Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday 30th August 2014

Posers Clive, Brian, Phil and Keith
A nice and relaxed sort of day - less hectic than Wednesday and Thursday which allowed us to catch up with more tidying up and general maintenance. There were 14 of us on site - a happy band of pilgrims!

Brian and Dave - a couple of block shifters

The task requiring the most muscle was the shifting of the remaining concrete blocks from the northern end of the site down to 2C. Fortunately we still had the 6t dumper on site which made the task that bit easier.

Keith and Phil

The other main task of the day was the further clearance of the embankment behind 2C. Recent rain seems to have made the vegetation grow extremely rapidly.

 Nevertheless where its clear it really looks most impressive. Here Jo was able to take a good panoramic shot from on top of the newly cleared embankment behind platform 2C.

What a great shot this is, showing the newly laid foundation for 2C and the nearly completed 1C. Two things of note : the transfer of the spoil extracted from 2C and placed behind 1C was a brilliant job. The soil extracted was profiled up into the embankment behind 1C. The other thing of note is that the concrete footings for the 2 centre drain catch-pits were dug, laid and  temporarily refilled. The drain itself will be laid in the next couple of weeks.

Dave and Tony
Down  by the Signal Box Dave and Tony started the  vegetation clearance work behind and to the side of the box. If you don't keep on top of the job, nature will quickly take over!

Peter and his masterpiece

Talking of the Signal Box, Peter K has made a fine job of fabricating a threshold footplate for the main door. It looks pretty good to me Peter!

Last but not least, John B was giving the Sales Kiosk  (Aka The Potting Shed) a freshen up with a new coat of paint.

Altogether a very satisfying day!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The platform 2c foundations have gone in ! A small group of 4 - Steve, Adam, Roger and your (temporary) scribe came bright and early on this sunny day to complete the excavation of the final 30m of 2c this morning.

South end of platform 2 completed
First of all, a picture we missed yesterday - a view of the final part of the southern end of the platforms, which had 5 slabs placed on them each. Just to the left, out of sight, is the new bracket signal.

Having excavated approximately two thirds of the foundation trench for 2c yesterday, the digger team returned early this morning to finish the job.

Today, at lunch time.
Yesterday, close of play.

The trench will allow 2c to be extended level with the end of 1c. This involves a further 20m of platform, and a ramp of 10m. The platforms are of a length to accommodate a 10 coach train, so are almost double the length of the original platforms, which typically accommodated a one, or perhaps two coach train. As the new foundations cut across the original side drains, the latter had to be stripped out and will now be replaced by a new centre drain, the same as in between the original platforms lengths. We will be laying this drain shortly as well. In fact, to show that we mean business, the drain pipes themselves have already been ordered and arrived today:

10 new centre drain pipes arrive.
It was a stroke of luck that we were digging today, as the JCB was able to unload the delivery and place it close to the area where the pipes will be used.

These blocks are heavy!
Ready for the beginning of the new platform wall, about 100 blocks were positioned yesterday. A lot of hard work went into this - it takes two men to lift them in and back out of the dumper.

Yesterday, we had a good rhythm of work going. The JCB would dig the trench and fill the hired in 5 ton dumper. The fill was alternated between good spent ballast from the trench, and clay and/or topsoil from the embankment excavation. The dumper then brought it behind 1c, where it was placed near the wall if ballast, and up against the embankment if clay/topsoil. The mini digger then rolled in the ballast, and graded the slope up the bank. It looked very professional by the end of the day.

Unfortunately the big dumper suffered a puncture around lunch time, and the MO was changed to the mini digger excavating the last few yards of trench, and the JCB bringing in the spoil and tucking it in behind the 1c wall, as you can see in the picture above. In the foreground you can see the first load of concrete poured, and tamped down. We don't hang about here, you know.

The first load of concrete was ordered for lunch time, but surprised us by arriving at 11.30, when we were still digging.... it's the first time we have seen a trench being dug at one end, and being filled at the same time with concrete at the other!

The Hansons lorry rather dwarfed the site, but made it down the track bed in fine style, carefully avoiding all the centre drain catch pits.

