Wednesday 17 July 2024

Diesel days.

Diesel days.

Saturday on the PWay was a quiet one, as most were on a slinging refresher course. But it was also a diesel gala day, so not without interest.

These large vinyl posters advertised the 3 day event. Broadway had two large vinyls at the bottom of the drive.

In the Winchcombe visitor centre there was a large model railway layout, split into two halves - public, and behind a screen, a large fiddle yard.

Members of the PWay team stare at the model railway...

With a bit of patience you could get some quite realistic shots of the freight trains at 'Abbotswood'.



We're not that much into model railways, but must admit that the scenery was very well executed. It wasn't too fussy, with the more open spaces that you normally see on the full size railway.


From the window of the training centre you also got a good shot of your own trains, and this time, very realistic.

Here 37 215 exchanges tokens with the Winchcombe signalman as the first train of the day heads south.

After a while (and a cup of tea with biscuits in the training centre) the initial train was followed by one headed by the second class 37. Notice the short rake - but with more trains running up and down, one of the reasons we scheduled the training for that Saturday.



To make use of the day, we decided to get out the Transit and transfer the collected GWR throughbolters to Toddington. 

Here they are, 26 of them, nearly 3/4 of a tonne. They are for the 2807 gang, to turn into boot scrapers, for sale.

We also dropped off 3 hardwood blocks for the loco dept to use. They come from good bits of discarded timbers.

Elsewhere in the loco yard was our visitor from Llangollen, 5310.

Here it is doing some work in the yard.

That work was pushing cold 2807 back into the shed - it was diesel day, after all.


Our own class 24 was there too, for inspection.

Not long afterwards, with its engine nicely warmed up, visitor 5310 went out on the main line.

Here it is in the station, just leaving.... backwards. It was on the rear of the Broadway train.

The car park was well filled, with some people having to double park, and also make use of the upper coach park. A quick check of the Cotswolds halt at 11 showed it to be empty. Let's hope that fills up later one with people wanting lunch and a drink. The bar was open too.

The trains looked quite well filled, and the weather was kind, which no doubt helped. Here is our new found pair of class 20s, with the new blue 20 228 out in front.

This combination seemed extra popular, with a lot of enthusiasts hanging out of the window in the first carriage. Unfortunately there is not much noisy action while in our extensive station limits.

In Toddington, the RATs trust has put up two GWR posters from the inter war years that we have sourced. These are weatherproof - they are printed on an aluminium laminate and are colourfast.

The original style of posters on GWR stations of our period was to fix double or quad royal frames to sets of three battens. At Toddington you can still see the shadows on the brickwork where they were. The RATs have replaced one set that was on the end wall; a second set existed on the left, but a non - heritage aware person has put up a single posterboard with a modern poster on it instead.

For a while the original quad royal poster board had modern posters stuck on it too (while we arranged for the replicas from the interwar years, Toddington's period) and these have now been transferred to the modern featherboard fence opposite. Here they still serve their purpose, but no longer affect the period look of the station.

A less frenetic day on the Pway also offered the opportunity of chats with some mates you don't see so often.

We found Margaret, a PWay track walker and member of the Friends of Winchcombe Station, manning the Usk hut, which was open for sales of magazines etc to benefit the FoWS .

It was good to see the Usk hut doing something useful. Margaret had also acquired an excellent antique stool, which was just right for the height of the counter section. 

Note also the filled coal scuttle, and the railwayman's lamp in the fireplace.

Looking good !

Wednesday with the Usketeers on the fence.

Dave is back, we are back to our full strength of 4. That resulted in a great day, and the warm, pleasant weather played its part too.

Neal from Broadway wasn't there, but he had been on Monday, leaving a second arched ridge purlin a long way to completion.

It's here in the foreground. The first is stood upright centre right. Only one more to go, the third.

Neal though he might make a start on the trusses in a fortnight. Now that's progress ! The trusses form the largest item on our to make list.


After a welcome cup of coffee at 8 am the Usketeers got to work too, in blazing sun shine. (at last)

Each week we dig two post holes, and concrete in the relative grandfather posts.

Then the week after we can add the woodwork, while John digs the holes for the following week.


On the left Paul is fixing the rails, while John and Dave, under the big tree, are digging holes.

Yours truly completed the capping on the featherboard fence, and dug a post hole for the retainer post for the gate. Then it was more creosoting, to keep up with the others - such fun!

A cabin hook was fitted to the smaller of the two gates, so that these are now ready, except for the drop bolt in the middle.

