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This page of news reports features the re-instatement of the dock siding at Horsted Keynes during the second half of 2002. All the images on this page are thumbnail views - click on them to see the full picture.


On Sunday 18th August, a start was finally made on reinstating the dock siding alongside the Carriage Works Extension at Horsted Keynes. The following set of photos illustrate the work undertaken that day by Graham Ward's volunteer p-way gang.

Dock Siding 18/08/02 Dock Siding 18/08/02

Dock Siding 18/08/02 Dock Siding 18/08/02

Above : Early morning saw sleepers being sourced and laid out ready to take the rails. By the time the 9F arrived on the 12.00pm from Sheffield Park, the sleepers had been spaced out and chairs prepared on the east side (nearest the camera). Compare this view with one from the same spot on the 19th May 2002 (bottom right), with the old S&T garages being emptied ready for demolition. This view also illustrates the one remaining major obstruction to the new siding, the signal at the south end of No.4 road. This should be moved to the new bracket on the right in a few weeks time.

Dock Siding 18/08/02 Dock Siding 18/08/02 Dock Siding 18/08/02

By late afternoon, the first rail was finally sliding into place, and after the last light engine had left for Sheffield Park in the evening, it was starting to look a little more like a siding again.

Work continued the following Sunday with the west rail of the northern panel, which had previously been resting in the chairs, being aligned and secured. The fact that we are using the old LBSCR (Brighton) chairs that have an extremely tight fit against the rails, combined with the odd heavy shower halting proceedings, meant that the panel was not completed until late afternoon. Our attentions then turned to making a start on the second panel.

Dock Siding 25/08/02 Dock Siding 25/08/02 Dock Siding 25/08/02

From left to right: After all the chairs had had their keys knocked in, the rail was barred over to conform to gauge, so that holes could be drilled into the sleepers ready to take the track screws. The nut runner, followed by a T-bar when the former decided to perform erratically (!), was then used to drive the screws home.

Paul Norris has provided the following report of the days work at the southern end of the siding, where it will eventually join up with the down yard.

As the dock siding leaves the yard spur there was an IBJ (Insulated Block Joint) which needed to be re-located 45 foot from the turnout. The existing track had been hurriedly laid as an engineer’s siding, so the existing rail had to be removed, the track bed dug out, and reasonable sleepers laid and re-aligned such that they will line up with the straight section alongside the dock itself.

With the co-operation of the S&T dept the first panel was totally removed prior to the morning shunt of the Vintage Branchline set from the yard. After the shunt the second panel was disconnected for rail changing and sleeper re-alignment. Graham had sourced replacement rail such that it could be cut accurately at 45 foot for the track circuit to be re-established. For the second panel eight of us carried the rail 45 foot prior to it being turned in. Julian greased the fishplates, with Lewis assisting in the tightening of the bolts.

Matters were not helped by the nut runner continually idling with the T bar adding to the fatigue of the volunteers. S & T checked all track circuit connections as functioning correctly. The third panel was dug out, sleepers and chairs laid and rail fitted by 19.00 such that we once again had a siding to safely berth the Wickham and its trollies.

Sunday 15th September saw Graham Ward's volunteer p-way gang once again in action on the dock siding. Paul Norris, Julian Plows and Tony Frost had almost completed the second panel at the northern end the previous week, as shown in the picture below.

Dock Siding 15/09/02

However, the fishplate joining the two rails on the west side of the siding could not be secured due to one rail being a 95 lb/yard rail and the other a 96 lb/yard one. Because the length from the end of the rail at which the fishplate holes are drilled depends upon the type of rail used (95 or 96), Graham had to cut half an inch off the end of the 96 rail. Then, despite the best efforts of the Brighton chairs to make this job just a little more difficult than it should have been, the keys were removed and the rail barred up so that a 95 four holed fishplate could be used to secure the two rails.

Dock Siding 15/09/02 Dock Siding 15/09/02

After the obligatory tea drinking session, we spaced out the sleepers for the third panel (above left). Meanwhile the extension leads for the drill and spark-plug for the nut-runner were receiving attention so that those sleepers that didn't already have chairs attached could be prepared. This was well underway by the time No.80151 arrived light-engine from Sheffield Park (above right).