At last, the concrete for 2c goes in.
It's surprising how much concrete the foundations can swallow, but you can rest assured, they will be strong. The first load made no impression at all, but as the lorry was leaving the second was already waiting and another load went in very quickly. Encouraged by the driver's indication that sales were a bit slack that day, we ordered another 4 loads by telephone. We were standing by the cabin wondering where they were, when we saw the third lorry come down the Evesham road.... isn't there a 'bridge closed' sign up there?

At the end of the day - 1c has swallowed all the spoil from 2c.

In this last picture, you can see what an excellent job Adam in the mini digger made of the 1c slope on the right. The level has also been raised by a foot and is now correct for the installation of the rear slabs, lamp posts and associated conduits. This is also the site for the future Broadway side running in board, for which the posts and finials are on order.

Impressed by the large slope of topsoil, your scribe rushed off to Cotswolds Building Supplies to buy a very large sack of grass seed. We'd like to grass the area, before the weeds have a chance to get a toe hold, so any help with raking this in on Saturday would be much appreciated.

Although we didn't see the final loads of concrete arrive, they were ordered and confirmed, so by the time you read this, the 2c foundations should be in !

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday 27th August 2014 - Platform 2C is Started!

There were 20 volunteers on site. There  were three main tasks that were planned for the day. Best laid plans of course often come unstuck. The late arrival of the JCB and excavator for digging out the footings of 2C slowed things a little at the start of the day, which left some keen volunteers spinning their wheels and forced to drink tea!

However the equipment arrived by 10am, an  essential repair having been completed on the hydraulics of the JCB. The digging out required the deployment of both machines, The excavator to pull the trench, and the JCB ,with its pecker attachment to "halve" the side drain pipe which was unfortunately running along 50% of the line of the  the dig.

However the type of spoil coming out which had quite a bit of stone in it, was ideal for going in behind the massive void behind 1C.

The unsuitable stuff ended up on the rear embankment for profiling later. The job continues tomorrow with the good offices of Roger B and Jo in attendance. The trench will be finished in the morning and concrete pouring will start in the afternoon.

Bob lays a course of stretchers
on the rear wall...
Work was continuing on the Signal Box.  Bob W, Tony and Paul persevered all day.  Bob summed up the day - "Today was a day of consolidation and preparation to enable progress on the signal box to continue.  Regarding the brickwork a course of stretchers was laid on the back wall and the fourth corner was brought up to cill height with support from Tony and Paul.  Peter Q has constructed a dummy frame for the south west corner window opening The position of the doorway has now been agreed and delivery of the frame and threshold is awaited.  Ron Brislin came to site today to discuss the proposed fireplace and has offered to provide the fireback and archbar from a stock at Winchcombe.  We also had a visit from Mark Young who was happy with the proposed revisions to the joists"
Thanks Bob.......

The planned installation of the lower section of the lever frame was rained off on Tuesday, but will be carried out next Tuesday, weather permitting.

At the southern end of the site Fairview Richard and the slab laying gang were laying 3 slabs on either end of 1A and 2A. A great job was done, but no photographic evidence - Jo was driving the dumper and I was in meetings.  A poor excuse on my part - I need to get my photographic instinct in gear.... Nevertheless, this work will allow us to start planning the barrow crossing route, and is a great step forward.

Work continued on the embankment clearance and the general cutting back of vegetation. Rod and Terry spent their time on clearance in the car park and new recruit John and  Chris H cleared the embankment behind 2C

In the afternoon  Rod and Terry shifted 100 concrete blocks with the dumper from the northern end of the site and stacked them in front of 1C, ready for use on 2C. A great (eye watering) effort!

Jo will follow up with a report on Thursdays progress....

Monday, 25 August 2014

" Chasing after Dad"

Blog follower Geoff Parr emailed me with this account of a labour of love in retaining a small piece of railway history and  as a personal tribute to his Dad. I'm sure many of us can relate to holding treasured memories of our own fathers and the pride they took in their work.

Hello Bill,

I have been following your blog on the Broadway rebuild for quite some time, I am ‘riveted’  , to the regular updates posted and I am always seeing something new.
I am Southern Region, and my late father was a signalman/porter at his country station in Kent.  So, it must be said, that my ‘key’ interest in all of the rebuild is the Signal box!