The tree visible in the picture above was a concern. It is very tall indeed, and our fence would pass right in front of it.


Undaunted, Dave started digging the post hole, and by luck or skill managed not to find any large roots.

Here the post hole, 2ft deep, has just been completed.

The featherboard gate has had its length of capping too. The little gap on the right still needs filling, but we haven't had time. The gap is used very frequently, we wonder why there is a gate at all?

We heard a distant roar above us, and took the shot below, with maximum zoom.

Is that a B52 there, accompanied by two fighters? They were heading SW, generally in the direction of the USA...

We were pleased to see that the latest permanent GWR poster that we have sourced is now up. The location is the P2 waiting room at Toddington.

Cheltenham Races (1936!) is very fitting for our line.

Soon it was lunch time.

We treated ourselves to rolls filled with suasages and onions - delicious! Dave certainly thought so.

During the day we took down the first panels of Heras fencing, to reveal the post and rail fence behind. The Heras fence is supported periodically by a triangle behind, and that gets in the way of the permanent fence that we are erecting.

Mid afternoon it was time to concrete in the grandfather posts into the holes dug earlier the same day.

Note how close to our fence route that big tree is. Keeping to the required distance of 1m from the kerb here could be tricky.


But the concrete post by the big tree went in as well, we were lucky there. We also took down some of the invasive ivy up the tree.

The last thing we did today was to set the gate retaining post inside the featherboard fence.

Next week it will receive a cabin hook, and then that's the gate finished.

The material to close the gap is stored up against the fence, so we are ready for the job, just too busy with the next one.


We've been storing the liberated Heras fencing panels upright against the paling fence, but today the steam dept came and requested that we let them have half a dozen for their wood pile.

All the other panels will eventually have to go back into storage, so that is half a dozen fewer that we have to deal with. Good for both parties then.


At the end of the day we called in at Broadway, where John and Neal have been laying bricks, after a temporary hiatus when we ran out of black dye powder.

A big roll of 225mm DPC has been found, and this enabled John to make a start on the second course of blues along the plinth.

Two mixes were made - more than usual - and John reckons he put down over 100 blues. Great progress here too then.

To round off the day we relaxed outside the cafe with a slice of cake and a cuppa. Life is good....

A GWR 2-8-0 beyond hope.

Or so we thought. This Barry wreck was retrieved from the P&BR in 2011 and taken to the K&ESR. It had stood on a Welsh mountainside for 24 years, exactly the same number of years that it had stood in the scrapyard. It was the last 4200 to be extracted, so all the useful bits were missing.

Photo credit: 4253 Locomotive Co Ltd.

How could this rusty thing ever run again? All the connecting and coupling rods were missing, all the brass fittings, the chimney base shattered, tanks, cab and bunker only good for patterns.

We signed up though !

It was estimated to be a 10 - 12 year project, and so far we have had - 12 years. But it's nearly ready, not bad for a team on the KESR that has never restored a Barry wreck before.

The bunker before...

... and the bunker after, a complete refabrication.

These two pictures give you an idea of the extent of the work that was necessary. And of the quality achieved.

The reason for this blogpost is the excellent news that the boiler has returned from its overhaul. It too has had extensive work done, which has rather depleted the coffers for the final push towards its relaunch.


Here the boiler has just been hauled into the yard at Rolvenden. The frames, bunker and smokebox of 4253 are in the foreground.


Amazing, but within 40 minutes the overhauled boiler was back in the frames.

All the rods were missing, and had to be traced or completely remade. But they're on now.

When they saw the wreck of 4253, out in the open air for 48 years, many people thought that this was an impossible project. Too far gone, too expensive, they'll never raise the money.

Well, here is their answer:


 (Three photo credits: Alan Crotty, 4253 Locomotive Co Ltd.)


The restoration is still not fully funded, there is still a gap. If you would like to give them a hand for the final push, you can do so here:

Two other restoration projects on the KESR are also of interest:

This 'boiler on wheels' is the next project for the 4253 people. It came from the same source, not long after 4253 arrived on the KESR. This is GWR 0-6-2 5668, which has spent a similar length of time at Barry and at the P&BR. As you can see it is completely bare, but some new parts for it have already been made, in parallel with its larger brother.

The other interesting item is another rare GWR survivor, railcar W20W. That actually ran in 1974 immediately after the KESR reopening, but was soon withdrawn due to bodywork issues. It too has seen an extensive overhaul, which is nearing completion.

Maybe if we ask the KESR very very nicely, they will lend it to us for a little while? Those railcars did run on our line, we have a picture of one passing Long Marston signal box. Now wouldn't that be nice.

