Monday, 30 March 2015

Broadway Booking Office Crowd Barriers

The original posts from  Broadway Station were dug up several years ago when we  were recovering bricks from the old site. Jo Roesen in his pursuit of authenticity has taken them under his wing and has arranged for them to be transformed!

Here are Jo's comments:-

Hi Bill,

Thought you might be interested in these pictures of the two original Broadway crowd barrier posts undergoing treatment at the shotblaster's in Northwick Park.They will look magnificent, and contribute to an authentic GWR booking hall.The additional two replicas are with the foundry, and are expected to be ready later this week. I will go over and  pick them up, Now we need to find someone who can make us the hardwood barriers across the top ! I have pictures of what they should look like, should anyone be able to help.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Saturday 28th March 2015 A Great Day's Work!

 There were 18 of us on site today and 3 main tasks in progress - and a few others here and there! The wind (gales) where particularly troublesome, and brought in an hours cold rain at lunchtime. However volunteering on the railway is not for the faint hearted and so work proceeded as planned!

We had Steve Warren with the 360 excavator today and he certainly earned his money. His first job was to clear  aside the spoil that was hiding  the last 3 catch pits. Experience told Steve  exactly where they were, and voila,there it is  and the bulk of the  ballast removed as a bonus.

Over on the Cotswold side another unearthed catch pit has a tree neatly growing in it. Its an ideal way to blunt a chainsaw!

However Any P and his chum Stuart were with us today and had a blunt  chainsaw  specifically for the task!. In fact he has most things on his wagon now. His  great work for the Railway over the past couple of years has allowed him to build up a stock of the best equipment for the job.

 However when it comes down to it, there is no better way of cleaning them out other than wellies on, and shovel in hand. Ron T spent all day on this particular pit - the trouble was that it was filling with water faster than he could bail it out, in order to get to the sediment in the bottom. Nice one Ron.

Andy down the hole and Rod  taking  breather
Tony & John, sorry they'd missed all the fun

In fact nice one all round - Rod, Steve, Ron - the job was 90% complete.

On to other things. Staying  northward for the next report - Steve moved on to bringing the wood debris  down from the banks of the cutting. It was remarkable how the  task that would have taken many days, by hand was completed in a relatively few hours.

The excavator moved up and down the banks at , what seemed to the layman, perilous angles.

But the end result was  superb, all the cuttings of the previous weeks was brought down  to the bonfire in double time.

Here comes the next load neatly trapped in front of the digger. Thanks Steve  and all the volunteers who did their best to avoid the smoke whist keeping the fire going.

There is a video in production from Jo on this link.

Finally, last but by no mean least the northern gable end was  completed on the Signal Box by John S Tony, Peter K and Jo.

As you can see  the last part of the job is to complete the rear of the roof - this may need the chimney scaffold removing to make it a doable job.

As I said in the title, it was a great days work, everyone stuck to the task, and great progress was made.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wednesday 25th March 2015 and the Sun Shone!

Having been doing this Volunteering lark for a while, I can quickly tell when moods are high and thoughts are positive. Today was such a day and the 22 volunteers gave of  their best to keep the Broadway show on the road.

I have to start with the drain cleaning contingent - as I walked up to the northerly boundary it became more and more  comical to see a grubby  face popping out of at least half a dozen catch pits and all with a smile (or was it a grimace) on each face. We had Andy Protherough and 2 of his hard working chums giving a lead and a steer as to the most effective way of clearing each pit and rodding it through.

Jim Hitchen was keeping an eye on progress and he sent the following report:-


Just a brief update on progress.  Another magnificent effort on catch pit clearance today.  We were fortunate to have the services and expertise of Andy P and his colleagues Alistair and Keith.


From the Broadway Group we welcomed back Ron after his winter recess, and our own regulars Rod, Terry, Steve, Keith, Clive. Hope I haven't missed any one!!

Of the five pits that were not visible at the start of the day three have been found leaving only two which will require mechanical assistance to uncover.  One of those found has been completely cleaned out along with a further three which had been started on Saturday.  Thanks to Andy more new drainage rings have been delivered to site and fitted, or are available for fitting to the completed pits.

So I think the close of play score reads as follows:  Nineteen of the twenty four pits have been cleaned out and additional rings have been fitted to fifteen of the twenty four.  If we can find the missing two pits on Saturday there is a real chance that this exercise could be finished in two more shifts, weather permitting of course.


