true, this is easier, and the job went rather faster from then on.

Robert, the phantom Broadway shoveler, with his observers and supporters.
As the job neared completion during the afternoon, thoughts turned to railway matters and in particular to a planned outing to the NYMR on June 14th/15th. All done by train! Brummingham to Pickering, and return.

Sounds like fun, providing every train is on time, as we only have a 5 minute window for a change of train in the middle. Cripes! Running shoes firmly advised on this trip.

In the distance the S160 appeared under the Stanton road bridge, perfectly on time. We stood to one side and acknowledged its very American sounding whistle.

Your blogger's camera has two camera apps on it. One takes a picture when you tap the shutter release, the other.... waits a bit first. Dang, there goes the loco!

Here's the loco stationary at Broadway, so no shutter speed issues with this one. What an interesting engine this is, and quite a coup for our gala (as well as 6023 of course, but the King wasn't authorised to run yet)

After running round its train, the loco here is ready to go. It blew its whistle briefly before setting off, and there was a lovely echo of it from the trees.
The Broadway platform was busy again, and this due to two coach parties that dropped off their passengers for Cheltenham here. We spoke to one and ascertained that they had come from London and were lodged at a Cheltenham hotel. Interesting to see how and why people come to us.

If you want to see this train leave Broadway, there is a YouTube film of it here:

Then on to Toddington, to measure up a slate fireplace for replication in the Broadway cafe.

Outside the shed, 4903 had been turned to face north, and was pimped and polished, ready for the gala.

Next to it, the King has having all its copper and brasswork polished up.

Sadly this meant ladders on both sides, so we can't offer you a clean picture of it.

Just beyond is Mr. Bulleid's offering for a heavy passenger locomotive.

Here was the object of our desire, an original GWR slate fireplace. A group of supporters clubbed together to raise £2000 (before gift aid) to buy the Broadway cafe a new fireplace. We are currently arranging for a firm to supply a very similar one, in slate, and they wanted some more dimensions. Not easy; it turns out that there were at least two sizes and the beautifully preserved one in the Toddington Ladies' Waiting Room is in fact a bit too small.
A lot of people pass this one almost every day, but did you ever notice it? It is in the goods office in the Toddington goods shed. This one is the correct size. We know this because we have an original fender for it, found in the clay at Broadway and currently off being shotblasted and powder coated.

Then there was a loud toot, and Oliver Cromwell arrived!

Here is the loco on its low loader, just squeezing down the Toddington station drive.

Another magnificent beastie for our gala. Don't miss it this weekend !

Finally, a chat with the driver of a Dutch coach from near Vlissingen. He brings a coach load of tourists once a year, for 5 years now, to stay in the Tewkesbury area and visit various attractions, including our railway.
Had he been to Broadway yet? No, it was Toddington - CRC and back. The driver was waiting for a car (coach) park at Broadway, as not only did he want to drop off his tourists, he liked to go on the train himself.
It's amazing from how far away (London and Vlissingen) our passengers come, in this random but admittedly unrepresentative sample.