Your blogger still has a roneoed set of operating instructions printed 50 years ago !

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Round the houses

Thursday on bricks

Thursday at Broadway - two of us on bricks, with Neal at Toddington on steels.


Our work day varies with the weather, as you can't lay bricks in the pouring rain.

So knowing when we might pop up on the Broadway camera is a bit haphazzard.

This time it was a Thursday, a blowy but mostly sunny and dry day. It was also an operating day, and we were surprised to see the DMU arrive, after seeing a mainline diesel hauled train arriving this time last week.

With the much shorter DMU stood exactly under the canopy, it reminded us of an earlier picture, taken in the late 1950s, of the Coffeepot running in to the same space.

The 1950s picture also allows us a glimpse of the canopy extension and bottom of the steps on P2. We will build it exactly like that. The big WAY OUT sign already exists - it's in store.

The 1950s picture doesn't show any passengers, but the 2024 DMU did have quite a few passengers. We just paused for a few moments for the picture, to show a near empty platform, like 70 years ago. But Broadway was actually quite busy on Thursday (election day).

After making a big mixer load of mortar for John, enough for most of the day for him, we continued with the job of improving the bolts on the P1 lamps. That job was completed, and then we put the glass with the extra lamp glass sticker on back.

We put a sample next to the 'GWR' flowerbed motief, just to compare. We have obtained 23 of these - 11 extra ones to double up P1, and 12 for the last 6 lanterns for P2.


This is what the P1 lanterns look like now.

You can just about make out the shiny stainless steel bolt heads underneath, and now two panes of glass with BROADWAY on.


Unfortunately our efforts to loosen some of the totally rusted bolts resulted in two cracked panes. These we have had remade in our local builders merchants in Broadway, and will fit next time. Then that's it for the lamps of P1.

The brick laying on Thursday was along the back of the new building. John started by the centre column, and laid a double row of blues to the corner.



Mid afternoon a Johnsons coach arrived and decanted its passengers onto our platform.

Once again Broadway looked quite busy.

The Friends of Broadway bric-a-brac shop was also inspected. This sells donated goods, and home made trugs. It generates quite a bit of income, for virtually no cost. It does need people manning it though, and we recenly lost a key volunteer here.

If manning 'Auntie Wainwright's' appeals to you, we would be very glad to hear from you. Don't be shy, you'd be very welcome.


Similarly, the Broadway cafe is looking for more volunteers. Due to age or outside circumstances there's always a gradual reduction in volunteers, so new ones would be gratefully received.

Finally for Thursday, a last look at the brickwork. John has reached the corner of the building, leaving just the store room to do.

John laid 80 bricks on Thursday. Once we are round with the first course it's the dpc to put on, then the next of the five courses of blues on the plinth.

Two more from PWay at Hayles

Courtesy of Jim, here are two more pictures of the PWay gang giving the Hayles Abbey halt a bit of a refresher.

It was a dull day, so lunch was taken 'al fresco', albeit 'in camera'. That's a 10ft bench in there, with 6 burly track workers squeezed on to it. Didn't think that was possible, but hey, needs must.

The path, with a Terram sheet under it, was given a good weeding, the platform face of 'sleepers' was creosoted, new lamps fitted (the existing ones only cost £5), and the gate post was stabilised with a length of angle, but more work is needed as it has already rotted at ground level.

A pensive Paul at the end of the day.

The bench with a collapsed slat was taken to C&W at Winchcombe, where new slats are currently being painted.

The main job was the re-filling of the platform surface, which had settled close to the platform slabs. Two dumpy bags of stone had been ordered for the job, but it soon became apparent that two more were needed. These were delivered the same day by Fairview of Honeybourne, thus enabling us to complete the job, as you can see in the adjacent picture.

Doesn't it look smart again !

This little gem is so popular with photographers. It has a nice setting, easy access from Toddington, the sun on the right side, and car parking in a layby nearby.

Saturday out with the gang.

Or ganglet - just 5 of us today. Someone must have copped the met forecast, it was dire all day long. We hunkered down in the mess coach for about 90 minutes, and then a weather update said the rain would die out a bit earlier, so we packed up the Ranger and headed for Bishop's Cleeve.

On the way we noticed that STEVIE the RRV had acquired a brand new set of tyres, which is excellent.

The old ones we heard were 12 years old, so definitely time for a refresher of the wheels.



