Monday, 4 September 2023

All joined up

Finally we have laid the last section of pipe for the up side outlet diversion of culvert 11B at Stanton. So water is now flowing down the new pipe and then into the outlet of 11A by bridge 11. Or it would be, the drier weather towards the end of August has meant very little flow through the bore under the track of 11B.

Thursday 10th August

Eight of the team attending on what is likely to be one of the hottest days this summer.

Roger and Ian first headed to Cheltenham Racecourse to rectify the latest vandalism on the sidings at Hunting Buttings tunnel. This was to replace a GRP blue mesh cess pit lid where one of the retaining brackets had been smashed. Also to remove the lid and other debris which has been deposited in the chamber. This was on the down side near the siding points. As the retaining clips are obviously not strong enough to withstand these attacks; we are planning to order some grated anti-vandal galvanised steel lids with steel brackets to replace any future damage.

Repaired blue mesh cover at Hunting Butts. [Photo by Ian]
On the way back from Cheltenham, they called in at Elliot's Bishops Cleeve to collect the first tonne of pea gravel from the second PO. Then to Stanton to join the rest of the team.

Meanwhile, our plant operative, Jonathan had taken the telehandler to Stanton. This was to move two 9 ring stacks of catch pit frames from the store by bridge 11 to nearer the third intermediate and the final exit chambers in the new 11B to 11A up side diversion trench.

The exit chamber with a very neat job for the outflow pipe.
Master bricklayer, Polly, got to work on the brick and block courses of the exit chamber. This included fitting a short length of pipe to the existing exit pipe under the farm track - carefully cut to an angle as the chamber is at an angle because the new trench wiggles to avoid tree roots. The completed pipe exit is very neat - great pity that this will not be visible once the chamber is completed.

Nigel was chief mortar and concrete mixer and block cutter. Martin and Andrew adjusted the level of the trench for the next two sections of pipe; and laboriously widened the trench at the points where the pipe collars will go. This length of trench was dug with a narrower digger bucket - but it has the advantage that less pea gravel packing is needed. The Stanton clay is extremely hard - best way to cut out was with lump hammers, crowbars and bolsters. Initially Dave had the important job of manning the 110v pump to drain the third intermediate chamber and the trench beyond it.

Martin demonstrates the method of widening the trench at the pipe joins.
On arrival, Roger and Ian assisted Dave and Nigel with mixing and pouring the concrete for the back fill of the third intermediate chamber. This took a large amount of aggregate and six bags of cement. This chamber is now ready for fitting of the concrete rings.
Third intermediate chamber backfilled and ready for fitting of the catch pit rings.

Unfortunately time defeated us to get more lengths of pipe installed - so the delivered pea gravel was unloaded onto the slop board at track level. Finally the three concrete rings for the entry chamber were extracted from the now long grass and positioned at the top of the embankment by the existing 11B outlet. An attempt to use the telehandler to move these was abandoned as the telehander would not climb the slope up from the field on Gallery Farm crossing.

Wildlife report (all from Stanton)
Insects - to add the abundance of butterflies we noted quite a few damselflies.
Birds - not previously noted are wood pigeons.  Also circling above was a flock of gulls.

Thursday 17th August

Again the score on the door was 8 (number of team members attending). However our plant operative, Jonathan, was on loan to the clearance team for excavation work at Chicken Curve.

The remaining magnificent seven (Dave, Nigel, Ian, Stu, Roger, Martin, and Andrew), achieved a major milestone on the 11B to 11A up side diversion at Stanton. Five pipe lengths were laid on the exit end (low mileage) into the exit chamber. The exit chamber was backfilled with concrete and the inlet pipe to it bricked. Then attention turned to the entrance (1200m away), where the last part of the bund was excavated; the final length of pipe laid, bricked into the chamber and the old ditch to the land drain in the adjoining field blocked. So all water coming through the 11B bore now flows along the diversion to enter the 11A exit by the farm track. The storms over the coming weekend should provide the water for this.

