Sunday, 16 August 2020

So Many Tasks and Not Enough Volunteers

There has been a lot of work underway in C&M since our last blog. With the volume of work underway it has been difficult to get the blog together. All Projects underway have had to be re-thought due to the revised working constraints brought in to minimise the risk of Covid-19 to our volunteers. 

Unfortunately the current constraints have meant that some jobs that were due to be underway have been suspended indefinitely as the risks of working in close confinement are just too high. Projects that are able to comply with the constraints and are currently underway include the following :

Racecourse Station - New Ticket Office

Work started on finishing off the new wall between the shop and the new ticket office early in July. A two man team completed all the work on the new wall including decoration to match the rest of the room. The retail shelving units were rebuilt and placed in required position ready for the shop team to populate them with new souvenirs for our visitors. The shop area was handed back to the retail team on 15th July.

The new shop wall after the modifications

The new ticket office door and frame has had additional coats of primer, undercoat and gloss in colours that match the other doors on site. 

View from Platform 2 showing the new Ticket Office at the right hand end

We are unable to proceed further with the Ticket Office construction work as it requires multiple people to be in the confined space at once, and the immediate rush to get this facility ready for running trains has now gone away with the new Covid-19 train running regime. The volunteers that were earmarked to work on this have now been diverted to other critical projects in the short-term.

The two man team was Bob W and Rob W.

Winchcombe - Footbridge Painting

From the end of June work started in earnest on the footbridge at Winchcombe. The paintwork was showing its age and it had been decided to rub the surfaces right down and in some cases back to the bare metal. The project was given urgency as the Covid-19 shutdown had given an opportunity to take possession of the track and erect scaffolding towers under the bridge. This meant Jim H working in close cooperation with Neil Carr on when possession could be granted to the tracks. We are grateful to Neil and C & W for keeping the tracks clear of coaches despite the need to shunt and reform the sets.

Setting up scaffolding each day was a major exercise

Not everybody likes working at height and so a limited number of volunteers were prepared to work at height from the scaffolding towers, particularly the height over the track. Due to the height each move required a partial dismantling followed by a careful move and rebuild. 

At the end of each Wednesday the towers had to be dismantled and the lines handed back.

Colin M taking the paint back to the galvanising

Not all volunteers want to work at these heights
Some love it (Colin & Pete)

The structure was pressure washed first to remove any loose or flaking paint followed by sheer hard graft sanding and rubbing down to give a smooth surface ready for the new paint provided by the Friends of Winchcombe Station.

Once the centre part of the bridge had been done the focus turned to the areas that could be reached by scaffolding towers sitting on the platforms and the sloping sides and handrailing.

Here Colin M is loosening the old paint with the
pressure washer aided by Jim M

John W working on the handrails, sides and steps

It's a long laborious process but preparation time pays dividends

The new red primer paint looks so much better already

This is where have got to so far.
We need more track access time and good weather to make more progress.

The bridge is not finished yet as train movements in preparation for the return to operation have limited the team's ability to get track access time. Last week the temperatures were so high in the heatwave that painting had to be abandoned by 10am as the paint was going off before it could be properly applied by brush.

The team that have been working on the bridge are Jim H, Pete D, Colin M, John W, Austen S, Ken W, Mike S, and Roger J.

You may find this old picture of the original Winchcombe footbridge from 1905 interesting. If you look closely you can see that somebody is working on the daggerboards and roofing. Health and Safety has clearly moved on from those days, just look at the scaffolding, planks and lack of handrails in contrast to the recent photos.

The original Winchcombe footbridge undergoing work in 1905.

Toddington - New Kerbs and Paving

A limited number of The Toddington Kerb and Paving Team started site preparation work on Wednesday 29th July. Their first job was to remove all the large weeds that had invaded the working area during the shutdown. Once this had been done the next job was to lift the brick paviors at the back of the station building ready for the new slab path that will run parallel to the road.

On Wednesday 5th August the full team were back on site and raring to go, some just released from their five month long lockdown. With sufficient numbers on site we have been able to start slab laying again, whilst remaining vigilant of the Covid-19 restrictions to our working practices.

Rod W and Terry A placing the slabs with the lifter after Bob W has prepared the mortar bedding

The new kerbing and path to keep pedestrians off the road behind the station.
The brick paved area between the path and building is to be lifted and re-profiled.

By last Wednesday the team had managed to complete the new path all the way from the South Gate up to the keypad just inside the site fence. By then it had got so hot that they had to stop the slab work as the mortar was going off before they could set the slabs. It was still a feat of endurance for them to have managed to lay so many slabs despite it being the hottest day of the heatwave.