Two steamers were out and about today - 2807 and P & O, back from its trip to Swanage. It was declared a very successful trip, and the excellent mechanical state of the loco got praise there, we heard.

Our GWR 2-8-0 is seen here pulling into the station at Winchcombe, with the first train of the day. Everything was wet, but the rain was tapering off.

Jim watched the arrival from behind the pile of second hand rail.

At Bishop's Cleeve our jobs list requested that we check the gaps in the screws holding down the brackets on the two breathers.

The 'X' marks one sleeper where it was felt that the gap was a tad too big, the bolt a tad too loose. 

That was easily corrected.


Jim recorded the adjustment for posterity. We checked the clearances of all 24 screws in fact, while we were at it.


The job was under Two Hedges bridge. The debris thrown down from it is rather depressing, it's what you get from an urban environment. No fewer than 6 bags of dog mess, a spent vape and refill pot, 6 footballs, a Kinder egg shell (unlikely that a child threw this on the trackbed, sadly), a sock, 2 pens, a Nitrous Oxide cannister and....

...the piece de la resistance, a ladies' undergarment, hanging from our speed restriction sign.


This was also the spot where there was a dipped joint, which we were asked to deal with.

Two jacks, two Robels, and the job was done. Move on.

We stepped aside for P&O, on its way to Cheltenham, accelerating away from the Bishop's Cleeve 15mph speed restriction.

We also had a look at the second breather, on the other end of the Bishop's Cleeve length of CWR. Nothing of great interest to report here. We tightened some screws, loosened others, to get the right clearances on them all.

On its way back north, P&O passed us again, heading tender first. We let it go by, and did this passing shot of the rear of the train as it approached Manor Lane and round the curve, Gotherington Loop.

Back home we put back the tools and made a bee line for the Coffeepot.

On the way we spied this 'new' wagon (not seen by us before), on which restoration work has just started. It's a GWR 3 planker, with a drop side in the middle. That'll be a nice addition to our heritage goods train.

Monday, brick laying at Broadway.

Monday dry, Tuesday forecast wet, so we worked Monday. The target was to complete the first course of blues, 'round the houses'.

Neal saw us off, then went to Toddington to work on the canopy.

John spent the morning approaching the corner, the going round it to the home straight.

After lunch the job was done - we have the first (double) course of blues down, right round the building. That's about 350 x 3.7Kg bricks laid, or about 1.3 tons in weight. More bricks were placed for the next course.



Before we start the next course we need to put down the damp proof course. We don't actually have this, it's pending a purchase order being signed.

The logistics are not always easy. We are also waiting for a bulk order of Cementone black, to get our mortar colour right.

In this picture we have part filled in the gap for the fireplace, using broken bricks salvaged from the site. So some original material from the first generation building is going back into the second generation one.

At the end of the day we had laid the first course right round the building, and here John is starting on the dividing wall between the main waiting room building, and the store room (ex 'GENTS') on the end.

Wednesday with the Usketeers on the Toddington fence.

A complement of three today, Dave being away on hols still. We split into three functions:

- Yours truly on digging in a retaining post for the main gate, and fitting a cabin hook

- Paul on fitting uprights and rails, and

- John on digging holes. He's very good at that, and seems to be impervious to fatigue, despite being the oldest among us. Very impressive.

 Before we started, we watched the B&R tamper being taken away by Allelys.

Here it is, ready to go.


Once up on the low loader the tamper seemed very high, so we did a 'selfie' in front of it. It really is a colossal machine, once up on the trailer.

The Allelys crew also thought it was quite high, so they carefully measured it to see the size of the potential problem.

If only all road transporters were as careful as Allelys, then we would have far fewer bridge hits at Broadway. Most of the hits are caused by loads on top of lorries, not by the lorries as such.

The destination was 'somewhere near Rugby' according to the barrier vehicle crew.

We also saw the result of Neal's work on Monday.

This arched ridge purlin looks a lot more complete than last time.

In fact Neal put in another day's fabricating today.

You see him here at the end of the ridge purlin, drilling more of the innumerable holes for all those rivets still to come.

At the end of the day this purlin was complete. While we were busy on the other side of the fence he had the Telehandler out, turned the purlin on its edge and laid it on the ground, and started the next one (of four in total).

On the post and rail job up the drive Paul was fixing the first of the rails north of the double gates.

We took down the Heras fencing gates and opened the new gates wide.

Soon our first 'customers' came over to use them - these were members of a coach party. and the coaches park in the triangle behind the camera.

Today we treated ourselves to a proper lunch - bacon baps, prepared by Paul. There is nothing like a fresh bacon bap...

