As lockdown measures lifted the Tuesday gang could once again meet at Washford and begin to tackle the long list of tasks which have been on pause over the last few months.
As a new member of the board I have been trying to get to Washford regularly and over the coming weeks will attempt to update this blog as to the work that has been undertaken. For me May was a month of holes at Washford with several springing up across the site.
Recently the L&SWR Road Van and Ventilated Van have been moved to the Mid Hants Railway and join the PMV. With further moves planned over the coming weeks the main attention for the Tuesday gang has been the remaining vehicles. Immediate attention has turned to the Brake Gangwayed Coach (BG) which is currently in the shed. It has been showing signs of a leaking roof for several months and the gang have spent the majority of may repairing holes and waterproofing the roof. The BG is destined for the end of the new siding at Alresford station on the Mid Hants railway and will form part of the museum displays to be established over the coming months.
The LMS Covered Motor Car Van (CCT) has also been showing signs of letting in water and it was found that a whole side section was rotten and required replacement. The team have embraced the task and have removed the rotten wood and are currently working on ensuring the metal work is protected before beginning to replace the rotten sections. The CCT is destined for the Avon Valley Railway and will be a central component of the museum displays there.
Work had already begun in earnest to dismantle the museum exhibits, take down the signs and ready them all for transport to our new partners. Throughout the month this work continued at pace.
May saw the much publicised removal of the Midford Box recreation from the Washford Signal Box. This was very much a family affair with 3 generations of the Young family (Ian, Mark and Ben) working over several weeks alongside Mark Stanistreet and Peter Trenchard to carefully dismantle, remove and label all parts. What remains is a very large hole which is being made safe by replacing the floor. Everything is now in secure storage where the plan is for the items to be carefully cleaned and repaired where necessary before its eventual move to a new permanent home.
Following the Midford Box removal, attention turned to the remaining signalling artefacts across the site. The Burnham box which has been home to part of a Stevens Lever frame and an Whitaker Tablet Apparatus was next on the list. In a similar fashion the exhibits were carefully dismantled over the period of 1 day and have also been placed in secure storage. The 2nd Whitaker Tablet Apparatus that was alongside the line in the yard was also removed on the same day. The Burnham Box is now empty and plans are being developed to support its removal and transportation to Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway, where once again it will eventually be used as part of a signalling display.
The signal posts across the yard then became the focus of attention. The arms including the famous backing signal from midford have all been removed and we are taking the opportunity to conserve and repaint those that have suffered in the open air over many years. The Tuesday gang have been excavating around the posts to enable removal. Mel spent a whole day excavating the base of the Water Crane as we were not sure if it was connected to the water mains. This will be lifted out of the ground over the coming weeks at the same time as the Signal and Lamp posts. I captured Mel happy at work on a lovely sunny day in Somerset. Yet more holes!
Finally, I cannot go without mentioning the Progressing our Future appeal. All of the work above has so far been carried out by voulnteers but as we progress we are starting to experience professional costs. The appeal is vital to support us moving forward and to ensure we are able to continue to preserve what has been built up over 50 years. We are so close to raising £50,000, please consider giving what you can. Details can be found here: https://www.sdrt.org/appeal-for-the-future-of-the-trust/
Chris Ruddick, Projects Director