Jim H.

To be honest I had no idea how long this job would take, but thought it might take up to 3 months or more. Not so - The progress that has been made over the past weeks has been terrific and Jim's prediction of a couple of more shifts seems spot on. We can now join the centre drain to the side drain (on the Malvern side), which will then allow us to switch to maintenance mode on all of the drains.

Moving back to brick laying, the Platform 2 ramp was getting its next course of corbelling. Here Roger B and Peter H continue the good work, in what looks like some  pleasant afternoon sunshine.

Then down on the Signal Box it was all systems go!  Here the  CSL Scaffolding lorry is waiting for the Fairview lorry to drop off its load of insulation and  roofing felt.

The scaffolders were on site to raise the scaffolding for the chimney to be completed. It was a quick job, well done and in a twinkling of an eye Bob W  and Paul were laying bricks and flu pipe.

All of the reds were laid by the end of the day, with 2/3 courses of blues and a chimney pot  required to finish it off.

I have to say I couldn't resist going up into the crow's nest and believe me, two things strike you - the view over the site, and more importantly the sheer magnificence of the structure below.

The T&G cladding was going on nicely on the southern gable end.  Here with hammer in action is  John S walloping in the nails, Tony was up on the apex of the roof steering each board into position. Jo made up the team by making sure tools were to hand and nobody bounced over the edge.

As I say it was one of those good days -   I think Julie did well at shaking the loose change out of the visitors.

A well done also to the chaps who were keeping the bonfire going by way, your hard work didn't go unnoticed.

And one more for luck - how about that!!

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

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Volunteer recruitment fair

Jo Roesen reports:

Just a few lines to illustrate our participation in the volunteer recruitment fair this weekend. The Broadway Area Group had a stand both days, and met many interesting people. It's not just the potential volunteers you meet, but useful contacts from various industries, as well as volunteers from other departments that you have been meaning to ask something. So a fruitful day all round, and Recruitment Director Philip Young was in high spirits at the end of the weekend; the results were very pleasing, we heard.

We didn't of course see a tally for the two days, but a look at the car park at lunchtime already gave you an idea that there were plenty of people about. Poor old P & O had to fight her way into a spot to be seen. But what a magnificent beast !

BAG's little stand was inside the diesel shed at the far end. Here is Paul giving an outline of our activities and volunteer opportunities, while in the background Mrs. Blogger is singing the praises of booking clerks. Indeed, while people often approached our stand to ask about Broadway, we found ourselves acting as ambassador for any part of the railway, depending on the strengths and preferences of the people we spoke to.
Now that is a class 24, and when I was a lad....
It was cold in the diesel shed (5 degrees first thing this morning) but after a while a class 37 was drawn outside, and we warmed up a bit as the sun began to shine in.

Paul was very enthusiastic, and even tried to recruit people from other GWSR departments! That's Chris, from the Friends of Toddington you're trying to convert there! Hold on there, Paul.

Among the people we met today were a NR manager, someone with electrical skills, someone in the building trade who advised us about slates, a metallurgist with experience of corrosion, and a retiring NR signalman who would like to work at Broadway. Useful contacts there, and several new volunteers for us with skills.

Outside, P & O had at last managed to get some breathing space. Two RAC vans then drew up next to her, and the RH motion seemed to attract quite some interest from the patrolmen. Wouldn't start, we suppose. Better to be a member than call for help at the roadside!

Towards the end of the day we were treated to a fine departure by Dinmore Manor. An excellent day for us all.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Dizzy heights are reached

Jo Roesen reports:

A fine but breezy day today saw the volunteers split into three groups:

- A small group went to the recruitment fait at Toddington, to man the Broadway stand. We will be there again tomorrow, so do come along if you've ever wondered about joining the railway. This is your chance to check us out.
- A second group spent the day on the box, busy with the T&G boarding on the roof. This included your blogger, so that's why there are several photos of this activity.

 In the previous session, the first 4 boards went up on the front. Today we continued this, with Tony and John S doing the sawing and hammering.

Here is a close up of Tony and John at work. The boards are cut to size, then pushed down into the grooves with the little vices you can see in the picture.
We shall gloss over the number of fingers hit with hammers...

As the number of boards in position increased, work had to be switched from the outside to the inside. Here is Tony emerging near the top - you get a great view from up here. Can you see me, mother?

