Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Elf Centre is demolished

The big news of the day is the demolition of the wooden Elf Centre on platform 1 at Winchcombe, in preparation for a permanent structure loosely based on the former Ashburton goods shed. More of this further down the blog.

The enjoyable thing with the B&S group is that they do so many different things. Over the last couple of months the jobs have been wide ranging, and invariably very interesting.

At Winchcombe, the new replica GWR lamp post was erected on the new platform extension, with the little retaining wall running neatly round and behind it.

The post still needs painting, and the top fitted. The top is already in store.

In the pathway at Gothrington there were two dips that kept appearing in the path leading to platform 2, probably due to badger activity. Two trenches were dug out and 6 inch pipe runs installed across the path. These were then filled over with new gravel. Time will tell if this remedy will work.

At the request of the race course all the unsightly rubble was removed from around the level crossing area and the ballast pile tidied up. Another job was to remove about 3 tons of the sand left over from the platform two work, to storage at Winchcombe. This will come in very handy for future construction work.

During November the ceiling area of the cafe at Winchcombe was redecorated. At the same time genuine 1950s style ceiling lights were fitted, which replaced the rather modern industrial look of the previous neon strip lights that were there before.

The new 1950s ceiling lights in the Coffeepot
They certainly look the part now, it's all part of the 1950s atmosphere for which the Coffepot is known.

There was trouble in the booking office on the northern end of the station, where water started coming in through the ceiling in two corners. The leak was sealed with a temporary fix which cured the problem in the short term, but a proper cure for the whole roof there is intended with a polymer roll-on sealant which should last over 20 years. This job will be done in the near future.

After an unexpected flash flood at Toddington an aco drain was installed across the top gateway to stop the shop in the station building, lower down, getting flooded out again.

On the 4th of January, only days after the last Santa Special left, a good gang of B&S volunteers started to demolish the temporary 'Elf Centre' structure at Winchcombe, which has featured for many years as part of the Santa Special activities here each winter. We now have an 11 month window to erect the new building, and the first step is to clear the site.

The gang doesn't remove a lot of temporary Elf Centres, so a pause was slotted in after a while to decide how to tackle the next part of the job.

By lunch time on Wednesday more than half of the job was complete. The inside of the building was in surprisingly good condition still, but it had outlived its usefulness and could not really contribute to the heritage feel of the station. We are striving to improve the heritage atmosphere of the railway.

This interesting photograph (it was lunch time, time for tea, sandwiches and a natter) shows the location of the Elf Centre, with the santa coach in the background. The GWR brick built good shed is sandwiched in between two extensions in the backgound, and is today of course in the thick of carriage restoration. A new, smaller Bradstone building will be erected on the site of the old wooden Elf Centre, which will give the appearance of a goods shed over the dock where the santa coach is located. A drawing of the new building was published in last spring's edition of the Cornishman.

After lunch, the remaining parts were quickly disassembled, with the roof trusses on the left and the side panels on the right.

In this picture one of the side panels is being placed on the car park slope, leaving only the footprint of the building still visible in the foreground.

Also of interest is the background area, whose appeareance changed recently. Two red Mk1 former mail coaches used for storage over many years have now left for a new home. The Winchcombe yard is slowly being cleared, leaving room for properly planned new yard facilities. Now in view are two potential carriage restoration projects in private hands, which will also move to a new home in the near future.

A last look at the Elf Centre site, with the building completely removed in a single day. The base also needs to go, in time for contractors to start work on the replacement building on January 16th. They are expected to complete the structure by the beginning of September, and B&S will then be involved in its fitting out, just in time for the 2017 Santa season. Watch this space!

Post Scriptum

Mick has sent in some more photographs, which show the Elf centre being dismantled from within the team:

Looking bare, with trusses showing

Later in the day, only the floor is now visible
The sides have been carefully taken appart, ready for reassembly and further use on a farm.

While demolishing the base plate, the team pauses to contemplate their feet.


  1. Since the Elf Centre has been dismantled to flat pack form presumably there are plans the re erect it elsewhere?

    1. Yes, it's still in pretty good nick so the elf centre has been purchased by a volunteer who is removing it to his daughter's farm for reuse.

  2. Great news that GWRSR has WON the Aviva prize, the Elves will have a permanent home now at last!! Thanks to everyone who Voted and to Maxine who put forward the proposal, Really Great News for 2017.
    Paul & Marion.

  3. I'm pleased to hear that the GWSR,has won the Avia prize!.I'll be watching the construction of the new Elf Centre building,over the comeing season!.

  4. Final picture might read 'A great feat' or FEET. LOL. Regards, Paul.