Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wednesday 29th April 2015 - A Very Successful Day!

 Jo was out of commission so Jim H kindly posted this email report to me, as I was away in Manchester today.

The day started off badly as the promised heavy shower duly arrived as we were getting organised.   However the good news that the planning application for the new Sales Shed had been approved, coupled with the sun coming out finally got us into a more positive frame of mind and out of the mess room.

Vic managed to repair a puncture and we now have another serviceable wheelbarrow.  He was then joined by Chris and David who spent the rest of the day raking and sieving the recently deposited topsoil on the station approach.  

The group of BBC trainees arrived on time and were escorted around the site by John B, who like myself, was persuaded to do an interview on camera.  This isn't for a live broadcast fortunately.  The group left us to film in Broadway village before moving on to Toddington.  They were clearly impressed at what had been achieved with the station rebuild, and were keen to come back again to document future progress.

Roger J spent most of the day in the footbridge shelter removing the "crusty" rust which will then allow better penetration for the shot blasting when that takes place. There are five panels to do along each side and Roger has managed to complete the first four of these.

Steve, Terry and Dave started the day recovering the bricks which had been dug out from the old station building site and transporting them either to the north end of the site for brick cleaning, or if broken across to platform 2 to be used for infill when the gap on that platform wall is closed. 

With the arrival of Steve Warren and his JCB attention was transferred to the job of connecting the recently extended centre drain across to the recently cleaned out cess side drain.  This involved transporting copious amounts of pea shingle and several mixes of concrete to complete. 

By the end of the day this task was complete and the water that had been building up in the centre drain was clearly flowing into the cess drain as intended.  So the first milestone had been achieved.

Milestone two was the completion of bricklaying for the platform 2 wall.  This was accomplished by Clive and Peter who both then assisted with the centre drain. We still need some 40 coping stones to complete the northern end of platform 2 but a very significant achievement nevertheless.

With a JCB on site we couldn't resist asking for some mechanical muscle to lift the two double hoops apart from the old footbridge towers.  Steve as usual obliged and with Roger J and myself assisting these were safely separated and lowered to the ground. 

 We then fitted some bracing timber to prevent these twisting out of shape.  For those working on the footbridge this was also a significant milestone.  Only 5 rivets to get out, two bits of welding and probably 4 man days of paint chipping and these hoops will be ready for shot blasting!

And finally the one that didn't quite make it.  The "A" team of John C, John S, Peter Q and Tony commenced fitting the guttering to the signal box.  Unfortunately it was quickly discovered that the corner pieces were the wrong size being 4.5" instead of 5". 
Attention was then switched to fitting the roofing felt and the horizontal battens to which the roofing tiles will be attached.  Three out of the four sides were completed and a start made on the fourth side.  A plan to have the correct corner sections couried to us, should enable both the guttering and the roofing felt to be completed on Saturday, weather permitting of course!

So in the end the day turned out to be a success for the 17 volunteers who signed in today.


Jim H.

Cheers Jim - maybe some more of Jim's photos in the morning!

John B on BBC Camera 

The BBC Team stand no chance against Auntie
Wainwright  aka Julie

The Signal Box Gang in Action

Digger Steve Master Class
Terry, Dave H  and Steve B


Anonymous said...

Are there any spare slabs at CRC which could be used?

Dave said...

Bill, Is what I am reading on a Railwy Forum true. That in efect you guys have been wasting your time for all these years as the Board have decided in a fit of anti Heritage penny pinching to commission a Canopy roof for the station made out of BOX GIRDERS!

Same as CRC station, and just as Mickey Mouse.

If true I would suggest you all down tools and tell them to build it themselves.

Andy said...

I've been reading this blog for a good while, and am really impressed with the job being done.
I've been intending to join the GWR and do my bit to support the work with a donation, but the story about the Mickey Mouse canopy design on the NatPres forum is making me think seriously, I don't want to support a poor design.


Anonymous said...

Then it might be down to the supporters of the Broadway project to dig a little bit deeper into our pockets to get what we want.
As was done with the signal box windows where from what I have read the original intention was to have plastic windows.

Barry M

Andy said...

I think I would now need to see evidence of an authentic design before commiting a donation.
If the issue is the cost of the job, then a phased approach as money is raised is the obvious solution. The SVR Kidderminster station is a good precedent.

Anonymous said...

If the intention then is to have a lesser design, surely then all we need to know is the differential between that and authentic so we can raise that amount of money.

Barry M

Dave said...

Assuming this present Board will allow the time to raise the funds and build a pukka GWR design station. My take on this is they want to throw up something quickly using B and Q parts , as at CRC, and get the money of the punters as quick as possible.

Buccaneer said...

Great Way of sending the punters elsewhere! If you build a B & Q
building it will stay there and not be replaced. Stick by your guns for an authentic building. If it isn't finished by the time the railhead reaches you, put up a couple of B & Q Gazebos. What you have achieved so far is brilliant. Don't let the short-sighted accountants spoil the dream.

