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Permanent Way News Archive : Mar - Jun 2004

Over the past few months, the Sunday gang have been progressively working their way along the main-line, exami ning and packing joints where necessary. Almost all the joints between Monteswood Lane bridge and the south portal of the tunnel have required lifting, and apart from Horsted Keynes station limits, this section is now complete. However, a few places have required repeat visits, and these problems will be addressed over the next few weeks.



During this period, the weekly gang attendances have ranged from a high of 16, to a low of 2 people, meaning that the length of track serviced from week to week has varied. The weather has generally been kind to the Sunday meetings recently, apart from one particular day in April when working on one o f the more picturesque sections of the line at Holywell (above). On this occasion, much of the day was spent in the shelter of the nearest P-Way hut. However, this did give Mark Hailes an opportunity to perfect the art of burning toast at lunchtime (left) !

By way of a change from jacking and packing, the Easter weekend saw us busy in the Carriage and Wagon yard at Horsted. Under the direction of Graham Ward, the r ails on the inspection pit were to be renewed, and the opportunity was also taken to improve the ends of the pit by digging out the mud and clay at each end of the pit and replacing it with ballast, as well as replacing the rotten wooden sleepers with concrete ones.

CW pit 1 CW pit 2 < a href="04_013.jpg"> CW pit 3

The photos above left and centre show this work in progress on Easter Sunday. A concrete apron was subsequently installed around the pit, as seen in the photo on the right with the LBSCR Stroudley First No.661 in attendance on the 13th June.

Unloading rail at West
 Hoathly Extension, 2nd May 2004

On a number of occasions, we have also taken delivery of rails for the northern extension at West Hoathly (above left), as well as delivering materials to the railhead for the extension team (above right, photo from Steve Garratt).

Horsted House crossing

Holywell re-sleepering On the 30th May, the foot crossing at Horsted House farm was temporarily dismantled so that the joint underneath it could be lifted and packed (above). Once back at Horsted Keynes, the main gang set to work re-sleepering a siding in the up-yard, while Tony Frost and Nick Beck went up to West Hoathly to receive a further 2 lorry loads of rail for the Northern Extension. In the evening, a number of rotten sleepers were replaced in the Holywell area (left), before we returned to Horsted for the last time to sample the BBQ and social evening!

In early June however, the Wickham trolley had to be taken out of service - and as is so often the case, it's only when you don't have something that you realise how much you miss it! However, the replacement bus service soon swung into action (more commonly know as Mark Hailes' van, to whom many thanks are due) and so the 1st Sunday gang still managed to get in a good afternoon's work on the track!

Kingscote slewing

Scenery! After the tools had been delivered to Kingscote, we spent the day working southwards from the station. As well as jacking and packing, some slewing of the rails adjacent to the signalbox was also required, and by the end of the day, we were working in the pleasant countryside near Mill Place farm (left). Thanks must also go to Paul Hailes for his recent efforts towards keeping some of th e drainage ditches clear of vegetation (right). 3 Arch ditch clearance

The Wickham is currently awaiting some replacement parts to be made at Sheffield Park, and so we have had to cancel the 1st of three tunnel evenings planned for this Tuesday (22nd June). However, the repair will be complete in time for the tunnel evenings of the 7th and 20th of J uly to go ahead. We will start once the last train has departed southwards from HK, aiming to finish around 10pm. It's nice and cool (and damp !!) in there in on a hot summer evening, and is a very different working environment from normal, even without trains passing through. Please note that the tunnel is strictly out of bounds under normal circumstances (including during the daytime running of each of these days) and these are working sessions, but none the less a rare opportunity to experience it away from the carriage window and get some exercise and help the railway at the same time! There is a lot of work to be done, so all help would be greatly appreciated, even if you can only spare an hour or two. If you're free on any of the above dates (and a current Bluebell member), please email me.

Click here for news from January to March 2004.

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Last updated 7th September 2004 by Jon Bowers.
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