Dock Siding 15/09/02 Dock Siding 15/09/02

Work then continued after a little confusion over which rail was to go on which side of the panel (above left), but by mid afternoon the first three panels had all been secured, keyed and bolted together (above right).

Our attentions then turned to finding and transporting suitable sleepers, rails, keys, chairs and screws for the rest of the siding from the salt yard to the dock, to be ready to form the next panel. This awaits the relocation of the No.4 road signal to the new bracket, scheduled for the end of October. However, ballast is required at the south end of the dock wall to make up the level, and a few wobbles in the rails need to be attended to first. To finish the day, after the last train arrived at Platforms 4/5 we removed an old and rather buckled sleeper by the new signal bracket on 4 road and replaced it with a new one.

A rather damp morning on Sunday the 20th October didn't deter the volunteer p-way gang from cracking on with the dock siding, finishing off the final panel and the curve to join up with the existing spur from the yard.

We had removed the remnants of the old signal post that was blocking the path of the siding the previous Sunday, with the resulting hole being filled in. Substantial progress had also been made with the fourth panel, so that a small amount of work securing the final few keys and chairs was required before the first four panels, covering the entire length of the dock, were complete.

The subtle approach The tamper arrives at Horsted Keynes
Left: The subtle approach - the siding is pushed over to give the correct clearance from the dock wall. Right: The (diesel) tamper arrives at Horsted Keynes.

Our attentions then turned to straightening and aligning the first four panels so that the track was safe and at sufficient distance from the dock wall to allow the Wickham trolley, and at a later date a ballast hopper, into the siding. Meanwhile, rails had been dragged into place to form the link between the existing spur and the fourth panel, and these were marked up and cut to length by Graham. Once this had been done, Martin drilled the holes in the rails ready to take the fishplate bolts. As this section was only seven sleepers in length, it did not take long to lift the rails in and secure them. During the afternoon tea break, the recently arrived tamper that will be on Bluebell metals in the coming week was sent up from Sheffield Park between service trains. It will be used on the pointwork, as well as the section of 3 road outside the signalbox at Horsted Keynes that we attended to and corrected three weeks ago, and not surprisingly drew everyone out of the C&W messroom when it arrived.

Cutting the sleepers Cutting the rail
These two photos from Tony Frost illustrate the section between the existing spur and the siding being prepared. Left, the concrete trough narrowed the path for the siding and so Martin had to shorten the sleepers. Right, Graham cuts the east rail to length.

Almost complete The gang
Left: In the early evening, the final few chairs and keys are secured before (right), the wickham trolley was pushed up to the far end of the siding so that members of the gang present at the time could pose for a photo.

After checking that the new trackwork was to gauge and making a few more subtle adjustments, at about 5.45 in the evening the Wickham trolley was ceremonially pushed down to the far end of the siding where the gang posed for pictures ! Although the rails are now in position, a large amount of ballast, followed by a fair amount of jacking and packing will be required before the siding can be considered complete. Needless to say though, we were quite proud of our days work !

Another murky morning at Horsted Keynes on Sunday 17th November saw an excellent turn out from the volunteer p-way gang, allowing good progress to be made on the dock siding. The first task of the day was to carry on where last weeks gang had left off, jacking and packing from the north.

Using site boards, the east side was tackled first, with the photo on the left (below) showing both the scale of the dip as well as the limit of last weeks progress, marked by the site board. After the track had been lifted, the voids under the sleepers were large enough to easily accommodate my camera (right) - this picture illustrates how much lifting was required, with the damp line on the sleepers corresponding to level of ballast in the foreground !

Dock Siding, 17/11/02 Dock Siding, 17/11/02
Before and not quite so before ! The dock siding being lifted for shovel packing of ballast, 17/11/02.

With voids this large to fill, it was not long before we started running out of ballast, and so shovelfulls of granite began to migrate eastwards. Suffice to say that any visitor to Horsted could now be excused for thinking that the rabbits have finally been thwarted by the netting on the fire slip, and have instead decided to take up residence in the ballast between the dock siding and four road !