Anonymous said...

Its at this point either a rebuttal or confirmation from the board is required if they don't want to lose the goodwill of donors/shareholders.
As far as I can see its going to take till 2017 till the rails get to Broadway so that gives us time to raise the money for an authentic station and finish whats been started.

Barry M

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't like forums where speculation can get out of hand.
As a shareholder I have therefore e-mailed the chairman for clarification.
I can only suggest that others do the same so the board are aware of the depth of feeling that we have for this project.

Barry M

Dave said...

Guys, declining to support us financially is not going to help us to build the authentic station we all want to see. The sooner we raise funds the sooner all of us at Broadway can make it happen, so if you were considering a donation, now is the time!

Anonymous said...

Theres an obvious catch 22 situation there Dave in that some supporters will not fund a project that doesn't give them what they want to see.
This is where a chairman earns his corn by setting the course of future events, so everyone knows where they stand.
Give us the money irrespective of the outcome isn't going to easily appease those who have been made to feel uneasy about the future.

Barry M

Michael Johnson said...

I think this situation illustrates a genuinely worrying problem with the GWR. It's sometimes very difficult to find out what's happening on our own railway.

So often we have no official announcements or communication. No definitive information is forthcoming from the railway's board.

It's amazing, really. The GWR has several departmental blogs (including the Boardroom Blog), a good, comprehensive website, and an excellent magazine. There are many different channels where key info could be made available officially. And yet, nothing is said, nothing is announced, nothing is explained.

The board's strategy seems to be 'Sit back - say nothing - let the speculation build up'.

We end up relying on rumours, speculative comments on blogs like this, or even reports in the railway press - just to find out what might be happening on our own line.

We've seen the 'say nothing' strategy in action on several occasions. The strange case of Exminster signal box, a listed building, saved for use on the GWR amid much publicity - and then quietly destroyed with no announcement of its fate. The mystery of the 'Network Rail' style flat-ended platform at CRC, which nobody seems willing to explain. The speculation over plastic windows on Broadway signal box, which it seems will not now be fitted. As far as I recall, there was never any official word on that matter one way or the other, so I have no idea if there really was a plan to fit plastic windows, or whether it was rumour from beginning to end. An official word would have settled the matter right at the start, but no official word was forthcoming.

Now it seems Broadway might get a canopy built of off-the-shelf modern components, rather than a period-style reproduction of the original. Or, at least, that's what the latest round of speculation suggests.

Again, there's no official word. The only thing we can be sure of is that nobody's telling us what's going on - again!

I assume the directors of the railway do read blogs like this one. It would be rather worrying if they didn't! So it's reasonable to assume that there are members of the board reading this right now, who could step in with a comment and put all the rumours to rest. Or, maybe, put the definitive info on the Boardroom Blog. That's what it's there for, isn't it?

We've seen other heritage railways go through all sorts of internal wrangling over the years. I'm thinking of the plan to build a modern, glass-and-steel extension to Bridgenorth station on the Severn Valley Railway, which was more or less imposed out of the blue and only revised to a period-style design after SVR supporters raised an outcry. Then there's the tug of war for control of the West Somerset Railway, with the WSR PLC at odds with its own supporters association....

I really, really hope the GWR never experiences problems like these, but I have a horrible feeling the board's apparent 'say nothing - let speculation build up' policy will one day push the GWR into these kinds of internal conflicts.

So, if any board members would like to put a comment here, or make an announcement on the Boardroom Blog, now would be a good time to clear a few things up, get a few questions answered, and make everyone feel a bit more confident about how our railway is being run.

Dave said...

Perhaps while they are at it the Board member could confirm whether or not they issued a false prospectus to entice hundreds of new share holders to part wth 500,000 pounds.

The Bridges to Broadway share appeal contains a picture of Toddington headlined "resored to former glory", then a picture of Broadway in the fifties the distintive roof trusses clearly visible, then the painting by Fred Lea by of the New Broadway.

The implication is clear this is what we will build if you support this appeal.

The point is hammered home in the Chairman letter.

Quote/ So what are the benefits of buying shares? Well bottom line we believe it is about preservation/ Unquote.

Original document here

So yes, I would like to hear from a Board member why they are not intending to keep their promise made in the Prospectus.

Alex said...

Michael makes a good point, why isn't the boardroom blog used more? Say what you like about Malcolm Temple, he did a great job doing that blog. The number of posts during the first few months when he was chairman compared to after he left is abysmal. It's been promised to be more fully utilised a number of times before.

Does anyone remember the GWR's "heritage policy" document drawn up a while ago? Tried finding it but couldn't.

stevebaker70 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stevebaker70 said...

Michael Johnson articulates my feelings entirely.