Remains of a pre-railway land drain, so over 120 years old. Not surprisingly filled with clay.
The last section of pipe in the final section of the trench - inlet to the outlet chamber.

And the very last section of pipe to be laid - the one at the top of the trench, the outlflow from the inlet chamber.

And this is the inlet chamber, the entry at the top is the original under track bore of 11B.

As it was at Teddy Bear Thursday, Bev the Bear (our team mascot) came along to view progress at Stanton. However, he was issued with a Safety warning for not wearing a hi-vis whilst lineside!


Thursday 24th August

Attendance down to six today, but hey it is summer holiday time and even volunteers are entitled to time off. (With pay at the same rate, too, zero!).

First was an urgent request to assist with recovery of a road vehicle belonging to the company undertaking bridge inspections. This was stuck fouling the running line near Gotherington. Thunderbirds 1 and 2 attended with Scott, Virgil and Tracy. They successfully cleared the vehicle. Only a ten minute or so delay to the first trains.

Then back to the planned items. One of the transits continued from Gotherington to collect another tonne of pea gravel from Elliot's at Bishops Cleeve. This was taken to Stanton to complete the pipe surround on the new pipe at the entry at culvert 11B.

The three members who hadn't gone to Gotherington completed the additional concrete back fill on the exit chamber of the 11B to 11A up side diversion.

Then with the arrival of the other three members, plus the telehandler; the concrete rings for the entry and exit chambers were lifted into position. Plus the final bricking around the exit pipe on the entry chamber was completed.

The team (l to r, Nigel, Dave, Martin, Polly, Jonathan) admire the completed inlet chamber. In the end this received four concrete rings - we had one spare from the first intermediate chamber; it was almost obscured by the summer vegetation growth.
Using the telehandler to place the concrete rings on the exit chamber.

The completed exit chamber.
The last stack of rings to go in, Foremarke Hall passes over bridge 11 bound for Broadway.

Wildlife report
Several more common lizards spotted at Stanton (near Gallery Farm crossing); obviously the embankment is ideal environment for them.
Lots of butterflies -various species which we didn't have time to identify
Fruit ripening - blackberries, sloes and a few pears dropping of the trees

Thursday 31st August

Seven of the team working on the last day of (metrological) Summer. The weather forecast was far from summer though.

The main task was to place 10 concrete rings on the third intermediate chamber of the 11B to 11A up side diversion at Stanton. Using the telehandler and a a block & tackle borrowed from S&T this was accomplished safely and with ease in under two hours. The fourth tonne of pea gravel on the latest PO from Elliots was collected and placed around the diversion pipe between the first and second intermediate chambers. The final two tonnes on this purchase order will complete the pipe surround to the exit chamber.

Not a monster from the deep; but the telehandler with block and tackle attached lowers one of the catch pit concrete rings over the hedge. [Photo by Dave]

Final adjustment on ring position.
The completed third intermediate chamber - all 10 concrete rings.

Water was dribbling out the outlet of the diversion; but not enough rain yet for flow from the original bore to enter at the inlet.

All that is left to do now on the up side at Stanton is to infill the trench - all 1200m of it. Then later this year we will start on the down side.
Andrew and Roger went to Little Buckland bridge 5 to meet the prospective purchaser of Archer Farm (down side of line). We showed him culvert 5B which has a inlet from ponds on the farm. This was bone dry. We also showed him the toe ditch from culvert 5A by bridge 5 all the way to the foot crossing by the southern most boundary to the farm. This was dry - with just a trace of dampness in places. However the embankment and boundary hedge here are very overgrown; they will need clearing and the toe ditch tidied up.
Evidence of toe ditch just discernable on the down side at Little Buckland.

With the potential for a very wet afternoon (which actually did not happen!) we took the opportunity to undertake a visual inspection of the northern part of the line by riding the train to Broadway and back to Winchcombe.

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

Digging complete

A major milestone is the completion of the digging of the trench for the 11B to 11A up side diversion at Stanton. We started this on 2nd March – 5 months ago; making it one of our longest running projects.

