Sunday, 26 April 2015

Wartime in the Cotswolds - BAG was there

Jo Roesen reports:

The Broadway area group set up a stand at Toddington during this famous festival, and your blogger and his wife manned it on the Sunday. The weather was kind, even warm on the Sunday afternoon, and there was plenty of opportunity to mooch around and hunt for some interesting snapshots. It was really amazing how many people managed 1940s dress, all very authentic and with plenty of atmosphere. Here are some impressions of the day:

A superb Citroen, with an open rear and accompanied by a picnic table and chairs. Sheer luxury!

Passengers at Toddington
A burger, quick, before setting off in the Lanc for Hamburg

Wait, these look familiar... Bob and Sue, Broadway and CRC2 stalwarts

2807 glides through the station as 1940 passengers exchange a few last words.

4270 sets off for the Cotswolds. What a view ! We are very lucky here.

A Lewis gun overlooks 4270, about to leave with a train for the south.

This sailor is contemplating a new car - the end of the war must be close. Bring the wife along, in case she doesn't like the colour though.

Then a sudden roar - everyone ran outside to look up:
The sound of the 12 cylinder Merlin engine sent shivers down your spine.

Better get myself a nice calming cup of tea then. How many pence did you say that was? May I see your ration card for the sugar?

A snapshot of the BAG stand. We spread the good word about rebuilding Broadway station, recruited a 'Friend of Broadway station' and sold a few books - mostly to ourselves !
We also met some interesting people - a lady booking clerk, who used to work at Winchcombe, Toddington and - Broadway. She lived in a caravan at Childswickham, and remembered Tilley lamps used to light the station. A Mr. Breeze was the stationmaster at Toddington, sometime before 1953.

We were pleased to chat to Chris Smith from the loco dept. He was a former BR fireman who used to work with Brian Parsons at Worcester. He knew John Diston, who took the famous photograph of The Cornishman heading south through Broadway, with the pigeon baskets on the left. Chris explained that he often helped release these pigeons, and that the baskets in the picture were empty, and being sent back to Birmingham.

The uniforms and 1940s clothing were most impressive.
'Is that your tank out there, Lt Gruber?' ' Yes, I have just given it a little polish'

...but most impressive for your blogger was this M4 Sherman tank. How do people manage to get hold of these? We heard that it was a former target in a firing range, but you couldn't tell that at first sight, except that the sides were remarkably smooth - fillered and rubbed down, it seems, but a great effort! This tank was equipped with a radial aero engine, and if you want to know what that sounds like, you can watch it climb on to its tank transporter here:

At the end of the day, this convoy of tank and heavy US Army lorries crawled out of Toddington yard. It was an impressive sight, and the sound of the aero engine not quickly forgotten.

We watched 4270 leave one last time, and headed home. A great day, well organised and fun. Well done all!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Saturday 25th April 2015

A slightly more relaxed day today, with 11 volunteers on site, all tackling a variety of jobs. The Signal Box Team were having a day off today but will be back to tackle the guttering fitting on Wednesday - and of course the slates after that!

In the meantime work continued on planning for the receipt of the footbridge steps. Here Jim and Keith S are carrying out the final levelling of the  stools, in anticipation of the  steps arriving shortly. I think we could have earned a bit of money, with passing walkers paying to guess what the purpose of the stools and sleepers were. They were certainly curious!

Keeping with the footbridge, north of the platforms, Roger J was continuing to chip off the worst of the rust with the Hilti along the footbridge span. Our neighbours are being particularly tolerant at the moment - apologies for the noise!

Whilst further north still Peter K was working away at removing the hoops from the footbridge towers. Peter had some success, managing to remove one side of the hoop. A slow but sure job.

I have been re wiring and re configuring the security cameras over the past few weeks with the help of Dave H.
Here, Dave is rewiring the camera, which was subsequently remounted. They are all much more stable now!

Down in the driveway more topsoil is  being spread by Jo and Dave H in order to grass seed the area.

You can  see the finished result here. Dave B in the background, continued to tidy up the drive. He was able to ease his back by chatting to the many visitors that came today - Jim B did quite nicely at the Shed!

Talking of doing nicely John Blofield was over at the  Wartime in the Cotswold Event, running a stand, and doing his best to to keep the Broadway Project in the public eye.

