Monday, 28 April 2014

CRC2 is taking a holiday today, as our two principal brick layers are otherwise engaged. Back next week, promise ! We want to finish off the first half of the wall, and get going with the pea gravel and rear drain.

In the meantime, something interesting to look at:

This bottle was found  at Broadway in the ash debris that also contains a lot of GWR china. In fact I was amazed to find just one such poiece of GWR leaf edged china in front of the signal box at CRC. Thrown out of the window of an early race train?

This bottle is a Codd bottle (named after its inventor) which had an inbuilt marble that contained the pressure within it. Children often broke the empty bottle to get the marble out, as in this case. The writing is intriguing:

Refreshment Dept.

I had no idea that the GWR produced their own mineral water, and certainly not at their principal engineering site. The china I am finding always refers to GWR hotels in Paddington. Speaking to an auction house (on another matter) recently, I heard that these bottles are quite scarce, only 5 or 6 are known. Were it in good condition, this one would fetch up to £500. Alas, ours is broken at the top, but as a museum exhibit it is still of interest, and all the writing is still there. A bit of history then.

A second bottle came out of the ditch at Broadway:

It amazes me how many quite local businesses had their own glass bottles. I have managed to puzzle together the owner of this bottle, from the few letters that remain:


I showed the bottle round the cabin at Broadway, and immediately there was a shout of recognition - a relative of a member had actually worked in this shop.
The shop was in High Street and they had two shops in Moreton, one being a large general store. It was the sort of place that you could buy tea from a tea chest, measured out to your exact weight.

On the rear of the bottle is the manufacturers' name: Powell & Ricketts. This was a Bristol firm, of which I found the following information:

Powell and Ricketts, glassmakers:  Although the Bristol glass industry had begun to wane by the nineteenth century, the city skyline was still dominated by the sight of the glasshouses’ tall, conical, brick-built kilns. Bristol had been well-placed for the manufacture of glass because it had local access to the necessary raw materials (sand, kelp and clay) and to the coal needed to heat the kilns, mined from coal fields just outside the city. Demand for glass came from the local wine and mineral-water bottling companies as well as for building and domestic use. The last working glasshouse in Bristol was Powell and Ricketts. Henry Ricketts was a partner in Bristol’s Phoenix glasshouse from 1802 until its closure in 1851. This had been Bristol’s last glasshouse to make the high quality flint glass now known as lead crystal. Henry’s youngest son Richard joined the firm in 1845 and, after its closure, ran the Soap Boilers’ bottlehouse. This was amalgamated with the neighbouring Hoopers’ glasshouse in 1853 to form Powell, Ricketts and Filer, later Powell and Ricketts, which went into receivership in 1923.

So the latest the bottle could have been manufactured was 1923 - it's pretty old. I wonder what F. Horne sold in it?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Monday! Well, it's still a Monday so a gang of us wriggled out of our family commitments and laid some bricks. John O even signed in at 07.30, and out again at 08.30, after which we spotted him on a passing passenger train! I must say, the result is there, the first half of the long platform 2 wall is within 2-3 working days of coming to a conclusion, as far as brick laying is concerned.
John ' butters'  a brick
John laid a row of corbelling blues on the 80m section, and Tony backed him up. Enormous quantities of slushy brown ' muck'  were produced by Brian and splashed on the top layer, making it nice and smooth, ready to receive platform slabs. We now declare the 80m section finished!

John S is not happy with his ' muck'. Well, brick layers rarely are...
John S finished off the blockwork on the 100m section, another piece of work that swallows a lot of slushy 'muck' . In fact, to infill the gaps, the mortar has to be quite liquid, and with the lovely warm weather today, the mortar was going 'off' relatively quickly, leaving John S with a firm pile of it that he could no longer use. Back in the barrow it goes. Add water, stir it round, shovel it back out.

In the background we can see Bob busy on the 90m section. He laid two rows of blues there, and then moved on to the 100m section and laid a course of blue stretchers. The 90m section ended the day one course short of the corbelling course, so also nearing completion. Great!

