Monday, 6 February 2017

The last brick

Only 9 people today, and the temperature was only barely above freezing. That said, we did a brilliant day's work between us, stopped only by the slightly premature (vis-a-vis the BBC website) arrival of the rain.

Last week, the small flat truck was loaded at Winchcombe with more slabs for Hayles. It is now at last available for us to transport lots of slabs at once, now that it has done its job in transporting materials to and from the Winchcombe relay in the tunnel cutting.

First thing, Julian was already on site (he's very keen, our  Jules) and busy getting the kettle all steaming so that arrivals could enjoy a good cuppa on this frosty morning.

We crowded into the container to win that tiny extra bit of heat (also to put our hand into the doughnut bag, with success, as can be seen here)

Shortly afterwards, Lucky the Dalmatian galloped up and gave us the onceover, but without finding anything. Dang !

A rival dog later in the day would be more lucky... Stevie's Gypsy called at lunchtime, and had half a hamburger. Didn't seem to appreciate it though, just looked hungry for more.

Last week, no fewer than 6 people tried fruitlessly to start Minnie the Mixer.

This week, we had to have a plan.

Here is Dave, giving her some TLC. She is having her oil level checked, the lucky girl. We don't do that every day, you know. Mmmmmmmm.

Next to the pampering, some bribery was tried.

This worked, as Minnie then sang into life on the second pull!

You've got to know how to treat them....

Then, work. To our joy, the flat truck had been parked up against our new halt, thank you Neil. The piles of slabs were carefull unloaded and stacked to one side.

Here they could be trimmed and improved. This natural sandstone suffers from spalling, so we turn them upside down, and remove any loose layers.

Dave D is having a go with the bolster.

Later, Dave D also had a go with the disk cutter, and this always attracts a crowd.

Much more success in this today, thanks to a new cutting disk. Another treat from us. We spoil our people.

The slabs ex CRC2 come in all sorts of lengths, and here is a long one, about 5ft in fact.

With our special slab handling grabs (patent pending) this big one is carefully manoeuvered across to the area where we were laying, i.e. the northern end of the platform.

A thick bed of mortar is applied, and the slab gently lowered down. It is deliberately laid a bit too high, so that we can tamp it down to the right level, using a heavy fence post which is ideal for the job.

Here's an overview of the site today - slabbing at the Toddington end, two teams corbelling this end.
No firm news on finishing the landscaping yet though, maybe in a fortnight. We are in a queue. Platform work is slowly coming to a close, so we need to prepare the next jobs, one of which is the laying of the slab for the hut.

Two low level visitors flew over the site today, seen here over Dumbleton hill. Very exciting to hear the roar coming, and to see not one but two race past at nearly tree top level.

In betwen all the slabbing and brick laying, Tom is calmly working his way down the platform, applying a final layer of creosote.

Looks good, doesn't it?

The corbelling team of Julian and Tim were working on the southern end, where two more bays needed the brickwork finishing off. Would they finish this today?

Yes they did !

Here is Julian with the very last brick laid at the new Hayles Abbey Halt.

All that remains to be done here now is the placing of the edging slabs.

At 3 o'clock it started to rain, so we had no choice but to cover our work and tidy up. Ten slabs were laid today, and these covered the rest of the northern end of the platform, and some way down the slope. All the brickwork is finished too.

The replica running in board is going to be made by the Building and Services gang, for which we are very grateful. They also made the CRC2 board, so have the experience. For the first time on the GWSR, the letters will be in cast metal, another step up in the quality of the build. We also have 2 trespass notices, the one we found on site (currently being repaired) and a second bought on Ebay. Just need some bridge rail to fix them on now.


  1. Fantastic effort and good work guys.

  2. Can I echo the above statement. It IS a FANTASTIC effort and GOOD work! Through all that bad Christmas time weather too. Regards, Paul.

  3. great Blog Jo , are we making space for a bench , as John Blofield thinks that there may be one at Broadway . There may be a case to have a second bench up at the top so that visitors can relax before the train comes up from Toddington or down from Winchcombe . Is that the right way round ? john M.

    1. No John!.It's down from Toddington,and up,from Winchcombe!. Regards!. Anthony.

  4. As Above, excellent progress. As for bridge rail, there are a few at Winchcombe that we (drainage gang) have recovered from various places along the line. They were to be used for replacing the mile post markers, but that project appears to have dried up.

    1. Thank you Andy!
      I will get back to you on that.
      Ideally, we need bridge rail posts at Broadway (1904), and perhaps bullhead ones at Hayles (1920s).

  5. Great work by the team, two benches would really finish the job along with the hut for me to rest in against the bad weather. Will this have windows in at each end so you can see the trains coming from each direction? Minie will need a good service at the end of all this work, never has a small mixer done so much work!!Well done to all of the HAG for working in such appalling weather!
    Paul & Marion.

  6. Just a 'heads up'. Be careful using real GWR antique trespass signs, as they may be very stealable, as you well know from the price you probably paid for the one on EBay. Not every enthusiast is as honest as you and me! Regards, Paul.

  7. Agree. Replicas on the platforms would be preferable, and the original mounted in the Winchcombe station new facility being built.... we had artifacts stolen from Toddington and CRC in previous years and HAH is more exposed.