The gluttons for punishment are Rod W, Terry A, Keith S, Paul C, Bob W & Mike S.

Toddington Winchcombe & Cheltenham Racecourse - Platform Maintenance

From the middle of July a small team led by Pete D has been working on the platforms at the above stations, dealing with the slow settlement of the tarmac areas of the platforms where they butt up against the large platform edging slabs. In places a small amount of settlement has taken place under the tarmac which could have provided a trip hazard if it had not been dealt with. In these cases a section of tarmac is cut out and new tarmac laid to give a smooth transition from the tarmac to the stone.

In some places the white platform edge line was fading and so new white lining has been applied where necessary.

Unfortunately we don't have any photos of the team in action on this work.

The Team was Pete D, Ken W and John W


Churchward House - Ongoing Improvements

At Churchward House two initiatives have been ongoing since June. 

Plumbing and fitting out new toilets

The first is the continuation of work to provide new toilet and messroom facilities for the teams working out of the new workshop on site. This has involved a significant amount of plumbing, refurbishment of the original hot and cold water services and some disruption to the facilities used by the Admin and Ops staff based in the building. When these works are finally complete the door between the clean and dirty sides of the building can stay closed to maintain segregation of the two separate environments.

The team working on this was Jim M and Rob W.

Surface Water Drainage Works

The second is the re-laying of the surface water drains at the rear of the Churchward House workshop. Surface water seepage from the bank to the rear has been historically run as a stream at times to a concrete chamber and unsealed section of pipe before being channelled into the surface water drainage system that runs through the yard. Much of this water clearly did not go into the drains but ended up raising the groundwater level in the area between Churchward House and Halls workshop acting as a giant soakaway. 

The stream coming from the bank at the rear of our workshop
The previous occupants had bodged this together to take the water away.

In early August our new drainage works removed the old clay pipes and installed new plastic drainage pipes that connected into the existing manhole and then terminated with a deep trap gulley and a second branch to collect rainwater direct from from the main roof downpipe. 

Where possible we are aiming to capture any seepage water coming from the rear bank and divert it into the new gulley which will take it off to the stormwater drains serving the station yard.

Due to the waterlogged ground in that area the new pipework had to be designed to minimise deep dig operations and had to be done during a period of dry weather when the seepage from the rear bank was at its minimum and within our ability to keep the trench dry during pipe laying operations. Particularly the connection into the base of the manhole.

Here Jim M is fitting the new deep trapped gulley with grating to catch any loose debris.

The area after the drain works were completed before our final tidy up.
It just needs a new layer of stone laid on the path to finish the job off.

The area has now been reinstated and all surplus material removed. We just need a layer of the new stone on the path to finish off this work.

The team working on this was Jim M, Austen S and Rob W.

That's all for this month's update. These are the bigger jobs we have been involved in recently. Alongside these have been a number of minor repair and maintenance activities, too many to detail here.

I hope you found it useful. If you would like to join us and take part, please feel free to get in touch with Dave Bowie our Head of Department.

Rob W

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

We're Finally Back in Action After Lockdown !

Toddington Car Park Fencing

A small C&M Tead headed by Pete D was tasked by Projects Director Alan Miller and Head of Department Dave Bowie to put a secure fence up around the former Garden Centre car park. The car park was starting to get used by local builders working nearby and casual visitors alike.

The members of the team were sent personal requests asking if they would be prepared to participate in this activity. Detailed risk assessments had to be drawn up which specified in great detail what could and could not be done during the construction work. Also we were all issued with a personal hand sanitiser spay, rubber gloves, paper towels and wipe down solution before we left Winchcombe Station.

In addition we had all been mandated to sign on to the new mobile app as soon as we got to site. Unfortunately only one of our five mobile phones could establish the required link and so Colin had to log us all on using his mobile phone. The rest of us hit a security alert that would not allow the app to work, so that's something we all need to follow up with Blue Marble the app developers.

The task was to place Heras fencing all round the perimeter of the car park from the edge of our boundary, all down the drive and to install a lockable gate in the lower entrance to the drive.

The wagon was loaded up at Winchcombe with the fencing panels, secure feet and bolted connectors. It took three trips to Winchcombe to get all the materials to site and whilst some of the team started erecting the new fencing some others travelled back to Winchcombe to assist the loading. The Covid-19 risk assessments stipulated that nobody other than the driver could travel in the crew van, and so all had to use their own transport to ferry backwards and forwards.

