Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Still lots going on

Three sessions to report in this edition, first was on Friday 23 April with a visit to Toddington Cutting to fill in the hole on the end of the up side crest drain. It took a few barrow loads of aggregate that had to be pushed up the cutting slope. 

Dave finishes off the backfilled hole on the 
Toddington crest drain while Martin and Michael supervise  

Next task was clearing the gully drains and settlement traps under Bridge 6 at Laverton. Another 5 man job with three barrows and temporary traffic management. The silt was dryer than a couple of months ago which made the job a bit easier. On the way out they included a detour to Bridge 5, Little Buckland to check the situation there. Very little silt under the bridge, just removal of minor debris from the drain covers.

Bridge 6 cleared gully drain 

Bridge 6 low mileage abutment 
settlement trap 


Tuesday 27 April 

Another milestone on the road to normality with a team of six in for the first time for well over a year. The focus of attention was on Bridge 25 at Working Lane, Gretton. Contractors have been working on rerouting the outflow of Culvert 25A which runs under the bridge. The contractor did all the groundworks and pipe laying, but left the headwalls on the ends of the new piped drains to be built by the team. This was decided as a cost control measure. The culvert had to be rerouted as the deep ditch ran next to the lane and was being eroded. The lane is used by farm traffic which can be as heavy as 20 tonnes, this ditch was an accident waiting to happen. Funding for the work was included in the Heritage Lottery Funding Grant, which means that it should be cost neutral to the Railway. 

Downstream Culvert 25A the backfilled ditch 

Culvert 25B outlet stream catcher pipe 

A BoM (Bill of Materials) was compiled so that the stores at Winchcombe and Stanton could be raided to get the headwalls up as soon as a stock of cement can be bought in. While doing the builds, some cosmetic repairs to the wing walls of the bridge will be carried out. 

The ongoing clearance of Culvert 24C up side exit was next on the agenda, more silt removed down to the concrete apron under the grille. Hopefully, this will reduce the tendency for the grille to block and increase the time it takes for the water level to build up. The only real answer here is for a trash screen to be installed when funding permits. 

New 1800mm lids that were cast last autumn were installed on the down side of Culvert 24A next to the pub fence, another heavy 4 man lift job.  

Culvert 24A down, 1800mm cast concrete lids in place 

Then it was off to Culvert 27B to carry on with the drainage improvements along the toe of the embankment on the up side. This involved rodding the exit pipe under the gate which was solid with silt; once cleared it started flowing well. 

New ditch at Culvert 27B up side 

Culvert 27B up side toe drain works 

Tuesday 4 May 

The first job of the morning was to collect some milepost numerals from Toddington which Greg Wigg has kindly cast. These will be finished and painted then attached to the heads already in stock at Winchombe before being sited along the line at appropriate points. 

The rest of the day was spent collecting materials and delivering them to Working Lane for the headwall builds on Culverts 25A and 25B. 

On the way back, there was a quick check on the ditch at Culvert 27B, Gretton to make sure all was working as planned, no problems identified.  

Actual bricklaying to resume next week, providing the weather holds out.

Top row cast numerals 
bottom row the wooden patterns for the moulds 

The redesigned Culvert 25A outflow 
The ditch alongside the lane has been backfilled 

All the reports and pictures have been supplied by Andrew 

Monday, 19 April 2021

Moving stone

Weekending 10 April 

Split team for the morning, with two team going to check reports of standing water near MP 17½, south of Two Hedges Road, Bishops Cleeve. Nothing was found, but this is probably down to the fact it hasn't rained for over a week. 

Report and photos from Andrew. 

Foggy start at Bridge 33 over Dixton Cutting 

The main task for the day was to backfill the down side counterfort drain pipe on the low mileage side of the Three Arch Bridge at Dixton (Bridge 33). Stone and hardcore was carted from Manor Lane at Gotherington. The estimate was for 8 loads, but it actually took 10😫 It turned out to be a merry go round operation with the 2 Transit trucks. Fortunately the barrow run at Dixton Road was short and it was empty barrows to be pushed uphill.  

Back filled drain at Dixton 

Backfilled drain at Dixton from the top 

Week ending 17 April 

Another mob handed week, with 5 present. Two went to remove silt from the manhole on the up side at Culvert 28A, Stanley Pontlarge. This is a regular occurrence, it dried up for a while but it looks like the upstream blockage has been rectified. Chamber was half full of slit, with evidence it had overtopped.

Next 4 photos from Dave.  

