Monday, 9 January 2017

We're back

A full gang was back on site today, after a 3 week absence with holidays, family, flu and bad weather intervening. By now a certain 'cabin fever' was setting in at home, so we were raring to go, despite a rather dire weather forecast for the day.

The big news for the day was the booking of Steve to reprofile the site, and dig out the area of the slab for the foundations of the corrugated iron shelter. With the JCB marooned on the Winchcombe relay, Steve brought in a mini digger on a trailer, and his arrival was much celebrated.

He soon got to work on the side of the cutting, starting by reprofiling the top edge, which was very lumpy due to previous excavation material being deposited there.

In anticipation of the heavy rain forecast, we didn't really dare get out the mixer, so we spent a couple of hours vacating the platform top so that Steve could increase its height with further infill.

Dave P was dispatched with Peter to Winchcombe to sort out more slabs for us, and then bring the Telehandler to Hayles to lay them (weather permitting). Dave D went off to Winchcombe too, this time to fetch the blue Transit, and then go to Stanton and recover some posts and rail for fencing. He eventually emerged with not only the fencing materials, but also some slabs with which to cover the catch pit located in the middle of the platform. That's looking good now.

Sadly, Dave P realised he was feeling increasingly unwell (cold / flu symptoms) during the morning and returned home after lunch, but he did manage a very useful half day at Winchcombe, loading new sleepers for the Wednesday relay works, and sorting out a dozen or so slabs for us.

The waterlogged grass, athough perfectly smooth, proved to be a problem in reversing the Transit van, as the rear wheels just spun round in the wet.

Eventually we noticed Dave D's predicament, and two of us hopped over the fence to give him a push.

After an hour Steve reached the site of the concrete pad, and asked 'where do you want it then?'

As the new platform is slightly longer than the original, we decided to move the site of the shelter a few feet towards Toddington, so that it remains +/- in the middle of the platform.

Here Neal, Tim and Paul discuss the strategy with Steve.

We also had to decide on the height, so took a level off a future coping slab, and worked this backwards into the cutting, hammering in a stake to show the location and height of the top of the concrete base.

How big is the hut anyway? We had in fact never measured it, so Jim and yours truly went over to Toddington with a tape measure to get this small but vital snippet of information.

The corrugated iron shelter, almost identical to the original, is actually from Usk and is currently in the garden of a supporter.

It turns out to be 100'' by 146'', and rests on its 4 corners, the inside being constructed in angle iron.

The doors are probably not original. We will transport it the mile or so to Hayles, and once resting on its slab, we will repair and repaint it on site.

Meanwhile it stayed relatively dry, albeit with menacing clouds over Cleeve Hill. Steve was making great progress, and unearthed several tree stumps which were piled up at one end.

By the end of the morning, the shape of the path down to the platform was much more visible, and Steve had started on the site of the slab.
In the foreground you can see lines of blues placed on the platform wall, ready for corbelling.

With the inclement weather, it was decided to huddle indoors for lunch, even if this meant that those at the back sat in the dark. Oh no they didn't ! (panto season mode here)

Jim H had brought a security light and a socket, both of which were installed at the far end inside the container. Now we could see what we were eating! (beefburgers today, and muffins).

Despite the 'comfort' of the container, we still have to share it with sacks of cement, but the food was tasty, as you can see from the empty plates and ketchup bottle.

Mind you, there were also threats from Paul if we did not eat everything up. Well, that seems fair, since he went to the trouble to cook it.

So where did we get the electricity to power the light from then?

The secret was at the back, where Julian and Jim had built a little hut for a generator, which is placed in it when we work.

After lunch Steve pulled down some of the excess spoil and tracked it into the rear of the platform, thus bringing it almost to the correct height.

Neal and Paul finished off the job with shovels, and it certainly looked very neat afterwards. The big void left by the 'doorway' in the wall to the trackbed was also filled in, so that the top of the platfom looked very impressive at the end of the day.

 Inexpliccably the heavy rain forecast didn't really hit us, so that confidence grew in a small load of mortar for a bit of corbelling and infilling.

It was soon apparent that this was going to work OK, and a lot more mortar began to be needed, particularly as Jim G and Julian joined in the brick laying and infilling.

Jim H was on the mortar run, and with the number of spots increasing, he was soon going backwards and forwards along the platform with the barrow, answering calls for 'more muck'. Yours truly was on Minnie, who was revving away merrily at high speed today. The rest did her good.

Julian and Peter finished off this top row of corbelling here, filling in the holes to stop rainwater sitting in them, and brushing the front surfaces clean with water from a bucket. Jim has just refreshed a spot with a big dollop of mortar; we finished off another dumpy bag of sand as a result today.

Steve completed the path down to the shelter, and is seen in this picture grading the lower slope down to the platform. The upper slope has already been graded, and at the end of the day this area looked really neat. We now need lots of grass seed to grass this area over, before the weeds start in the new season. Anybody got any spare?