Thursday 13th July

Seven team members working, fortunately only interrupted by a heavy shower of rain for a couple of minutes. On that count, for Summer 2023 it was a dry day!

We made some more progress on the up side diversion of the exit of culvert 11B at Stanton. At the high mileage end the chamber at the current exit of the bore was built up to ring height. Also we back filled it with concrete, just leaving a hole to insert the first length of pipe of the new run. This will be the last item to do - as when we do that water will run down the new pipe. The gap in the trench for this was reduced in height and length - heavy manual digging in the clay soil.

The new entry chamber; gap left to insert the first length of pipe. Three concrete rings required for completion.

At the other end of the ditch our mindigger excavated the pit for the third and final intermediate chamber and began the trench down to the 11A exit. It was pleasing to be working on the final length of trench - the end is in sight! The minidigger was returned to Winchcombe Yard so that it can be used next week on the children's play area by platform 2. In return we will have a contractor with a larger machine at Stanton - this should cope better with the heavy clay.

Almost lost in the long grass - our minidigger works on the site of the third intermediate chamber.


Finally we checked the level of the trench between the second and third intermediate chambers; adjusted as necessary and laid two more lengths of pipe.

Wildlife report – with a focus insects

We spotted quite a few - the following were identified:
Tortoiseshell butterfly
Large yellow underwing moth (Noctua pronuba)
Caterpillar of cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae)
Long-winged conehead bush-cricket (Conocephalus fuscus)

Cinnabar moth caterpillar

Thursday 20th July

Five team members attending, including a new to the team (but not new to the EMD) member; welcome Ian. Plus we had one contractor working.

The contractor was from Graham Morrison, with a 3 ton excavator. This enabled completion of the digging of the 11A to 11B up side diversion trench at Stanton. [A major milestone!] The heavier machine with a longer jib arm made (slightly) lighter work of the clay. Not only was the last length of ditch dug out; but the pit for the exit chamber by bridge 11 and enlargement of the third intermediate chamber was completed.

The contractor's 3 ton excavator starts on the last length of trench. The tree in the hedge prevented a bigger machine from working here.

Some of the last bucket loads of clay being removed from the exit chamber alongside the farm track which goes under bridge 11.

Looking back along the completed trench (towards high mileage) from the exit chamber. The S  bend is to avoid the tree roots.

We used our new(ish) 110v electric pump to pump out the accumulated rainwater in the third section of the ditch. Once removed we noticed a small flow in the installed pipes, this is from old land drains which now drain into the intermediate chambers.

Temporary shuttering installed in the third intermediate chamber. About the only advantage of digging in such thick clay is the the tench sides are relatively stable - unless the clay dries out. Not much chance of that this July!

Some more manual digging at the entrance to the diversion; we are slowly reducing the size of the bund.

We installed a further two lengths of pipe; packed four lengths of pipe with pea gravel and constructed safety shuttering in the third intermediate chamber. Finally we collected yet another tonne (the sixth so far) of pea gravel from Elliots.

Finally (well actually it was the first task of the day) we undertook some vegetation clearance around the entrance gate to Stanton Yard.

Wildlife report

Concentrating on birds of prey at Stanton we noticed kestrel, red kite, buzzard. Again several butterflies - species identified were red admiral and peacock.

Thursday 27th July

Six of the team in attendance to progress the up side diversion of 11B exit to 11A at Stanton. First task was to trim the pits for the third intermediate chamber and the final exit chamber; including checking for levels. Then it was laying the concrete base for both of these chambers. The exit pipe under the farm track (laid in 2019) was trimmed as the digger mauled it last week; a joint collar fitted so a short length of pipe can be added to exactly fit the new chamber.

110v pump in action emptying the water accumulated in the trench over the past week.
Ian (top) and Nigel tamping the base of the third intermediate chamber.
Exit chamber concrete base after tamping.

Exit chamber, showing the collar installed on the exit pipe installed in 2019. Notice this pit is much shallower than the third intermediate chamber, as the land falls away to the farm track running under bridge 11.

