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Sunday 18 March

Track Pack - June 2016

July Working Weekend

With sleeper changing forming the principle activity at the last two get togethers, a slight deviation is the order of the day, or part of it anyway, this time. Ashey Station will be the centre for activities on Saturday with some fencing repairs and renewal to carry out on the “Cricket Pitch” between the main crossing and platform. Some carefully hoarded heritage concrete posts are available to replace the slowly deteriorating existing wooden ones. As many of you will remember, this area was used for materials handling during the construction of the Smallbrook Extension (25 years ago!), so the ground may put up a bit of resistance to receiving the posts.

Also to be done - the return fences beside the crossing grids are in need of replacement and the stumps from the felled trees opposite the Station House can to be tidied up. For those who are getting bored with boring, there is always the old favourite of grass cutting around and about the station using a variety of implements.

Depending on how well it all goes, and if everything gets finished, the plan is to pick up the sleeper changing where it was left off last time, within sight of Ashey Ground Crossing. If things go as expected sleeper changing will be the activity to carry on with on the Sunday.

What's Been Going On?

A Wickham trip on the fine Saturday morning of the May working weekend saw the latest round of sleeper changing start at Deacons Lane Bridge by 9am. After a slowish start, during which a family of toads had to be rehoused, good progress was made amongst a Blue Day service towards Ashey Summit. A total of nine sleepers had been changed by dinnertime, the size of the Gang meaning some ballast fettling could also be carried out.

Reinforcements arrived early on the last Smallbrook service before the break (about 1.30pm) and suitably refreshed activity continued Westwards. The full batch of twenty sleepers were dealt with in good time, and a celebratory trip was taken by rail back to Havenstreet. Such good time was made that the trip could be taken via Smallbrook.
With a smaller gang in attendance on Sunday “only” twelve sleepers were put aboard the trolley to be laid out along Ashey Grounds. Rather than restart at Saturday’s finish point   , it was thought best to leave the residents of the Station House with a peaceful Sunday (apart from a train every half hour.) A dozen of the exchanged sleepers were now loaded aboard the trolley, along with the tools. The sleepers were taken to Havenstreet, the tools dropped at the new start point, in time for the start of the Train service at 10.30am.

Unfortunately the worksite wasn’t the best choice given how the weather turned out, it getting hotter and brighter as the day wore on. No amount of slip, slap, slop seemed to make much difference and it was quite pleasant to find a shady tree, one of only a few, to have dinner under. In spite of getting sweatier and redder everyone pressed on to get the dozen sleepers in by 3.10pm, by then being ready for a van ride back to Havenstreet.

Many thanks to everyone for their help over the weekend.

What Else Has Been Going On?

As is usually the case at this time of year, attending to the various grassed areas of the lineside keeps everyone busy. After a concentrated effort over the last couple of weeks or so, most places have received a visit, some, especially around some crossings, for a second time this year. “Bobs Bank” and its neighbour opposite have both been completed (for now) and a “swaith” was cut from there, via Packfield Crossing as far as Wootton Distant Signal.
The Signalling installations have received their quarterly round of inspection, testing and lubrication.

After completing both banks between Long Arch and Deacon’s Lane Bridge the Friday gang moved back to Rowlands Bridge. From there to Bridge Seven the whole Northside bank was cleared, importantly as it maintains the sighting of Havenstreet’s Down Outer Home Signal. Flushed with success, they moved onto the area behind Havenstreet Booking Office, clearing the way for the upcoming alterations.

All the best,

Ian, Phil and Pete.





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