Saturday 2 February 2019

Last but one

Saturday was bitter cold, but the PWay gang was a hive of activity - the best way to keep warm.

The Cotswolds were cold on Friday, with snow just about covering the grass, although not quite.

This morning started bright, with an excellent sunny forecast, albeit icy to start with, and we all huddled round the kettles in the mess coach as they burbled and sang on the gas rings. The inside thermometer read minus 2 again.

We had quite a small team today, maybe 10 of us.

David here has got out all the tools we think we will need, while Stevie nods his approval on the choice.  Basically stuff for manipulating rails.

As everything was covered in a thin layer of snow, you can easily see how many sleepers we laid in up to the point when this picture was taken. We had to stop laying down any more at one stage, as it would make it impossible for Stevie to drag any rails through.

And here he comes, with a pair of carefully selected second hand BH rails for our pleasure to lay.

We are not putting back the exact same old rails in the same order - they will now be better matched, and a number removed permanently for scrapping.

Stevie drove this difficult path dragging the rails, down the 6 foot as it were, although, curiously, this is actually a 10 foot gap, required if it is a siding next to a main line. It explains the kink outwards by the bracket signal.

Then we started laying back the rails, on the long row of sleepers that we now have. They only sit on a chair every 6 sleepers, so there is a whole lot more chairing up and keying up to do, even if the rail appears to be in.

We decided to tip them in, which needs more men than with the JCB, but which is very satisfying if they drop in. As they do, of course. We have done this before...

Part of the gang was at the southern end, where the sleepers laid earlier petered out. There was a bit of head scratching about the line to take, and the answer was provided by Steve and Mike, who measured from the parallel siding.

Pity that we measured it, because we discovered we had to bar the line of sleepers into the correct direction, it had a tendency to drift towards the Malverns.

Jack kept guard over us. Let's hope he doesn't turn round quickly with that bar over his shoulder, there is something about Eric Sykes' 'The Plank' in this stance.

Having come quite a long way south, we started to take an interest in the southern end of the job, and whether the sleepers were really heading for it. They weren't, so that meant more calling out and barring.

The rails we dragged in had already been cut at one end, and today they were to be cut at the other, so that the crippled ends are removed on both extremities. That should give smoother running here.

Bert Ferrule and Chris are almost through one rail. The last inch is elusive however, as the disk quickly wears down and then doesn't quite reach.

Dang, another new disk already?

As the light began to fade Nigel's gang started relaying from the other end, and here you can see how close the opposite sets of rails are.

Today we laid in all but the last pair to join the two ends of the rack back together.

One length left to go. That one is a bit more complicated, as we have to space the others very carefully so that the fishplates fit, then cut the last pair of rails to fit the gap.

As we cut the northern ends of after laying, Stevie had to push each rail along 2 or 3 feet.

To stop the end of the rail catching on the last two sleepers and pushing them out of place, we lift them with a cross of bars. An old trick of the PWay gangs.

This is our closing view for today - all the remaining sleepers were laid out today (ouch!) and all but one pair of rails laid in, in a basic fashion (every sixth chair placed).

Fish plating, all the other chairs and keying up still to go.

As the sun went down the temperature changed from a little bit hot even, to bitingly cold, all in about half an hour.

A good day's work done today.


Our planned day at Broadway on Friday was cancelled due to the snow, sadly. We will reconvene on another day, very shortly, don't worry. There is lots more to do on the steps.

Driving by today we noticed that the Heras fencing across the entrance to the new council car park has been taken down. Double yellow lines have been painted in the throat, and signs indicating a one way system (exit at the Childswickham end) put up. As yet there is no payment apparatus, and this is probably so due to this notice (centre left in the picture)

One might suppose that the parking meters will be installed once this procedure has run its course.

The notice was accompanied by a map, with dire warnings about reproducing it, so although it was put up for public consultation we had perhaps better not show it to you.

One thing we can say though is that according to the map there is a 'dismantled railway' along the top of the embankment.

Not any more!

So what fun could we have during the inclement weather?

On opening, the stations along our line all had poster boards, hung on every available space along the platform side of the building. These we still need to make, but it's not so straightforward.


Gotherington 1906

What did they look like exactly, these boards, and how big were they? What colour too.

We learned that the poster boards were made of flat T&G boards, held together by a moulded frame with an inner groove that held the T&G boards firmly together.

But where do you obtain some mouldings as used by the GWR? Not at B&Q. The answer was by taking an original to a firm in Brownhills, and here we had exact copies made, sufficient for 6 poster boards and some additional V boards that used the same pattern.

Here you can see Neal at work in a small workshop not far from Broadway....

He's using a router to round off a strip of square edged pine.