Meanwhile, in order to obtain a near perfect track, Julian and Dave removed the fish plates and applied 1/8 or 3/16 inch shims to them before re-greasing the plates and replacing them to join the 95 to 96 rails. Where there was an imperfection on the rail ends, Robert ground off the edges such that a smooth running surface was obtained.

Once packing of the east side had been completed, the cant stick and jacks were used to bring the west side up to level and the process repeated. Just enough ballast was found to do this, although this situation should be rectified soon as Paul Robertson has planned a ballast drop in the Tuesday (postponed from today due to BBC filming) shunt. It is also planned to run a carriage into the siding to check clearances from running boards and so on, as well as seeing if there is enough room to open doors if stock is present in both four road and the dock siding.

Dock Siding, 17/11/02 Dock Siding, 17/11/02
Left: By lunchtime, the track had been lifted and levelled, and packing was well on course, with the remainder being left in the capable hands of Mr. Hailes. Right: S&T members busy installing the new signal (apologies for the terrible picture, it was getting dark, and this is the best my photo software would do with it).

After a final few subtle adjustments were made to the track and the curve from the yard, a general clear up of the area was undertaken, removing off-cuts of rail, sleeper and various tools that had been left lying around while the siding was under construction. Although a fair amount of shovel packing will be required once the ballast drop takes place, and possible further adjustments required as a result of the gauging trial, the siding is very near to completion now.

Towards the end of the day, members of the S&T department began unearthing large lumps of clay to the east of the southern end of the siding, the hole being filled shortly afterwards by a ground signal and its base. For the time being, this signal will be a non-commissioned mechanical shunt, requiring the signalman's authority to pass. As the ongoing Horsted Keynes re-signalling progresses, it will eventually be worked by the lever frame, with the position light signal being replaced by a proper Southern disk shunt signal.

With no more ballast left to pack, our thoughts turned to forthcoming projects. The next job is likely to be replacing old rails on the pit road of the Carriage Works, and after that our attentions will turn to the Ardingly spur. A large quantity of good quality sleepers are due to arrive (via rail at Three Bridges) in late November, being intended for use on the extension to East Grinstead in due course. In the meantime, it is intended to use a small amount laying a second Ardingly siding, although this will be done to 'main line' standards. Since 2003 marks the anniversaries of both the opening (1883) and closing (1963) of the Ardingly branch, it is hoped that this may be completed by next Summer, so that a short shuttle can be run from Horsted Keynes. This may well take the form of Terrier No.672 'Fenchurch' and the Queen Mary Brakevan, although full details are yet to be arranged. Laying the new 'siding' will be no small undertaking however, due to movement of stock to provide access, limited clearances as well as plant access considerations for the p-way buildings.

Tony Frost has sent me the following report of p-way work on Sunday 24th November, when he and Julian Plows were at Horsted Keynes working on the northern end of the dock siding.

By 4pm, the first 2 panels had been ballasted as far as we were able. During the previous Tuesday's ballast drop, the hopper had been unable to drop ballast at the far end of the siding so we spent most of the morning transporting ballast up to the dock end to spread between those first 4 sleepers. By the end of the afternoon there was some ballast between all the sleepers on the first two panels and sufficient ballast in about two thirds of those. Another panel had ballast ready to spread, but we ran out of daylight before we ran out of ballast. The photos show the result by the end of the day, but in the failing light they cannot do it justice.

Dock Siding, 20/11/02 Dock Siding, 24/11/02 Dock Siding, 24/11/02
Left: The dock siding on Wednesday 20th November after the previous day's ballast drop (Jon Bowers), and centre & right: at dusk on Sunday 24th after a day of spreading it out (Tony Frost).


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The pages detailing the changing track layouts and re-signalling at Horsted Keynes may also be of interest.
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Last updated 16th December 2002 by Jon Bowers, with grateful thanks to Paul Norris, Tony Frost and Peter Richards.
All Photos © Jon Bowers unless otherwise stated.
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