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 This blog replaces the Flickr site the department was using, which is unfortunately no longer active.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.


  1. Thank you for the new informative blog, good to see it

  2. Yet another interesting window on this line. That photo of the beautiful countryside when the station had been taken away. They really didn't see the tourist potential for this line.
    Mike Rose.

  3. An excellent blog. Please do carry on and update regularly. Very much appreciated.

  4. fantastic to see yet another side to a hard working railway, keep up the hard work