I would like to thank Chiltern Railways for kindly sponsoring our Newsletter since the February 2010 issue. The use of their colour photocopier has saved the Friends a fair bit of cash, but now due to reorganisation they are unable to continue and we are back on our own. My printer is not designed for tasks of this magnitude so we shall just have to see how I get on. As a result the colour pages have been grouped together, so my apologies for a slightly awkward layout.
Needless to say if any reader knows of an organisation which could sponsor our Newsletter by copying it for us we would be very pleased to hear from them. We try at all times to make the best use of our funds, and apart from postage all the money we spend has been on our restoration projects.
On the subject of restoration, our gang have been carrying out a number of small projects since the last Newsletter, which could best be described as maintenance. As such they would not make very interesting reading in specific articles, but they are worth a mention here so that you can see we are busy on lots of fronts.
Some years ago dozens of Leylandii bushes were planted along the western fence of the car park. The inevitable has happened and they are now growing very vigorously. As nobody else seems to want to do the job we have taken it on or they will shoot up out of control and become a problem once they are 40ft high! The idea is to attempt to hold them back as a hedge 5ft high and 2ft deep.
The Wednesday Gang have concluded a massive clear-up removing everything from behind the Uffculme Building in readiness for the arrival of the 813 Fund's 1890's wagon body that is being restored. This will be mounted on a plinth between the cycle shed and the Pagoda behind the speartop fencing. We have a photo of an exactly similar van body at Aberystwyth which used to be used for storage, mounted on brick pillars, so this feature can be totally authentic. The Friends will no doubt make up some speartop gates to give access to this wagon body in the future.
The Uffculme building was so overcrowded with stored items that it had become of little use as a workshop. We, with the Wednesday Gang have identified all that is useful and re-housed it all. As a result the building is now available for its intended purpose once more. A worthwhile if time-consuming job.
Peter Smith has been winding the clocks for the gas lamps at the front of the building, but due to damaged mantles the internals have overheated and become distorted. We are in the process of replacing the damaged parts, and will keep a keen eye on them in the future to prevent this reoccurring.
Bob Leonard has painstakingly stripped all the loose paint on the lamp room building and primed it with garage door paint which should give a better key to the galvanised iron sheeting. He has finished it with undercoat and top coat to a very high standard, and is now well into the same process with the Pagoda. The end result will be a bay platform to be proud of - it had begun to look very down-at-heel. This work has been augmented by the Wednesday Gang with their afore-mentioned tidy up and the repainting of the Bike Shed, which thankfully was caught in the nick of time before the paint began to peel. They have also given the Uffculme Building a quick make-over and recovered the old Thornycroft tent behind it, as a dry area for painting large items such as platform benches. This tent is far from ideal as it is not the sort of structure you would expect to find on a Great Western station, but it is something of a necessary evil. It now has a dark brown cover rather than the vivid white and so can no longer be seen from space. It doesn't really notice from the platforms either, which is far better.
Finally, we managed to get the tree stumps pulled out of the car park and levelled the area by hand, filling the holes with spent ballast, concrete and ash to produce a reasonably level area to park upon. Every parking space is of financial value to the railway as well as a benefit to our passengers who do not want to drive around town looking for an alternative place (and miss their train doing it). This clearance was something of a job done in the nick of time. During the recent Enthusiasts Weekend the extra parking available went some way towards making up for a giant pile of earth in the car park. It was dug out from the new point connection with the main line and its removal has been subject to delay after delay. For effective use of our valuable car park we also need is get two lorry containers, a travelling crane, an old Iron Fairy crane, a Radial drill, a signal gantry, two diesel loco engines, hundreds of old sleepers, and some canopy parts moved... and the car park will be clear!!! Unfortunately it is a losing battle and a major black mark against our station and the railway. Hardly a month goes by without more stuff arriving. It should be remembered that every car parking there is adding £3 to the 'bottom line'; one hundred percent profit of the railway at no cost and no effort.
Surely this makes clearing the rubbish good common sense?
Mick Yarker. October 2012
The Pagoda and the Lamp Hut have both seen a great deal of attention from Bob Leonard as neither has been repainted since the early days of the friends and in both cases the paint had begun to peel, especially on the roofs.
This left no alternative but to scrape off all the loose or suspect paint and to paint the bare metal with garage door paint, which has chemicals to help bond to galvanised steel sheeting. This was followed by a coat of undercoat and two coats of finishing gloss. The end result is wonderful. Bob has taken a great deal of care to ensure that the finish is smooth and free from runs and other blemishes for a truly professional finish. All too often paint is applied in a haphazard way as if done by 'Stevie Wonder wearing boxing gloves' with runs, streaks, missed bits and paint on the glass. This is not how a professional painter works and the Great Western employed the best painters.
Some other lesser items have also been attended to. The two wheelchair ramps have been repaired and repainted in G.W.R Factory Brown and lettered Kidderminster. They were not of G.W.R vintage, of course, so the magic letters were not applied. However, a quick rub down and a coat of paint has spruced them up a bit and the colour matches the Great Western barrows on the station so that these modern items do not look so out of place.