Then it was back to work, here fitting two concrete grandfather posts into the two holes that John had dug during the day.

That's about our rhythm, two posts per day, with the associated wooden posts and rails on top.

Nearby the C&M team were putting the final creosote touches to the old featherboard fence, which was looking tired next to the new one that the Usketeers put up.

The event of the day was the arrival of the pair of class 20s into Toddington, with an ECS working in anticipation of the diesel gala.

We had heard the whistle of the class 20 being warmed up outside the diesel shed, and waited with an eye on the station, to pounce as soon as it rolled in.

Unperturbed, John and Paul continued with the grandfather posts. On the right is a transition post, with a preliminary arrangement. The problem is that the post and rail system doesn't like curves very much, but a curve is clearly what we have here. Paul will cut the rails to shape, so that they fit better. The upright is a gauge which Paul made to get a continuous spacing of the rails throughout.


At the end of today we had 4 sections completed with 4 rails, and two grandfather posts concreted in, ready for next time.

That big tree in the middle distance is going to be a problem for the post holes !

This shot shows the pair of gates in situ, as well as the two sections of 4 rails to the left, touching the steel fence.

One gate receiver post is done, with a cabin hook, the other was planted today, and will have its hook fitted next week.

A quick look at the waiting room on P2 at Toddington shows a new, permament heritage GWR poster fitted, with a classic bicycle in front. Two more heritage posters are ready for fitting to their poster boards.

One of the two others is this one, delivered today. Most of the posters you can buy on line show holiday destinations, so we were very pleased to be able to locate this one, as it is particular to our line - 


It's just the sort of thing that would have appeared on the railway station buildings along the Honeybourne line.

If you look carefully at Broadway, you will find one for Stratford on Avon races in 1933.

Second PWay day at Hayles Abbey halt.

Here are some pictures, kindly supplied by Paul and Walt from the PWay gang - many thanks, guys !



The gang spent a second day at Hayles Abbey halt, giving it a serious refresher.

Here is the path down to the platform, free of weeds again.

The grass has also been mown.

A member of thre RATs Trust painted and varnished the corrugated iron shelter too. Excellent!

Peter refreshed the running in board. While it is already a second generation one (the first one was made of a sort of MDF which was thought to last longer, but in fact soaked up water and quickly turned to sponge) it still needs a repaint every now and then.

Martin and Simon painted the edging stripe again, while others re-creosoted the last panels of woodwork below.

If you are standing here during the diesel gala and wonder how the halt looks so neat, this is the gang that did it.

Speaking of diesel gala, the pair of class 20s came by on a mission to retrieve some carriages from Winchcombe.

The 'new' class 20 20228, in BR blue, had its first outing, to make sure it was really fit for the gala.

At Winchcombe the pair of class 20s ventured on to the carriage sidings, and retrieved a short rake of five for Toddington.

Shortly afterwards they came through again, heading north.

Here you can see the pair, as it passes by the recreated halt.

A look over the fence - Evesham Vale.

A visit to the nearby Evesham Vale railway, 'for the grandchildren'... now known as the Valley Railway Adventure.

It was in the news earlier this year as it was taken over by the owners of the Perrygrove railway (in the Forest of Dean), so we were curious to see what, if any, other locos were on display this time.


This one for example, on the centre road under the station canopy. It's an 0-6-0 'JACK', temporarily out of service due to a leaking tube.

A chunky build - we quite liked it. Not sure where it comes from though.



This is definitely a Perrygrove one - it says so on the tender.

Looks like a baby Baldwin.


We took the grandchildren on a little trip. A promotion is that they get free tickets to the Perrygrove, so their father will be visiting that (and paying for his ticket - very clever). You get a run of a mile, on a balloon loop, with a tunnel too.

The train engine was EVR DOUGAL, a resident 0-6-0.

The train stops about half way along, to let the children out at a wooden fort, which kept ours busy for quite a while.





This original enamel advertisement was very striking. We had never heard of the 'TURF' brand, have you?

The brand seems to have been launched in the 1920s and later became part of the Carreras group.

When the train stops at the end of the balloon loop there is an opportunity to photograph it, and return with a later train half an hour afterwards.

This is DOUGAL ( A Zebedee is also reported to exist) entering the balloon loop.

DOUGAL was built by Severn Lamb of (then) Stratford on Avon, one of only 4 steam locos built by the company, we heard.

Here is DOUGAL about to arrive at the end of the loop. As the little line winds its way around many curves there are lots of opportunities for photographs like this.