Wildlife report

Reptiles this week. We observed several lizards, we think young common lizards, around bridge 11 and at the vehicle turning point on the low mileage end of it. Also noted were two different solitary bees (large ones) - different species; but with 250+ species of bee in the UK we were not able to be more positive.

Lizards sunning on old sleeper near bridge 11. [Photo by Dave]

One of the solitary bees.

Thursday 3rd August

Nearly a full complement of the team this week - just one absence due to illness.

A picture of a train for a change. Visiting BR Standard "Mickey Mouse" 2MT 2-6-0 78019 (from Great Central Railway) on the first down train crossing bridge 11 at Stanton.

Once again all the activity was at Stanton on the 11B to 11A up side diversion. Well nearly, three of the team first went to Gotherington to collect building sand and sharp sand that a homeowner had donated as surplus to a patio construction project.

At Stanton the main task was building the brick and block lower courses of the third intermediate chamber. The pipe between the second and third intermediate chambers was packed with pea gravel - completing that section. Two lengths of pipe were laid in the last section of the trench. The level of the trench at its entry to the exit chamber was deepened; and in places the trench alignment widened to ease the bends around tree routes. There is just three lengths of pipe to lay at the exit end of the trench; plus the first length at the current 11B exit chamber.

Brick and block courses of the third intermediate chamber complete.

Already the length of pipe completed so far and the trench beyond it are carrying water; entering from the old land drains and off the embankment.

Between the second and third intermediate chambers the pipe is now complete with pea gravel bedding.

Wildlife report

Nothing significant to add to previous. However we noted a large number of butterflies (several species) on up side low mileage of bridge 11; there must be some vegetation that attracts them. Also more common lizards spotted - including some at the existing 11B outlet on the up side.

For a change we took a detour on the way back to Winchcombe to take a closer look at the Stanway fountain. This is in action on Thursdays in the summer. Located in the grounds of Stanway House, it was opened on 5 June 2004. The single-jet fountain, which rises to over 300 feet (91 m), is the tallest fountain in Britain and the tallest gravity-fed fountain in the world.

Saturday, 8 July 2023

Keep on digging

The main task preoccupying the team continues to be the up side diversion of the outlet of culvert 11B at Stanton to run inside the railway boundary to culvert 11A under bridge 11.

With over 120m of trench to dig; five new access chambers to construct and 25 new sections of pipe to lay, this is quite a large project for the team. However, we are now on the home straight, literally as the trench digging is now between the last two chambers.

However, the team did have a ‘day out’, which made a good break from digging and cement/mortar mixing.

Thursday 15th June

Six of the team in attendance.

Jonathan continued excavating the trench - now about two thirds of the way between the second and third intermediate chambers. Polly laid the brick and block courses for the second intermediate chamber. Nigel & Roger kept Polly supplied with mortar - also they laid the first pipe in the third pipe run. Stuart and Andrew collected another tonne of pea gravel from Elliots (the 4th so far). Using the laser level Stuart checked the depth of the trench digging; however the unit is playing up in strong sunshine. Andrew trimmed the hedge alongside the third pipe run.

Early-ish finish due to the hot weather. The excavated material from the trench, mainly clay, has dried out. This will need breaking up into smaller chunks before filling in the trench.

Polly checks the size of the second intermediate chamber.

Additionally an inspection of the deep manhole on the up side of Winchcombe Yard near the oak tree by the Usk building was undertaken. This requires the brick walls raised by 5 or 6 courses, so that it is above the ground level - to prevent any vehicle running over it. Potentially a relatively simple brick laying job; however it will need temporary cover of the chamber to prevent anything or anyone falling in during the job.

The chamber near the Usk hut is already one of the deepest we have; the height extension will make it more so.

Wildlife report:
Winchcombe Yard - house martins (a puddle was topped up to provide mud for nest building)
Stanton - identified one of the wild rose species as Rosa canina (Dog Rose). The hedgerow also contained another white rose but, further investigation required to identify it correctly. There is also Heracleum sphondylium, hogweed in the hedge road alongside the trench. The sap in contact with skin reacts to sunlight and causes phytophotodermatitus.  This is similar to burns with orange blisters and the effects last over a month.

