Friday, 27 November 2015

Some more demolition

Wednesday saw a start made on building the platform extension, with a gang of 6 on the job.

Outside the station building materials have arrived, in particular concrete blocks for the lower rows, as at CRC,

Inside, along the platform, bricks have been stacked ready to lay.
These are being brought down from a surplus at Broadway, 1000 at a time. Another 2000 remain to be collected.

The day started dry but it soon became a day of steady light rain up until mid afternoon, when you photographer dropped by after a day at Broadway.

At the start of the day the shuttering pegs etc were removed and any voids filled to make a safe working area.
Several measurements were then taken to establish how much more spoil, if any, would need to be removed. This fortunately revealed that very little extra will have to go, and it will probably be a pick and shovel job.
Next on the agenda was to remove the slabs on the slope, so once we had all the right kit in place we commenced with lifting and rolling them uphill to store them at the back of the platform ready for re use when the wall is rebuilt.
This was all done by hand and foot and rollers in about an hour and a half (this brought back memories of when we laid them many years ago). They will be replaced however using a small 360 digger with straps.
In the picture above you can see that the platform slabs have been removed, and a start is being made on removing the small concrete sleeper ends that were used for corbelling when the platform was first rebuilt. Pat is giving them a very hard stare.
The slabs were on with surprisingly hard mortar, but they have to go, as the slope is being moved along by 20m to the new end of the platform.
One gang member is using an SDS drill with chisel bit to penetrate the mortar, while Pete is on the crowbar to remove a sleeper end that has been loosened.
Your photographer then got itchy hands and also had a go. 

Not as easy as it looks. What did they use for mortar 20 years ago? It's tough. After 10mins of rattling away, one obliged by coming away, leaving yours truly all a-tremble.
These sleeper ends are the 'pots' from lightweight army concrete sleepers, not suitable for main line use, so they found a new use here. They all have to come out before you start brick laying on the extension, and carefully so, as they will be reused.

As we were packing up in the failing light, a 'train' came along. The PWay gang in the Landie - beep-beep !
All in all a good days work despite the weather.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Concrete arrives

On Wednesday a mixer lorry came to pour the concrete for the platform extension footings at Winchcombe.

The mixer lorry and the pump have arrived on the road above the station
It was quite tricky working out how to make the concrete up, and how to get it to the footings, which were in an awkwardly inconvenient place. One option was to get a gang of men and barrow it in from the front of the station building, but a rough estimate of the weight of the spoil removed (10 dumper loads) and the likely weight of fresh concrete to be barrowed helped us to decide that ready made, and a pump, was the most workable option.

The location chosen for the supply of concrete and pump was on top of the road bridge, which gives a good view over the site. There were 6 B&S volunteers, and as most of the work was going to be done by the concrete supplier and pump operator, two volunteers were detached with the blue van to go to Broadway and collect more bricks.

All is ready - start pumping!
Setting up the pump lorry only took 20 minutes or so, but once the concrete started flowing through the pipe, blockages were met and the supply became somewhat intermittent. This was relieved by a well aimed series of blows with a lump hammer, clearly a well accepted cure for that ill!

Here we can see the concrete flowing freely, and beginning to fill up the trench.

B&S volunteers helped with filling and levelling, so that the whole pour, once set up, only took an hour or so.


 In the meantime, the lads were back from Broadway with a supply of blues, so once the concrete has gone off, brick laying can commence.

Half way there
The use of the pump can clearly be seen here - how else to get concrete to this inaccessible site?

...and looking north, towards the rest of the platform.
The completed pour, looking south...

As the pour came to an end it started to rain, so the day was completed by unloading the blues from Broadway.

The B&S gang would now like to progress as quickly as possible, because in a separate operation the PWay gang will be relaying the track in platform 2 (looking rather weedy in the pictures above) as well as the southern part of the track in platform 1. The spent ballast that will come out is ideal for use as infill behind the new wall. 

The track works will start at the end of the Santa Special season, i.e. in January, so that wall needs to be up by Christmas. The next full working day will be Wednesday next week, and more volunteers in B & S are always welcome to help get the work done on time.

Monday, 9 November 2015


Hi there, nice to see you! You are reading the new blog for the GWSR's Building and Services department. This blog replaces the Flickr site the department was using, which is unfortunately no longer active. This blog will resume the department's record of activities, and it aims to provide a bit more narrative too.