I have happy memories of visiting my Dad, up at the station, from the early morning fry-up in the back office behind the booking office, with the plate layers’ walking up the platform in search of the heavenly smell of freshly fried bacon, that wafted down the station’s platforms.  To the winter afternoons’ visiting him in the signal box when he was on duty, tea-mug clutching and hearing the bell codes coming through.

As a lasting tribute to his memory, I have started a little project of my own.  I have sourced a very long oak shelf and has begun to build a replica ‘block-shelf’ and have dedicated it to him. 38 years he worked on the railway always the same stretch of line, our home track.  I have sourced many of the instruments needed for ‘his’ block-shelf.  Though recently, two final pieces came up at auction, that were needed to virtually complete the project.

But, I could not go for them as they were prohibitley expensive, which was a little bit painful as one instrument was from a box he had once worked and was the same type  which I needed to help complete the task.

I  will carry on though, until a more reasonably priced one comes up or I have to resort to ‘modifying’ a similar one to just get it to  ‘look’ the part, (as I am having to do at the moment). That is not something I take lightly as it is bordering on cultural vandalism, hacking something about, that might be over one hundred year’s old.  

The aim is to have something that my dads’ grandchildren and great grandchildren can see, touch and relate to………………and when I am too old to enjoy it safe guarding its future would be in the interest of the whole family.
It might go to a local museum where all can enjoy it, (but, that is for the future).

Right now, your efforts at Broadway are truly remarkable, outstanding and I would be down there everyday, if I was retired and lived locally.   Quite excited about the frame going in next week.

Well done the lot of you.


P.S. pictures enclosed are of my Dads’ last box.  
PPS My wife refers to my efforts as "Chasing after Dad"

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Saturday 23rd August 2014

I was pleased to be back  at work with my volunteering chums - 2 weeks away and I was getting withdrawal symptoms!  There were 12 of us on site today.Thanks to Jo for more than ably standing in on the blog posts - I shall have to watch my step!

Great progress was made today on the Signal Box. Bob W, Tony and John S kept the show on the road by completing the last course of bricks on the front wall and the southern wall to reach the  window sill level.

Talking of windows the decision was made this week for the frames to made from  hardwood. Lets have no more talk of UPVC, or conversely the high cost of maintenance involved with wooden frames. They are going to be wood and they are going to look magnificent!

Prior to Bob and Co setting to on the brick laying, discussions took place on the  detail of positioning the  main door frame and fire place.

Here I listen in to the conversation on the position of the door. The door frame is being delivered this week. More of this on Wednesday.

Talking of this coming week the base of the lever frame is coming over from Winchcombe on Tuesday, with an S&T Gang to install it.

The floor joists can then be constructed around it. This should be started on Wednesday also.  Its going to be a busy week on the Signal Box!

The other main activity of the day was continuing with the clearance of the embankments.  A team of 6 were hacking back the summer's growth of weeds. Maybe not  the most salubrious of tasks but it looks so much more cared for when its done, and of course it's an excuse to light a bonfire!

We had a visit from Pat and Pete (just like old times!) who were on the scrounge for some imperial reds for a job at Toddington. We were able to oblige and they went away happy. Jo was behind the camera but shared the loading of the truck. I suspect they will be back for more!

In the afternoon, Jo and Mike S were manning a BAG Stall at the Childswickham annual fair.

Here is Jo's report:-

As you know, I represented the BAG at the Childswickham village fair this afternoon, and one picture shows Mike by our stand with the vicar.
There were few questions about the bridges, but I did make a couple of potential volunteers, two probable share sales and donations of £31. And a chap gave me some reminiscences of the station, which are always rare and interesting.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Our regular Wednesday blog, and the last by your interim correspondent - BAG chairman Bill will be back on Saturday, and then the tea breaks will be slightly shorter !

First of all, that curious C130 J Hercules flew over again, this time it was 'Gotcha' and here is proof! Wasn't quite as low as the last time, which is why I got a few seconds warning. It's quite thrilling really in the valley, with all this low flying military aircraft. Sometimes we get a Chinook over our house at minimum height, quite exciting to hear the 'whoop-whoop' except that last time it was 02.15 at night, and just as we were dozing off again, it came back the other way at 02.20....

Back to the station... we had a good strong gang today and excellent weather. There was plenty of gardening, brick cleaning, and clearance of the embankment. When I arrived at 08.45, a gang was just finishing the removal of the last two bags of plinth headers, leaving just the two crates of crates to be removed from 2c's path.