Dog rose [Photo by Roger]

Thursday 22nd June

All team members attending - but not on the Railway! We all went to Rail Live at Long Marston.

Lots of big yellow machines that we, PWay and C&M would like to have!

Rail Live is the largest railway industry hands-on event of the year - a sort of Farnborough Air Show for the Rail industry. Literally hundreds of stands from suppliers across all aspects of the industry. Even a steam loco (1501 from SVR on an Alleys low loader).


The only visible heritage item of rolling stock at Rail Live.

There were lots of interesting stands, quite a few relevant stands (to us) and some that were both interesting and relevant.

Some highlights ....

Aqua Fabrications
Hi-Pact HDPE Ditchliner - could be useful for lining leaking crest ditches (like at Two Hedges Road) and waterproofing the ditch behind Churchward House;
GRP catch pit frames - a lot lighter to handle than the concrete ones; two standard sizes; various sump units and covers;
Carlisle Cascade system - vacuum formed from ABS sheet to make modular 'waterfall'; would be useful to prevent down and back erosion in several places (such as culvert 14B low mileage down side toe entry).

Concrete Canvas
Core product is 3-dimensional fibre matrix containing a specially formulated dry cementitious mix on PVC backing. Also could be useful for lining leaking crest ditches - comes in big rolls but they say there are hand-portable batched rolls.

Civil Water Management
TDS-400 a mat of recycled plastic panels which water is drawn and then rapidly discharged through hydraulic pressure. The demo made it look like water was flowing up hill! Possibly something to investigate where the water table is close to the track level and prone to silting - for example low mileage side of Southam Lane bridge.

Cubis Systems
STAKKAbov access chamber system - various types and grades of stackable catch pit frames. Some GRP; some other composite material with metal reinforcing. We think the raising of the manhole at Winchcombe up side near the Usk could deploy these - would avoid need to get scaffolding put in. There are various types of lid available - including those that can be fixed down.

We tried the battery powered pole saw, brush cutter and hedge trimmer. With the battery on the harness they are very much easier to handle than the petrol ones we have now. Suggest when any of these tools need replacing we go for battery ones. We also had a look at the similar tools on the Bosch stand.

Skyes pumps
They showed us a variable rate pump (VP80 and VP100) which would be great for a fast pump out of a flooded ditch then a slow keeping the water out. However they are 415v 3 phase!

A good day out - thankfully no rain as it is mainly outdoor (noticeable that the big plush carpeted marquees were for the consulting companies).

Thursday 29th June

A day full of obstacles! (And no team leader to sort them out!) But, some achievements were made.

Firstly the LWB Transit van which has the toolbox containing our tools was away for it’s MOT. We had to scrounge around to find some replacement tools. However, we found enough for the day; enabling completion of the concrete backfilled around the second intermediate chamber on the 11B to 11A diversion. Nine concrete rings were installed on top; this is the deepest new chamber on this diversion.

A nine ring stack. [Photo by Dave]

 The laser level decided it would not work even without bright sunshine. Hence we resorted to the old fashioned method using spirit levels.

Accurate measure of the depth of the trench is vital. Too shallow or too deep leads to a switchback and thus standing water in the pipe. In a couple of places our digger operative had been too eager; so the trench needs filling with some type 1 stone / rubble which had been donated to us. Much cheaper than extra pea gravel.

The trench digging continued; but only a few metres excavated as the wet clay and tree roots causes the mini digger to struggle. It is really operating at it’s limit here.

Digging approaching one of the famous Stanton pear trees - so finding lots of roots. [Photo by Dave]


Always a colourful sight. [Photo by Dave]

For the wild flower report two of items interest; the Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas and the Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii.

Thursday 6th July

Back to full strength of eight team members today.

