Monday, 10 April 2017

A celebration

There was a record number of volunteers at Hayles tody, thirteen! A suspicious mind would wonder why this was so, and it would be right - it was the day of our celebration lunch for the completion of the halt. No, it isn't complete, but we are getting our 'revenge' in early. Somebody said, how about a lunch, and before we knew it, it was organised and an early date set.

With so many people on site, and with lovely weather to boot, we might as well get everybody working hard.

Here are the tools laid out ready to go: Boxes of doughnuts (already open....), and Paul's kit for beating lead, which you don't see very often. Now where is Lucky the Dalmatian?

Lucky came a bit late, and was very distracted. His owner explained that on his 2 mile daily walk Lucky had met a young lady, and hadn't stopped dancing about since!

Lucky shot off down the field towards Didbrook, back again, then off in a different direction, so we had the doughnuts all to ourselves today.

Notice the GWR 'Trespass' sign below. This is the original that we found, with a corner broken off. Here it is invisibly mended, shotblasted, painted and relettered. We will bolt it to a rail post and secure it with shear nuts, so that it won't go 'walkabout'.

The larger than usual team is seen here enjoying the morning sun. More drifted in during the day, until we were 14 for lunch. There's nothing like this suntrap first thing, with the view of the Cotswolds behind.

The first job of the day was to cut off the end of the steel posts that hold up the ballast retaining wall at the bottom of the slopes. Just to make them neat and tidy, and a bit less likely to cut someone. You never know.

The Gennie was much in demand today, and we had to queue up to use it. Dave P was first.

The posts holding up the hand rail got attention today, one of the many small jobs that remain before we can declare the new halt ready for opening. Not yet! Hold on, at the back there.

Julian is giving them a coat of Creosote here. Paul is working at the far end with his lead beating kit, giving each post a little cap to stop it rotting from the top down.

Jim followed on with a little tin of white paint, and a ruler to get the bottom edge straight. The tops have to be white, we saw that on the old photographs.

We gave the platform surface a critical stare, and decided it was a bit high in places. We would like to put the Terram down today.

A small team was assembled to sort this out. The excess was taken to the northern end, and the area around the shelter, where there wasn't enough infill yet.

Here's a view from the track level. The little halt is beginning to look quite good. You can see the team levelling the platform surface, and Jim is watering the grass seed on the slope. Wooden edging is being installed around the sides, where stone chippings will meet the grass.

Get me an off-cut, will you? OK....

Paul had his circular saw with him again, and cut the tops of the posts to shape, and made more little posts to hold up the edging. Another user of the Genny.

Another team was putting edging up the path leading to the top. At the end of the morning, they had got this far. You can already imagine what this will look like with chippings, but they will probably go in last, as we use this path a lot and don't want them to get dirty.

Then there was a 'toot' and the class 73 drifted by, with a wagon in tow. Mysteriously, an hour later it drifted by in the other direction, now pushing the same wagon. Judging from the grins in the cab, it had something to do with the Wartime event. Perhaps filling up with unexploded bombs?

Then it was time for that famous celebratory lunch. We thought it would be fitting for the whole gang to eat at Hayles Fruit farm, as it was nearby and had a connection with the halt - the proprietor used to take the 'Coffeepot' to go to school!

We had a fine old time there. The proprietor is an enthusiastic supporter of our halt reopening, and it was the first time he had seen the whole gang. After the very filling meal, Tim, Paul, Steve and Dave D are seen at the railings reflecting on life on the railway. And will there be life after the Halt?

A call came to photograph the whole gang, some of which were already back in the cars and manoeuvering out of the car park. Come back ! Group photograph!

Here we are then, this is us, we built Hayles Abbey Halt. Nice to meet you, come and join us in our next endeavour.

Meanwhile, back at the farm (or in our case, back at the halt), we decided to try out a first stretch of Terram and chippings.

We need to shift that enormous pile on the left there, and order some more.

The roll of Terram that has been jamming up proceedings inside the container is taken out at last.

Outside, Paul cut it into strips, which we laid out along the southern half of the platform.

Behind, you can already see the first barrow loads of chippings being taken down the slope. How do they find the energy after that big meal?

There was some serious shovelling to do.

Luckily we completed the southern part of the platform just about the same time as they ran out of puff shovelling the stuff.

Tim was raking, Julian was one of three on barrows, and Paul laid out the Terram sheets.

Jim H is finishing off the white tops, which Paul has provided with a nice lead hat as in the foreground. Julian returns with an empty barrow. Luckily the full ones are downhill.

This picture shows well the effect of the chippings. We had a debate about the colour, but the old photographs show clearly that it was chippings and not ash, and that they were light.

At the top, Dave P is busy recovering the original fence line between two bridge rail posts, the line between them defining our property boundary.

This bundle of greenery is not a hedge, it is a totally overgrown post and wire fence, choked by bramble and ivy.

At the road end, we uncovered the original end post, with its angled bridge rail support still partly covered in ivy. On the far right of the picture is the other end of the fence line, another bridge rail post at the start of the bridle path. Between them we will install a new fence of post and rail, with a pedestrian gate somewhere in the middle. This area still needs landcaping, as it is not only completely overgrown, but it was also used as a dump. Apart from rusty bundles of wire, twisted old bits of pipe  and angle iron, we found the rocker cover of a 4 cylinder engine.

Near the end of the day, this overview from the road shows you progress with the platform surface. It all looks very smart. We still need to paint the shelter, for which the paint (light stone) has already been ordered.

Next week is Easter Monday, so we will move our working day to Tuesday. There won't be a blog post for it though, as yours truly will be off for a few day's holiday. Back the Monday after that!

It may be possible to do a blog post in between, as we need to make public the official opening date, and how we will celebrate it. So do check in from time to time.


  1. What a happy band of volunteers you sound, congratulations for a nearly finished professional job. I look forward to using the halt soon

  2. Fantastic work guys! Looking forward to the Grand Opening and, then, some award or other!

  3. What teamwork! Incredible achievement. You all deserve a medal, maybe a doughnut in bronze?
    Enjoy your break, Jo. Your blogs are magnificent. Just the think that makes those at a distance put their hands in their pockets to provide the funds.

  4. Shame I don't know the difference between think and thing!

  5. Oh Buccaneer, its the excitement of the Halt being close to completion that does it! Great work by the HAG. An award is definably due. BTW what colour will the inside of my new abode be in? (LOL)
    Paul & Marion

    1. Not sure about the inside colour. Maybe none - at the moment , it is the original corrugated iron surface.

  6. Looking really great now,with the chippings,being laid,and little touches,like the lead caps,and white tops on the handrail posts!.Not too long before completion now?. Well done!. to all!. Anthony.

  7. If any colour at all is painted inside the shelter, it should be white, usually matt to reflect as much light as possible for passengers to see their small change by perhaps. Regards, Paul.

  8. Well done everyone; a really great job. Roll on the grand opening and the recognition you all deserve.