Monday, 20 February 2017

Post, post, post.

It was a beautiful spring day today. The larks were out, the sun was shining, and we sat outside in the sun with all thoughts of winter forgotten. We knew it was spring, as Dave P arrived sporting a pair of sunglasses, the optimist.

Here we are enjoying our tea and doughnuts. Lucky the Dalmatian has arrived and today was a test for his new strategy: Instead of scanning the whole container, and all its occupants, the new plan is to...

...focus all attention on a single victim!

Jim H was selected as having the largest remaining piece, and most likely to give it up.

An intense stare plays a part in the new strategy.

If it doesn't work, edge closer.

The victim will recoil, holding the last scrap of doughnut closer to his mouth.

Edge closer still, until the jaws rest on his knees...

Success! High Five! (should that be 'High Paws'?) . Jim finally relented, and gave up the last piece, nearly losing a finger in the process.

While this jolity went on, Dave P and Peter were at Winchcombe, retrieving a final 4 slabs from the pile behind the B&S hut. They were put on the forklift and driven to Hayles over the trackbed.

Duly refreshed with tea, we went about the site to size up the two jobs for today - placing of edging slabs, and making a start on the posts that will support the old fashioned handrail down to the platform.

Julian and John placed a number of fence posts along the path, which will lead from the turn on the path above, down to where the hut will be placed.

The method of construction was taken from historical photographs, so the posts will have a triangular top (to divert rainwater) and a length of galvanised water pipe through holes drilled into the upper parts of them.

We won't be drilling just yet, as the posts have to be set in concrete first.

The posts went in pleasingly quickly, so that by elevenses most were in, while the slabbing team, after arrival of the Telehandler with the 4 extra ones, just got going on the 'home run' at the southern end of the platform.

John M was on mortar making duty today, and produced this fine looking barrow load, which he duly slapped on the brickwork, ready for the next slab. This was to be a monster one, over 6 feet long.

As the slabs, ex CRC2, are made of natural stone, they come in all sorts of lengths, and some of them are twice as long as others.

Dave D once again volunteered to do the prepping and cutting. We even bought him a new blade. Despite being diamond tipped, they wear out at alarming speed, lasting as little as 4 slabs.

Here the Telehandler is bringing 'the monster' slab down from the cutting area.

Being so long, these ones are difficult to manoeuvre in the final few inches. Pete in the Telehandler was asked several times to fine tune his positioning, so that it would drop down square. In this picture, it clearly won't! Of course the Telehandler can't make any lateral movements, only forwards and backwards, up and down. Out, and back again, please!

On one of the many manoeuverings, you can see how far down the platform they now are.

They are getting nearer and nearer to the southern end of the level bit, then it's down the slope. Will they finish today?

Nearly at the end of the level bit, it was decided to switch to the slope, and work back up hill, leaning on the one slab positioned last week. Clever, see?

Paul has the 'stomper', its end now rather splintered. It's done a lot of stomping by now.

Jim was team leader for placing in the half hour before lunch, as Paul went off to fry the bacon. Such an aroma that generates, there was hardly any need to call the gang to eat. They knew.

An examination of the footwear today gives you a hint of who was on slab cutting duty today. Or did he come to work with blanco'd boots? Some people have a neatness thing.

A further footwear observation, what is going on here? Who is it, and did he really walk round the site like that? (he did!). Well, the pension only comes in at the end of the month, and we must make do and mend.

Here's a shot of the handrail posts, all in.

You can really see the shape of the path now.

They still need creosoting, the tops cutting to a triangle, and that painted white. (after investigation of the historical photographs).

The last slab laid today was also on the slope. We did not in fact finish this job today, we we nearly got there though. The short missing bit is behind Paul's head, so it almost looks as if all the slabs are on.

Here's an updated overview of new Hayles Abbey Halt, taken a few moments earlier. Starting to look like something, isn't it? The Cotswolds are looking a bit greener again too, spring is on its way. The mud has gone, we can walk down the path without ending up with giant cakes round our boots, and the wheelbarrows with 9 inch wide tyres. Bad days, they were.

Finally, a request for a historical picture or memories:

This is the stationmaster's house at Toddington. Tom, the current owner, has asked us if we have any photographs or memories of the house before the 1980s. Anyone who can contribute something about the history of this or the other stationmasters houses, please get in touch through breva2011 (at)

We have established that the stationmaster's houses at Broadway, Toddington and Winchcombe were apparently identical, except for different tones in the stone used. They did not originally have a bathroom, and usually one of the bedrooms was sacrificed to provide one at a later date. Needless to say, they didn't have a garage either, that was added more recently.

Any help with the history would be gratefully received.


  1. Can you paint onto creosote? I thought it would leach through the paint.

    1. Oh-Oh....
      Well, we still have to cut the tops to shape, so there'll be some new wood to see.

  2. Paint the white bits with care first, being absolutely to the measure with the paint brush. Then start the creosote below the (neat) white, then you will have no problem with 'bleed through' of the creosote. Great work BTW. Regards, Paul.

  3. How do you always manage to get good weather there? Another great report, will Lucky be a permanent attraction on the Halt? Good luck with the paint /creosote combination. I ended up just painting the wood with coloured stain/ preservative!
    Paul & Marion