Slurry coming out of the chamber on Culvert 28A 

Slurry trail 😏

All left clear and tidy 

Here's a reminder of what it's all about, trains are back running again after a very disrupted year. 

GWR 2-8-0 4270 running bunker first 

The rest of the team went Culvert 27A  and 27B, on the up side to sort out an area of boggy ground by the new fence and gate. The boggy area was most pronounced from the new gate for about 10 yards towards Cheltenham. A ditch was dug out to investigate and a twin land drain was uncovered. The clay pipes between the gate and the culvert had been displaced at some time with gaps in the joins causing the leak. 

Next batch of pics from Andrew. 

Culvert 27A Boggy gate area 

Ditch between 27A and 27B up side 

Misaligned clay pipes 

An exploratory hole was dug under the gate and a green plastic pipe appears to be be connected to one of clay pipes. This seems to have been disturbed by the fencing contractor when the gate was installed. 

Plastic pipe under gate 

It was decided that leaving the temporary ditch draining the boggy area was best for today, a return visit will be made to finish the job off. 

End of day


Monday, 5 April 2021

The run up to Easter

Saturday 27th March 

Headline news; all culverts along the running line have been checked this month and there are no major items to deal with before resumption of train services on 13th April. 

Back to the reporting, the first job of the day was to check out a report of a failure on the up side crest drain between Toddington Station and Stanway Viaduct. The hole with the broken pipe was located and broken bits of pipe dug out. It looked like it is the start of the crest drain, running north. All very dry, nothing has flowed here for a long while. Another visit has been planned to fill the hole with free draining stone. 

Photos and report from Andrew. 

Up side crest drain excavated 

Crest drain joins the cess drain and
runs down the up side of the viaduct 

On the down side of Culvert 14B at Didbrook 1 there are 2 large baulks which used to be part of the farmers bridge upstream. these have washed down into the mouth of the culvert. Removal will be another job for when more hands are available to lift them back out of the stream. 

Culvert 14B down side inlet 

A couple of slabs needed to be replaced at Culvert 15A down side channel and Culvert 16C stonework on the inlet from the field (just on the boundary fence) needs some sorting out. 

Culvert 16C down side fence 

Culvert 21A River Isbourne is still a work in progress, works temporarily halted in Jan 2020 so the contractor could deal with the slip at Winchcombe. Since then pandemic funding issues have prevented a restart. It's probably going to be a long wait until this gets funded again. 

Michael and Martin survey the abandoned works
 on Culvert 21A up side 

Tuesday 30 March 

Nigel and Dave were in today to do a couple of jobs, firstly, off loading the stone from the Transit at Gotherington Yard. Then filling up the tipper to take stone down to Bishops Cleeve to do the repairs to the disused trackbed that was washed out by flash flooding at Christmas. 

Pictures and report from Dave... 

Loading more stone at Manor Lane 

Filling the washed out section of trackbed 

The stone, like ballast, is seemingly designed to resist shovelling, and to avoid wilting too much in the heat from lengthy shovelling sessions, they made three trips back and forth to fill the holes.  

The size of the washout can be seen by 
the depth of fill required 

Disused trackbed repaired at Bishops Cleeve

That's all for now.  

Sunday, 21 March 2021

The big team is back

Week Ending 20 March 

Tuesday, and it's back on the culvert inspections. Dave and Nigel began the day by going up to Stanton. Culvert 11A was flowing well following the rebuild in 2019. The toe along to Culvert 11B is reasonably dry which is a good sign. Pictures and report from Dave. 

Culvert 11A up side outlet channel 

Culvert 11A runs under Bridge 11 

Culvert 11B outlet to the field 

Up to the siphon. Culvert 7A and the up side washout from the failing headwall seems to be stable, at least the hole hasn't grown. 

Culvert 7A up side, outlet headwall 

At Bridge 6 a few more barrow loads of silt were removed from the high mileage side of the gully drains, then they decided that it was really at least a 3-man, 2-wheelbarrow job 😒

Bridge 6 low mileage abutment 

Next bit of interest was Culvert 5A down side, a pool of water has formed at the inlet, the silt trap is working, on the up side, the outlet ditch doesn't have a much fall so it's neve a raging torrent. They spotted some stagnant water in the ditch at around the mid-point between 5A and 5B, again, the ditch here needs digging out to get the water to flowing. 

Toe ditch between Culverts 5B and 5A 

Nothing else much to report, all is in working order. 