I love, love, love what has been achieved since I joined the railway as a 13 year old in 1983 (apart from the CRC new buildings and Gotherington signal box), but the info from the top has been distinctly lacking these past 18 months. Thank goodness for the Broadway site, the Bridges site and the many other departmental ones.

Anonymous said...

I have had a reply to my e-mail from the chairman, and like the above posts I have suggested that he relays the same message to all Broadway supporters as he did to me.
Then we can have an honest open discussion about funding what many members obviously want.

Barry M

Anonymous said...

Does anyone on here know the REAL reason why temple left? It certainly wasn't how the railway would like you to believe, unfortunately the present chairman isn't much better

Bill said...

I'm, sorry gentlemen, this is not the forum for sniping at Board. Heritage Railways inevitably run into difficulties from time to time and the measure of Board is how they navigate their way out of it. It's a time to support the Board, not to knock it or it's hardworking members. Enough!

stevebaker70 said...

Bill, understood and agreed.

For my part it was meant as constructive feedback.

This railway is impressive by measure of its achievements.

Anonymous said...

Well said Bill,
Has anybody tried to engage with the chairman?
I have found Alan very reasonable and forthcoming about the project.
Its definitely not going to be a B&Q shed.
So definitely worth a bit more of my hard earned.

Barry M

stevebaker70 said...

donation on its way...

Michael Johnson said...

I was actually thinking of emailing the Chairman and asking him to clear up various matters that seem to be stuck in the rumour zone at present. Then I could post his reply here, or on another blog, or elsewhere on the web - make the info public, anyway.

I suppose, as a (minor) shareholder, I could even table a question at the AGM. Although, in a way, that would be the nuclear option. It shouldn't be necessary to go the level of questions at the AGM just to find out what's happening on the railway day-to-day.

Frankly, it shouldn't even be a matter of asking the Chairman. If things have got to that stage - where we have to *ask* - I'd say something has already gone wrong. Info should be available upfront - clearly, unambiguously, with no fudges or contradictions.

If there's stuff we can't know, because it relates to legal matters, ongoing commercial negotiations, etc, then obviously that should remain confidential. But when there's no particular reason why we shouldn't know, then proper communication from an official source is clearly better than relying on the rumour mill.

The board should be pro-active when it comes to all this, not simply wait until rumours start circulating, or until someone asks a specific question, before letting out a snippet of information.

I can think of another situation where the rumour mill took over: the change of the Flag & Whistle franchise. A straightforward commercial process, but I remember stories going around that the former incumbents had been sacked, or somehow unfairly turfed out. It was all much less dramatic than that, of course, but to listen to the tales you'd think some sort of scandal had occurred. It was only afterwards that the real situation was belatedly explained.

In that case, the rumours could have been snuffed out before they'd even started if a simple announcement had been made beforehand that the Flag & Whistle franchise was coming up for renewal, the board was considering proposals from interested parties, and as a result of this process a new franchisee might be taking over. Later, another announcement formally introducing the new franchisee would have neatly topped it all off. No fuss, no drama - and no rumours.

That's how I would have done it, anyway....

Former chairman Malcolm Temple - for all his slightly abrasive style - was actually fairly good at this stuff. If you scroll back far enough on the Boardroom Blog you can still see posts from him where he explained exactly what the railway's various budgets were being spent on, etc.

However, I say 'fairly good' instead of 'very good' because when I asked him on the Boardroom Blog why CRC Platform 2 had been built with a 'Network Rail' style flat end, he gave me two contradictory replies, neither of which rang true. We still haven't got to the bottom of that one. Maybe my email to the Chairman will have to go in after all!

Incidentally, I see the GWR has a new Heritage Group - which in a way seems odd. The GWR is a heritage railway. Heritage is what we do. If a specific group has to be set up to be the railway's heritage conscience - well, again, it's hard not to think that something has gone a bit wrong....

Bill said...

Hi Michael,
I think you presume too much on quite a wide front. Please don't "park" information on my blog- it won't be there for long.
This Blog is primarily for reporting progress on the ground and to give credit to the hard working volunteers.
No politics here thanks.

Anonymous said...

If I may I'd like to help the chairman out here in that progress on the ground depends a little on the goodwill of donors.
"We have been striving from the start to replicate the original building as closely as possible using the Toddington one as a pattern"
"All items such as brickwork, windows and doors that will be seen by our visitors have been subject to special attention"
"We designed the station such that windows and doors give us the internal layout necessary whilst presenting a typical GWR spacing of these features on the outside perspective so as to present the true characteristics of a station building"
Hope that helps us to move on.

Barry M

Dave said...


If no one is to discuss the future direction of the build or seek to question the Board on this blog, then where do you suggest it is done?

I posted a query on the Boardroom blog and it was deleted.

I emailed the chairman . He hasn't been good enough to answer.

Even you, before your promotion, posted on this blog that a recent decision by the Board had caused you to feel betrayed and stabbed in the back.

If such a comment was good enough for you then, then it is good enough for us now.