Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Now it's in use

Hayles Abbey halt - on an ordinary operating day...

This train didn't stop there, it's a steamer - DMUs only this season. But you can still take photographs of them. Sadly, the steamers shut off just before the bridge, so drift by until Toddington.

But we came here to see 1450 and W238W CHAFFINCH one last time. The auto coach was kept in the 'Parlour Road' at Toddington during its wonderful stay with us.

Here it is being retrieved, and shunted into platform 1 for the first service of the day, two trips up the extension to Little Buckland. It even says 'BROADWAY' on the destination board.

Before you write in to report a broken rail on the left... You know how you find a place in a line of guys to take a photograph? You position yourself so that no one is in your line of sight, give everybody a bit of room. Then, just as you press the shutter release, your neighbour raises a hand...

Yes, I confess, I photoshopped it away. However, Photoshop then substituted it for another piece of rail...

Shotly afterwards 1450 pushed the auto coach up the line to Little Buckland. This was a rare experience, to sit in our own 'Coffeepot'. Having seen several grainy B&W photographs of the actual Coffepot service in the 1950's, here was an unexpected chance to see what it was really like. It was big inside, roomy. There was a family atmosphere about, like the sharing of an experience. Behind the glass window the driver pushed and pulled at the regulator, trying to get the right position for the speed required. Bells and whistles were sounded. Once we got the right amount of steam on, we motored along quite happily, until all too soon the new stop board appeared.

If you'd like to know what it was like from the first row, as it were, here is a video of the first trip on Sunday, the last day of operation of 1450 and the auto coach with us. Then they went back home.

After the second trip up to Little Buckland, the 'Coffepot' did what we at Hayles have been building up for. It drifted down from Toddington, and came to a silent stop. No water sloshing out here, but otherwise this scene is now a very close copy of the famous B&W picture taken just before the end of stopping services. We modelled the whole halt on it.

After a brief pause, the Coffepot moved off again.

Did anyone get off, actually use the halt?


To be honest though, we didn't build this halt to boost the passenger numbers, but to recreate the past, following the GWR Trust's mission 'To build and maintain a railway museum for the benefit of the public'. But if we can generate more interest, and a few more ticket sales along with it, that would be great. And there is more interest. For one thing, the bridge is a great place to photograph our trains, before or after you have taken a trip on the railway. It's a reason to come and see us.

You can even take a passing shot, as 1450 accelerates away towards Winchcombe, where it would reverse.

Now the halt has fallen silent again, except for the twittering of the skylarks.

We still haven't quite finished pimping and polishing our little halt. One of the things that were missing was a seat inside the shelter. This is a replica, home made using bench ends supplied by one of our sponsors, GWR Benches at Moreton. Its a 'triple', which is how these benches were originally constructed. The 'doubles' came much later, and are less authentic.

We thought we'd just sling it on the back of the truck, but - mistake! These things are heavy. Six of us groaned as we lifted first one end on, then the other. Fingers were crossed that we would actually get it into the shelter, as we knew it was a tight fit. Let's see.

What do you mean, you can only see five heads? Well, someone had to take the picture, it was only for a moment, then we heaved that thing down the slope.

Their faces do look rather rosy with the effort.

Here it is, a GWR bench installed in the GWR shelter. It did fit after all, phew. No schoolboy carving of romances on it though, please.

Of course, we had to test it thoroughly. It passed!

Faces less pink already.

We'll stay in touch from time to time to let you know what we are up to. Most of us are also members of the track gang, so tomorrow we will do what track gangs do: lay track! Got to get the rail that was delivered yesterday on to those sleepers laid out last week, then we can move the supply train up.


  1. What a wonderful chase up blog. Nice to see a bench inside the shelter. Even though it's a repro, I would still bolt the bench down to the concrete as even the repro benches fetch a tidy amount. It's a sorry world where we have to do these things. Oh to turn the clock back.... Regards, Paul.

  2. It will be bolted down.

  3. If we could turn the clock back, we would still have a railway network (pre Beeching) and this railway would be a main line. Would be nice to have a piece of double track through the halt as there once was.

  4. As English a scene as you can get. A GWR auto train, a rural halt and a backdrop of The Cotswolds on a Summers day. All that is needed is the music of Vaughan Williams.

    1. Indeed, and something I thought would never be recreated. I have tried to resist using this description but can do so no longer!

      "......It was late June.
      The steam hissed.  Someone cleared his throat.
      No one left and no one came
      On the bare platform. What I saw
      Was (Adlestrop) Hayles Abbey Halt—only the name
      And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
      And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
      No whit less still and lonely fair
      Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
      And for that minute a blackbird sang
      Close by, and round him, mistier,
      Farther and farther, all the birds
      Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire."
      Edward Thomas

  5. OK so no power I will get fresh batteries for the tape player for the music and the radio, at least I now have a bench seat in my new humble abode, can you ask the trains not to sound whistles or horns from 14:00Hrs to 16:00hrs whilst I take my afternoon nap please!(LOL)What a fantastic site this is, I have written to several railway magazines to ask about an award for this Halt. So other bloggers please write to them as well. This one is so deserving as will Broadway when that opens next year! A wonderful job so well done. We are looking forward to our visit next week.
    Paul & Marion

  6. Could you repost the new & old (B&W) photographs together, so we can compare?

    1. I have a problem there, as I don't own the copyright to any old photographs, or have consent from the holders.
      You can see an old picture here:

      Leuk, eens een vraag uit Nederland te krijgen :-)

    2. Ah, well, nearly there Jo! I'm dual-national and currently in the UK, but if you like I'll ask a question in a couple of months once I've moved to the Netherlands!

  7. I,visited Hayles Abbey Halt,last Sunday.Took a few pictures,and video,of the passing trains,and several shots,of 1450,and autocoach,calling there!.I,could almost imagine it was back in the 1950s!.Quite a few people,were using the Halt!.Shame about the wind,though!. Anthony.

  8. Has it got a nameplate on the back of the seat? I see "RO" on the last picture...

    1. It did have - well spotted! We took it off, as it was easily unscrewed, and the name wasn't 'Hayles Abbey'.
      I'll leave you to figure out which GWSR name it was :-)

    2. I think it was 'Broadway'. Regards, Paul.

  9. You'll need to change the notice board soon from toddington to broadway.
    Looking even better now the grass has started to grow. Well done