Friday, 18 August 2017

News roundup

The B&S gang have been busy with a large variety of (often unseen) jobs, of which we give below a selection to keep you up to date.

The end wall of the Flag & Whistle cafe, and the inside wall of the kitchen store room are now all renewed and painted up. A concrete slope to the boardroom door was also installed, so that no one has to stand in a puddle to open the door any more.

Nearby, and while at Toddington, they replaced the door to Dave Staniforth's store shed, as the old one had started to fall appart.

Moving on to Winchcombe, the two flat roofs on the Monmouth Troy building have had sealant coats added to prolong their life. The roof of the weighbridge opposite on inspection was found to be infested with woodworm which was also still active, so the decision to completely replace was agreed. While up on the roof, the top 3 courses of the chimney stack were found to be loose so these were removed, cleaned and cemented back on. Additional pointing work was found to be necessary, some other bricks were found to be loose so these were also relaid. The guttering on the other hand turned out to be in very good condition, apart from leaking joints. This has now been refurbished and awaits refixing. Most of the replacement timber has now been prepared and cut to approximate size but will not be fitted just yet as other priorities must be done first.

The weighbridge roof at winchcombe is a secondary project so it is being attended to whenever possible. Hopefully the rebuild will resume next week, as this is a total rebuild due to the woodworm infestation.

Also at Winchcombe, the new visitor centre is now externally complete, and the scaffolding has been removed, so that you can now better see what it looks like.

This is the platform side. We were told that replica sliding doors have still to be added, which will make it look the part from the visitor point of view.

This is a view under the canopy above the platform. The building is expected to be completed by the end of September. The building was erected by contractors.

At Gotherington the old events sign by the bridge was removed, and some temporary sand patches spread on the Cotswolds side platform to cover some voids detected there. It is hoped to complete the job with a more permanent surface soon, as there is now a very obvious mismatch in the colours.

Finally, the gang moved on to CRC to start work on completing the Malvern side approach to the level crossing.

With the new P2 footpath arriving here, the unsurfaced appearance of the crossing itself has become more apparent.

The first job was to remove about 10 tons of gravel, in order to make room for the new surface.

This gravel is still useable; it may be offered to Broadway to help with their P1 infill. Nothing goes to waste here!

In the foreground here is the neat new path from the rebuilt P2. What the B&S guys are doing here is, after levelling off the old surface, building new edgings around the outside, which will contain the concrete layer, which is still to come.

Here is the new edging, now in place. The signalman will also have a nice new surface to stand on, instead of the building site that he has had up to now.

The spoil heap on the other side of the tracks was also removed.

It is hoped to have the pad all concreted in before the end of September .
The gang also laid a base for the concrete fog hut (removed from Toddington), which will stand a few feet from the crossing.  Finally they rebuilt the water stop tap chamber, which was uncovered while digging the base. A new bib tap will be installed, fixed to the fog hut, so there is a water point at that end of platform 2 for use by the station staff.
In between they completed refurbishing the booking office roof at CRC, which thankfully turned out to be much easier than expected. The rain tried to delay them, but perseverance prevailed.

Friday, 12 May 2017

GWR Lamp post story

It's always interesting to source heritage assets for the railway, and when you can't, you do the next best thing, which is to borrow one, and have a replica made.

For Broadway, we tried to buy genuine GWR lamp posts - we needed 22 of them for the platforms alone. Buying so many at auction, with scarce supplies and high prices, was not a realistic way forward, we soon discovered. So a kind sponsor offered to pay for a pattern, and we had our own replicas cast.

We bought 18 replicas for Broadway, of which 10 in turn were also sponsored by kind supporters. The last of the 18 are about to be installed in the space vacated by the 5 containers moved away from platform 1. We already have the tops, so it should look a bit more complete there very shortly.

We decided to see if we could sell some of the replicas. With the (modest) profit we could buy further heritage assets for the railway.

Today was interesting because the buyer of two actually had two genuine but longer posts for sale, for which we found GWSR buyers at Cheltenham Race Course. To save on transport, we decided to collect the two posts for sale from the buyer, and at the same time deliver the two replicas to him. Normally, it's buyer collects!

