The work on site has unfortunately been set back by the recent return of very cold weather which has delayed again the installation of the zinc roof. This in turn has further delayed the slate roof as this has to follow the zinc roof due to the overlapping arrangement where the two meet. The good news is that the long awaited Penrhyn slates have arrived at the building merchants and can be delivered very quickly to site when required.
All of the sarking felt and battens have been fitted in readiness for the pitch roof which is now expected to commence on the 2nd of April.
Facias have also been fitted to both east and west elevations and indeed some of the cast iron guttering is being mounted in place.
The bespoke hopper heads for the zinc roof are now installed to allow the formation of the rainwater run offs into these.
Internally, the drainage points required for the kitchen floor have been fitted in preparation for the screeding that will be started shortly. The walkway boards in the loft space have been laid which will allow the ceilings to be started.
The extension to the terrace which allows the doubling of the area available to external seating has also commenced. A series of small pile are being driven in the small segment of land that became available when the site was cleared and graded. This area had not previously been identified as being usable but some clever design work has allowed this to be utilised.
Who normally goes about taking pictures of windows? Beautiful, custom-built, hardwood framed, to authentic Great Western design?
Well everyone can now. Even through the scaffolding poles they look wonderful.
They have been lovingly handmade in the workshops of Kidderminster based joinery experts C R Hobby & Son, established over 45 years. In their own words, as they are each carefully fitted, they are ‘adding spirit and style’ to the appearance of our long-awaited new-build.
Today there was sunshine for much of the day, greatly welcomed after the last few days!
And so we have had snow, the kind of snow that is light and fluffy and the individual snowflakes are clearly visible, and the kind that can get blown around in enormous drifts if it is windy. And it has been windy too. So we have had huge snowdrifts that have piled up and made routes unpassable – roads and railways have been closed down until the snow is cleared, which then got blown around again. So for two days parts of the country have been at a standstill.
And here at the railway the effect has been to cause a lot of work to clear the snow from the tracks and the trackpoints so that we could run the weekend service.
And at the stations the snow needed to be cleared from the platforms and the walking routes. A lot of shovelling and gritting and de-icer spraying. And a lot of effort by our brilliant team of volunteers – totally mad but we love it. Well, we must do?
At Bridgnorth the small rostered platform team worked hard from early morning to get the train and its loco and the platform all in a place to keep visitors warm and safe. Our colleagues in the Loco and PWay helped, and while inevitably we had a modest number of passengers, they were welcomed and warm and comfortable.
Sunday morning saw the loco on the train two hours before departure time to get the ‘central heating’ warming the carriages standing at the re-cleared platform (after a further flurry of snowfall overnight).
This was thanks to further team effort clearing the points and the signalling-qualified stationmaster opening the box before normal roster time (hence the duty signalman not yet arrived) to get the loco into position.
Cracking work by our great team of volunteers in the different departments. We must be mad but we must love it?
The chimneys are completed and really look the part. The installation of the windows and doors has commenced and it is readily apparent that this will put some soul into the building.
The large amount of cast iron guttering required was supplied in natural finish but this has been painted up in a specially installed heated container and is ready for fitting.
The flat roof is just waiting for the weather to improve as the zinc covering requires a rising temperature above 7.5 degrees C to shape around the formers without tearing. The subcontractors are forming as much off site as possible in heated workshops to speed up the installation.
The roofing slates are due for delivery on 8th March with the main pitch roof work starting on the 12th. We are nearing a time where the scaffolding will be dismantled to reveal the true character of the building and early indications are that it will be magnificent.
In the services room located in the adjacent listed building, all the underground ducts are in along with various cables. The exterior approach has been 75% reinstated and the only remaining task is installing a concrete floor and internal block wall which will be carried out by station volunteers.
A flurry of ballast trains using our recently acquired “Sea Cow” hoppers and a four day visit from the tamper ensured all was ready for the half term trains. The track at County Boundary has been returned to line speed and improved riding along the line in general has been reported. The ‘plain line’ (rather than switch and crossing) in Kidderminster Yard is now much improved.
In the non-running weeks after Half Term, we are carrying out further works to make use of the time available. Up in the cutting by Bewdley Tunnel, contractors assisted by volunteers are clearing the more difficult to reach vegetation that has grown up since last cleared a number of years ago. This will be supplemented with clearance by volunteers on top of the cutting in due course. At Bewdley North crossover, the central section of the assembly that includes the crossing blocks has been dismantled. This job was programmed for several years’ time but due to its rapidly worsening condition, the opportunity to tackle the job this year has been taken. Around 20 badly rotted timbers have been replaced and a some new ironwork inserted. The job is taking place over two weeks with the mainline being restored for the intervening weekend. This will mean the down main through platform 1 will be out of use but the Operations teams have ensured we can still cross trains using the island platform.
The Bridgnorth gang will also be using the time to bring in a mini digger to sort out some badly dipped joints just to the north of Country Park Halt. By excavating well down and filling the resultant hole with fresh ballast, this will provide a more solid foundation to pack the joints level and for them to stay that way.