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Permanent Way News Archive : Mar-Apr 2003
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News Report: 24th April 2003

Three p-way working days were arranged over the Easter period, and most of the work was focused at Horsted Keynes. On Good Friday, the first task of the day was to reinstate the crossing across the recently relaid 'old' Ardingly siding so as to restore plant access to the p-way stores. A number of crossing timbers had been delivered to the Ardingly triangle with some of the processed sleepers earlier in the year, so it was simply a matter of dragging these to site and then trying to complete a rather large and heavy jigsaw puzzle! All that remains to be done is for the crossing slope to be built up using the loadall, and the timbers secured.

Ardingly crossing, 18/04/03 Ardingly crossing, 18/04/03 Ardingly crossing, 20/04/03

Construction of a crossing across the 'old' Ardingly siding.

Easter Sunday itself saw us making a journey from Horsted Keynes up to Kingscote in the Wickham trolley since a twist had been reported to be developing between the advanced starter and the home signal. This will need tackling in the near future and will probably take the best part of a day's work to put right. Of more concern was another twist at the northern end of the loop line - we will hopefully be able to correct the problem by the Kingscote gang meeting scheduled for the 4th May if enough chippings are delivered in time.

Once back at Horsted Keynes, we lifted a section of the main down yard headshunt, which involved the removal of the crossing to the Ardingly triangle. After much shovel packing, the crossing was relaid and the siding opened to traffic again in time for the evening shunt of the vintage branchline train, with No.73082 'Camelot' providing the steam-roller test of our work! Our attentions now turned to sleepers in the salt yard, and work continued on from that started on Friday afternoon, involving the removal of base plates, re-drilling and chairing up.

The following report from Easter Monday comes from Paul Norris.

The morning started with a saunter down to Three Arch bridge for a bridge inspection of fallen masonry, returning to the Salt yard in plenty of time before the first light engines of the day. Graham had worked until 8 PM the previous day, stacking processed S1 chaired sleepers into the Grampus wagon and laying fresh flat plate sleepers out for processing. The Torx screws were first removed followed by flat plates using the infamous 'Wigley' wedges and subtle Iron bar technique. About 20 sleepers were processed by Lunchtime.

Mr Robertson had been expected, to take some of us to East Grinstead, such that the Manganese rail (45, 60 and 90 foot lengths) removed from the Grinstead viaduct many years ago by us and Jim Turtle's team could be measured and assessed for transport to Horsted for the 'Hi-speed' Ardingly running line of a 1/3 mile. Unfortunately other Railway matters took priority, so Mr Robertson could not make it. Luckily for the assembled team the Hailes brothers, Paul and Mark arrived, eager to de-nude 45 sleepers for us to re-drill, gauge and affix S1 chairs to. Hence a very good afternoon's work was achieved. We estimate that about 300 sleepers have been processed out of the estimated 450 required for the new Ardingly line.

Hopefully the Salt yard will be re-organised and tidied over the next few weeks. The fittings (fish plates, bolts and nuts, keys) etc should arrive from Bermondsey this week, plus the other goodies from the East Grinstead compound and perhaps some Bullhead rail, currently residing in the upper car park at Sheffield Park from the Bermondsey job. David Wigley has decided to swap specific pan plates with a collector so at least some of the flat rail plates will be re-cycled.

I would like to offer a personal thanks to all the volunteers, who turned out for the Bermondsey job, hopefully this should be completed this week, with fittings to the Salt yard and rails to Sheffield Park. Also a big thanks for the great turn out over Easter Friday, Sunday and Monday to one and all. I am sure that the Railway appreciates how much effort goes into maintaining the running lines, and that the volunteers sincerely care and try to accommodate all wishes!


News Report: 11th April 2003
with photos from Tony Frost

The normal first Sunday of the month Kingscote gang migrated southwards to Horsted Keynes on the 6th April, where an early Easter present of six new High Visibility jackets with 'Bluebell Railway' proudly emblazoned across the back greeted us in the P-way Messroom. Now that we looked the part, it was time to set about some serious work and so we all clambered aboard the Wickham trolley for a ride down the line! On the previous day's trackwalk, Paul Emsley's sharp eyesight had spotted a crack in a fishplate near the demolished Town House bridge near Freshfields farm, and so we had a good excuse to put the recently overhauled Wickham through its paces.