We set off from Winchcombe in the company Transit with the two castings on board, a crew of three consisting of David T from the Friends of Cheltenham, John S of Broadway and yours truly. Once again, a multi disciplinary action, together forward!

The delivery was complicated, as the lamp posts CRC were buying were in a field in one village, while the castings were to be delivered to a house in another. At one point, we had both on board, leading to this rather full load, all of which was lifted in manually. Four people heaved and struggled, but we did it.

What the buyer forgot to mention was that the delivery point was up a steep and narrow path on top of a bank - this photograph was taken only half way up.

We were treated to a hot cup of tea, and a pint of beer in the local pub, so hard labour is not quite its own reward. You also get to meet the most interesting people. All great fun.

The final act in our interesting swap day was the delivery of the taller, genuine posts to Cheltenham Race Course station. Getting the posts off was easier than getting them on, but they were still heavy. Here John and David take 5 after lifting the posts off the truck. It was rather satisfying to see all this achieved at the end of the day. Everyone happy, and the railway some heritage lamp posts richer. CRC will, in due course, install these in the vicinity of the platform 2 slope down from the top.

So why 'swap' replicas for real ones? The answer lies in their length. There are 3 types of GWR cast iron lamp post:

The first one is a 'No.1 (confusingly stamped 'No.2') which is the standard platform lamp post. Above is a drawing and a photograph of one at CRC. It is 6ft above ground, and 2ft below, so 8ft long in total. This is the one for which we have commissioned a pattern.

The second one is a bit longer, and was used in larger spaces, such as forecourts. Because it is longer, it had the option of a ladder bar, which however was not always present. The smaller type did not need a ladder bar, as it could be opened for the replacement of the lamp by anyone standing on the platform. The larger type was 8ft above ground, so 10ft long in total. We managed to find three of these for Broadway, where they have been planted on the forecourt.
If you look in the back of the truck, and compare the photographs, you can see that the No.2 is longer than the No.1 by 2ft.

Lastly, there is the No.3 type. This one is relatively rare, as it is much taller than the other two, being 13'6'' above ground. How did the GWR achieve this? Simple, they just planted a No.2 post on top of a fluted column. This tall model was to illuminate large spaces, such as railway yards, or a turntable area, as in the picture above. It is known in the parlance as the Yard lamp.
Our little team actually managed to acquire one of these last year, and the plan is to install it at Toddington behind the water tower. It will make a lovely set there. Ours even has its original ladder still attached. It is currently awaiting its turn with the shotblasters.

To raise funds for the railway, we do sell additional castings of the No.1 platform type, so if you are interested, send an email to breva2011(at) You'll be helping us, as well as yourself.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A new build, and a repair

At Winchcombe, the new visitor centre continues to grow.

Last week the scaffolding was up on its first lift, and the Bradstone wall was starting to grow.

The three windows on the car park side are going in. They are made of PVC.

Today, the scaffolding was a level higher and the Bradstone was above window level. The much smaller main station building can be seen in the background.


The B&S team have been busy - not with the visitor centre, which is being erected by contractors - but with repainting and repairing the end wall of the Flag and Whistle building in Toddington. It's a big job.

The south side is pretty much finished now. It's now in a very shiny chocolate colour.

Mike and Pete admire their work.

This is the side the customer doesn't usually see - it's the door to the boardroom!

It's been painted to the same high standard.

There are still a lot of odd bits to do, such as the window surrounds, a new surround for the new boardroom door, and new barge boards. We may also need a new lock for the door, as the old one refuses to work.
Finally, further inspection has revealed several areas of wood rot in the the south side of the north porch. This will need replacing too.
A quick job in between was a request to construct a base on platform 2 at Toddington. This will be for a memorial building, which is due to be put up on May 22nd. A path leading to this building will be laid next.

The gang have also helped with the construction of a foot crossing north of Laverton, which was quite a big job. You can see pictures of this on Andy P's drainage department Flickr site:

Back home in the shed, the gang have been busy manufacturing and now painting the running in board for Hayles Abbey. It's 10'6 wide, a big item supporting the replica 12'' cast letters.

