Thursday, 7 December 2017

A job in the dry

A job in the dry, and helping out a friendly neighbour - what's not to like? The main activity yesterday took place in the carriage and wagon shed. Nice and warm and dry in there.

First of all, an apology for the fuzzy quality of the photographs today. This was caused by a young smartphone in old hands, leading to some out of focus imagery in low light. Bear with us! We will do better.




The main job there was to lay a level concrete floor over a redundant drain cover, in the C&W 'barn' end at Winchcombe. The drain is in the foreground, filled in. The concrete looks thick - several gang members poke it with a crowbar.








Professional poking with a crowbar determined that this was a much bigger job than the initial sales pitch (isn't it always like that?).

In order to achieve a level floor, including the area of the redundant drain, the gang had to dig out a much larger area of approx 12ft by 10ft, so quite a substantial are of concrete to get out. And the concrete was up to 7 inches thick too.

A number of cuts were made in the concrete with a large angle grinder, and the squares were then broken out with a Kango hammer.








It was decided to split the job into two, by first laying a strip of concrete as a path along the rail to the door in the connecting shutter. This then needed to set before continuing with the rest of the excavation.

In the picture the path is ready to be infilled with fresh concrete.







This picture shows better what the idea was - the new strip of concrete is in the foreground, while behind the old drain has been part covered, waiting for the rest of the area to be broken out. This was done by a late lunch time, so that the new concrete could settle down while tea and sandwiches were consumed.



The concrete that was broken out was barrowed 100yds over to the B&S shed site beyond the new ballast store. Good hardcore for someone.

Later on new concrete mixed at the same site was barrowed back in the other direction into the C&W 'barn'.









After lunch the rest of the concrete was broken out.

Meanwhile, back in the B&S shed Mike was working on the weighbridge house door.

He scraped off all the old paint, then applied primer and in the photograph he is just putting on a brown undercoat.








The gates have had another coat of gloss. Just one more coat on the other side to go now.






For these gates, two new posts have been delivered. They certainly look thick enough, just the business.

Now someone has to dig them in.














A third splinter group consisting of Jim and Austen, also at Winchcombe, continued digging holes for the fencing uprights. These are for the new anti dog fence at the bottom of the grassy slope.










A bit more Winchcombe history:

Another 1905 photograph, this time looking the other way from the new road bridge by the station, towards Greet tunnel:

It shows very clearly how our railway, one of the most recent and last built in the UK, was advanced with modern methods. There are still navvies here, but they are now steam navvies. Two of them can be seen digging their way along the new cutting towards the future northern portal of Greet tunnel.
 
The steam navvies had 4 small wheels with double rims that rolled along temporary track that could be taken up behind and laid down again in front as the workface progressed. The excavated spoil was dropped into very basic wagons with dumb buffers, which were drawn along temporary contractor's track with closely spaced sleepers, either by a horse, or by one of the contractor's little 0-6-0s.

The upper of the 2 navvies has a new stretch of contractor's line next to it, with a trolley at the end. According to Audie Baker in his book on our railway's history this line served the two shafts along the tunnel, out of which excavated martial could be evacuated, to be replaced by bricks brought in for the lining. It looks like the new line is to be extended to (or has been liften from) the cutting side in the foreground - there is a row of closely spaced sleepers this side of the trolley on the end.

In the construction of the famous Tring cutting this sort of scene would have featured only human labour, with wheelbarrow ways leading vertically up the slope and a horse at the top to pull.




Friday, 1 December 2017

Fencing today

Fencing was a common thread on Wednesday.

Here is Pat making up new panels in the B&S shed at Winchcombe. These panels are for the anti dog fouling fence by the Winchcombe car park:





This is where it's going to go.

Three members of the B&S gang are digging out the fence line along the kerbs. The earth was barrowed to the end of the platform.

Two others went to Broadway to deliver some temporary fence posts and blue rope. These are to strengthen the Heras fence along the 'car park' footpath, still in place after the completion of the embankment works. It has a habit of falling over in strong winds (which we have had).