Smile please... 06/04/03 Loading chippings at HK, 06/04/03

Left: Some of the gang pose with the Wickham Trolley at Horsted Keynes after returning from early morning work near Freshfields. Right: Chippings are loaded to be taken up to Vaux end for the day's work.

With a new fishplate in place, it was time to head back to Horsted Keynes where a supply of chippings and tools were loaded, before picking up the rest of the gang and heading north to Vaux End where a tamper had been busy the previous week. The chippings were offloaded and Graham Ward began marking up, and shortly afterwards the main running line was soon receiving our attentions after a 5 month break. By now it was time for Graham to take the Wickham back to Horsted Keynes to clear the line for No.75027 and service train to pass. By early afternoon, most of the joints on the Vaux end straight and the curve towards the new Horsted Keynes distant signal at Black Hut had been lifted and our supply of chippings exhausted.

Marking up at Vaux End, 06/04/03 New sleepers at HK, 06/04/03

Left: Graham Ward checks the cant at Vaux End. Right: Sleeper replacement at Horsted Keynes - the 6 new sleepers in the foreground replaced some severely rotten ones.

Once back at Horsted Keynes, the Wickham spluttered into life again to run to the north end of 2 road adjacent to the main running line where 6 rotten sleepers were replaced. This was done in two phases between the passage of service trains and the Golden Arrow; and the Golden Arrow and the next set of service trains, demonstrating the professionalism of the gang in working safely and efficiently on the main running line with the cooperation of the signalman, and without causing any delays to the frequent three train service.

The following day saw the start of the Bermondsey track removal, with an excellent effort by a large number of volunteers to brave the Monday morning rush hour for a an early start. Unfortunately, it was not until well after 12pm that the 'red tape' had been dealt with and the assembled workforce of 24 were allowed to enter the site to start work. In the delay of over 3 hours, understandably some volunteers left the site - our sincere apologies on behalf of Paul Robertson to everyone who was inconvenienced. David Pratt has provided the following report of the afternoon's activities...

We were finally allowed on site but were told that for the rest of the week volunteers would require hard hats and post every 5th person as a lookout to ensure no-one fell down the embankment! When we finally put the tools to work we had a good three hours which enabled us to remove all of the fishplates on one side, start on the first two pairs on the otherside and remove over 100 keys. When the nut runner ran out of fuel it was decided to call it a day and we all headed off exhausted but feeling we had put in a good effort considering the way the day had started.

33 rails bound for Sheffield Park left on a trombone lorry early yesterday evening, however help is still required on site - work over the next few days up to Wednesday 16th April will focus on the removal of the rest of the rails as well as stacking up the remaining fittings onto pallets ready for transportation back to the railway.


News Report: 18th March 2003
with photos from Tony Frost

A special shunt was arranged for Friday 14th March to clear all stock from the Ardingly spur, in preparation for the following working weekend when the entire siding was to be moved from the east to the newly re-profiled west side of the formation.

Ardingly siding, 16/03/03 Ardingly siding, 16/03/03

Above left: The siding after moving over to the west side of the formation early on Sunday morning, with jacking and packing underway in the distance. Above right: Looking the other way, with the last few panels to the buffer stop (just visible in the centre of the photo) left to move over.

This was done firstly by disconnecting the track panels. Two JCB's at each end of the panel lifted it from the east to the west side of the formation, where it was gradually lowered into place. An axe was used to obtain the correct gap between the rail ends so that the fish plates could be re-connected.

Ardingly siding, 16/03/03 Ardingly siding, 16/03/03 Ardingly siding, 16/03/03

The opportunity was taken to replace a number of rotten sleepers with some of those that we had been preparing in the salt yard over the past few weeks. Then the track could be jacked and packed to level using a supply of ash delivered by John Milham. The buffer stops at the end of the current siding are in too good a condition to be used in a siding likely to be shunted on only a few occasions a year, and so these were isolated ready to be connected to the new 'main line' siding that will be laid over the Easter period. A temporary alternative was installed at the end of the relocated siding, but unfortunately turned out to be too temporary, so this is a job for us to tackle in the coming weeks.

Sheriff Mill Viaduct, 16/03/03

Above: Looking towards Ardingly - the remains of Sheriff Mill Viaduct from the end of the spur.

Rail and other vital components for the new line will come from Bermondsey, and some dates in early April appear likely for removal from there.


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Last updated
11 July, 2003 by Jon Bowers with grateful thanks to Tony Frost, Paul Norris & David Pratt.
All photos © Jon Bowers unless otherwise stated.
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