Two posts and so-called granpa posts of concrete, which sit in the ground and hold the wooden posts up, away from any water, were also found and painted. They are now in situ at Hayles Abbey, waiting for the running in board to be mounted on them.

The right hand one is taller than the left hand one, because it will have a hook on top to hold a hurricane lamp.

You can see the grey 'granpa' posts underneath. They will help to conserve the wooden posts, which also received little hats of lead to keep the rain off the top.

Finally, upon a request from the Hayles group, one more wooden post and 'granpa' support were supplied by the B&S gang.

This will become the second lamp post at Hayles, to be situated at the bottom of the ramp.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Repairs and a new build

The B&S gang are now refreshing the Flag and Whistle building on the outside, which needs a periodical repaint.
The boarding along the top of the southern, sun facing section has been taken off. You can see how the paint urgently needs to be refreshed underneath.

Although this is not facing the customers so much (being behind the office) it all needs doing, and that's a nice coat of brown paint going on there already. They've even got a scaffolding tower to get to the highest bits.

Of course, the idea is to stand on top of the scaffolding tower, not underneath it....

Here, some of the boards being taken down reveal doors and windows that were in use when the building had a different function. Did you know that they were there?

Down below, new boards are being cut to size, as each one has to be made to fit its own particular place.

The final touch of course is a nice shiny coat of dark brown, here being applied to the lighter undercoat by Mick.

While the gang was at Toddington, they also gave the 'pods' a new coat of waterproof paint, as you can see here. The relentless sunshine we have in Gloucestershire (don't laugh) does attack south facing facades, roofs and the tops of the carriages.

New visitor centre

The builders continue to make rapid progress here.

The internal concrete block walls are going up between the steel uprights.

This is more striking from the car park side, where the building is much higher.

What is underneath the black plastic then?

The black plastic was lifted, specially for the blog followers.

It's the start of the external cladding in Bradstone. The fresh pointing still has to go off, so it will look lighter.

The shape of the windows is also apparent.

A test area for the colour of the pointing was prepared on one side. The LH side is a paler colour, while the RH side is a pinkier style. The pale colour was selected for the building.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The floor goes in

A concrete block all has been built at the rear, car park side, and last week the floor went in to the new building.

The floor at platform level.

Lots of concrete and steel. A second floor is also prepared.

On Sunday, the diesel service hauled by the green class 37 enters Winchcombe station.

Note the new, short signals and the repeaters at the platform ends.

Speaking to a few volunteers, the green class 37 seems to be quite well respected.  We can see why, with its immaculate paintowork, shiny metalwork and appropriate rake of coaches. Like a vintage car, but much bigger. Well done, the diesel guys!

You like GWR steam too? Well, here is the crossing train, setting off from the just released signal as Dinmore enters platform 1.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A steel frame

The new Elf centre has progressed rapidly, and after the pouring of the foundations the steel frame went up a few days ago.

Remember when it was still cold and wet? That was the day the concrete lorries arrived. Here they are making a start on the foundations, this trench being for the facade along the platform. The new building will have a steel frame inside, and will be clad in Bradstone.

Looking south, you can see the operator of the concrete pump on the left, and two associates guiding the pour and checking the correct depth.

A set of bolts to support the steelwork is in the centre, not yet fitted.

The car park is well filled - there isn't a lot of room with all these building works going on.

Taking a step back, you can see the extent of the footprint, and the emormous pump appearing out of nowhere.

Two members of the PWay gang, returning to the mess coach after a wet morning on the Winchcombe relay, peer through the fence to see what is coming.

Several steps back further still, and the big concrete pump makes a big arch through the sky in its bid to reach the furthest trench, along the platform side.

There's more rain in those heavy clouds hanging on the Cotswolds edge in the background.

Today, the huge steel structure is fully assembled, and you get a good impression of what the new Elf centre will look like.

This picture was taken at the same time, looking from the platform. The floor is about to go in.

Our plucky little B&S gang has not sat still, but they are shy creatures and you have to be quick to get a photograph of them.