Pete D then went to Cheltenham with two others to fine tune the new footpath with additional ballast and sand. He hired in a "whacker packer" to consolidate the ground, and he will be getting a quote for tarmac within the next few days.


In the workshop the former Broadway station drive gates Barry shortened were being glossed. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Also in the workshop, Barry could also be seen making a prototype wooden box cover to hide the rather hideous yellow pastic salt containers on the platform. This is a simple measure that quickly hides some of the non GWR items that can accumulate if you don't keep a watchful eye. Our selling point after all is a historic GWR railway experience.
 
On the right you can see the granite setts laid at the end of the visitor centre. They just need grouting now. This is also a nice historical touch, an excellent idea.
 
 A bit of Winchcombe history:

A bit of 'Early GWSR' history for you, from Ivor Dixon's collection of early days photographs, which we will shortly publish on Flickr - there are over 100 to upload. This one is a taster for you, as it has Winchcombe relevance. It's a view of the yard, taken from the middle +/- where Hall's yard is today (we sold half of the goods yard years ago). 
 
The two buildings on the right at the back are interesting - are they still there today? Is that the B&S headquarters?
 
Ivor took the photograph on the 29th of April 1983, before the railway had even started running, and certainly before there were any rails at Winchcombe.


Even longer ago:

This is Winchcombe in the autumn of 1904. Apologies for the poor quality, but such originals often hang on the wall of a musty room, and they don't get any fresher. At least this one is now scanned in.

The picture was taken just on the tunnel side of Greet Road bridge. The new railway built bridge is being put up top right, while behind it you can just make out a temporary one to allow road traffic to continue while contractor's trains are at work underneath.

Most of the cutting up to the tunnel was excavated by big steam navvies, but there were places too delicate for them to work, and then human navvies had to finish the job, such as here. The clay is being excavated by picks and shovels, and is being thrown into short wagons which were then hauled by little contractor's steam locos to embankments were the spoil was needed. From here the most likely destination would have been Chicken Curve. The Wagons have simple dumb buffers of wood, and chains to pull them. The track consists of lightweight flat bottomed rail on half round sleepers - you can't get more basic than that.

Think about these hard working men, as you trundle in your train through the cutting and into the tunnel. They made it possible.
 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Two gangs today

Your correspondent Jim was sent to Coventry today (er, does that mean Cheltenham Race Course?) where he joined a small but happy gang preparing the new path from platform 1 down to the level crossing.



The recently fitted gates on P2 needed adjusting first, and then the next job was to replace a short section of fencing along P1, which we can see Barry doing here.


A gate restraint was also fitted to the field side.










The next job was to prepare the path down to the crossing so that it could be tarmaced.






The edging timber needed completing along the path, and in this picture you can see Jim cutting a straight edge so that the new tarmac can join the old in a seamless fashion.




The old footpath then had to be dug out and levelled ready for the new tarmac. As it was a bit reluctant to give up its rocks and stone a Kango had to be used to prise out the hard bits. The two ends of the path were then filled with 2 dumpy bags of stone, as can be seen in the pictures below.






















These two pictures show the CRC job at the end of the day. Once tarmaced, people can use the two paths each end of the platforms to go from one to the other via the level crossing.


Meanwhile, back at the farm....

Three other B&S members continued work on the weighbridge house. All walls and the ceiling are now painted, as well as further parts of the windows, which were also sealed where required.

The neighbour got a new trellis in the back garden too.







Some rotten wood was removed from the door frame. To do this, Pete had to remove a number of bricks, which he can be seen doing here. He put them all back in again too.
 
Apologies for the blurred image, it's the excitement, it's the excitement.







Here's that length of turf which some visitors misidentify as a dog toilet. You can see where the new fence is going to go, along the kerb. To get the fence posts into the ground you need the Kango to take out some of the concrete, and this was in use at CRC (as you know) so that's a job for next time.

On Saturday a start was also made on the granite setts by the visitor centre.

