Thursday, 7 December 2017

A job in the dry

A job in the dry, and helping out a friendly neighbour - what's not to like? The main activity yesterday took place in the carriage and wagon shed. Nice and warm and dry in there.

First of all, an apology for the fuzzy quality of the photographs today. This was caused by a young smartphone in old hands, leading to some out of focus imagery in low light. Bear with us! We will do better.

The main job there was to lay a level concrete floor over a redundant drain cover, in the C&W 'barn' end at Winchcombe. The drain is in the foreground, filled in. The concrete looks thick - several gang members poke it with a crowbar.

Professional poking with a crowbar determined that this was a much bigger job than the initial sales pitch (isn't it always like that?).

In order to achieve a level floor, including the area of the redundant drain, the gang had to dig out a much larger area of approx 12ft by 10ft, so quite a substantial are of concrete to get out. And the concrete was up to 7 inches thick too.

A number of cuts were made in the concrete with a large angle grinder, and the squares were then broken out with a Kango hammer.

It was decided to split the job into two, by first laying a strip of concrete as a path along the rail to the door in the connecting shutter. This then needed to set before continuing with the rest of the excavation.

In the picture the path is ready to be infilled with fresh concrete.

This picture shows better what the idea was - the new strip of concrete is in the foreground, while behind the old drain has been part covered, waiting for the rest of the area to be broken out. This was done by a late lunch time, so that the new concrete could settle down while tea and sandwiches were consumed.

The concrete that was broken out was barrowed 100yds over to the B&S shed site beyond the new ballast store. Good hardcore for someone.

Later on new concrete mixed at the same site was barrowed back in the other direction into the C&W 'barn'.

After lunch the rest of the concrete was broken out.

Meanwhile, back in the B&S shed Mike was working on the weighbridge house door.

He scraped off all the old paint, then applied primer and in the photograph he is just putting on a brown undercoat.

The gates have had another coat of gloss. Just one more coat on the other side to go now.

For these gates, two new posts have been delivered. They certainly look thick enough, just the business.

Now someone has to dig them in.

A third splinter group consisting of Jim and Austen, also at Winchcombe, continued digging holes for the fencing uprights. These are for the new anti dog fence at the bottom of the grassy slope.

A bit more Winchcombe history:

Another 1905 photograph, this time looking the other way from the new road bridge by the station, towards Greet tunnel:

It shows very clearly how our railway, one of the most recent and last built in the UK, was advanced with modern methods. There are still navvies here, but they are now steam navvies. Two of them can be seen digging their way along the new cutting towards the future northern portal of Greet tunnel.
The steam navvies had 4 small wheels with double rims that rolled along temporary track that could be taken up behind and laid down again in front as the workface progressed. The excavated spoil was dropped into very basic wagons with dumb buffers, which were drawn along temporary contractor's track with closely spaced sleepers, either by a horse, or by one of the contractor's little 0-6-0s.

The upper of the 2 navvies has a new stretch of contractor's line next to it, with a trolley at the end. According to Audie Baker in his book on our railway's history this line served the two shafts along the tunnel, out of which excavated martial could be evacuated, to be replaced by bricks brought in for the lining. It looks like the new line is to be extended to (or has been liften from) the cutting side in the foreground - there is a row of closely spaced sleepers this side of the trolley on the end.

In the construction of the famous Tring cutting this sort of scene would have featured only human labour, with wheelbarrow ways leading vertically up the slope and a horse at the top to pull.


  1. I thought it might be a drain in the 'barn' (no one said). C&W always complain that the 'barn' is a draughty and cold place, but, I suppose, in comparison to laying track in the open it is relatively 'warm'! Anyway, another job well done.

    The archive picture of the cutting work at Winchcombe is an excellent find. I DO like all the old pictures of how 'it was done way back when'! Maybe some pictures of the first trains could be found, or even of the station staff? Regards, Paul.

    1. I have more pictures of Winchcombe, including the staff.
      The first train was always a rail motor. I have seen pictures of it at every station, except - Broadway :-(

      Where is the Broadway rail motor picture? They did one at every other station, there must be one. Who has seen it?