Monday, 20 June 2016

Blocks !

Today was a day of blocks at Hayles Abbey halt. Despite the prolonged rain, there was a good turnout of 8 volunteers. It was all hands to the wheelbarrows, as the objective was to shift the 480 blocks that we had in pallets at the top end of the site down to the rear of the foundations, from where they can be laid. Luckily the rain gradually eased off as the day progressed.

Facilities on site continue to improve. We now have a generator, a stove, kettle, and an all important tarp over the top of our cheap, cheerful but very much leaking container. We also had 5 wheelbarrows (two borrowed from Toddy) so once the rain had reduced from downpour to drizzle at about 10 in the morning, a fleet of barrows was assembled with two blocks per 'driver'. Alright, Neal had 3, down from an overly enthusiastic 4 to start with, but the others decided to pace themselves more modestly.

Here is the 'barrow train' on its way down the old footpath to the trackbed. All the volunteers are there, including the two loaders at the rear. Neal's creaking load of 50% more than anyone else is at the rear - hope he had good brakes!

Here is the barrow train going down the temporary 'zig-zag', a short steep bit which bridges the original platform level with that of the foundations. We were unhindered by passing trains, as we only work on non operating days.

This is where the blocks went. They were stacked at the rear of the foundations, so that those laying the blocks can work freely. Our next working day here, which may well be Friday, will see a start made with actually laying the blocks. Do come along and help, just check with Jim that Friday is on.

The hardest job of the day was not barrow pushing, which is all downhill from here, but loading, lifting the heavy blocks into the barrows, time and time again. There were 12 pallets to start with, and it's quite tiring after a  while. Paul is taking 5 between loads, but mind those nettles there, Paul !

Aren't the Cotswolds beautiful? In this view of the site of the halt you can also see the village of Didbrook, the top of the pyramid at Stanway fountain reservoir, and the Cotswolds edge.

We will need a total of 1200 blocks to build the two coach platform, so today's effort was by no means all. Another 720 blocks will be delivered in due course and need to be ferried down, but first we'll be laying a few of those taken down today.

Towards the end of the day, more volunteers slowed down and took a rest. Some of those in the picture have volunteered since the late 1970s, (before the GWSR existed, I know) and are still going strong, as you can see. There must be something about work on our GWR line.

Or is it the tea?

Ah, I thought so !

The gang contemplates a job well done, and it's homeward bound with real job satisfaction.


  1. I know how heavy those blocks are! shifted 120 one at a time due to access, myself then found I had to restack them the next day!!! but well done the lads tea is well earned there!(do you add anything extra in the tea?)

  2. Note to editor, this was a none running day checked with Ops in the morning which explains the absence of High Viz track side. But to all well done lads a heavey old task.