Dinmore Manor trundles in to CRC

As today was an operating day with ' Easter Eggspresses' we got to see two train running, both steam. I'm afraid yours truly could not reist the temptation to wander off and take a few snaps, from positions not normally available (trackside, or on the platform 2 foundations).

I like the idea of an ' Eggspress', now how about a ' Brickspress' in honour of the brave gang from Broadway?

5542 also trundled in. Nice loco! John takes a moment to stretch his back, ahhhhhhh!
It's nice to see the trains (better than working alone, on a rainy day) but it does mean that once an hour we have to clear up and remove everything from the loop, so that the loco can get by while running round. They whistle as they approach, we stand up and acknowledge. It works well.
Here John S comes to the end of the blockwork course, after which he laid a row of red headers, and this last wall is now starting to rise.

This is what we do best! More tea, anyone?
At lunchtime, we got the chairs out and sat in the sun, watching the trains go by. When challenged, Dinmore Manor has quite a bark, as you can see here:

' Working on the railway'
 I guess smaller engines have to work harder (no longer a Hall, but a Manor pulling the train) so the exhaust bark gets sharper. It was lovely to listen to.

Oi !!! Who did this?

 Things were going swimmingly, until Bob noticed that 'someone' had displaced one of his newly laid blues. A criminal offence, or should be. Hanging is too good for this individual, if we can find him. Ah - hum.

Dinmore Manor with its 7 coach train

At the end of the day, we had laid 700 bricks. A bit less than usual, but we were two brickies down, and one of our muck makers has gone off to Australia (no it's not the one that displaced Bob's brick, but it is a suitable fate for this individual). 80m section signed off, 90m section nearly up to corbelling, 100m section now above the blocks and rising.

Here is a picture of what we have achieved so far:

Taken near the end of the day (the work is covered up to prevent rain from getting in) it shows the 90m section in the foreground, and the completed 80m section, also covered up, in the middle distance. The remaining 70m stretch away into the distance. It looks really long now, doesn't it? The drain pipe placed last week is also just visible. One of the next jobs will be to cover this in pea gravel, then the back filling can start. We have located a source of suitable material, and are waiting for it to arrive.

Monday, 14 April 2014

What a sunny day today - for the first time in 2014 I had to put on sun tan lotion in order not to come back crimson.
Today was going to be a bit of a logistical day, so after an extra appeal for help we were 10 on site, of which no fewer than 6 (!) were brick layers.
John finishes a course of corbelling, while John (there are too many Johns on site....) starts a fresh row of reds on the 90m section.
The second row of corbelling bricks was added to the 80m section - one more to go, to tick this one off - two rows of blues and reds were added to the 90m section, and a row of blues was added to the 100m section. Also on the 100m section, Peter Q spent the day on his hands and knees laying 55 blocks and 146 reds underneath. Due to the varying levels between the original courses of bricks that remain, and the new concrete foundations, the blocks are mostly stood on edge, but on the 100m section had to be laid on their sides, on top of a row of reds. Complicated, but we are now at the right height. A total of 1035 bricks was laid, pretty good, and it just goes to show how the pace of work improves with the better weather. No more sucking the water out of the holes in the blues with a converted hygrometer! We also took up all the scaffolding boards behind the wall, as the water underneath them has gone ! What a change with this beautiful weather.

Have a concrete block...
Unfortunately, as we had to lay the blocks on their sides, we ended up with too many for this section, and 35 of the 90 we had trundled down and stacked had to be taken away again. Backwards, and forwards... then backwards again.

Rod digs out the catch pit by the former waiting room.
Exceptionally today, we were supported by Rod, another Broadway stalwart, who after moving the concrete blocks around somewhat, attacked the old catch pit with vigour and a large sledge hammer. He did better than Brian and yours truly managed with a Hilti, very impressive. Only the bottom two courses remain on this construction; the back wall of it will remain and eventually it will be rebuilt. For the time being it has to come down, as it sticks out and will impede the passage of the dumper we will be using to back fill the platform.

Lunch time at last! Rod, Bob and Peter enjoy the sunny south at CRC.

At 1pm we downed tools and pulled out the chairs from the cabin, to enjoy a well deserved half hour in the sun. Best part of the day, that. There was a slight panic as the boxed set of 16 mini Swiss rolls purchased only last week seems to have largely disappeared - where did they go? No one would confess to any knowledge about their short lived fate, all heads turned into another direction.