We took advantage of the dry weather - there was no water flowing out of 11B’s under track bore and in the existing exit ditch to the adjoining field. So the first courses of bricks and blocks were laid for the entrance chamber at the current bore exit. We left a gap for water to flow out by the existing ditch; this length of pipe will be the final to be laid. However, we did make a start on removing the section between the new trench and the entrance chamber. This is a manual dig as the minidigger can not reach the location until the trench is in-filled.

The new bore exit chamber - blue mesh cover is just temporary at this stage - three concrete rings to add first.

The trench with almost complete pipe work stretching into the distance. All that vegetation was less than an inch high two months ago.

Two new lengths of pipe laid and connected. Another tonne of Pea Gravel collected from Elliots (the 5th) - most of which was spread around the recently laid pipes in the ditch. The hedge trimmer used to trim boundary hedge at digger site and to clear the recent growth around the trench. Amazing what some sunshine and a few showers does for growth.

Digging with the minidigger was completed to the site of the third intermediate chamber, and most of this dug out. This just leaves 30m of plain trench to dig. (The end is nigh!)

Final intermediate chamber pit dug out - so now it is just 30m of plain trench.

Wildlife report
Winchcombe station - female pheasants on the down platform at 8am
Stanton - lots of moths and butterflies, only species positively identified was cabbage white. Several poppies in full bloom.

Monday, 12 June 2023

Roadside Recovery

It is not just drainage that our team become involved in. With one member who works in the motor trade, we frequently attend to the regular maintenance and minor repairs of the Railway’s road vehciles and plant. However, we are not intending to set-up a service to rival the AA or the RAC. The roadside recovery in this post’s title refers to extracting drain rods from the pipe alongside the road on the outlet of culvert 31B at Prescott Road.

Thursday 11th May

Another day of changed plans, mainly due to the continuing wet weather. After getting the trailer with the minidigger stuck in mud the previous week, we decided not to take it to Stanton, as the entrance to the neighbours field is under a big puddle.

Jonathan and Martin extracted the water bowser trailer from behind various other items at Winchcombe Yard, ready for use in watering the new trees at Chicken Curve and opposite the Royal Oak at Gretton. They then fitted a new towing ball to the Isuzu truck.

New towing ball on the Isuzu truck.


Dave and Nigel headed to Prescott Road bridge, culvert 31B, to measure up for the replacement section of pipe to run from our boundary fence line to the intact roadside pipe. They also tried again to extract the rods that are stuck in the pipe - still not successful. However close examination of a photograph looking into the pipe shows that they are in there. A scout round the yard at Winchcombe found some useable sections of SGP pipe that can be deployed at 31B.

Looking inside the roadside pipe of the outlet of 31B at Prescott Road. End of the stuck red rods just visible. [Photo by Dave]

The lengths of broken roadside pipe at Prescott Road that require replacing. Note the depth of the silt! [Photo by Dave]

Andrew and Stuart went to Toddington North cutting to measure for the replacement of milepost 9¼. Roger also went to Toddington to check and reseal a First Aid kit and to collect First Aid items for the gala. Then they headed for culvert 11B at Stanton. The new 110v submersible pump was put to use to pump out the first intermediate chamber. The pump works a treat, especially if in a sump. They then laid the first course of bricks for this chamber.

The new 110v pump working in the second intermediate chamber at 11B up side. [Photo by Roger]

First course of bricks for intermediate chamber one.

Close up of where an old land drain (the clay pipe) is now incorporated into the intermediate chamber.

After lunch, Dave and Nigel went to Stanton aqueduct with some mortar to fill the void in the grouting on the ups side abutment caused by the excess foam for sealing the shuttering. This is really now the end of the aqueduct repair.

Final item of Stanton aqueduct repair - filling the void creased by excess foam. [Photo by Dave]

After their work in the yard, Jonathan and Martin headed to Elliots at Bishops Cleeve to collect the first tonne of pea gravel for the 11B trench at Stanton. Elliots have kindly donated a new rake and a long handled shovel, both very useful tools for spreading the pea gravel. In the afternoon, all seven of the team unloaded the pea gravel at 11B; and some was used around the first length of pipe placed in the trench. A start was made on the course of blocks in the chamber. 