Here they have been digging a trench for an electrical conduit from the booking offic at Winchcombe, over ot the weighbridge house. This will be opened to visitors when it's finished.

The booking office roof was also waterproofed. This was quite a long job, involving scaffolding and a completely new membrane, as well as repairs to the ceiling inside.

Today they were repairing the roof of their own shed in the yard - well, no one wants to sit under a leaky roof. Inside, amongst other things, they are making the running in board for Hayles Abbey halt. They've had to buy a new backing sheet as the first one, unexpectedly, proved to be too small for all the letters. It is a much bigger sign, once the letters are all laid out, and of course there are no measurements from an original to work from. Should look great when it's finished, with its replica cast letters. The hayles guys would like to open for the May gala, so fingers crossed.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Elf Centre - building starts

Multi - talented B&S have been involved in a number of projects in the last few weeks, including the preparations for the construction of a new, more permanent 'Elf Centre', loosely based on Ashburton goods shed.

The B&S crew demolished the old wooden Elf Centre a month ago (see previous report) and the site, cleaned up, then looked like this. Building can't start yet as there is an electricity supply cable and a gas main running through the site. Those lamp posts have got to go too, they're in the way. It's always more complicated than you think!

B&S then removed the two posts, here laid on their side along the platform. The new building will sit partly on the platform, and an awning will also overhang it, so they coudn't stay where they were.

With this handy platform trolley, they were easily transported off to storage, while their fate is decided.

A drawing of part of the new building already appeared in the Cornishman, and a fuller set is produced below, which you might find interesting.

As these pictures were photographed off an official drawing, there is a perspective issue, so rest assured, the roof will be straight!

Notice the reproduction sliding doors, which open to reveal the actual entrance.

The back view, seen from the car park.

Seen from the station building.

Seen from the signal box.

In the meantime, the car park has filled up with earth moving machinery and building materials.

The new building will be made of Bradstone, similar to the toilet and platform 2 waiting room.

The first job for the contractors was to cut a trench to move the gas main from the back of the platform (see yellow post) down to the level of the car park. To keep things nice and neat, the new trench was given a nice straight edge with this cutting machine.

The following day, under rather more pleasant skies, the trench itself was excavated. The new building will occupy the grassed area on the left.

A mini digger was used to dig the trench, and this caused some difficulty because after a foot or two it met the 1906 GWR rock layer on top of the original clay underground. When Winchcombe station was first built, this whole area was excavated by steam shovel, and the clay underground was then sealed with a layer of slagstone and ash. We found the same at Broadway when erecting lamp posts on the forecourt there.

This picture was taken yesterday. It's a rather dull one because of the snow and mud, but it does show that the trenches for the footings have been dug - that is the latest position, you are now up to date !

Other B&S activities

There's been a bit of subsidence at the back of the slabs on platform 2 at Winchcombe - the infill always settles over time - so to take care of this the lads have had a go with the SDS drill to take out a strip, and infilling it with extra material.

The infill is then covered again back to its normal level with cold tar, which you buy by the pallet and stamp down with the ram, helping it along a bit with a gas burner just in case.

The pallet makes a handy support to lean on too.

B&S were also kind enough to offer to make the new running in board for Hayles Abbey Halt. They made a good job of the CRC2 one, so we went to the specialist...

A supportive member donated the letters for HALT (from an original GWR halt) and by borrowing original examples from CRC, the SVR (many thanks to you both) and some more found at a local auction, we managed to lend an almost complete set to a foundry to make these replica 12 inch letters. They are big - check out the GWSR mug in the centre. They completely filled your blogger's kitchen table, provoking a look from Mrs. B.

We don't really have a spy in the sky cam to follow everything the B&S lads do. For example, they moved a whole stack of bricks from Broadway to Winchcombe, renewed the ceiling in the Winchcombe booking office and fitted a new crossbeam for the ceiling boards, and then they repainted the Coffe Pot cafe. We caught them there one lunch time. Normally the cafe has to be booked if you want to have it for yourself. At least they ate their sandwichs in the warm, and out of the rain and snow. Well done, guys!