Monday, 15 May 2017

The clock is ticking

.... and soon it will be opening day. People are now putting in mid week days, just to hurry the job along a bit. A large crowd turned up today, and attacked the shelter painting and the extension of the footpath to the GWR corner post.

During last week, B&S responded magnificently to our humble request for another 8ft post and granpa post for it. We duly found it by the container. During one of the additional days on site, a couple of us drilled out the granpa post (it had conical holes), found bolts for it, and bolted the wooden post to it. Great!

Today yours truly buried the post in a hole dug previously ('here's one we dug earlier'), concreted it in, and painted it black with creosote. This post held the second hurricane lamp, directed at the area at the bottom of the slope. You can see it in the middle of this picture.
Also during an extra day on Friday, Jim came down with a small gang and worked on the shelter. A trial area of topcoat (light stone) was applied to the northern end, as you can see.

Today, as it rained quite a lot of the time, Jim, Dave P and Julian finally addressed the inside steelwork, a job that we have kept to one side for just this sort of occasion.

Here you see Dave P carefully painting the structural steelwork with green primer. The corrugated iron is being left 'au nature'.

There's a topcoat still to go on. Let's 'hope' there is another rainy day for this.

There are only 3 Mondays left to finish everything off, and one of those is a bank holiday.  Cripes!

One of the things we have to do is tidy up the site. There are spare building materials, a container, chairs, cooking facilities, scrap iron and general rubbish.

We borrowed the Transit from Winchcombe, took the two wooden doors from the shelter back to where they had come from, then drove down the trackbed (Oh, the joys of formerly double track!) from Toddington to Hayles Abbey halt. It's only just round the corner by Didbrook, it didn't take very long.

We loaded the flatbed with ripped out greenery from the upper end of the footpath, some scrap and a pile of pallets for recycling.

As we set off from the halt, there was a sort of 'rubbery' sound from one of the tyres at the rear. Oh no!

We did indeed have a flat. Heads were scratched. After consulting the head of S&T, we followed his advice and made the short journey to Winchcombe garage, where they were indeed most helpful. A large piece of steel was found embedded in the tyre. They put the spare on for us, allowing us back on our way, and avoiding the unfriendly need to leave the Transit with a flat for the next user.

Finally back at the ranch, we found the gang working on the upper part of the footpath. You can see on this picture that, after clearing the ivy and bramble off the original fence line, a new line has been set out, this time to be constructed in post and rail, instead of strands of wire as before. Although we have seen 3 or 4 historical pictures of the halt now, no one (unsurprisingly) ever photographed the top end of the footpath, so we do not know what this area looked like. We are therefore going for post and rail, with a gate where the path runs out of room to continue further.

In this picture the chaps are setting everything out, to get the alignment and spacing right.

Behind the camera, Tim and John M - nice builder's cleavage, John - are preparing a strip of Terram as the path turns round the corner at the top of the slope.

This will becovered in chippings from a pile behind the camera. That pile itself also has to move shortly, so we'd better use it up.

Lunch was eaten outside, but under a threatening sky. And the threats weren't empty ones either, because we had regular downpours all day long. We've been very lucky with the weather though, we've been able to eat outside almost every time.
Note that as soon as John and Tim had spread the chippings along here, we got the chairs out and sat on them to christen this new section of path.

After lunch we looked at installing the gate posts, which are quite a bit fatter than the fence ones. This is quite complicated stuff, getting the spacings right, the height of the hinges, the alignment of the posts, the fittings that have to be screwed on at the right levels, then verything concreted in. We were very happy to have Paul back, as he has a lifetime of building experience to share with us.

All too soon it seemed to be tea time again. What, again? Well, it was to celebrate a trial fitting of the gate to its post. All was going swimmingly.

For a diversion we had the visit of a member of the 2807 loco group, who came to deliver a boot scraper that had been specially requested by Rick.

Here is Rick, clearly delighted with his long awaited acquisition.

For those who did not know, to raise funds 2807 manufacture these boot scrapers out of bullhead chairs, beautifully painted up and with a brush fixed on top. They cost £40 and you can buy them at the Flag & Whistle, and at the Coffepot at Winchcombe. The company name on the chair is a bit pot luck (GWR, LMS, BR, LNER etc) and they come in a shade appropriate to the railway company, but if you ask nicely, they will look out for a particular type of chair for you.

This is what Rick did. He wanted a GER one, and he was very patient and waited a long time. The result was worth waiting for though, don't you think? All the details are picked out in gold on a lovely GER blue. It's a 85lbs chair, dated 1907.

Further up the path, almost by the sharp end by the GWR bridge rail corner post, John is digging out another post hole.

During the excavations here we came across this cast iron pipe. It's quite heavy, not a gutter down pipe. There is a bit of yellow paint at one end, would this be a piece of old gas pipe? What could it be doing here?

Back at the gate, a trial fitting is taking place.

Concrete is now in scarce supply, as we have used up all the ballast. In the barrow is a bit left over from planting the lamp post with the 'granpa'. Luckily Dave D found some left over ballast at home, and half a bag of cement, left over from a shed he built almost 10 years ago now! Are you sure you can spare it, Dave?

As the gate is wrestled into place, Peter steps right back to give guidance as to the alignment with the rest of the fence. The gate post hole seemed unusually large, and it was explained to your blogger that that was because 'we had to move the hole'. Ah.

With everyone happy with the alignment, Minnie the Mixer was got our one last time. She was spoon fed the ballast and cement ingredients, and obediently spat out the resulting concrete into the barrow. This was then shovelled into the moved hole.

Next week, we return for some trial slamming of said gate.


  1. How were the hurricane lamps attached to the posts? I seem to think there was some sort of bracket, possibly with a hook at the end to hold the lamp?

    1. Yes, that's it.
      the lamps were only brought over from Toddington at the end of the day, and taken away again with the last train.

  2. Nice gate. Very National Trust!, but not really very GWR. I'm sure that they would have put in a gate with vertical wooden spears and painted white or even a gate made of spear top metal rods, as like the one at Broadway by the signal box. BUT - A gate is a gate and it looks good so ignore my ramblings. Regards, Paul.

  3. Hey St Blazey stop criticising my new home, yes a gate is a gate and the HAG has done another splendid job everything is looking so smart, pity we can't be there for the official opening... ( don't forget to leave the key under the flowerpot)!!! Great work every one as ever.
    Paul & Marion.

  4. Like the kitemark on the chair most people don't realise it was adopted in 1903, suck an enduring logo :)

    1. I'd rather not, thank you (read your text again :-) )