'Banksy' Gordon with the spray can marking the posts for 2c.
This now clear stretch enabled Gordon to set out the extension for platform 2c, so we are ready to dig.

At the other end of the site Malcolm Walker and John Simms were meeting to discuss the next way forward on the box. We are building it, but one day S&T will take it over, so an increasing collaboration here is clearly essential. Good to see you, Malcolm!

Later in the morning Richard from Fairview came to give us 2 hours of his time. This enabled a team led by Roger to lay a further 8 slabs on 1c.

You can see the gang cleaning the slab here, just before it is placed on the platform extension. Cleaning of the Avonmouth bricks continues in the background.

The correct placing of the many slabs on the curving platform is a skilled job, and just as it goes down you can see Roger with the white hard hat behind giving final instructions for the exact position. Although we are measuring the position carefully each time, there is nothing like a good eye to see if things are going in the right direction.

While we were waiting for Richard, Dave, Tony, Terry and Peter dug a narrow trench behind the wall to add some extra pea gravel to aid the rear drainage. This was shoveled out of a dumpy bag delivered last Saturday.

Down by the entrance gate, Dave was setting out a new fence across the bottom of the strip of our land that runs parallel to the drive, which we cleared and drained recently. This now looks a lot neater.

Thanks to the sunny weather once again, we had a steady stream of visitors. Brian did a number of personal guided tours for donations - is this a new source of income we have found? - and Julie reports a good turnover in the shop today as well.

Finally, another piece of history that might interest our viewers:

Here is a cutting from a 1959 photograph of the station. Notice the 'BROADWAY' sign on the left? It is a rather curious additional station name board, that seems to have figured only on our line. It is white on an olive green enamel background. I know this, because I have found the original at the home of a collector! Here it is:

A piece of Broadway history preserved !

Saturday, 16 August 2014

One of the quieter days today - the brick laying on platform 1c is complete and our resident brick layers have their trowels itching to get started on 2c opposite. However, this needs setting out first, and to do this, the site has to be clear. We had a gang of 12 today, and most of them set about clearing the last and rather heavy bricks that were still stacked in 2c's path.
Removal of the last heavy bricks
The cleared area is now large enough to set out the 2c extension, but ideally one would like to see the two pallets with slates (for sale...) moved up, as well as the last two dumpy bags of plinth headers. No doubt this can be done by the JCB when it comes to dig the foundation trench.
A number of volunteers set off for Toddington to help with the real ale festival, and the remaining gang then cleared the bank behind the 2c extension of brushwood. You can see it's pretty thick in the picture above - it was only cleared last year. Brambles grow fast.

In this picture Phil has started up the 'ole brushcutter, while Keith is desperately trying to keep up with a small sickle. Steve had a go at dragging the cleared material down the slope, but it was pretty unpleasant work for those with even only the slightest leanings towards hay fever. Brick cleaning continued in the background, with the Avonmouth retrieval providing an inexhaustible supply. By lunch time the area was successfully cleared, so setting out can now start.

A few months ago we threw a bag of grass seed at the slope beneath the B&B, and to our surprise it came up pretty well. Here is Jim giving the slope its first cut. Nice stripes, Jim!

Marguerite did well today - she sold a set of garden chairs/table donated by yours truly, and sold the painting pictured in the blog last week to - yours truly! The BAG profited both ways.

John B carried on repainting the old office hut, which now sports a gleaming coat of 'Parchment'. A personal tour round the site given to an interested visitor also resulted in a kind donation - anyone else interested?

No progress was possible on the signal box today, as various parties are currently on holiday. Key personnel are also allowed their fortnight by the sea.

On the other hand, we came across an interesting picture in the house of a colleague recently, which we were allowed to photograph. Apologies for the poor quality; it's a photograph of a photograph behind glass, but nonetheless very interesting, and one we hadn't seen before:

The caption on the back states that it was taken in 1948, and shows two Halls on a S. Wales - Birmingham express. The leading engine is 5988 Bostock Hall. Looking at the exhaust, the train is going well, and could be quite a long one if double headed. You can't see the tail end, due to the curvature of the line. Can anyone say more about the picture? Was this a regular working then?