Sunday, 8 April 2018

Red Scarf Means Danger

Well we've finally got to Broadway, all those years of planning, dedication and hard graft by so many people has finally paid off.  Some of the crews on over the Easter opening weekend chose to mark the event in their own inimitable way, Ben for instance came over all patriotic:
Not quite wrapping himself up in the Union Flag...
...experimenting with flags as earrings...
...before opting to adorn the lamps with them
The above three photos all courtesy of Aaron Smith.

It was my turn to head out to Broadway on Monday, with John & Steve on Foremarke Hall. We just stuck with the prescribed "Return to Broadway" headboards, no flags for us. I'd like to be able to bring you a report of how fabulous the new station building is etc, but the timetable left just enough time up there to run around the train and head back again.  I'm sure that the station really is as excellently constructed as many of our other blogs would have you believe, it's just that I had no time to investigate it for myself.  I can see that I shall have to make a special trip out there to check it out at some point.
Steve manning the Broadway ground frame
Something which caught my eye on the Broadway section of the line was this bit of old broad gauge track which has been recycled into fence posts.  Nothing much too remarkable about that, I'm sat typing in my living room at home, less than a quarter of a mile from a number of examples alongside the big railway.  The curious aspect to this is that the GWSR line was built in the early Edwardian era to standard gauge.  This bit of track obviously never saw service on our line and must have been kept in store for a while somewhere before being transferred to its current duty.
Edwardian recycling
The new station at Hayles was out of use for the Broadway opening weekend, however it will be in use for the normal timetables throughout the year.
Passing through Hayles
Not far beyond Greet tunnel, John (driver) looked back down along his side of the train and threw in the brakes saying that he'd seen a red flag from the guard at the back of the train.  I looked back and sure enough, there was the red flag.  When we had stopped, in accordance with the rule book, I grabbed the token and set off along the north west (Malvern) side of the train to meet the guard and find out what was wrong and how we should proceed.  When I got to him, the conversation went like this:

Guard:  "Why have we stopped?" 

Me:  "Because you waved a red flag at us"

Guard: "No I didn't"

After a bit more of a chat, we determined that the guard would check back along the train and find out who had waved the red flag, then when satisfied that all was in order, he would display a green flag to indicate that we could proceed again.  I returned to the footplate, shortly afterwards a green flag appeared, and we carried on. Upon arrival at Cheltenham Race Course, a young lady came up to us and apologised, saying that she had been waving her red scarf out of the window to attract the attention of some of her friends. 

The weather forecast for Monday had predicted rain of biblical proportions lasting all day long and indeed the prep crew must have had a pretty miserable time of it.  By the time I had arrived to start the turn, and very much in spite of the forecast, the rain was easing off, we only needed to employ the broom under the storm sheet trick for the first round trip, after that we removed the storm sheet and enjoyed something approaching summery weather.
Visibility aid when running tender first
Although we crossed other trains at Gotherington, we were not scheduled to stop in the platform
Passing 2807 at Gotherington
As is usual on special timetables, a whole gang of volunteers were scrambled into action to police the barrow crossings and make sure that the passengers kept off of them whilst the trains were in motion.  Thank you to all of them, especially the ones who got stuck out in the rain at times for helping the day to run smoothly.
I think that is Kate under there
Dinmore Manor ran with an Easter Eggspress headboard when running south instead of the"Return to Broadway" headboard.  There was even an Easter bunny about on the platform at Winchcombe, but it hopped off before I could get my camera out.
Easter Eggspress
Running round again at Broadway
We had a footplate passenger for a while on one of the trips, this chap is the chairman of Foremarke Hall LTD, he wanted to grab some video footage from the footplate for their website.   It hasn't arrived there yet, but hopefully will some time soon
Looking very pleased with his loco
When I first started on the GWSR, it wasn't uncommon after heavy rain to see rain water gushing along the track bed, particularly in the vicinity of Bishops Cleeve.  This is not a good state of affairs and if not dealt with properly can result in landslips.  We know all about landslips on the GWSR.  Recent years have seen a small team of volunteers working diligently on the drainage channels and culverts etc that are to be found all along our line.  I am sure that they, like the rest of us are more than a little gratified to see that even after the recent heavy down pours of rain, along with melting snow, that the waters have remained in the drainage channels where they belong and haven't been wreaking havoc on the track bed.
Just one of the many drainage channels removing the excess water
The cleaner, Steve is a member of the 35006 group, so for him being on the left hand side of the footplate probably felt a bit strange.  That didn't seem to deter him though when I let him have a go at firing.
No trouble hitting the front of the fire box
From the footplate point of view, Broadway is a whole new experience, with the timetables that we have been running in recent years, apart from odd gala turns etc, they have all involved a lengthy layover at Toddington.  The upshot of that has been that heading north from Cheltenham, I had rarely found it necessary to fire once past Gotherington in order to let the fire die down in anticipation of the break at Toddington.  The new timetables are radically different, no longer than ten minutes at Toddington, typically around 15 minutes at Broadway, if you're lucky, a half hour break at Cheltenham Race Course.  This all meant that on Monday I found myself picking up the shovel in several strange new places in order to keep pressure and water levels where they needed to be. 
Crossing Dinmore Manor at Gotherington