Here is a board fully assembled. The strip on which Neal was working runs across the top and separates the poster area from the title area. This could be painted, or lettered GWR in cast iron.

And here is one we made earlier. We've laid in some original letters, and a replica poster. It's one of 4 weatherproof ones, offered to us by a supporter. The colour won't fade on this one, nor will it fray, so it is perfect for the 4 to be hung on the outside wall. It still needs painting in the Broadway colour of chocolate brown.

Two more will be in varnished wood and lettered by hand, and these will go indoors in the booking office.

For the outdoor ones we have had these 4 inch letters cast from originals. That took a while too.

We have been very lucky in finding such letters, almost all offered by supporters, which allowed us to build up most of an alphabet of GWR cast letters in different sizes.

So snow, yes, but we didn't sit still.

More work on the Broadway footsteps soon.


  1. Poster boards are looking great! Have you thought any more about using a double to replace the big lump of wood currently nailed to the outside of of the station building? (Or indeed the similar one in the booking office)...

    Brushes are at the ready for when it's time to do the lettering. :-)


    1. I haven't thought of the double... but I did think of you for the letters. I have a good example from which to copy, I'm just working out the right combinations of varnish now.

  2. IS there nothing that Neal can't turn his hand to? I'm going to call him the Fabricator Extraordinaire! Seriously, it takes special care and skill to measure then fabricate the metalwork for the steps, and make them fit with foundations poured months ago. We're used to this being easy with modern computer controlled machinery, but you did it with not much more than the equipment they would have used in 1904. I was particularly impressed with the fact that the top stringers fitted into the existing footbridge span and also the intermediate support. Not much wiggle factor there! Great stuff, Neal!
    Incidentally, Jo, I notice that those notice boards appear to be fixed to some sort of vertical battens on the walls in those early pictures. Are you going to replicate those, I wonder?

    1. Yes, I bought a supply of battens but Neal thinks they are too thick. Maybe we could trim them?
      We have 3 more boards to go still. They don't take too long to make up now since we worked out the MO, but we can only make one per day.

      Some battens were short and projected to just beyond the board, others went all the way up to the roof. I think we'll make ours short.

  3. There is a long running argument in the (model) railway world as to whether the GWR ever lettered their notice boards GWR or the full GREAT WESTERN.
    I think that whatever you decide will be good.
    Nice pics of early Broadway and Gotherington.
    Regards, Paul.

    1. Indeed, last time the subject came up we both commented and on further googling I was even more confused than before! Looks like we'll have a few of each which will be nice.

  4. To get done what you all did yesterday, on that cold Saturday (2nd February 2019) day, is quite remarkable to be honest.

    It was a bitterly cold day, so well done to all the GWSR PWay stalwarts.

    1. Just to add, there was no report on the required 'PWay Army marching on its stomach' feeding and apéritif arrangements, such as cake/doughnuts and tea/coffee.

      To have 'motored' through all that work, through that bitter weather, must have meant some very special gastronomic feasting beforehand...

    2. I have been asked not to mention how the gang is fed, but suffice it to say that maitre d' Paul and his unfettered opinions on any subject you care to mention still rules the roost. Woe betide you if you don't put your chair under :-(

  5. Jo,
    On a visit to the Severn Valley Railway I came across a Great Western region timetable which included the train times for Broadway. Could a copy or reproduction of the timetable be obtained for display at Broadway station. the timetable was on display at Arley station waiting room. Brummie Dave, lineside clearance.

    1. Thanks for that. A copy timetable would be great and I even photographed an original at a private GWR station, but how to get it poster size?

    2. I have access to a Large Format Printer at the college I work for. It would be done using modern inks though, so not exactly period. How good is your photograph? You would need to have a precisely square on one to make it look perfect.

      Thinking about it, the original could have been screen printed which we also have equipment for.

      Let me know if you are interested.

    3. Forgot email:

  6. Hi Jo - I really enjoy your blogs and general progress. Can you give me a link to the webcam at Broadway station - A search on the GWSR website doesn't reveal the link and many of your supporters refer to having 'seen' activities during the week.

    (Richard Budd - C&W Maintenance dept)

    1. Here you go Richard:


  7. Happy to oblige:

    When I come down with the poster boards for Alex to letter, will there be a cup of tea for me?

  8. Great feature of the poster boards and I can’t wait to see them fitted.

    Any thoughts of making others? A blackboard like the one on the WSR would be good for Alex to letter, we could then do a friendly comparison with Robin’s work.

    A triple size board with the future route to Honeyborne on it would give a point of interest. Also one on the drive side for a map of the local area and one for the bus time table would be good.

    Great blog as usual,