More pictures tomorrow.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Wartime in the Cotswolds - A Trip Down Memory Lane

Wartime in the Cotswolds 2015

The date has been fixed, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th April, and final details are being arranged for 2015's nostalgic 1940s weekend at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.  Step back in time, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile. 

Travel this beautiful heritage line between Cheltenham Race Course Station and Toddington, stopping at Gotherington and Winchcombe on steam hauled trains, (air raids permitting).

Attractions include military and civilian re-enactors, military camps, ARP post, children's activities, air raid experience, a Sherman tank and 1940s style entertainment throughout the day.  All stations have catering and toilet facilities and there's the Flag and Whistle cafe at Toddington. The Narrow Gauge Railway will be running on both days at no extra charge.  Dress in 1940s period costume or come as you are.  There will be a Saturday evening big band dance at Toddington Station, at extra cost, with all your favourite 1940s tunes. 
On Sunday there will be the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire fly past (subject to weather etc.)

Please see our website for full details and ticket information or 'phone 01242 621405

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The slates arrive !

Jo Roesen reports:

Bill was indeed back in the saddle, much missed, but being Head of Department means meetings! He was called to Toddington today to attend a planning meeting about Broadway station, hence another post from yours truly.
Work on the signal box continued in several areas, so a good day's progress can be reported. Graham spent the whole day painting in the soffit area, with several coats required and indeed mostly already applied. After the knotting fluid is painted on there is a coat of primer, followed by an undercoat, another undercoat and then a final coat of gloss. At the end of the day the fascia board was in gloss, while the woodwork below it was in the second undercoat. We had to keep the work site neat and, above all, dust free! In several areas the GWR two shades of stone could be clearly seen, even if some of it was still technically an undercoat.

Round the back Pete and JC were putting up the remaining decorative brackets, which JC has made. Don't they look good?
It's dark down here, under this 'overhang'...
Pete was in a jovial mood as you can see. These are the last brackets, and up above Tony and John S completed the second half of the T & G boarding on the rear face of the roof, including the insulation sheets. This is now all completed.

Bill came up to see the progress on the roof for himself, and JC was proud to explain how the slates will sit when they go on in perhaps a week's time. Down below, Graham is already painting the brackets, fixed only moments ago. Still to go is the flashing around the chimney, the roofing felt and the battens for the slates. That should result in a near watertight roof then.

Later in the morning Jewson's delivered the actual slates themselves. There were three crates, with something over 1200 slates ready to go. We inspected a few, and the colour and form looked beautiful. We just need to let Graham finish his painting in a dust free atmosphere, and then we can get to work.

''Do you reckon they are having tea without us?''  ''Yes, and probably eating the last of the biscuits too...''
Working within the footprint of the old station building, a second gang continued today with the removal of the last reds still embedded in the foundations.
The reds were barrowed away and stacked by the brick cleaning stand, ready for Robin to attack on Saturday. Yessss ! But some interesting finds were also made. Who would have thought that anything of interest could still be found in the bottom of the old foundations, after the bulldozers had swept over them in 1963, and the site razed. Particular interest was paid to the site of former fireplaces (there would have been at least three, as that was the number of chimneys the old station had) and eventually something did turn up. First of all an old metal teapot lid (not wildly exciting) but then remains of the old fireplace surround, which were identical to those at Toddington. As you can see, it was made of slate and was sculpted. On the reverse of the pieces we found was a number - G368 - so can any reader tell us what this referred to? Which slate mine might have been the supplier?

A second curiosity that was dug up is shown in the
picture on the right. It was found in the remains of the northernmost fireplace.
A close up is shown in the accompanying photograph on the right. It looks a bit like a half sized chamberpot, with a lid with the holes you can see. What on earth was it for? Can any reader identify it? The pot is made of enamelled steel, is white with a blue band around the rim, and has no markings on it.

At the end of the day the 'archaeologists' looked pretty tired. Their site was in the full sun, and it became hot today. There comes a point when you have to sit back, look over your work, and have a cup of tea.

