Saturday 5 May 2018

On holiday

Every now and then your blogger is allowed out on a little holiday, and this week was one of those occasions. As it happens, PWay activity was restrained last week, too wet for one group, and too hot for another. You just can't get it right.

But even canal boat pictures can have a railway angle, as this one was taken from a disused railway bridge at Talybont on the Mon and Brec canal.

The disused line from Brecon to Merthyr climbed steeply out of Talybont up to the amazing Torpantau tunnel, the highest in Britain. Just beyond it is now the terminus of the Brecon Mountain railway, located in a really wild area.

More interesting railway remains were found further south along the canal at Llanfoist. Here three self acting inclines ran from near a mountain top down to the canal wharf, bringing iron from Blaenavon.
The level section, high up as you can see, was the 3 mile long 2ft gauge Hill's tramroad. It even had a small tunnel, just visible here at the end of the cutting. It was cut into the steep hill side.

This tunnel was built of stone blocks without mortar as early as 1815. That makes it one of the earliest railway tunnels in Britain.

Traction was by horse, which pulled two flangeless wagons along 'L' shaped rails.

An amazing piece of industrial archaeology, but you need to be tough to climb all the way up Blorenge Hill to find it.

Back to Toddington then with a bump. Invited on board Dinmore to inspect the footplate, we saw this not inconsiderable pile of coal that all has to be shovelled through a small one foot hole, while it is swaying about from left to right. The friendly footplate crew is part of what makes our line so popular with visitors, because, once again, the carriages were well filled, and this time we were able to check it from the inside, on the cushions as it were. Broadway village was also reported to be humming, with the railway no doubt taking some responsibility for that.

This is the sort of view you get from the train nowadays - two large standard gauge trains with 8 on, meeting on a curve. Quite thrilling really. Did we really build all that from a bare trackbed?

In the loco shed we discovered this visitor, still parked up after the Wartime in the Cotswolds event. It's a huge road locomotive, built by McLaren in 1912 and liveried in WW1 colours.

There's a great film on YouTube of it going round a bend in a WW1 military convoy:
Check out the driver heaving at the wheel, and the front wheels hopping along the road with each piston beat.

Finally news came that the Broadway canopy lamps were up at last. This we had to see!

Here they are, three in a row. The fourth one is still in store and is due to go under the similar canopy on P2.

They have been hung at a 45 degree angle to reveal to the passing public both engraved BROADWAY station names, similar to the tops on the platform lamp posts. This was done on several, but not all, the stations along our line. A curious but entirely logical arrangement, as this way people can read the name as the train approaches each post.
The lamps are already wired up, but have not yet been seen lit in the dark. Currently the last train leaves while there is still plenty of sunshine about.

The last picture today shows the row of lamps in situ, together with the first of four door boards. These two are suspended as the non original arch over two of the toilet doors does not permit the use of the usual V boards.
The other two will be BOOKING OFFICE and REFRESHMENT ROOM. The need for the toilet boards was the most urgent, we were told, so we did them first. Both signs are originals bought at auction some time ago in preparation for this job. The ladies sign was once LADIES WAITING ROOM but we didn't think they would like to wait so we took those letters off, so matching the door plate.


  1. Once again a wonderful collection of photographs. Also informative info to go with them.
    Regards, Paul.

  2. Those lamps look the business! Great stuff!

  3. Why do you need holidays? You're retired! :-)


    1. As those who are retired know you need a job or a holiday for a rest from all the volunteering we do!

  4. Can I just reiterate a suggestion regarding the bridge strike situation. Install bars before the bridge to prevent damage to the structure.

    1. We know about crash protection bars. The problem is funding.


  5. Nice pics of Hills tramroad, but to call Blorenge a hill is a bit of an understatement. Usually referred to as The Blorenge !

  6. If its essential that they keep the line open to Broadway (revenues received etc) then I'd suggest two options (1) a reduction in the capital expenditure for the new loco dept or (2) a special share offer. I think option 2 would be good as the GWSR could tap into the publicity that is a national problem regarding reckless bridge strikes. I fear it is inevitable that someone will be seriously hurt soon if this problem isn't addressed especially with ageing infrastructure.


    2. Publicity indeed. Thank you Aardvark. I think this could carry a lot of steam.

  7. In that BBC report the picture caption reads thus:
    "Machinery being carried by a flatbed truck was damaged when it hit Broadway bridge earlier this month".
    Of course it should have read:
    "Broadway railway bridge was damaged by machinery carried on a flatbed truck being driven carelessly".
    Get the facts right, BBC!

  8. Used to work as Flexi Crossing Keeper in the Nottingham area. A six-junction roundabout is followed by a rail over rosd bridge. As you approached said bridge, an illuminated sign sprang to life saying :- Overheight vehicle- please divert.

    With the Broadway bridge situation, I examined a map of the local roads and identified a bypass. Can anyone tell me how long it has been open and why so many overheight vehicles insist on using Station Road?
    It is going to continue to be a pain and not just in the neck, either.

  9. The Broadway bypass opened in 1998, to route the A44 round the village. However, the B4632, a N-S route, still passes under the railway bridge.
    Most of the strikes have been by local vehicles carrying a load on a flatbed, eg:
    - A digger
    - A skip (twice)
    - a machine
    - Roof trusses.
    - A giant forklift (near miss)

    I have also heard of lorries loaded with pallets, and even a car carrier striking the bridge (older accidents). The most serious strike occurred in 1975 with a digger being carried down Fish Hill. It nearly cut one of the outer beams in half.

    Diggers, skips and roof trusses all have the construction industry in common - there is a great deal of house building going on in the area.

    Actual tall vehicles strike the bridge more rarely eg when there are deviations from the A46 sent down station road. I think they no longer do this though.

    So it's local drivers. From Shipston, Honeybourne, Weston Subedge, Gloucester. They all know the bridge is there.

  10. I wonder how the employers of these drivers respond after one of their vehicles is involved in a bridge-bashing incident? Do the culprits simply get a ticking-off and told to be more careful in the future, or, as I think it should be, do they face instant dismissal AND prosecution?