Jonathan demonstrates the new long handled spade - it does make unloading from the bed of the truck much easier.

End of day progress - pea gravel around the laid pipes and concrete block layer in the chamber.

Thursday 18th May

All of the team present this week, but one notable absence was the 'drainage' LWB Transit. This had broken down at Cheltenham Racecourse on Wednesday with electrical problems. Most of our hand tools are in the tool box on the back. Fortunately we were able borrow sufficient tools and use the 'C&M' transit, along with the Isuzu and the Ford Ranger to achieve most of our planned activities.

Jonathan and Martin headed to Stanton with the minidigger on the trailer behind the Isuzu. The 11B to 11A up side diversion trench was progressed towards the second intermediate chamber. This is where the trench is deep due to the lie of the land; so progress was not quite as fast as other weeks. At least after no digging because of wet conditions it was good to get going again.

Roger, Polly and Stuart also went to Stanton 11B. They completed the brick and block courses of the first intermediate chamber; a prerequisite was the laying of the first length of pipe in the trench between the first and second intermediate chambers. The first intermediate chamber is now ready for some concrete backfill; then the concrete rings can go in.

The 11B to 11A up side trench at Stanton - first length of pipe visible just beyond the plank. [Photo by Roger]

Dave, Nigel and Andrew first headed to Culvert 31 at Prescott Road Bridge (32). After temporarily damming the outlet at our boundary to enable visual inspection of the roadside pipe; the sharp end of the stuck lengths of red drainage rods was located. Then some delft work with a corkscrew attachment on the black drain rods; the red set was extracted - all 29 rods. Next was a trial fitting of the SGP pipe found last week. Unfortunately this was just a tad too small. We need to reinstate around 12 feet of the roadside pipe; make a suitable headwall and backfill. On return another search of Winchcombe yard identified some more possible pipe lengths.

Success - the red drain rods emerging from the roadside pipe at Prescott Road. [Photo by Dave]

Then on to the cutting south of Two Hedges Road, at milepost 17 & half. During the previous weeks of heavy rain, water was coming out of the down side cutting in three places. This comes from a stream which rises on Cleeve Hill; when it enters the railway boundary some takes a 90 bend into the crest ditch. This was the site of some work by contractors back in 2019, the work was interrupted by Covid. Two lengths of large diameter pipe were installed in the ditch; another two were further down and were creating a bit of a restriction. These were recovered back to the stream entry point; the ditch was removed of vegetation debris. The areas of the cutting side by the leak points was brush cut. This reduced two of the leaks to minor trickles. The root problem is that this crest ditch is not water tight - before it gets to the end of the cutting and becomes an embankment toe ditch it is dry. That toe ditch eventually enters culvert 40B. We will need to give some thought as to the best way to make that ditch watertight.

One of the points where in very wet weather water from the crest ditch escapes to the down side cess south of Two Hedges Road.


Thursday 25th May

All of the team in attendance this week.

Nigel, Dave and Polly headed to Prescott Road, culvert 31B, taking materials to make a sandbag headwall on the roadside pipe inlet just outside the railway boundary. Roger and Andrew delivered cement, pipes, and gravel, again we had only one working Transit truck. Using a mix of SGP and twinwall pipe; the roadside pipe was extended back almost to the boundary; all the available sandbags were then used to construct a headwall. Finally some back filling using the material excavated a few weeks ago. As you can see in the photo, the team did a very neat job on this sandbag wall.

Replacement pipe in the roadside outlet of 31B extending to the railway boundary. [Photo by Nigel]

The neat sandbag headwall. Just infill and fence replacement required to finish the work outside of our boundary. [Photo by Nigel]

Jonathan, Martin and Stuart headed to 11B at Stanton. Jonathan spent the day extending the trench; have now got as far as the second intermediate chamber - so half way. Martin and Stuart setup the laster level to check that the trench is at the correct level - it is. The strong sunshine initially meant the level was giving some strange readings - but repositioning and with the sun higher in the sky all was working fine.

Stuart setting up the laser level. Hawthorn in full bloom.

