Monday, 5 December 2016

The first train stops

Today was a remarkable milestone in our little project, as it saw the first train stop at the platform!

But before we tell the tale, here is the weather report:

Foggy! Yes, it was minus 3.5 degrees and foggy enough to put the car headlights on and proceed most carefully along the B4632. Two cars flew off the same bend at Weston Sub Edge in the space of 3 weeks, so it's best to treat this old road with respect.

Another car headlight emerges from the gloom.

It's another volunteer, right? Erm...

Believe it or not, 11 of them turned up today, they must be mad. It was so cold that we could not lay any bricks, so it must be the friendly atmosphere that brings them in, weather or no.

Got any doughnuts? Or I shan't be your friend.
Arrival at 08.30 found 4 volunteers squeezed into the container, which was imperceptibly warmer than outside, where some optimist had spread out the chairs for sitting on. In your dreams!

There was much tinkering with a reluctant gas fitting, but eventually we had the kettle on the boil, and the early morning doughnuts out.

Lucky the Dalmatian then appeared. He inspected the site for any spare food most thoroughly.

The olefactory organ signals that buns be in here.

As a dog, Lucky has a nose which is 10.000 times (!) more efficient than a human's. He swept the site in seconds,  with merciless efficiency.

The site was finally declared doughnut free, but a frozen scrap of bacon from last week was found, and a source of currant buns, hidden in a bricklayer's bucket, was revealed.

Oi, get outta there, you scoundrel!

Very slowly the fog lifted an an approaching engine noise was heard. It was Dave P, with a pallet of bricks from Winchcombe on the Telehandler. To save ourselves some brick carrying work, we asked him nicely to place this directly on to the platform.

Dave's kindness was immediately rewarded with a mug of tea and a bun, which seems to have been well appreciated.

An army marches on its stomach, or something equivalent for Telehandler drivers.

Then came the exciting bit, as a toot was heard in the distance:

It was Neil, bearing gifts. He came with the 03, Winchcombe's yard shunter, and two wagons with stacks of platform slabs. These had been sorted out and loaded on Satuday, from the pile remaining after removal from CRC2.

It was our first train ever stopped at Hayles Abbey halt!

The 'passengers' were carefully removed by Dave P in the telehandler. Initially we thought we'd put them on the trackbed, wait for the train to go, and then stack them on the platform.

With 11 volunteers today, there was quite a crowd of spectators. Well, the delicate removal of the piles was indeed very interesting.

Julian was an expert banksman, and directed Dave P, inch by inch, how to lift the piles and remove the forks from underneath at awkward angles. All achieved faultlessly too.

Then we had a better idea: Lift up a stack, pause, wait for the train to reverse......

 .... then advance to the platform when it's gone!
Much more efficient.

Soon the platform was filled with about 100ft worth of slabs, enough for about half the job.

The stacks of slabs were piled carefully at the rear of the platform. Soon, the stacks were all there, and the train had returned to Winchcombe. What now?

It was decided to spend a while testing our method for placing the slabs.

Two slings were finally decided upon, as we need something that can be withdrawn from underneath once the slabs are down.

Dave is not sure about what is going on at the end of his forks..... what are they up to?

The slings did actually work very well, so that's what we are going to go with.
Here is a trial fitting on the platform wall, without any mortar (too cold....). Paul explains how it's all going to work.

If you read The Cornishman, you might recall a 1905 photograph a couple of numbers ago of Winchcombe station being finished. It showed a stack of slabs on platform 1, and two men with cloth caps placing them on the wall of platform 2. Yes, two men! We have the Telehandler now, an ideal machine with its precise controls, and an expert at the wheel.

For an amusing interlude, we received BPS again with more supplies. A couple of extra planks were needed, some extra bits of wood, and most importantly, the pipework for the handrails that will lead from the field down to the platform.

The pipes will be threaded through posts as per original - check out the old photograph! We will get it just right.

After building the wall round the northern catchpit, it became apparent that an extra ring would be better here to better prevent any ballast from falling in. This ring was fitted today, together with its three concete slabs on top.

Here Neal is fitting the three concrete covers.

Afterwards, the planking was screwed back on the front, so that it looks like a sleeper built wall again. Very neat.

With the sun now shining, the site became quite pleasant to be at. The slabs were spread out ready for lifting in - given suitably warmer weather - and Jim G spent some relaxing time cleaning off the old mortar and any spalling damage found.

Our end of the day shot shows the slabs brought by train today, laid out in a line along the northen end of the platform.

No mice in the trap today.

Was this what was going on while we were away?
Whn the cat's away, the mice will play


  1. I think Raymond the mouse had a good time, can't sat the same for the cheese - it looked terrified! Well done to the valliant 11 who made it to Hayles Abbey today in the freezing cold. I've always thought that engineering materials should be moved by train! Regards, Paul.

  2. As usual, fantastic work by you guys - in all conditions. Reminds me of older times, grit and, determination.

  3. Hi Jo. I take that the slings would be at the front and back of the slabs when laid on the bed of mortor.


  4. Grit and a bit more for turning up in this weather! Well done for another great report. Won't be long before the weather improves!

  5. Landmark day! Great work chaps. It was like a sight out of my sons thomas the tank books with those slabs being removed... 👍👍