It's a very long pipe...
After lunch Fairview came with a supply of drain pipes, as well as 5tons of sand. I think it is fair to say that John O has more or less single handedly shoveled the previous 5ton pile into the mixer, added cement from 25Kg bags he fetched from the container, and then wheeled the mix way down the site in barrow loads until it was all gone. And then Fairview delivered another 5 tons. Well done John !

It's my pipe, and I can smoke if I want to.
Those pipes were rather awkwardly long and there were 37 of them. How to get them to the other end of the site? After we broke up from lunch, we had the bright idea of each taking one pipe on the way back, and soon the pile had shrunk to nothing. The to-ing and fro-ing with long pipes did lead to a few 'Laurel and Hardy' type moments though. Ask a a man with a long pipe over his shoulder a question, and he will instinctively turn round :-)

A development today was that we have now completely cleared the rear of the first 70 meters of new wall, and started laying the drainage pipes that lie at the bottom of the rear, feeding the cross pipes that peep out at the front every 10 meters. Using scaffolding boards we boxed in the pipes, ready to receive pea gravel. This will be repeated at a second level; then the rear of the platform will be built up with crushed concrete in layers of 9 inches each. At the current rate of progress, it looks as if we will start doing this in May. During this time, brick laying will stop, while we drive up and down the foundations and behind the wall with a small dumper.

The southern end of the new platform today.
The picture above shows the new drainage pipe boxed in, ready to receive pea gravel.

Finally we received a visit today from BBC Radio Gloucester. They came to do a small report on our activities, and Bob Stark and yours truly were interviewed.
Bob Stark and the Radio Gloucester interviewer, under the famous races poster.

If I can find out when it will go on the air, I will blog it.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

It was decided to change the regular Monday working to Tuesday this week because of the dreadful weather on Monday.  This turned out to be the right decision as the weather today was great, and it was also a running day, so the guys on site were somewhat distracted by the 8F steam loco and the DMU.  There were five volunteers on site: John C, Bob, Tony and John S on bricklaying, with John O doing all the mixing and mortar movement.  

John C reaches the end of the 70m section with the final row of corbelling. Another one ticked off ! Tony follows on behind with backing up in red.

Great progress was made with the 70m section completed and the first half course of corbelling laid on the 80m section by JC and Tony, John S and Bob put two courses of blues and reds on the 90m section and then Bob laid a further two courses of blues on the 100m section.  All in all some 850 bricks were laid today. And the finished section now totals 70 meters, exactly one third of the way there, with 3 more sections on the way.
John S almost on his hands and knees at 90m. The pile of slabs to the rear marks the half way point.

Particular mention should be made of John O who manfully kept them all going with mortar.  This involved some twenty mixes (!) and transporting the mortar around 120m each time.  He certainly earned some brownie points today. 
A rather manic John O !

Finally, a mystery bottle from Broadway, found only last week along the station approach. Clearly for ginger beer; but can anyone say anything about the company, and a possible period for it?  Would this post-date the station opening in 1904?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Following Toddington Ted's very helpful description, I have received this detail of the emblem:

That's it ! Mystery solved.
Thank, you, Toddington Ted !

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Here's the picture I mentioned yesterday:
Can you help describe this?
I was given to me by Bob Stark of the Cheltenham Area Group, and is in the form of a heavily worn print, which I have improved as much as I can. The caption simply says Winchcombe 1907, so is apparently two years after opening. I think it's a great picture of a railmotor, with, I suppose, a proud stationmaster.

This is the sort of picture I would like to put into the 'Cornishman' as part of my 'From the Archives' series. Can anyone help me describe it?

In addition, I have a couple of questions:
Can anyone correctly identify the man (stationmaster?) standing on the platform?
The water filler hatch next to him shows that the vehicle is a later, or subsequently modified example. Does that tie in with 1907?
There should be a number above the large panel, but even on close up this does not seem to be there. Any ideas?
What is the emblem in the large panel? it looks like a tall bird, like a heron. Is it merely decorative?

Looking forward to your comments!