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This photo (right) shows the bridge parapet immediately south of the viaduct. The brickwork has started to be repaired and some of the coping stores have been replaced. As this is a double-faced wall, the side not visible in the photograph needs to be rebuilt. The problem here is that the track underneath remains in use. This will therefore need scaffolding, or at least a working platform, to be constructed to allow safe working.
The walls within the viaduct have much of the original pointing either missing or very loose. This has to be raked out using chisel and hammer along the mortar lines. Much of the brick laying has been done with a weak sand/cement mix, using burnt earth in place of sand in some places. With this in mind it certainly hasn't detracted from the strength of the bond, and where in some places the brick face has 'blown', it is quite difficult to cut the bricks out for replacement. All the raked mortar lines have to be brushed out, treated with weed killer to prevent any re-growth of vegetation, an application of PVA to provide stability before re-pointing can take place.
The photograph (left) shows a length approximately half the distance between two refuge points on the southwest wall.
The graffiti is of several years in age, and whilst some new 'artworks?' have appeared, it is not returning in abundance. This has much to do with the regular attendance of workers during the week and the two gates at each end of the viaduct
In certain areas the brick face has 'blown', or become so eroded, that the whole brick has to be cut out. The photograph (right) shows the positions of three such bricks (arrowed) that have failed. In this case, they have been cut out and replaced with a 'new' brick. This has to be sized and if possible matched in colour. These bricks will then be bedded in new mortar and pointed in.
Some thirty bricks, or part bricks, have already been cut out in an area representing one refuge to refuge length of wall on one side. Given this as an average, there could be five to six hundred to cut out. At least this can be mechanised with a percussive drill.
After the very laborious task of raking, weed killing, and PVA application, the skill of the craftsman takes over to re-point the bricks. The photo (left) shows some two-thirds of the wall between two refuges having been completed. The lower section of the wall has still to be re-pointed. The mix comprises sand, lime and cement, hand trowled and cut in, which in the hands of a professional looks quick and easy. It is certainly of a very high standard compared to the work on the coping stones done last year. The finished colour is complimentary to the original whereas the coping stonework is very 'buttery' in colour and a much weaker mix.
Our most recent activity has concentrated on preparing for remedial work to the brick walls above the cattle creep immediately south of the viaduct. This has involved removal of old mortar and damaged bricks, plus cleaning the coping stones that will eventually be reinstated across the top of the two walls, as seen in the photo below.
Although work on the excavation of spoil at Imberhorne Lane was
temporarily suspended, whilst the area receiving the spoil at the end of the Ardingly spur has been receiving attention, the picture below shows the situation at the end of August. Work has since re-started on the excavation at Imberhorne Lane.
There is probably about another twelve feet in depth to be dug out and
the cutting will be widened to the original alignment.
Today (6th June) the train was limited to two Grampus, however, from tomorrow this should be increased to five wagons. Loading the wagons took about five minutes each so that part of the operation will not be a limiting factor; pathing with the scheduled service and unloading may well be. It is hoped that we will be able to load two trains per day. The initial plan is to clear sufficient spoil to allow more track to be laid which will facilitate side-loading from the spoil heap.
The wagons are worked down to Horsted Keynes, where they are unloaded on the newly laid Ardingly line, creating infill to rebuild the removed section of the embankment towards the former Sherriff Mill Viaduct.
Other recent activities have concentrated on the completion of the re-wiring of the fence and some remedial work to the fence.
You might also like to look at Chris Dadson's photos taken that day, and Jon Bowers' Report, Photos and Videos of the occasion
By last autumn the track laying was completed as far as it could go, i.e. the Imberhorne Lane Bridge, where the tip starts. This photo, taken on 19th February 2005 by Chris Dadson, shows the end of the track.
The first section of infill, on this side of the bridge, is not actually part of the main tip, and is sandstone and soil believed to have been excavated during the conversion of the former railway cutting towards Tunbridge Wells into the East Grinstead bypass. It is planned to relocate this material elsewhere on the Bluebell for engineering purposes, building up the embankment towards Ardingly which was partially excavated many years ago.
You can see more of Chris Dadson's photos taken that day on his Fotopic site.
As seen in this photo from Martin Oakley, we are making steady progress and have now
entered the double track width section past Ash Lea Farm heading up towards the South face of the tip. Further levelling of
the trackbed in the vicinity of Hazelden Farm is taking place as time
On 15th March 2004 a meeting was held with Chris White (Infrastructure Director) and the various groups working on the Extension to discuss the plans for completing the project. Briefly, the remaining part of the project is broken down into three phases: south of the tip to Kingscote, the tip and north of the tip to East Grinstead. The immediate priority is to complete the section south of the tip and to achieve this the various groups have combined to complete the outstanding work.
The push to lay track up to the tip started in earnest on 22nd March and work will continue most days. So far an initial layer of ballast has been laid along the "narrow" stretch (photo left) and track laying has commenced. The transition from bull head on wooden sleepers to flat bottom on concrete sleepers has been made (photo above) and by 17th April ten panels of flat bottom rail had been laid. Progress is limited by the rate that materials can be brought to the rail head and the fact that much of the rail needs the ends cutting (photo below) as it was gas cut when it was removed from its previous location. As the team gains experience the process should speed up: the target is to have the track laid to the tip by July.
If you are a member and would like to help, please contact Ron Harwood on 01342-313883 (it is essential that you wear steel toe-capped boots and heavy duty gloves). Please remember this is a construction site and casual visitors are not allowed.
Since then, weather permitting, they have been supporting the Wednesday gang's
efforts in lineside clearance in the Holywell area (as seen in this photo). They will continue with
this activity until the weather improves and can return to East Grinstead
to commence work on the viaduct.
The first of the rail is seen here being unloaded at West Hoathly by the volunteer P-Way Gang (photos from Jon Bowers). The policy is that flat-bottomed rail and concrete sleepers will only be used on plain line outside station areas, to maintain the traditional ambience.
The latest Extension Progress page is here.
Archive 10 (2011).
Archive 9 (2010).
Archive 8 (2009).
Archive 7 (2008).
Archive 6 (2006-7).
Archive 5 (2004-5).
Archive 4 (2003).
Archive 3 (2002).
Archive 2 (April - Dec 2001).
Archive 1 (October 2000 - February 2001).
An eariler report on progress (April 2000) from Jim Turtle is in the News Archive.
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