Jo and the 'A' Team were down at Avonmouth first thing today, with the primary intention of clearing the turntable pit for subsequent brick recovery. Here is Jo's report:-
We had a successful day at Avonmouth. It was bright and sunny, and 10 volunteers reported in to attack the brambles and turntable pit wall.
Our mission was to clear the turntable pit of vegetation (at best only half of it was visible) and if there were enough volunteers, to have a first crack at some demolition work, and perhaps lifting part of the floor.
I am delighted to be able to report: Mission accomplished ! Thanks inter alia to Rod and the brush cutter, we managed to clear a 6ft path all the way round the pit, thus exposing the large ribbed edging bricks. A second team worked inside the pit, ripping up bramble stems, and digging away the mulch and root systems over a 3m x3m area to expose the floor. Because of the proximity of two trees and their roots, that was quite hard work. We also exposed the foundations of the centre pivot, which was surrounded by a bed of concrete. All the bricks in the cleared 3m x 3m area were lifted out and stacked beyond the edge of the pit. We also knocked down a 10 yd strip around the edge, and three / four courses of blues and reds down. The brick wall around the pit is not too thick in fatc, only three courses wide, and it does come appart with bolster and lump hammer. A Kango would speed things up a lot though.
At the end of the day, we had stacked approximately 600 bricks, of which 500 blues. The turntable pit is now fully visible, except for a 10m stretch at the rear, where spoil had been tipped into it by fencing contractors. Quite a lot of mulch and indeed some earth remain inside the pit though. This will need quite a bit of digging, we thought. At this point, a face peered over the side of the pit and enquired if perhaps we could use a 360 digger….? Not for free, but it is already on site and the contractor approved by the port. Jim has asked for a quote to a. dig out the rest and b. consider tipping the walls into the centre of the pit. He will report to you with more details once available. It looks as if for a limited outlay we could save ourselves a lot of extra work.
The former marshalling yard is now cleared of trees, but remains impossible to traverse, even by wheelbarrow. It may be that the owner of the digger, currently working on erecting some fencing, may be able to offer a solution, because the bricks we have extracted need to be be moved the last 100m to the road, where they can be collected.
The bricks that come out of the floor are clean, and weigh just over 4Kg each. Those that come out of the walls have mortar attached, and weigh 5Kg each. An edging brick weighs 19Kg, a lot of weight. We need to consider if we want to spend money on saving these - I don’t see an immediate use for them at Broadway.
Looking at the stacked 600 bricks, and the hole left behind, we guess that we have got about 10% of the total out so far.
We also discovered 6 large cast iron slabs marked ‘MR’ that held the rails for the arrival and overrun tracks. In the pit below were cast iron constructions for locking the turntable in place once opposite the road chosen. I have a contact at the Peak railway who may possibly be interested in the slabs for their turntable, although it would cost money to get them there, as they are very heavy. I shall tell them what there is, and leave it up to them to decide. It would be a shame to just bury them.
Such hard work from the team. I have to say I find the whole process fascinating and I look forward to seeing those bricks in Platform 1C. Brilliant!