Monday, 22 May 2017

The last two furlongs

Just one more working day to go - next Tuesday, although people may pop in between times for odd jobs.

The big news is this:

Picture by Alan Miller
The container has gone! Surely a sign that we are nearing completion. It was taken away last week, on the day the Broadway signals were planted - this saved us some money, as the crane lorry was already on hire.

It's bad news though for those hoping to sit on the 'patio' and also have sausage tiger rolls for lunch. It's over chaps, we'll have to wait until the next project.

So where to have tea now?

Well, we set up camp on the platform, down by the shelter, on a baking hot day.

We thought Lucky the Dalmatian would never find us down here, but alas.

Lucky found us alright, and made a bee-line to Paul.

Now, dog, let me eat my doughnut in peace.

Some hope. An intense stare was focussed on the doughnut owner. It worked.

We had a large crowd today. In fact a visiting head of Pway today remarked that this gang was bigger than his, laying the extension! It must be the sun, and the fine food that we enjoy here.

The main job today was to finish off the post and rail fence from one GWR bridge rail corner post to the other, by the road. Here Rick is excavating one of the post holes.

During our diggings, we found what we take to be the rusty catch from the original gate that was here up to 1960. Paul is holding it up for you to see.

It was a bit further down than the spot we have chosen for our gate, but we got it nearly right.

As the row of posts for our replacement fence goes in, another group was filling barrows with chippings, which were taken down to the platform for a bit more infill. We need to get rid of this pile, it's in the way of the path to the gate.

Down on the platform, Rick is levelling the barrow loads that are being brought down.

Isn't the shelter looking nice?

Here's a look inside, after a day's painting by Jim H and Dave P.

They have completed all the angle ironwork now, and the three notice boards have been put up.

The notice in the corner is this one. Isn't it great? It thanks our principal sponsor BPS, and has three 'time lapse' photographs of the halt through the ages. Great pictures. More notices are still being made.

As the container goes, another arrival was greeted today: A replica GWR bench with scripted ends, donated by GWR Benches Ltd of Moreton in Marsh.

We are very grateful, thank you!

The bench will be positioned at the top of the slope, the exact spot is being debated at the moment. The bench found immediate use too.

We didn't have quite enough chairs for our lunch, so two of us stayed at the top and picnicked on it, the rest of us were on the platform and had a fine time with our sandwiches in the sun.

After lunch we were investigated by this enormous Merlin helicopter. It flew by, banked, dropped down, then passed us slowly at treetop height.

Hi there, chaps !

Julian tidied up the outside of the shelter, and by his feet you see the neat noticeboard made by Jim H. It really is a 'tour de force', well done Jim!

The board was later put up inside, and it will display the tale of the rebuilding of Hayles Abbey Halt.

Yours truly put up the Hurricane lamp hooks on the lamp holder posts. They were made by Neal in the loco dept. and look just right. This one sits on top of a little lead cap, fashioned by Julian, to stop the rain getting in from above. This post should last quite a while. Of course it is held off the wet ground by the grandpa post below.
The running in board is almost ready, and will arrive on Wednesday. We're going to put a sheet over it, so you can't see it until it is unveiled on June 5th.

Then, another low level fly by - two C130 Hercules transports. What is so fascinating about us?

Up at the top, the post and rail fence is nearly ready. We've discovered a drawback - it's now a much longer walk for us if we want to get anything. Now we have to go through the gate.

At the road end, the post and rail fence was nearing its completion. The last rails are being nailed on, and the GWR bridge rail end post has been painted black. While doing this, we noticed some faint inscriptions on it:

DOWLAIS STEEL, as part of the rolled rail, and VII  LXXXII hammered into the foot afterwards with something like a chisel. We think this is a reference to the date that the rail was turned into a fence post. (August 1882, 10 years before the end of the broad gauge)

It got very hot today, and at some point a loud voice said 'let's get some ice lollies for all of us' so Jim G vanished for a few minutes up to the Fruit Farm to get 12 lollies. Here we are enjoying this piece of luxury, seated on the new bench (which has disappeared under this large number of volunteers).

The first lolly went to the man who had the brainwave - our very own Paul.

Oddly enough, the hottest people wern't those working under the sun, but Jim H and Dave P inside the shelter. It was a sauna in there, and yet it has no doors. The wonders of corrugated iron.

Here Dave is repairing the putty on the glass in the southern window, which used to leak. No more.

Towards the end of the day, and with the floor of the shelter still awaiting a coat of sealant, it was decided to 'park' the new bench with a friendly neighbour two doors away. That bench is heavy... nonethless, the railway has suffered thefts before (benches were stolen from CRC in the past) so this one will be securely bolted to the ground next time.

There was ballasting on the extension today, and at the same time the 400 sleepers we had stacked on Saturday were loaded at Gotherington on to the two bogie bolsters and Conflat.

Actually, it was 360 sleepers loaded, the Conflat was only half filled.

Here the Class 73 pushes the loaded supply train past Hayles towards Toddington. Later on, they were propelled out to the extension, for further track laying later this week.

In other news...

The canopy parts for Broadway are now just about ready. Today they were stacked outside in the car park, after pairs of fascia boards were joined together to make fewer, but longer fascia boards.

One GWR station canopy, please.
Here the major parts are all laid out in the Toddington car park. Purlins on the right, then the fascia boards, 6 trusses and on the left, the ridge purlins with their arches. Everything is rivetted up, a great effort by the members of the loco dept. A brilliant job, this will look great and earn us a lot of respect.

A trial assembly is next, after the gala has taken place, and the space in the car park can be taken up without hindrance.


  1. Some great progress, almost there now! Looks like you had good weather for it too. I'm really looking forward to travelling on the GWSR trains past the halt at the Festival of Steam Weekend. Outstanding work on the 12" to the foot model station canopy too! Your Merlin Helicopter is actually a Puma. The tail rotor on a Merlin is on t'other side and the fuselage is longer. All RAF Merlins have now been transferred to the Royal Navy.

  2. Replies
    1. You are quite right, Gordon. I should have paid more attention in Latin class.

      BTW,Dowlais in Wales is a very old steelworks witha long association with the GWR and Brunel. It is one of the constituent parts of today's company GKN.

  3. What are the team going to work on next, will Lucky the Dalmatian survive without his regular supply of doughnuts and bacon butties, where will Minnie the mixer be used or abused next, will the team be broken up and scattered along the line. What will happen to the Hayles Abbey Herald, will it be taken over by the Toddington Times or the Broadway News? All these questions need to be answered. There are thousands of blog readers needing answers Jo, what news and pictures will we all be looking to in the future, has the editors of the other Blogs tied to procure your services?
    So enough of my rantings, another great report and pictures, it is just annoying to us that we cannot get to the official opening due to another commitment so look forward, with some sadness, to the last of the reports from you and the team at HAG. A great team effort and great workmanship.
    Paul & Marion.

  4. All good things,come to an end!.Unfortunately,so must this blog!.I,shall miss it!.I'll be looking forward to your next project!.I'll try to make it,to the opening day1. Anthony.

  5. C- for aircraft recognition, the helicopter is a Eurocopter Puma Mk2 from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. A fairly frequent low level visitor over the line

    1. Thanks, Stuart.
      It certainly took an interest in us - crossed overhead, did a U turn, dropped down, flew by slowly next to us at low level for a good look. We could almost thow a doughnut up !