Here are the pictures of the fencing going up :

Here Colin M, John W, Ken W and Pete D
 are in action at the side of the drive

The finished driveway with the new gates being installed

The new gates being tested -
Note the social distancing taking place

The finished gates from the drive - Tied in to the
Heras fencing put up by the gas main contractors

It was the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures well into the 30's, luckily we had some shade from the giant trees at the side of the drive, and so by early afternoon we had the job complete and the car park secured.

It was interesting to see the number of vehicles that attempted to turn in to the car park for various reasons, and so it was timely that we got this fencing up.

The full Team was Pete D (Team Leader), John W, Ken W, Colin M and Rob W.

That's all for now, let's see what other tasks we get set that can be tackled within the ongoing Covid-19 constraints.

Rob W 

Friday, 20 March 2020

Coronavirus Stops Work !

GWSR Gotherington Embankment Appeal

GWSR urgently needs to raise funds to cover the cost of the emergency works at Gotherington. If you can help us please check out the dedicated web page at the address below.

Click on the link below to find out more about the Appeal

Thank you.

Richard Johnson 
Chairman GWSR plc

Cheltenham Racecourse Station

New Ticket Office Conversion - Work has had to be paused !

The Board recently asked C&M to construct a new on-platform ticket office at CRC. To accommodate this the Retail department have relinquished 1/3rd of the Shop/Waiting Room space at the southern end of the station building. We were asked to do this as a top priority job as soon as the races were over.

We had a team of C&M volunteers willing to work throughout the week starting on 16th to get enough work done to hand the retail space back to the shop team by Friday 20th March. 

The new project has to create a new doorway into this area by removing an existing window and installing a new door and frame to match all the others on site.

Waiting Room/Shop area before work started

To separate the two areas a new stud wall has been built which is clad with plywood on the retail face, and plasterboard on the ticket office side. Retail required the plywood face so that they can securely fix display materials and install security tie-backs for the display shelving.

Deliveries were arranged to arrive at Winchcombe workshop during the races week as we could not get access to CRC station.

Last Wednesday the truck was pre-loaded with all the materials and equipment needed. By then Barrie S our carpenter had pre-installed the new door into the bare frame and installed the door furniture to save us time on site.

Monday 16th - Despite concerns about the Coronavirus the full team began work on site at about 8am. The first job was to cover all floor areas with hardboard to protect the floor surface and then get the new stud wall up to segregate the two areas. 

Materials stacked along the platform ready for use

John, Keith & Paul cutting the timber studs to length

The Ticket Office side of the new stud wall

And the Retail side showing the smooth plywood face

A temporary access had to be maintained through the stud wall to allow access to the rear of the window being removed. Steve L had come to site, modified the electrical circuits and had new power circuits up and running ready for the retail fridges. 

By the end of day one the new stud wall carcass was up and clad on the retail side and the inner face of the wall under the window had been removed ready for the work on the door the following day.

Bob cutting out the old concrete blocks under the window

The finished area ready for
removal of the window and brickwork

Tuesday 17th - Firstly the old window was removed in one piece by very careful use of the diamond disk cutter and our recently acquired multitool. Once the window was out of the way the diamond disk cutter was brought into action. As can be seen in the photos, John is very deft with the use of this machine.

John S on the diamond tipped disk cutter

 and within 15 minutes all the bricks had been removed from the opening. 

The removed bricks were taken away for possible future use

The complete door and frame were installed and accurate measurements taken as to how much to shorten the door so that it just passes over the inner floor. When the building was originally built the platform and inside floor were laid to the same level, however an 80mm screed was then applied to the floor area, and a vinyl floor laid on top. Our new door has to fit over these to open inwards.

The gap left under the door is for
the new ramp up to match floor level

A great deal of care was taken with packing and fixing the frame to the opening. Unfortunately a number of the frame fixings broke during the installation. Luckily all were able to eventually be extracted and replaced with bigger tougher units. I think we had a bad batch of these, and so won't be using them again. 

By the end of the day the door was in and locked securely. By now the concerns over Coronavirus had escalated and we had heard that all railway operations were cancelled indefinitely. We had a discussion and the whole team agreed to do one more day to finish off the ticket office side of wall, to point up the door frame and remove all surplus materials back to the C&M workshop at Winchcombe.

The original plan had been to crack on and cut out the new ticket window openings in the south wall of the building, but we needed to get structural lintels from the builders merchants to finish that task and we could not guarantee to finish the work if for any reason they did not have the required stock. 

We had not been able to pre-order these as there was ambiguity about the wall construction on that end wall, and so we needed to see what we found when we created the new openings. At this stage the concerns were being voiced about us continuing with the work as we are mostly in the high-risk category for getting the virus due to our age 😕. 

