Now that the Bus Garage building is complete we have been able to turn our attention to a number of smaller jobs, which always seems more interesting than plodding on with the same old job for month after month. On the other hand the bad weather has continued, but it was different bad weather. The rain which hardly stopped for ten months gave way to exceptionally harsh cold conditions made worse by strong winds from the North-East. Maybe I am getting older and more susceptible to the cold, but I do not ever remember getting so cold that I have to leave and go home to warm up!
Despite the poor conditions we seem to have covered quite a bit of ground. The benches on the platform are a recent new project spearheaded by Peter Smith and Syd Andrews. Several benches had rotten planks so three had been stripped down and the cast iron frames (with the magic letters) cleaned and painted. I weld repaired one which had been knocked over and smashed. Arc welding cast iron can be done using Nickel welding rods, and I managed to do this successfully although this was my first attempt at this technique.
In the past new planks had been fitted to benches without any attempt to radius the edges or corners producing an extremely unprofessional result, so we purchased a ¾" radius router cutter and having cut the ends of the new planks to the correct radius Bob and I whizzed round with the router producing a far better finish than previously.
The planks were then returned to Syd and Peter to treat, prime and paint. My final contribution is to convert dome head coach bolts to countersunk by forging them hot on a dolly (which we made to do the same job on the Thornycroft) and finish off on my little lathe.
The results are benches that are correct, look far more professional and are comfortable to sit upon. We intend to put radii on the boards on all the benches at the station over time.
I am very pleased to report that there is now a Heritage Committee set up on the railway, whose purpose is to ensure that any new developments are carefully considered before being actioned. This seems to have been a direct result of the controversy caused by the design of the proposed station 'improvements' at Bridgnorth. (I must say I could not believe my eyes when I saw the share prospectus! The original design was very, very modern, somewhat reminiscent of a public library, I thought!)
I know for a fact that several people have not bought shares as a result of this unfortunate 'first draft' but hopefully with the Heritage Committee looking at this project and any others following we will not compromise the fragile atmosphere of our wonderful railway. So all's well that ends well.
You will already know my attitude about 'getting it right'. I have banged on about it many times. I just cannot see the point of a compromise when it isn't absolutely necessary. After all the hard work done in the past by the S.V.R volunteers to make our railway arguably the best preserved line, there is no point in making do with second best. We should be aiming at even higher standards. It's the way we move forward, anything else is unacceptable.
I had a bit of a nasty shock during April. While working in the compound, Bob shouted, "Mick, the signal box is on fire!" And sure enough it was! Smoke was billowing from the roof and the Fire Brigade had just arrived on the scene to attend to the fire.
They covered all the electrical instruments with a plastic sheet and the S.V.R signalman alerted Railtrack that we were about to shut down. (Our box is interlocked with Railtrack because of the mainline connection). Then out came the hoses! The fire damage has now been repaired and Friends members have helped clean up smoke-blackened paintwork inside. This was very nearly a total disaster, but was thankfully caught just in time.
Mick Yarker. June 2013