Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Brick Hunting in Avonmouth - 28th January 2014

The BAG had an offer from the Bristol Port Company to explore the possibility of recovering the bricks from from a disused turntable associated with the old Avonmouth Dock Joint Railway Station. The Station was constructed back in 1877 and was rebuilt and expanded in  1885, and in the early twentieth century  an engine shed  and turntable were added. The turntable became disused in the 1930's. The turntable was the focus of interest today.

Jo, Terry and Mark(BPC)
Three Volunteers went down today - Jim Hitchen, Terry Andrews and Jo Roesen and met up with Mark Lovelock of the Bristol Ports Company.

Here is Jim's report:-
The turntable would have been a 60ft one.  It is heavily overgrown and is located approx 100 yards from the nearest tarmacked road. Within 10 yards is the boundary fence with the railway line beyond.  There are 10 courses of blue bricks above what appears to be a concrete base.  The bricks measure 9"x4"x3" and just go through my 3" gauge.  

Terry and I managed to chisel some out and we have some samples to show.  There are two reds in the wall behind the blues.  The floor is covered with 6-9" of rotting vegetation but Jo managed to expose some blues and Terry dug one out.  These appear to be loose laid and would be easy to recover.  The reds are a slightly thicker than the blues.

I reckon there are about 3000 blues in the wall assuming the wall is still there under the vegetation.  Probably as many again in the floor.  There are concrete slabs in the wall where the rails were which would reduce the number of blues but it wasn't possible to check on the number of blocks in view of the vegetation.

Mark who conducted us to site said we could use some messing facilities, which are in a block 300 yards away.  The site is not operational on a Saturday but he offered to arrange access for us if we needed it.

So we need to decide if the bricks are suitable in the first instance.  The Port of Bristol Authority are in the process of clearing, levelling and fencing the 100 yards of former sidings which are covered with trees etc.  The timescale for doing this and the type of surface to be provided is not known at present.  This is the major stumbling block as we see it ,as there is no way you could get a lorry in at present and transporting heavy bricks over this 100 yard rough terrain is a non-starter.

Jo was our other camera man and sent in the following:-
Some explanations:

 The wall of the turntable pit. Behind Jim is a large cast iron block, which (amazingly) served also as a gigantic railway chair to hold the incoming rails. Never seen one like that before. But it is MR…

 Part of the wall has collapsed. There is a ring of large, cross hatched bricks on top (like the big Mythe ones along the abutments). Jim has got his measuring tape out, and the result is – 60ft diameter.

 The turntable pit seen from the Avonmouth station side ( a new fence separates it form the NR line). No access possible from here. Some of the pit wall is buried under greenery, see foreground.

 Looking the other way, towards the NR line. About half the pit is easily accessible, the rest needs serious strimming.

 The other half of the pit, buried under greenery.

 View from the pit to the road, 90yds over soft ground with tree stumps. This area will be cleared, the immediate area around the pit not, leaving a ‘green’ area between NR and the Port site.
Looking back at the pit from the same spot. The black polythene strip is to limit movement of slow worms and will be removed after the spring.

 Looking from the road to the pit, which is located in the birches in the background.

The floor of the turntable pit is made of concentric blues in good condition, laid without mortar and easy to remove. The challenge is how to get them to the lorry.

Alas, no other artefacts found. This was an industrial siding only.

As you understand, something of a dilemma here - how do we get them out!!!!!

What a great job by Terry, Jim and Jo - what they do for Broadway!


The C and W Dept Blog of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway said...

Sounds like a job for small tracked and powered barrow. As the bricks come out easily it sounds like the transportation across the sight is worth the effort.
Try cormidi easy loader or muck truck Ithey hire for about 100 ponds a day. I bet you lot could get that lower with a bit a chat.

Norfolkman said...

Considering the turntable has been disused since the 1930's it seems to be in remarkably good condition. Could I suggest that before you demolish it, you contact the Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society (www.b-i-a-s.org.uk). Their members would probably be very interested in making a photographic record of the turntable before it is demolished. It's quite likely that there are railway enthusiasts within their ranks and they may even be prepared to help you on site as this is not only an industrial archaeology relic but is also a part of Bristol's rich railway heritage.

Anonymous said...

use the good old fashioned human chain..military types know it well!
Volunteers and conscripts)CP)could
do this in three days

mack said...

Amazing there's a fence to limit movement of 'slow' worms.. Found the irony of that quite funny

Anonymous said...

Small tractors - local tractor club with either trailer or link box

Anonymous said...

Possibility: a few panels of 2' gauge track and two or three trolleys would do the job. You are railway men.

Doug Walters said...

Thinking outside of the box what about contacting the RAF to see if they might want to offer some time as an exercise for Chinook pilots??

Billy Morris said...

Amazing to see. On a similar thread on the reuse of old railway 'furniture' I know of a military establishment that is being closed down soon to make way for housing that has a substantial marshalling yard. Ashchurch in Tewkesbury has been earmarked to be sold, UK defence contractor General Dynamics UK Ltd is the contractor on site, they may be worth approaching for bullied rail, (which I think it is)might be available some time soon.
I suppose Long Marston may be the same also?
Keep up the amazing work you are all doing.

Billy Morris said...

So I just looked at Google for reference of the Long Marston site http://www.petertandy.co.uk/longmarston%20page.html and this is packed with info and pictures.
Now I know that the BAG has an agenda, and on a visit to the station one weekend there was the mention of extending to Honeybourne (all in good time I know), but are there any plans to link with the Long Marston site at all, imagine all that space for run arounds? It would take half an hour just to do a circuit to face south again?

The C and W Dept Blog of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway said...

Any more progress on this brick hunt?

Anonymous said...

I have a wheelbarrow, sack trucks and a twin rear wheel Transit van if needed, also happy to help with what needs to be done physically.
A suggestion: is it not possible to hire some conveyor belt system to traverse the distance between site and loading point ?
My email: bournemouthwest@aol.com