Wednesday 18th - The plasterboard was collected from Winchcombe and the wall finished complete with thermal/noise insulation. 

Ticket Office side of the new wall
ready for a future plaster skim

Surplus materials, tools and all the debris were loaded onto the truck and returned to Winchcombe. 

The remaining team members primed the plywood face of the new wall, primed the new door and pointed up the door frame. 

Retail side of wall with first coat of primer applied

Scaffolding was then erected inside the new ticket office for whenever work resumes cutting out the new window openings. The site was left secure, clean and tidy.

The finished door before painting

And John giving it its first coat of primer

It is a shame that we could not get as far as we originally hoped, but we had planned a full week's work, and still believe retail could have had the shop space back by Friday if the Coronavirus had not caused us to stop work. All parties now agree that we stopped at the right point. Let's hope the pause is not too long.

The partially finished waiting room with new power points

Thanks to all the volunteers who gave up their time for this project. The team were - Bob W, John S, Keith S, Paul C and Steve L (electrician). It was a pleasure to be part of this team.

Rob W

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

End of February 2020

Churchward House Goes Live !

Report from Jim H.

As reported last month it was intended that the offices were to go live on the 4th February and I’m pleased to report that the move did in fact take place on that date.  It was however a close shave and several activities went down to the wire.

Now that the dust has settled, and most of the sorting out is completed, you can really appreciate what a fabulous facility this will be for the office based staff.  No more going outside to fetch water for the kettle or having to go to the toilet in the rain for example!!

Here is how things looked before the move on Saturday the 29th January.

Carpet tiles going down in the Admin Office 

The Contractors still had a bit to do on the fire alarm system

And this is how things were on Saturday 22nd February !

The main Admin Office

The Meeting Room

Mail boxes on the First Floor Landing

The Entrance Hallway / Reception Office

The First Floor corridor as viewed from the Admin Office

However the work for the C & M Department is ongoing as we have a number of snagging issues still to deal with, as well as touching up the paintwork where this has been damaged by various activities.

We are now busy decorating the mess room area and fitting out the toilet area so we, and the other departments based at Winchcombe, can start to use these facilities.  

C&M are hoping to move in during March, assuming all goes to plan.  Here are a few photographs showing this work in progress.

Roger touching up the paintwork in the
First Floor corridor

Roger, Colin & John painting in the mess room

Mike G tiling in the toilet area

Ken painting the Mess Room door frame

John painting notice boards in the workshop

Toddington Kerbs & Paving Progressing Well !

Report from Rob W

The team of Terry A, Bob W, Keith S, Paul C, and John S spurred on by occasional visits from a slowly recovering Rod W have been making good progress since our last blog. The new wider path to the South Gate has been completed along with its new disabled ramp and increased fall to remove the tendency for puddles to linger after rain storms. A new heavy duty slot drain has been installed below the gate and connected up to the platform drainage system to take the path runoff away .

Terry is painstakingly filling all the
 joints with kiln dried sand

You can see in this picture the new kerbing, ramp and
 difference in profile of the new path from the old brick paviors

Here Terry is ensuring that all the joints are well packed with
fine sand. You can also see the new drain under the gate

Having got the path finished the team are having to blend in the adjoining paviors to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new paving. This means lifting all the old bricks, removing any cracked or frost damaged ones and re-profiling the whole area to make the smooth transition.

Bob W removing all the old bricks

The team then have to replace the bricks, cutting a number of them during the relay to achieve a similar pattern to the one that was there before.

John S working out the pattern and complex joints

And so here is the latest position at the end of February. The right hand side of the brick paved area has now been completed. Work is now starting on the left hand side of the path so we aim to be where we hoped ready for the new operating season.

The team have done a lovely job of
merging the old and new paved areas

The left hand brick paving is going to be a much more complex task because we have to raise the big manhole cover and blend that into the three dimensional grading for the brickwork. We are probably going to leave that complexity until after the busy period during races week.

The next activity is to continue the new kerbing all the way along the back of the station to join up with the recent work done at the North Gate.

The new kerbs at the rear of the station building

As you all know, we have had some very heavy downpours since we started work on the new kerbing and the North and South paths. We are pleased to be able to report that the station has not flooded, and both paths have shed the water as planned, this gives the team great satisfaction to know that they have finally rectified this age old problem that has afflicted the station building.

 That's all for now, Sorry for the lateness of this blog. We have so much work on at the moment it's difficult finding time to get this information out.

Rob W