What marks the B&S department out is that it is very versatile. It can become involved with almost any building project on the railway. A bit like the fire brigade really - you call them, and they come and help with a building job. The department has been around for a long time, and has assisted with many structures that are just plain part of the railway today - Winchcombe station building, the toilet block there, the platforms, the footbridge, Toddington footbridge, Toddington waiting room conversion, the new foot crossing at Toddington, CRC2 platform, painting CRC station and its water tower, the base of the new hut that has just arrived there. This is by no means a full list, but you get the idea.

Crew numbers are surprisingly modest for such an interesting department - just 6 or 8 of them, and they do Wednesdays and Saturdays, usually kicking off at Winchcombe, their base, at about 9.30. In fact, the post of head of department is currently vacant, so if joining them looks interesting, why not give it a go? Just ask for Pete at Winchcombe any Wednesday or Saturday. Often they are round and about in one of the two little vans that the railway has.

So here is our first report.

A new job that was started today is the lengthening of the southern end of Winchcombe's platform 1 by a further coach length. This has been on the railway's 'to do' list for quite a while, and now we are gripping the bull by its horns.

Today was the day we dug out the foundations.

Here is an overview of the site, taken from the road bridge. The platform extension required has been marked out in white paint. It's going to be 20m long, just about right for one coach. As you can see, platform two is already this long, and the missing bit on platform 1 is a nuisance for operational reasons.

Just to compare, and underline what the volunteers have already achieved since we bought the line, here is a picture from 1985, when the station was at its nadir:

Not a lot there, is there? Just the goods shed in the distance. Certainly no platforms.
So, today we had two dumpers on the go, a one tonner, and a two tonner. The first job was to make the narrow site wide enough for the dumpers to come and go. Again, because the site is very narrow and difficult to access, we only had a very small mini digger, so progress was a a bit slow to start with, but got better as we gained familiarity with the terrain, and not least, S&T were kind enough to move their signalling wires to one side for the day. Thanks, guys!

Here's the site seen from the top of the starting signal. Neil has just started excavating the trench itself. It wasn't easy getting the very small digger to reach into the bucket of the somewhat larger 2T dumper, but we got into the swing of it after a while. Lots of original clay down there too, as well as some of the remains of the first row of bricks of the original platform. Remember, when the GWSR bought the line, there was nothing here - no rails, no station building, and no platform. Today's platform 1 was built by us, but is slightly shorter than the original, if the foundations may be believed.

Here Neil explains the modus operandi to a rather incredulous looking Pete. You what ??

Pete then set off in the loaded dumper. You can see why we picked an out of season period to do this job, as we have to run along the platform to get the stuff away.

The Coffee Pot cafe was closed and much missed, but Malcolm (Head of S&T) made us very welcome in his Mk1 HQ at the other end of the yard.

At the end of the afternoon we did, in the end, manage to lift out the entire trench, taking away 20 - 25 tons of spoil. It's amazing what comes out, not just clay and bits of 1950's blanketing, but also quite a number of useful imperials, which can be re-used for backing up the extension brickwork.

The bricks with which the extension will be built are modern imperial blues, left over from the Broadway platform construction. Nothing goes to waste round here!

The next job now is to set out the concrete infill. It looks like ready mix with a pump will be used, as the volume required and distance involved is too large to do it by hand, even if we had lots more volunteers.

A couple of pictures from Winchcombe yard might interest you too:

A ballast train with 6 Dogfish and a Shark (brake van with a ballast plough, just visible above the rails, behind the loco). No, it's not for the Broadway extension, but this freshly loaded train is going to drop ballast along the existing running line, in preparation for a visit from a tamper. Not an everyday sight then.

Something that is involved with the Broadway extension is this:

A collection of freshly painted signal posts, behind Winchcombe signal box.

We enquired with Malcolm, and yes, they are destined for Broadway! Good to see that other departments too are revving up for this.

And this one too. Strange, isn't it? A newly refurbished signal post standing in the middle of nowhere, far away from any rails.

The answer to the mystery is that the post is being tested. This post is a bit more complicated than your plain signal, so it's best to do a dry run to make sure that everything is there, and that it works.

In fact, there is something that isn't there. The indicator panel should have a frame with glass, and the frame seems to be missing. Anyone know where it is?

This post is also destined for Broadway, being the future inner home from Honeybourne. The indicator will tell footplate crew which platform they will be using.

That's it for today, B & S will report further at intervals, so do drop in from time to time. Any questions, or perhaps you'd like to join them, let us know and we will try to help.