A team of 5 in to shift the pea shingle washed out from the counterfort drain on the down, low mileage side of Bridge 33 at Dixton Cutting. In tandem, the culverts between Gotherington Yard and Greet Tunnel were checked as the team travelled past. Pictures here from Andrew. 

Stop board out to protect the workers
(Possession obtained before starting) 

Washed out ballast from the counterfort drain 

Barrow crossing employed 

The view from the top 

Sweeping the ballast 

Dumpy bags of recovered pea shingle 

After a hard day on the shovel, the site is fully cleared. Next job is to get 8 tonnes of 20/40mm stone to replace the shingle backfill. That's a bit too much to hand shovel so it might have to wait for a digger 😉


Down side cess drain uncovered 

The bank on the up side of Culvert 32A has collapsed, it's been undermined over the winter evidently. Not much can be done here, it'll all wash away in the next flood. 

A mini landslip into Tirle Brook at 32A 

Culvert 30B has acquired a log across the outlet steam, not sure how it got through the pipe.  

Might be beavers around here 🤣🤣

That's it for this week. Trains start running again on 13 April, you can book a ticket online at: 

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Back in the swing of things, almost

 Week Ending 13 March 2021 

Well, it's been almost a year of disruption, our last proper day working was 19 March 2020. This year there are no race trains, the Cheltenham Festival will go ahead behind closed doors next week, this will leave a huge hole in the local economy, the festival is the highlight of the jump season and draws crowds of over 100,000. Two gangs out last week, one on Tuesday and the other of Friday. 

Tuesday saw Dave and Nigel head off to Broadway, word had been passed that intruders were gaining access to the site by crawling under the palisade gates at the Springfield Lane end. The solution decided on was to bring up some hollow blocks removed from Gretton and Postcrete them in the gap. There's some old stock stored in the headshunt at Broadway so this made access a bit of pain as all the kit had to be carried along the six foot between the stock. 

Tuesday pictures from Dave. 

Permaquip trolley loaded with kit for the first leg of the trip 

Gap under the gate, might be rather big rabbits 😁

Dave and Nigel drew straws to see who would go for the block and who would dig a trench under the gate to place them. They both drew the short straw as both jobs were hard work. 

Loading the blocks at Culvert 24A, Royal Oak, Gretton 

Road - rail transfer at Broadway Station 

Next leg is to carry them along past the parked stock 

Spirit level out, proper job 👍

Blocks concreted in with Postcrete 

Scratch your way through there now! 

After all that exertion, they had a look under Springfield lane bridge to check the cess drains that carry the Broadway station surface water north. 

Lids dropped in! not sure what the 
attraction of this is 

Top ring removed for reseating 

Anti-vandal lids added to both drains 
with more Postcrete to secure the rings  

Job finished 

Overall, it was a bit of rude awakening after lockdown, a bit too much exertion for the first day back. 

Friday 12th and it was the expanded squad of Andrew, Martin and Michael down the other end of the line. That was after a stop-off at Bridge 6 at Laverton following a report of flooding under the bridge. Nothing too drastic, it was about 300mm deep so traffic was still getting through. After getting the gullies cleared the gang headed off to Bishops Cleeve to pick up on the culvert inspections where they left off last week. 

Pictures from Andrew unless marked. 

Bridge 6 at the beginning of February this year, 
a bit of water doesn't stop the locals 
(Picture: John B) 

Usual problems here, silt washed down from
 the fields blocking the gullies 

Gulley drains cleared out 

Surface water has drained away 

Inspection starting point was Culvert 38A down side, the up side is in somebody's garden so it's not accessible. 

Culvert 38A d/s headwall 

Culvert 38A d/s makeshift bridge 

Tracking down to Culvert 37G
this runs under the old farm track under the bridge 

Ash sapling growing near the running line
a perennial issue along here 

Near Bridge 37, more diggings
possibly 🦡

Low mileage end of the soil nails at Bridge 37 - 
marker post still in line 

Culvert 35A d/s at Gotherington 
Doesn't look like it's seen much flooding  

On the way back to base, the gang called at Dixton to look at the washed out gravel on the low mileage side of Bridge 33. This was reported back in February, but it wasn't causing an obstruction to the line so it was safe to leave it until work resumed. The gravel in the four foot was cleared away, the rest will be bagged up and taken away for reuse. Some spare 40-20mm stone will be used for backfilling when time allows. 

Pea gravel washout on the counterfort drain at 
Bridge 33 down side 
(Picture: Neil C)