Monday, 20 March 2017

The base gets bigger

The weather forecast for today was rather dire, with double raindrops on the icons all day, with a bit of sunshine supposed to be emerging at dusk. Well, we won't be there anymore then, will we !

It was a modest number of volunteers that turned up - only seven of us. Four 'rain wimps' were absent - we know your names! It did rather lead to an 'embarras de richesse' in doughnuts, and there were 4 left over at the end of the day, with no one willing to eat or take them, as we were all full up with cheeseburger.

Still clutching his mug of tea, Paul watches the arrival of a dumpy bag of ballast.

We sat and discussed the low numbers of volunteers today, and of course Nicola Sturgeon, a popular topic when Paul is there.

A toot sent us out to see what there was, and it was BPS with a back-up load of ballast, needed to complete the concrete base for the shelter.

With the extra ballast unloaded, concrete mixing could begin, and just in time Dave P arrived with the Telehandler from Winchcombe with a load of hardcore. This was delivered just to the right spot, thanks to the telescopic boom with which it is fitted.

Minnie the Mixer was reported to be struggling to start, and this was because she was not used to the new team of Dave P and Paul who were 'using' her today. They also cheated, by using two shovels at once to feed her, which made her cough.

Julian then galloped the load of freshly mixed concrete down the ramp, missed the little plank set out to allow the wheelbarrow to run over the ring, hit the end, came to an abrupt stop, and did an elegant sort of stagger to save the load. Unfortunately for our viewers he refused to do a re-run for the video option on your blogger's camera. You'll have to be satisfied with this photograph of the load going in normally. All the exciting stuff happens off-camera, doesn't it.

'Upstairs' as it were Neal was a welcome arrival, taking a couple of hours' break from fabricating the heritage Broadway canopy. He came with one of his many specialist tools (he has virtually everything you could imagine you might ever need, picked up for next to nothing at car boot sales and Ebay) and here he is turning a thread on to the end of one of the pipes that make up the handrails. We want these to look the same as the originals, which were held together by threaded sleeves.

We'd like to be able to say that he did this succesfully, but life is a bumpy ride and it turned out that our lengths of galvanised pipe are of a different diameter to the originals (one of which we found in the undergrowth) but worse still, different to the sleeves we had bought. He cut off the end with the wrong sized thread, and went back to the drawing board (in this case, the loco shed).
We await the results next week with great interest !

It then started to rain rather horribly. So badly, that you couldn't see the Cotswolds just half a mile away. So the forecast was right...

No matter, as two of us had chosen the right job for the day, that is, the repair of the underside of the shelter. This underside is not only moth-eaten, but the corner posts are all of different lengths, and yet the building is meant to stand on them. The first thing to do - in the pouring rain, but we didn't mind this inside - was to measure the actual lengths of the uprights, and mark a constant line on the sheeting, above which we are going to keep it, cutting off the moth-eaten bit underneath.

This shot shows you the jagged underside of the sheets, and also how the grey corner post is visibly shorter than the pink intermediate one on the left. The donor of the shelter swears on a stack of bibles that it wasn't him who cut the corner posts so randomly. We do know that he obtained it out of the goods yard at Usk, and it seems likely that it was at a different location prior to that, which is when perhaps the legs were cut to remove it from its first location. Anyhow, our plan is to get a regular length all round, and then to fit the underside of the shelter with a ring of angle iron sections, on which it will then rest when lowered on to the new base. This will have a single row of bricks laid on it, and the bottom of the shelter will rest on the bricks, with the sheets slightly longer, so that rain does not seep in underneath.

Meanwhile, concrete pouring ground to a halt, due to the heavy rain.

We knew this, because we suddenly had visitors with their hands in their pockets!

Tim eventually discouraged them from hanging around by starting to cut off the lower edge of the corrugated iron sheets, during which conversation was impossible.

Tim did one side of this, and we must admit, it looked very neat afterwards. We will do the rest next week, as Tim ran out of cutting disks.

Underneath, you can just make out a length of original handrail, buried in the bushes.

We also took off the old wooden door frame, which was not original. The shelter now looks much better from the outside.

Inside we will have a bench, and a notice board. This still needs making by someone, to fill the space in the upper photograph at the rear.

Meanwhile, the gang had given up and retreated to the container, to watch Paul make lunch. It was beefburgers with melted cheese on top, with second helpings for all.

It was rather atmospheric inside, with the sizzeling beefburgers, steaming mugs of tea and rain beating down outside.

In the afternoon, the rain moved off and the sun started to come out. Great ! This led two of us to investigate the end of the ivy laden fence by the roadside, where we suspected an original GWR bridge rail fence post. Would it still be there?

With a considerable amount of determination we managed to wrest the invasive ivy away from the  mound at the end, and yes indeed, there was a GWR post underneath.

The old posts was still there, in good condition, but completely covered by the octopus like ivy, which covered every square inch of it in a thick tangle of roots.

The post was linked to another at the top of the slope leading down to the shelter. Somewhere along this line there must have been a gate, and we will reproduce this. The roadside was post and rail, which linked the post to the corner of the bridge. All currently covered by ivy and brambles.

Our picture for the end of the day shows the site looking very neat, and the whole of the base of the shelter now finished, except for a row of blues we still need to lay. The shelter will stand on them, and so doing lift itself off the ground, so that the rain cannot sit underneath it.

We hope to be able to lift the shelter on to its base in 2 - 3 weeks time, using a large forklift borrowed from a friendly farmer. It also still needs cleaning and painting. The running in board is being made up by B&S; there will also be two Trespass notices, one of which will be an original found on site. We still need two 8ft lengths of rail for them.


  1. Hello, Is your shelter similar to the old one that used to be at Danzey?

    1. Yes, it is, except that the Hayles Abbey one didn't have doors fitted.

  2. Does look neat! Extra mess area when the shelter is re- located on the platform! Regards, Paul - if it's any consolation, it has been tipping down with rain here on and off all day and most of last week!

  3. My hut is looking better and better!(LOL)The food served at this halt is also looking good, be careful otherwise you will end up with dinner babies like the PW staff! Where do us bloggers go to nominate this project for some sort of award both culinary and for the work done on this halt? It needs to be recognised for the outstanding work done here by you all.
    Paul & Marion.

  4. It really is beginning to look like a Great Western,wayside halt,now!.Be even better,when completed,with the shelter,running in board,and I,think I,read,in the blog,a couple of weeks or so,two GWR,style lamp posts!. Anthony.