Down on platform 1, lengthened earlier in the year, the additional lamp post - a replica GWR casting which you can order from us via breva2011 (at) hotmail.co.uk - is finally fitted out completely. It has been painted in the later GWR period chocolate and cream, and received a new top with lightbulb. Does it work? You'll have to come round one evening and look.

Finally we caught three of the B&S gang having a convivial tea break by the Coffeepot.

Coffepot closed? No matter, we'll have just as much fun on the platform. Here's a big 'Hello' to you from Pete and 2 of the gang. Let's see what adventures they had next time.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Wednesday at Winchcombe

A smaller gang than usual this time, but no less enthusiasm! Four outside, and two more in the workshop.

Firstly, here is the weighbridge house, now with the exterior complete. It is good to see something properly watertight.






Of coure the inside isn't quite finished yet, so more painting of the walls and roof timbers proceeded today.

Ken was on walls this time...









... and in this picture you can see how far he was able to reach. A longer ladder is promised for next week.
Jim did the woodwork under the tiles in white gloss.


The scaffold towers were dismantled and one was taken to Broadway, to enable the gang there to repair the two dagger boards broken by the mini digger on the platform. We're helping each other.

In front of the weighbridge some large concrete blocks holding up the neighbour's lawn were taken down. The intention now is to take off the bull nosed bricks at the top, increase the height of the wall, and the replace them. That will look a lot more original.

The neighbour's trellis was also taken down, so that the rear window of the weighbridge house could be accessed. The window will be repainted and have its putty refreshed. The trellis will then be replaced with a new one, as the old one was rotten. All to keep good relations with our neighbours.




In the workshop Pat was making up more fence panels. The idea is to fence off the grassy areas between the station building and the new Elf centre as too many dog owners are letting their pets foul this area.











Also in the workshop we can see the two gates that Barry shortened last week. These will be fitted near the Elf Centre steps.













Finally Bruce was trying to sort out some working fluorescent tubes to improve the workshop lighting.









Hoping that you enjoyed the historical photograph kindly lent to us by Bryan Nicholls last week, we are going to try another.

This one may well have been taken on the same day as last week's picture of the forecourt, as it's of a similar era. There are 7 station staff visible in the photograph, all proudly lined up along the platform.

The station is not new in the picture, as the ballast is already quite used looking, but everything else is still quite neat. Notice the slabs in the busy areas of the platform, and ash behind. 

The layout of the station is the same as at Broadway. A longish station building with 5 chimney vents, canopy overhang at one end leading to a similar footbridge, and a waiting room with canopy on platform 2.

The first station master at Winchcombe was Mr. W J Edwards, who was there between the opening in 1905 and January 1912. It may well be him in the foreground. He had a staff of 8, some of which were duplicated, as well as a rail motor driver, so the 7 figures in the picture could well represent that same station staff.

There are no trains in view, so this photograph was taken for the benefit of the people on it.

If anyone else has any old photographs of the line, we would be interested to know, and more than happy to put them on the blog.

Friday, 10 November 2017

More on the weighbridge hut

Wednesday's main job for the Building and Services gang was to carry on with the roof of the Weighbridge hut, under a cracking blue sky.

To start with the last few tiles were fixed back on to the roof on the forecourt side. A beaming Jim seems to be painting his way into a corner, or is that tiling his way?




Shortly afterwards all the tiles were on, with the exception of the ridge tiles.

One of them has been placed on the end to see how they go.










Pete then placed the ridge tiles, thus completing the tiling on the roof, and making the little hut, an original to the site, watertight again.











Down on the ground, next to the big iron plate on which the goods vehicles would stand to be weighed, a small amount of black mortar was being mixed for the ridge tile job.











Inside the hut a second group was painting the underside of the roof.

It's actually a second undercoat that is going on here.We need to protect the wood for as long a life as possible.








Ta- dahhh - the second undercoat is finished, and it's time for a cup of tea while it dries.