Visiting BR Standard 78019 with the first down train passes the work site at Stanton 11B.

After delivering material to Prescott Road 31B, Roger and Andrew set up the mixer for concrete - backfilling of the brick and block course of the first intermediate chamber was completed.

First intermediate chamber - completed brick and block courses.

Blue jelly pipe joining lubricant - very slippery stuff.

Finally at 11B the second section of pipe in the first run was joined to the first. The recently acquired blue lubricant working a treat - pushing the two sections together did not require a great deal of force.

One item of note on the wildlife side was the rescue of a young mole from the 11B to 11A trench. We set him (or her) free by the hedge but it burrowed into the ground before being photographed. On the plant front we noted some stalks of asparagus officinalis growing on the pile of earth excavated from the trench. Some of these were tall and gone to see but a few stalks were still at the harvesting stage.

Thursday 1st June

Full strength team today, at least for the morning. All working on the culvert 11B to 11A up side diversion.

This was the last day the visiting GWR Castle 4079 Pendennis Castle was in service. Here it heading the early morning Toddington to Broadway ECS past Stanton crossing - note the correct lamp codes.

The second intermediate chamber was fully excavated (so we are now half way with the trench). The first intermediate chamber was built with concrete rings and blue mesh top. So this is now complete - apart from the backfilling with soil. That will have to wait until the digger comes back from the end of the trench - the clay has become too hard to dig by hand.

The first concrete ring fitted! Over three & half years since delivery.

Dave checks the fitting of the blue mesh cover of the first intermediate chamber. Apart from the backfill that is job done. Just another four chambers to build.

Three more pipe sections were laid and connected. Another 1 tonne of pea gravel collected from Elliots and most of it placed in the trench.

End of day progress.

Using our CCTV equipment we inspected the existing 11B bore under the railway. This showed V - no sign of any secondary pipe entering it. However it did show that the bore is very uneven. At the up side exit the water depth was a few inches after pumping the outlet trench - but by 12m in the water level is almost at the top of the bore. Most probably the exit end has been disturbed by the roots of the tree that used to grow by the exit. This tree was removed a few years ago.

Two of the team visited Broadway to inspect the up side french drains that are approximately half way between the end of the platform and the boundary fence. The middle larger drain has had a significant amount of its stone (slag ) removed and this is piled up on the high mileage side of it. This must have been dug out for a reason in the past - it is not a washout. Until the clearance work there back in the winter this crater was obscured by thick scrub. There was evidence that all three of these french drains do carry water at times. Both the cess drains were checked, but after 10+ days of almost no rain there was not likely to be any flow.


The mystery crater in the up side french drain north of Broadway station.

Thursday 8th June

The primary task involving the six team members on this warm June day was to further progress the 11B to 11A up side diversion at Stanton.

Jonathan spent the day extending the trench from the second intermediate chamber to the site of the third intermediate chamber. This length of trench is now about two thirds complete, and it is past the high point of the land so will now progressively get shallower.

Jonathan progress the trench excavation - marker post behind him to show the direction.

Roger, Polly and Andrew mixed and laid the concrete base for the second intermediate chamber. They also installed the remaining pipe lengths in the section between first and second intermediate chambers. Filled around all the laid pipes with pea gravel.

Concrete base of second intermediate chamber.

Dave and Nigel did a lot of fetching and carrying using the only working transit truck. First they delivered aggregate to Stanton; then collected another tonne of pea gravel from Elliots at Bishops Cleeve and delivered to Stanton. Finally they collected about half a tonne of No1 stone from Stoke Orchard. This had been donated to us, a left over from a building job. It turned out to be very mixed - but will be useful as infill.

Pipe run between the fist and second intermediate chambers completed.

By mid afternoon the sun is just on the up side of the line at 11B - Dinmore Manor passes. The transit truck safely parked out of the way back at bridge 11. Once the train has passed it will be backed down to collect all the gear to head back to Winchcombe. And for us it is then a welcome cup of tea in The Coffee Shop on the station platform.