Monday, 23 January 2017

Sunshine, and more slabs

What a good day today! The sun made an appearance for most of the day, and we had a record 12 volunteers - is there a link perhaps?

Dave P brought the Telehandler out from Winchcombe again today, and this time he brought not only the forks, but also the bucket.

The forks were parked in a corner, and with the bucket Dave set out to scoop up the remaining bits of infill that had been raked together in a long pile.

Each bucketful was carefully dropped behind the new platform wall, starting here at the northern end.

At the other end of the platform you can see a second group gathering around the corbelling activity.

Tim came to finish off the northern end of the platform brickwork, but access for barrows of mortar was somewhat hindered by the growing pile of infill, so that he was forced to help Dave shovel it all flat.

Warming work that, shovelling. And slow. The next bucketful is already approaching !

By mid morning early fog had lifted and it was a lovely warming day. On this picture you can see two corbelling teams, and an infill team at work. Paul is off to cook sausages, and John is chatting to a neighbour, who came to see how we were doing.
In the picture the infill has nearly all been used up, leaving only a gap in the middle, which might be filled from the excavations for the slab for the hut. We shall see.

Infill finished, Tim was at last let loose on the northern end corbelling, which he completed in fine style. He then joined the others working on the southern end.

The southern end corbelling team laid a record number of bricks, thus ensuring that more slabs can be laid here.

Julian took a real flier when he ventured that the brickwork might be finished next week.

Oooh, risquee! We shall see if his prediction comes out.

Yours truly on mortar got through most of a dumpy bag of sand today. The going, in racing terms, was 'heavy'. The ground was sodden and stuck to the wheelbarrow, so that the wheel became twice as wide and would not be pushed.

By early afternoon all our sand was gone, and an emergency resupply had to be ordered. BPS, our sponsor, came in like the cavalry, well done !

Now that the platform is almost finished and two coaches long, getting down to the trackbed is almost always a long walk, so Paul rustled us up a neat little access ladder. Jim H has just tried it out, and is mulling his next move.

Dave P brought in this interesting relic, recently acquired. It is a DREADNOUGHT Thief-Proof patented toilet roll holder, with an additional stamp of G.W.R. in the top LH corner.
Theft of loo rolls was clearly an annoying problem on the railway, and this neat little invention solved it. To get the roll off, it has to be empty first. You then tear up the inner cardboard, to reveal a slot into which a penny is inserted. Only this releases the axle. Cunning!

Sausages for lunch today. Paul cooked a lovely sizzeling panful today, and with the clement weather, we all sat outside and ate our two-sausages-in-a-roll-with-tomato-ketchup. Our first outside lunch in 2017.

Delicious. Then tea, and any leftover doughnuts from this morning. They were not hoovered up by Lucky the Dalmatian, who came by non-stop today with Mrs. Lucky in tow.

After lunch, we changed the bucket on the Telehandler for the forks, and set about to do some slabbing. We got 5 in today. To start with, they had to be trimmed, and the volunteer who agreed to be covered in white dust today was Dave D. Very brave. Maybe he already has a white car interior?

Dave P measured up the length of each slab (they vary in length from 3ft to 6ft) and here you can see him working out how much mortar to put down for it.

His tape measure was tiny. He says he found it (in a Christmas cracker?) and while an inch is an inch on every tape measure, this miniature 3ft example wasn't quite man enough for a slab measuring 3ft 6ins long.

With the right amount of mortar in place, the next slab can be lifted in.

In this example, it also had to have a thin slice off the back, in order to fit around the drain inspection pit, the height of which we have extended up to the top of the new platform.

With a slab in place, the final step is to adjust its correct position and height.

We have found that the best tool for this job is a heavy fence post, which you bump up and down over the spot you want adjusted. Works a treat, and does not harm the slab.

John is in charge of fence posting today.

The 'piece de la resistance' is the pointing of the gaps between the finished slabs.

Here we see Rick inserting the mortar into the cracks.

It's nice to be able to do a job standing up.

At the end of the day, we had laid 5 slabs, removed all the infill that was obstructing the trackbed (sorry, Andy P) and extended the final layer of corbelling well down the southern end, so that one more day here might see us complete this job.

The days are now getting longer again, and whereas it was dark at 15.00 a month ago, this picture shows the sky at 16.00, as Dave P sets off to return the Telehandler to Winchcombe.

The building of Hayles Abbey halt also involves some work behind the scnes, and today we were able to enjoy the fruits of one of these efforts, as the letters for the running in board were delivered.

These are reproduction castings from originals, which we borrowed from friends and in 3 cases, found at a local auction. They are 12ins high, and faithful copies of the GWR design. You can judge the size by the GWSR souvenir mug in the middle! Chunky stuff. They will be attached to the running in board with one way screws, so that they can't be stolen. A kind supporter already gave us a set of original letters for 'HALT', so we now have a full set.


  1. Do all the platform clearances enable a King to run?

  2. Excellent work all round. Better without drizzle and fog. Regards, Paul.

  3. Well done the HAG, how did you get such good weather? When is the hut due to arrive so I can take up residence? Seriously though a great effort by you all.
    Paul & Marion.

  4. Great effort all round!.It's nice to see the platform,nearing completion!.Will it.have a tarmacked surface?. All the Best1. Anthony.

    1. The surface will be gravel, as before.

      The hut will be transferred across from Toddington once the slab is in. To do that, we have to finish the landscaping.

      I'm afraid I can't help with clearances.

  5. As a manor is wider than a king and a manor has already cleared the platform then i guess its a fair assumption that a king will also clear.