Steve fetching coal forward
Another change to the plan, where on earth should I turn off the steam heat?  Going towards Cheltenham Race Course, I turn it off at the fixed distant signal, giving the steam heat pipes a bit of time to cool off a bit before I uncouple them.  Correspondingly, I always used the fixed distant just short of Didbrook when approaching Toddington as a cue when heading north.  Clearly that would be a bit premature now.  Eventually I settled on using this boundary marker sign as my cue when approaching Broadway.
Worcestershire here we come
The points at Broadway are for the time being operated as ground frames by the crew in the same way that we used to at Laverton, in fact these are exactly the same points as were used at Laverton.  The signal box will of course be commissioned at some point in the future and we won't need to go through this process any more.  Steve, the cleaner was rather keen to operate the ground frames, so he did it on the first couple of visits to Broadway.  I had a go on the last trip just for old times sake.
Foremarke Hall just past the points at the north end of Broadway station...
...and passing the ground frame at the south end.
Note that in the pictures above, the sun is shining, the forecast had been adamant that it would be otherwise.  Needless to say, nobody complained.

Once we had got back to Toddington after our third visit to Broadway, one of the diesels was timetabled to take our train over for the last trip down to Cheltenham Race Course and back.
The green class 37 sets off as we head off to dispose
Topping up the tender.
Locomotive failures when out on the line are (touch wood) a mercifully rare occurrence, however on Tuesday on the first of the normal Blue timetables to include Broadway, the class 47 failed at Cheltenham Race Course.  Foremarke Hall was sent down the line to rescue the entire train.  Eight carriages plus the weight of the class 47 was probably something like the equivalent of pulling 11 carriages.  I'm sure that the fireman enjoyed that.  Both the following photos are courtesy of Tom Wright.
Just about to set off from Cheltenham Race Course...
...safely back at Toddington
And finally, Dinmore Manor LTD are running a quiz, with a footplate ride on Dinmore Manor as the first prize.  The quiz entry form and conditions can be downloaded by clicking on this link, and hints to the answers can be found in this promotional video.  Best of luck!
You could win a footplate ride on Dinmore Manor (photo courtesy of Mike Solloway)
 I haven't had a turn on DInmore Manor for ages, maybe I should enter the competition.


  1. thanks to all the loco crews for making Easter so special for the GWR as you took passengers to Broadway . I have just seen Kate Rendell's excellent video on Jo Roesen's extension blog and ask if I may have a copy to show on my GWR talks .

    Could she contact me on - , many thanks john M.

  2. I did enjoy firing back from Cheltenham with 8 + class 47, even after a full day of firing.