Monday, 31 October 2016

A frank discussion

It was an amazing day today, 8 degrees to start with, but by noon it was so hot that we had stripped all our layers off and were working in shirt sleeves. It was windstill and sunny, with a wonderful mist under the crest of the Cotswolds edge at the start of the day.

After a brief cup of tea to start the day, it was time to give Minnie the Mixer an oil change:

She gulped down the oil, and, amazingly, behaved impeccably the whole of the day. Mysterious, she keeps us on our toes. But we were grateful for her cooperation, as we mixed a lot of mortar today for the corbelling team.

As the concreting is now basically done (we filled in half a dozen holes remaining at the northern tip) the team involved took out the planks that are being used to simulate the old sleepers, and set about painting them with creosote. It's a sticky job, but at least the weather is on our side.

The plank team started the day as they meant to go on - with a rest.

It's something to do with cutting the planks to size and shape for the slope.

They have to sit there.

With their extra weight, the other half of the team could saw the ends to size.

In this way, everyone is useful.....

After the successful sitting session, the plank is the right length and can be trial fitted.

Afterwards, it is removed again for painting in creosote.

As the northern end of the platform comes down to a point, the planks get shorter and the ends have to be cut to an angle.

Here Neal is fitting one of the uprights to the last of the blocks.

It was such a splendid sunny day that our neighbour came out and mowed his lawn - and we are one day away from November ! It felt like Acacia Avenue in the suburbs; in actual fact our neighbour is an agricultural research station and this patch of grass, carefully leveled, rolled, and planted with a special seed, is trimmed at regular intervals and studied very closely. It does make you want to play cricket though.

Soon it was lunchtime and further jollity ensued.

Things became a little more interesting when Steve joined us (another with a radar for bacon rolls, it would appear) and started a lively and decidedly frank discussion with Paul about a subject we cannot reveal (as in polite company one avoids the subjects of religion, politics and sex).

Protagonist A, Steve, outlines his point of view very firmly.

Protagonist B, Paul, does not agree at all.

Things get a little heated....

The shocked expressions in the background tell you more than we need to say.
Despite the rise in the tone, things remain friendly and if we're honest, very entertaining. You couldn't make it up.

After lunch, the great progress made by the corbelling team became increasingly apparent. Here is Paul raising the third and last row on one of the sections, and at the end of the day, he had done two of these.

This is what it looks like from above. It's going to be the last layer before the platform slabs go on. We're going to have to think about these soon. They are at Winchcombe, need to be brought to Hayles (they are very heavy) and then trimmed to size with a disk cutter.

If you don't know what corbelling is, here is a good example. Each brick sticks out a little further than the one beneath it on which it rests.

This little bit of brick laying can be found in Montefalco, Italy.

We're not going to go quite as far out as that, just three rows.

The brick layers today were Paul, Tim and Jim G.

Jim in his younger years was an apprentice brick layer, but lost his right arm in a motorbike accident (for which he was blameless!). As Jim put it, 'afterwards there wasn't much call for a one - armed brick layer'. Fortunately, Jim then had a successful career with the MOD. But the interesting thing is that he can still lay bricks, and very well too, as the picture shows. With one hand. What is even more astonishing is that, as a full member of the PWay team, Jim can even shovel ballast, with one arm. How people overcome adversity, it's admirable.

Way to go, Jim ! He even cooked lunch for 16 on Saturday. One of the GWSR characters.

At the end of the day, all the woodwork had been completed on exactly one half of the platform wall. Jim and Tim are still laying corbelling bricks, while Paul has stepped back to admire the job well done today.
We have a first row almost all of the way along, a second row some of the way, and all three rows on two of the bays.

No trains passed today. All the activity was north of Toddington, where the hired in tamper started work on the Broadway extension in the Laverton area. During the week, it will slowly work its way north.


  1. Just simply a wonderful blog, and as for Jim great admiration

  2. Great admiration for the bricklayer jim, I was a bricklayer myself the only difference was I had the misfortune of having just one brain cell!

  3. Looking better and better. The hilarity of the blog really does keep me going! The Hayles team shortly available for after dinner speakers? I jest! but really well done folks. Hope you are Halloween proof after all this (or do the butties come complete with garlic?). Regards, Paul.

  4. With reference to moving the slabs from Winchcombe, surely the P Way could help with a wagon attatched to one of the relaying trains to drop the slabs off. It's not far after all for a loco. Just a thought. Regards, Paul.