Way down below Peter K was treating the future fascia boards with a knot sealant, and then a layer of primer. Behind him is the stack of T&G boarding, which got a lot smaller today.

The best bit of the day (for your blogger at least) was the moment when we were able to add a genuine piece of GWR railwayana, while at the same time reaching the highest position to date on the box! This is one of two GWR ventilator tubes, originally from Exminster box. They are made of cast iron, and clamp around the board running along the apex of the roof. Over the top goes a zinc ventilator, while underneath is a funnel, whose purpose is to ventilate the fumes from the oil lamp underneath that lit the box. Luckily we have a photograph of Shirley box in the cabin, which allowed us to pinpoint their required location exactly. Over tea, of course.

As we got near the apex of the roof, John and Tony had to switch position to the other side, and work from above. On the right is the stub of the chimney which is awaiting a scaffolding lift, due next Wednesday. This should then allow us to finish the brickwork on the chimney, remove the scaffolding just lifted, and finish off the boarding on the rear.
This is as high as we got today - two boards short of the top. All the boards are securely nailed down, giving a very robust structure. A layer of insulation is next, followed by the battens and the slates. We have not yet sourced these. In the background is the site for the station building.

- A third group today worked at the other end of the site, near the Springfield Lane overbridge. On Wednesday work had started here in clearing out the drainage inspection pits, and this work, together with further burning of brash, continued with some success today. In the morning we were delighted to see Andy P from the drainage gang with the B&S van filled with concrete rings to extend the height of the pits.
The timing could not have been better, as our pits had been filling with all sorts of rubble due to their insufficient height above ground. Thanks, Andy !

On the drainage work at the north end of the site, this report from Jim H:

Just a few details from the drain clearing efforts earlier today.  Initially Robin and I wheeled the 330 metres from the bottom of the platform ramps to the northern boundary fence, and have recorded the actual or approximate positions of the 12 pairs of catch pits.  These have all been numbered.

Rod, Steve, Clive, Keith G and our visiting experts from Lineside Drainage, Andy P and Stewart then spent a very tiring day digging out the pits starting at the northern end.  It was amazing to see a pit filled to the top at the start of the day with stones, ballast and vegetation, which when removed, then suddenly filled up to a depth of about a foot with water.

Clive also managed with Robin's assistance to get a bonfire going and it was also necessary to move two pallets loaded with S & T concrete troughs and lids to gain access to one of the pits.  By the end of the day nearly half of the catch pits had been cleared out.  

Andy and Stewart then delivered and fitted new drainage rings to seven catch pits. All those catch pits which have been cleared have been fitted with temporary lids. There remain five locations where a mini digger will be required to excavate spoil in order to find the missing pits.

Dave B went off to the north to find out where the water will go to once the centre drain is connected in.  The bad news is that there are another twelve pairs of manholes to clear up to the by-pass bridge and the nearly as many again to where the drains appear to leave the track bed.  None of this is on land owned by the GWSR.  So an interesting problem for the future.


Jim H.

Here are the pictures that go with Jim's report. This first one is of a trial dig to find one of the catch pits. It's not just a question of emptying the pit of a few shovels of ballast. Sometimes they have been completely filled in, or even buried and lost from sight, such as here. We can only guess its location by measuring a standard distance from the last one.

When you have found your pit, put a man in and tell him to dig deep. This one looks like a very deep pit....

Here are Rod and Stewart and  with the classic tools for clearing a pit - a shovel, and a bar. These pits can be quite deep, and in the bottom there is a sump that is precisely as deep as the top of your wellingtons. You move, they fill.

A completed pit, dug out, heightened, and capped off.

Finally, a look at the signal box at the end of the day - T&G boarding almost up to the top, and two ventilator tubes fitted. Next time, we shall address the ends (depending on the then prevailing wind, it will be either the northern or the southern one, it is very windy up there!

Thursday, 19 March 2015


It's nice to see the Blog followers growing in numbers - Its a while since we topped 40,000.

By coincidence that's the number by which our budget was reduced this year to accommodate other urgent investments on the Railway. Somehow we need to make up this shortfall, if we are to keep on track with our project and see steam back in Broadway by 2018. I know that many of the loyal followers have already shown their enthusiasm for the project by making donations or buying shares, and its difficult to call on the same generous people again for help. But please help us if you can - help us put a £ sign in front of the last 30 days statistic.