Down by the cattle dock, which will be the nerve centre for the imminent Santa activities, the fencing in the vicinity of the new Elf Centre has been completed.






Down below, the granite sets mentioned in the last posting have been delivered. Hope they didn't all come in the boot of that small family car.
Now to lay them, between the building and the Santa coach.



Back in chateau Building and Services, Barry was adjusting a set of timber gates so that they will fit their new location by the Elf Centre.

These were sponsored by a member for Broadway, but had to be taken out when the original GWR gate posts at Broadway were dug up from the drive.












This is new location for the gates then - the steps next to the new building.








In other news, Bruce replaced two windows in the Winchcombe station building (itself recovered from Monmouth Troy) which had become damaged.


And now
A bit of Winchcombe history:

A new historical photograph of our station at Winchcombe has emerged, in which you may well be interested. It is in fact quite rare to get a photograph without any trains on it, and in this one we see the forecourt side. It allows us to see the layout of the yard as it was, because today it looks rather different.

It looks as if the photograph was taken close to the opening date, being 1st February 1905. The trees are bare, but there is no sign of the contractors any more, so it may be a few winters afterwards. A large band is about to set off, no doubt for Winchcombe itself, quite a march away. The view of the yard was probably taken from the stationmaster's house (which is still there, now as a B&B) and it had a GWR lamp post in the garden. That's gone now, but it would be nice to put some genuine GWR lamps in at Winchcombe - the blogger is keen to help with his contacts at the foundry! Another lamp looks to be located at the entrance to the goods yard.

Note how the station forecourt is cordoned off by fencing, to meet one of the gate posts giving access to the goods yard. By the other gate post (both still exist) you can see the weighbridge house now being restored, and something is parked on the weighbridge itself, just in front. Is that a small steam roller?
No motor vehicles are in sight, but at least one horse drawn cart, again pointing to an early date, together with the clothes of the civilians in the picture. We'd say just before the start of WW1.
On the far left is the original footbridge, now removed and replaced by a modern one. It was of the same design as the one at Broadway, and had the same canopy overhang meeting the steps. The building itself has 3 chimneys, representing five fireplaces.
The three men on the right are standing on a part of the drive that was sold off for housing, making for today's rather awkward approach. It used to be much wider, and straight.

We would like to thank Bryan Nicholls for the use of the photograph, from his collection

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Roofing

B&S activities were concentrated on the weighbridge hut at Winchcombe yesterday




Since the last posting all the tile supporting woodwork has been fitted.

On top of this are two layers of waterproof sheeting and then finally the battens that support the slates.








The rear of the building has had new slates fitted, with the last ones being put into place today.

This looks like a very professional job by our little team.








On the forecourt side the first rows of tiles were laid. These are the best of the originals, not all of which were still useable.

At the end of the day they had reached the fourth row here.









To complete the roof repair, Pete got some black mortar and repointed the two ends.








Inside the building Barry fitted vertical timber to the two sides where the roof timbers meet the brickwork.
It's really good to see this building, one of the few originals still standing on the railway, getting a bit of love, care and attention. It's in good hands now.




Finally, a small team did further fencing work adjacent to the new Elf Centre.






All the fence posts for this job are now in, and the cobbles, (or sets, as some call the stones) can be laid next time.

Originally the GWR fencing along here would have been spearhead, as is now being installed at Broadway.

No doubt with a sponsor we could afford the real thing at Winchcombe one day.




An interesting activity in the Winchcombe yard yesterday was the loading of this brake van.

It is in 'as found' condition, and will need a fair amount of work doing to it to get it running again.

Once safely extracted from the siding by the gate the van was loaded on to the trailer, which could then be hitched on to the tractor unit.

We heard that it is the first of three brake vans to move to a new home.

These vehicles are all privately owned. 
 
Eventually we hope that the yard can be cleared of surplus private stock, so that more coordinated redevelopment for it can be made. Some of the stock there is in dire condition, so it's good that someone is taking an interest in it at last.

Here is the brake van loaded and ready to go.