At the end of the day, the corbelling had reached the far end, with only the very last section to be finished off. Nearer the camera, about a quarter, or 7 sections, still needs to be done. The bricks are already in position. You can see the level top section clearly (all the bumps have been removed), the slope of the path, and the back filled platform to its new level.

In the background Neal, newly qualified in the mini digger, is getting in some more practical experience by tidying the far slope, where there are still occasional piles of infill unused. Once Neal has finished putting the material in rows, they will be scooped up in the bucket of the Telehandler.

The last picture of the day shows the great job that Steve did for us. This took him all day; he will return to finish off the area for the slab and the rest of the slope beyond it.


The Hayles Abbey Halt project was promoted, and is being excecuted, by the railway's 'Heritage Group', which was founded 2 years ago to stimulate improvements in the railway's GWR heritage.

As the completion of the Hayles Abbey Halt job slowly comes into view - some time later this year - we are looking at the next potential project. It takes time to agree and plan such things, so now is the time to think about the next one.

If our readers have any suggestions or wishes in this area, they are welcome to send them to us via breva2011(at)

Where else could we improve or add to the railway's GWR heritage?


  1. Next projects?:

    Restore Platelayers huts along the line
    Restore lineside telegraph poles along a stretch of the line
    Restore Gretton halt or Laverton Halt

    1. Yea a platelayers hut gets my vote

  2. As there was no budget constraint mentioned or criteria, how about double track todders to Winchcombe, then you could put the other side halt in at Hayles 😀
    Seriously, a rest then a tricky one as so much but then are they covered by others, Broadway footbridge steps or footbridge at CRC (but not genuine) hmmm tricky.

  3. You mentioned grass seed needed. A few months ago there was a photo of a machine in the field behind, didn't someone mention it was to do with testing types of grass. You can but ask.

  4. How about GWR level crossing gates at CRC as the next project?

  5. Seeing as you already have the experience, knowledge and equipment on site, how about you build platform 2 of Hayles Abbey Halt? Before you de-rig all of your kit elsewhere? Then it's ready to go if double track was to ever happen.

    Otherwise one could dream about Bishops Cleave Station....!

    1. I totally agree, Bishops Cleave Station, even just a Halt at this stage.

  6. What about looking at ways to improve the GWR look of CRC and Gotherington signal boxes? Could the stone cladding be removed and the core then skinned with redbrick with some GWR detail? (this would allow them to stay operational while being worked on).

    Or making the Winchcombe footbridge look a little more like the original? (thinking here of the staircase sides in particular, but could also include a roof like the original)

    The CRC level crossing gates and the Broadway staircases as suggested above, would also be worthy projects

  7. Will I be able to sit in the hut and see the trains when I take up residence?(LOL). An amazing job by all. how about level crossing gates in GWR style at CRC as a gentler job after this hard job? as for the halt here on the second line, that needs to be done when and only if it is decided to double track this part of the line. We would all love to see if the whole line could be double tracked in the future but for now lets get to Broadway!
    Still great work by you all!
    Regards Paul & Marion.

  8. With all those houses being built,around Bishop's Cleeve.(The way things are going,there soon will be houses all the way,between there,and Gotherington!).Perhaps a future project could be to build a halt,at Bishop's Cleeve.

  9. With all those houses being built,around Bishop's Cleeve.(The way things are going,there soon will be houses all the way,between there,and Gotherington!).Perhaps a future project could be to build a halt,at Bishop's Cleeve.

  10. I agree with the idea of a halt at Bishops Cleeve. Brilliant idea!

  11. How about a GWR station name board at Honeybourne along with a couple of lamps and a GWR seat on the new platform. Good publicity for the GWSR and a statement of future intent. Could even build the platform but that is probably one for the future !

  12. I would agree with the idea of a halt at Bishops Cleeve. I already mentioned it on one of the blogs but can't remember which one now. (it happens to all of us as we age). Regards, Paul.

  13. Could a solution for CRC Box not be found by cladding it with wood? That would give it a little more of a traditional GWR Wooden Signal Box look - similar to Liskeard etc (bar the roof). Another thing I would like to see, although of less importance than some of the ideas listed - Is to make the bridges at Winchcombe and Toddington look a little more GWR - Could Winchcombe's bridge take a GWR Broadway style canopy?

  14. My view is that cladding the Trumpton signal boxes, and fiddling with the bridges, is just lipstick on a pig. We will not escape the criticism if we just fiddle with them. We need to be demonstrateably authentic.

    Or, as the SVR planning permission said for agreeing to the new Bridgnorth building - 'Evidence based'.

  15. Pushing further north !.... looking into plans and costings to get to willersey. That has my vote, a bit of a waste of money to be altering signal boxes that work fine. Better to be buying the trackbed for the best price, and pressing north. As far as I understand, one headache with this is the supported bridge, which would suddenly come under the railways responsibility to maintain, along with the strengthening of said structure.. all possible though