Monday, 22 August 2016

Welcome to the Hayles Abbey Herald

Welcome to the new Hayles Abbey Halt reconstruction blog! We've moved it to a separate site in order to make it easier to find, for those who didn't know it was hidden in the B&S blog. More and more people are taking an interest in it, so a quick access to what we are achieving is important for the outside world.

To recap, here is a historical photograph to show what we are trying to rebuild (the RH, down side only, as we have only single track here):

So, and on to today's fun activities, with a mega team of no fewer than 11, which resulted in a record number of concrete blocks laid - 120, out of the grand total of 1200 to be done. We received a friendly delivery mid week (squeezed in between running trains) of 3 pallets of blocks. That's 3 x 40 = 120 blocks, but at the end of the day they had all gone again.

What exactly is it that makes this job so popular?

Is it the work?
Is it the cameraderie?
The fresh air?
A sense of achievement perhaps?

Ah, we thought so! People are so shallow....

We kick the day off with a nice cup of tea, and minutes later the gang is assembled outside the shed, armed with a hot brew and a doughnut each.

What is there to see?

Well, our friendly, building supplies sponsor is here again, with bags of sand (we get through this like a dose of salts), more cement and in this picture, the first two pallets of blues. A milestone!

The blues are put to one side. We don't need them today, but we can see the day coming, it's not far away now. Once we have poured concrete into a sufficient length of platform, we can make a start on the corbelling, and this is what they are for.

There were three teams again today -

Tim and Dave on the catch pit...

...Paul M and Paul R on the southern platform slope...

...and Dave P and Julian on block laying at the rear of the southern stretch of the platform.

Here they are, having a bit of a rest. In fact the occasion of this rest wasn't tiredness, but rather a delivery of somewhat sloppy mortar, which they decided to sit out until it had gone off a bit. Well, that was their story.

We had the benefit of 2 disk cutters today. Neal had brought his down to cut the blocks for the southern slope. We seem him here marking each block along a line, so that it can be cut to shape for that particular position.

Paul M also brought his disk cutter, and he cut a row of blocks shorter, so that they could be placed in the lower section at the end, behind the first row. This generated huge amounts of dust, but luckily only for a short time.

With the 120 freshly delivered blocks in the background, we see Paul R here chopping off the unwanted sections on each block cut by Paul M.
Paul M? Well, he changed his trousers afterwards, as you can see just to the left hand edge of the picture, where his bare knee is sticking out. We can't show you any more, as this is a family blog.

Towards the middle of the site, after much measuring, head scratching and cutting, Dave D and Tim succeeded in finishing the block wall around the catch pit.

We see them here, placing the last piece of the puzzle. The blocks slope inwards slightly, and the top is so shaped that a standard catch pit ring will fit over it. This will eventually be closed off with the usual lids.

After the southern pit was completed, the experts held a Pow-Wow around the northern pit, which is of a different design, as a little closer to the track.

How to cover this hole, given there is no wall at the front?

It was decided to run an upside down T bar at the front, which will allow the corbelling to continue, and then cover the rest with standard concrete lintels.

At the end of the day, Neal gave a demonstration of how the corbelling would look. Under the lowest brick there will be the wooden screen made to look like an old fashioned sleeper wall.

Last week we had a sudden and rather disasterous interruption of our pleasure in listening to 1960s hits (the Beatles and Manfred Mann spring to mind). The concrete block dropper - for it was John - made a gallant effort today to pacify the injured victim, Jim G.

These magnificent substitute radios were humbly offered in compensation. John even produced a tiny one, credit card sized with an earpiece.

Alas, Jim decided to stick to the moral high ground, and brought his own replacement. He produced a new tranny, which looked exactly like the old one. It appears he actually had several.

It was suggested the new tranny might be tested for resistance to falling concrete blocks. As 'Pretty Flamingo' was playing, we couldn't bring ourselves to go all the way though.

Towards the end of the day, Tim and Dave D switched their block laying to the area of the 'doorway' we had left ourselves, while the team of Dave P and Julian laid almost the whole of the first two courses of the rear wall on the southern bit, putting down blocks with dizzying speed. Jim H on the mixer could hardly keep up with the flow.
Here we see the great shuttle action, as we ran all the 120 newly delivered blocks from one side to the other. This was certainly a lot more convenient than bringing them down from the top. More please !

At the end of the day, the whole of the front wall was complete, and a substantial part of the row at the back too. You can see the three teams L, middle and R laying away here. Only a handful of unused blocks remain in the middle. The wall looks pretty much finished, but there's more to do yet.

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Now that you have found the Hayles Abbey Herald blog, we're afraid that straight away there is going to be a bit of a hiatus in reporting.
First of all, due to Friday running and Bank holiday Monday next week, it will be 14 days before the gang can come back.
Secondly, your blogger has finally succumbed to the pressure from Mrs B and booked a holiday as well. You'll have to make a personal visit to the site if you want to know what's going on, until reporting resumes some time after 15th September.

Until then, Ciao !


  1. Congratulations on your new web site. Excellent work and picture coverage. Q: Have you ever done a task and then afterwards thought 'I wish we had taken pictures of that'.? Been there and done that ! Regards, Paul.

  2. This is better, I can find you!!! This is going extremely well. When it is finished I will pay a visit and buy you all a beer or two. Excellent work everyone! By the way, when carrying out the brick test with the lump hammer, the radio needs to be on and ear defenders worn, flamingo's make a funny noise when in danger!!!!!!!!!

  3. You'll be rivalling Broadway next now you've got your own blog.
    Good to see, great progress as well.

  4. There is plenty of bags of sand at CRC why not get some of that and use it.

  5. Well done; great work. Who will finish first, you or Broadway.

  6. Has this blog hit the buffers or fell at the first fence?

    1. This Blog is alive and well. Unfortunately our Blogger has gone on vacation for a couple of weeks. Blogs for Mondays 5th and 12th September will be posted on his return and normal service resumed from the 19th onwards. Sorry for any inconvenience caused...

  7. Is there going to be a building on the new platform?

    1. Yes, an original corrugated iron shed, as described in earlier posts on the B&S blog.

  8. I just stumbled across this blog.
    For the latest views of Hayles Abbey Halt check out my photos from Sunday 12th March 2017.