After cleaning (left) and the next one in progress (right)
Before the start of cleaning up

Up at the northern end of the site, Terry and Rod have been busy cleaning out a sizeable French drain, probably installed during the 'blanketting' sessions here in the late 1950s to improve the drainage in this clay cutting. Today, these drains are heavily overgrown, and Rod and Terry set out to clean one out. It proved to be rather bigger than they expected, being up to 6ft wide. In the picture on the right you can see the good job they made of it, and Martin here has started on the next drain along, extracting the pile of brushwood you can see in the foreground.

At the other end of the site, in the 'car park' field, Jim and Roger spent the day setting out the steel supports and half sleepers for the footbridge steps. Eventually this will be the compound where the steps are cleaned and repaired.
Work on the final piece of platform wall on 2c continues, but we are almost there! Here you can see Roger on the very last row of corbelling, working his way downhill to the very end. Peter H is behind the wall backing up, and making up the mixes for them both. The trusty wheelbarrow with the fist sized holes is back in service once again, you can't keep a good barrow down.

Next we should be slabbing along here. Currently our stock of slabs is almost exhausted, but we are on the trail of a potential supply which, after a recent site inspection in outer London, is looking promising. GWR of course !

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Saturday 18th April 2015 - Back in the Saddle!

You'll be aware that I've been hors de combat for a couple of weeks. Much improved, I got back in the saddle (albeit side saddle!) and did a few hours this morning. It was a joy to be back among the volunteers,  to enjoy the sunshine, and most importantly see all of the great progress that's been made over recent weeks.

A big thank you  to Jo for his blog reports while I was away - they were excellent!

 A quick canter  through today's activities:-

John S and Tony continued to make good progress on the Signal Box.The last fascia board on the north side was fitted, the remainder rubbed down, and all given a coat of primer. Graham Dykes is coming on Wednesday to put on a topcoat. Thank you Graham!

On the roof at the rear the final row of  T&G was fitted. In addition, insulation sheets where laid over approx half of the roof.

The Robin flew in and out of the cabin, even as the troops  were sitting in there. Cheeky chappie. He liked our biscuit crumbs...

Talking of another cheeky chappie our brick cleaning master Robin, was quite pleased (I think!) to have a pile of 400+ bricks to have a go at.

In addition the clearance of the old station foot print has revealed another 400+  bricks, all worthy of cleaning. Here Jim H has a chinwag with Keith G, who, together with Vic and Steve spent a very productive time extracting the brick treasure.

Work has started in earnest  to refurbish the footbridge components, Here Peter K is cutting off the roof hoops from the old towers, which will  then be  used on the new towers. Getting the old rivets and bolts out is proving quite a task, and its a case of perseverance.

Similarly stripping  out the tired metal is no small task either. Here Roger is using the Hilti to make the job that bit easier. There's a long way to go however!

The car park area has now been surrounded with Heras security fencing in anticipation of of the stairs being delivered. Neat job Jim!

Finally, we always try and keep the presentation of the Station Driveway neat and tidy so that it doesn't look too much like a building site.. Of course mother nature teases us by making the grass and weeds alike grow at double speed! Here Dave B is clearing the verge and further down John B is tidying up the entrance.

Jo put about 25 wheelbarrows of topsoil in the area under the trees up the drive, ready for seeding. more to follow.

The end result, when we have finished, will look very pleasing. We are going plant native shrubs down the fence line and along the foot path which will meander up through the trees.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dante's inferno

An interesting day today, as we went to collect the reproduction GWR crowd barrier posts we have had made, using a clean example kindly lent to us by the SVR.

The visit to the foundry was an eye opener, and we were allowed to take some pictures:

The foundry we are using is the Swan Foundry at Banbury, a family business that has been going for a number of generations. They have an environmentally friendly electric oven that can melt 2 tons of iron in 40 minutes.

We saw that they readily cast lamp posts for corporations, and are currently working on items for the repair to parts of a pier in Brighton.

We were not surprised to find among this stock of recently cast items a number of GWR 'shirt button' type seat ends.
Can Swan Foundry do anything else for us? Well, they could make us reproduction GWR platform lamp posts. These are very expensive second hand, and even more expensive from a specialist retailer. We are currently reflecting on a way to make use of their more affordable offer in a way that won't cost the railway any money. Watch this space if you are interested !

Nearly forgot what we came for ! Here are our new posts, together with the original. The circular base plates that fit underneath are on order with a local fabricator. Top right are bits of Brighton pier.