Monday, 5 June 2017

The official opening

Sixty invited guests came today to see what 12 men had built: a perfect heritage copy of the original 1928 GWR halt at Hayles Abbey.

And what better way to celebrate this wonderful moment, than with an original 'Coffeepot' in the form of GWR 1450 and its own auto coach 'CHAFFINCH'.

Here's the 14xx pulling out of the Parlour road at Toddington.

The Gods were angry with us:

''You have stopped eating doughnuts!
You shall have rain!!!''

And we did. No matter, we had a very successful launch, and a lot of fun on the way.

While the Hayles gang and the 60 invitees were sipping tea and coffee in the Flag & Whistle, the auto train hissed and dripped away quietly in the platform at Toddington. This then is quite an authentic scene, the local stopping train from the 1950s, no passengers, two or three staff in a huddle on the platform.

In a year or so, we should be able to do this again at Broadway. Or would it be even more interesting to have a Railmotor visit us next time?

The driving compartment in the trailer was quite interesting. 

While the fireman stands on the loco behind, the driver at this end actually has a regulator to operate. Amazing, the sort of linkage that must be required from the ceiling here, down the end wall, along under the floor, across the gap between the buffing and drawing gear, under the bunker and back up to the top of the boiler in the cab.

Further down is a picture of a driver actually operating this regulator handle. 

The auto coach had a surprising seating capacity, and the whole crowd did indeed just about fit in. There was a great air of jollity, typefied by the happy faces of the Hayles gang sitting front left.

More of us on the right hand side.
And where are we going to next, guys? They knew the answer in a flash !

(interesting to see that the autocoach was already equipped for this next destination, we borrowed the destination board from the driver's compartment...)

The Gods now started to smile upon us a little bit, as the rain let off as we arrived at Hayles. 

Maxine had prepared a lovely piece of velvet curtain, just for the event.

Lord Wemyss of Stanway House, our neighbour, gave us a very congratulatory speech. Then came the big reveal. A tug, and:


Newspapers, television, radio, and our very own house photographers in the foreground came to witness the scene. Hayles Abbey halt is back! Hail the driver from the platform, or tell the guard if aboard, any DMU operated train will stop for you here from now on.

To the delight of the photographers, we then played around with the train a little, letting it reverse back, come back in to stop, and pull away forwards and come back again.

They're all up there, those photters. When will they pretend to run in with the auto train? Will the tanks overflow again? (sadly not, although a sharp stop was attempted the first time)

Here's the train just pulling into the halt, after receiving a request to stop from a small group of waiting passengers.

Want to see that again? Here we are near the new running in board, whistle blowing. Those big 12 inch letters look like one inch ones from here. This is pretty authentic, isn't it? Didn't we do well?

Now the auto train is stopped at the halt, and a lone passenger starts to walk up the ramp. The fireman looks on,while the guard has gone off to chat with someone at the rear.

There's no hurry.

Finally, the auto train sets off for Winchcombe. One of our neighbours here did this every day in the 1950s, to go to school in Cheltenham. We invited him to the opening too.

Ah yes, how does the driver work the regulator from his little seat?

Well, he doesn't really use that seat, this regulator is just as stiff as the one on an old freight loco, so you have to get up and shove it hard, with both hands.

After a return journey to Little Buckland, our party was treated to a super sit down lunch in the Flag & Whistle, a great conclusion to a great day.

We were delighted to hear the chairman of our trust remind us of our objective:

'To build and maintain a railway museum for the benefit of the public - fence to fence, buffer stop to buffer stop'.

Well said. What else can we do to improve our heritage here? The Hayles gang is up for it.


Two more pictures received from Malcolm Ranieri, who was kind enough to give permission to use them on this blog:

After the unveiling of the running in board, Tim Bazely (head of our Heritage Group) stands proudly with the Mayor of Cheltenham, and Lord Wemyss.

The Hayles Abbey halt gang. Thanks, Malcolm, for once your blogger is in the picture.


  1. Oh so authentic! even in the rain this is a little gem of a project that looks so good. I will rest a while here in two weeks time. What a fantastic job and a great conclusion to all the hard work of the Hayles Abby Halt Team. Long may they rest on their laurels for this job. Where was Lucky the Dalmatian?, surely he was invited? No mention of Minnie the Mixer! No doughnuts in sight!
    Even so, a great finale to all the team there, your hard work has paid off at last, blog readers will have to look elsewhere for something half as good, is this the last report from Hayles Abbey?
    Paul & Marion.

    1. Unlikely to be the last report, I'll put on whatever happens next. There may be some interim stuff whie we sort out the next project.

  2. thanks jo , great coverage of a special day . There are 15 of us in the group photo including Stevie (wonder) Warren and of course Neal Cooper ,the master canopy maker who made the Steel frame Harness to enable us lift the Slabs onto the platform edge .

    These 2 deserve a lot of credit as do Tim B ,Jim H ,Jim G ,Paul M (potential Masterchef 2017 Champion ) for all the planning ,leadership and sourcing of Materials . Best regards to all ,john M.

  3. Quiet superb a fantastic job well done to everyone involved in this fascinating project

  4. A fine finish to a magnificent project, con congratulation to all concerned.
    Now we can look forward to your next project and entertaining blogs

  5. fab-u-LOUS!
    An everyday scene from the 1950s recreated. The rain just made it even more atmospheric. What stars you all are.

  6. Great work one and all, the halt is spot on, you have set a new standard for the railway.

  7. It's a shame Lyndon Knott was away in the Western Isles of Scotland, he was a volunteer from the start of the block laying.

  8. What a wonderful set of pics of a wonderful launch! The weather was very true to the railway photos of the 40's and 50's. Well done to all who helped out at Hayles and can't wait to see what you get up to next. I am informed that grand events occasioned the decoration of the first loco. Maybe for Broadway that might be recreated. Regards, Paul.

  9. Ran through the satellite channels last night and found BBC west midlands local news and YES! saw the report! Aint new teknologi bril! What a brief but good report and to see some of the team moving and talking, fantastic! We cannot wait to see this halt in two weeks time. Well done the team!
    Paul & Marion

  10. Yes!.I,saw the report,on Midlands Today,last night!.A,nice bit of publicity,for the railway!. Anthony.

  11. Some moving images from one of the "photters" on the bridge!

  12. Yes it looks Fab!At lest the rain tested out the shelter. i bet it will be the busiest halt around. For the next project what about putting platform 2 back with a piece of track to complete the authentic look

  13. Any ideas what your next project may be, could you assist with the waiting room on platform 2 at Broadway?

  14. Well done everyone. A fantastic job