20th-22nd March 2020

Well, the country might be shutting down but work still continues, albeit carefully, at Levisham.  Up the line we have hired the digger again, for a 4 day long weekend, to continue our clearance works.  Two new ditches have been cut on the east side of the line where water was passing through the track.  As soon as we started the north ditch the bankside immediately started discharging water.  This ditch is draining into a cross culvert just south of the 15MP.  The southern ditch has already been fitted with a perforated pipe and surrounded by gravel, as the hillside is moving.  The land around the No Sheep Hut has been cleared and levelled, with the southside drainage ditch recut.  The roadside along the track has been widened south from No Sheep to the 14.5MP.  The blocked ditch below the incline hillside, which we cleared last year, has been dug out and the culvert entrance opened up.  The No Sheep Hut itself has been taken to the Station to allow it to be rebuilt.  The last of the scrub between the 13¾ and 14 mile posts has also been burnt in another large fire.

Meanwhile back at the Station, work has continued on the new fencing panels for the Camping Coach steps.  The Waiting Shelter bench, and then the Guard Van side, has received further coats of paint.  Two more gradient boards have been brought back to the Station for cleaning down and repainting.

14th, 15th March 2020

For a change we have been to Pickering on Saturday – to chop down some trees there!  These were in the way of a new fence and also blocked the sighting for the newly positioned 10 Signal.  All were down by lunchtime and logged up.  The large amount of scrub there is now waiting to be burnt, once it has had a couple of weeks to dry out.  At the same time the rest of the gang were up at Kidstye, burning more scrub on the west side of the line there.  Several leaning trees were also felled, with the scrub going straight onto the fire.

On Sunday a new fire was lit on the west side nearer more scrub, whilst another on the East side towards Newtondale Signal Box base has finally disposed of the last on this side of the line.

Meanwhile, back at the Station, painting continues on the rail ends – including some more just cleaned off – and the Waiting Shelter seat has had a second coat of undercoat.  The platform edges have been cleaned off, ready for white line renewal.  In the woodwork shop, repairs to a couple of A boards have been completed; they are now ready for repainting.  The ‘chippies’ have also made a start ‘boxing in’ under both Camping Coach steps.  This is to provide a more discrete bin store under one and a cleaning store under the other.  This work was requested of us by the Commercial Manager and is part of the general refurbishment of the Camping Coach, which is being done during the week by the Infrastructure Team.

7th, 8th March 2020

Boy, have we burnt a lot more scrub this weekend!  5 large fires over 2 days have really cleared a lot of cut scrub and opened up the views.  On Saturday we cleared the last of the scrub on the 1 in 49 east side, which had been cut down a couple of months ago.  A lot of logs were cut and recovered, whilst the scrub was burnt on site.  On Sunday it was the turn of the west side, near Kidstye crossing.  This area is always wet and boggy – so mud was the order of the day!  Once the fires were going, they quickly ate up the scrub.  The dumper has been used to haul a harrow backwards and forwards, along the lineside access road, to level out the lumps and bumps.

Back at the Station a start has been made on repainting the brake van, with primer applied to the bare parts and a start made on applying the first undercoat.  Inside the winter paint shop several pieces of S&T kit have been given a couple of coats of primer, following their cleaning down.  The two mileposts are now finished, following a touch up of the black.

29th February, 1st March 2020

Well, we’ve had another cracking weekend; not a lot of rain or hail to disrupt us and a good breeze to help with the burning.

Talking of burning, a large fire near the No Sheep Hut got rid of the remaining scrub there.  The ground around the hut has been dug away, revealing the base of the hut walls; these are not in good condition. The hut is made up of panels so we have dismantled it; we can now see about repairing the framing and cladding before we reinstate it, complete with a watertight roof!

On the ‘blackthorn slope’ the last of the blackthorn has been cut and then burnt in a large fire today.  This has cleared this side of the line, improving the view ready for our passengers next month.  North of the 15¼ mile post more logs and scrub have been cleared from the river, now that the water level has dropped back to nearly normal.

Back at the Station, the two mileposts have had their tops and bases picked out in black paint.  The painting of the Whistle board has been completed, and the gradient board has had its numbers refixed and given a couple of coats of paint.  The Waiting Shelter bench has also been sanded down and given a coat of undercoat.

22nd, 23rd February 2020

Well the Womble Work Week is over, and what a lot we have achieved! 

Lots of logs have been recovered from the lineside;

Ditches have been cleared;

A new lineside ditch has been dug out and a perforated pipe installed;

Several track culvert entrances and exits have been cleaned out;

The second trackbed has been cleared of grass and mud for ¾ mile;

Three turning points were created for emergency vehicles;

Lots of scrub has been burnt on 11 fires;

A collapsed culvert at the 14 mile post has been rebuilt;

The cupboard doors in the Weighbridge have been repainted;

The plinth units have been top coated and installed;

The Weighbridge was given a deep clean ready for the new season;

Whistle and Gradient boards were cleaned and repainted, along with 2 mileposts;

Three platform bench seats were repainted;

The signal box desk, skirting boards and interior door have been repainted and the signal box windows cleaned inside and out;

The mink wagon side was repainted;

The guards van sides were sanded down;

An awful lot of food was cooked and consumed;

Thanks to everyone who came and helped over the week.  We logged over 1000 hours worked, not bad for the smallest station on our railway!

17th-21st February 2020

Time for a Work Week update. First up we forgot to mention that more ditch clearance has been undertaken north of the bracket signal at the Station last weekend.  Up the line, we have been busy burning a lot of scrub, and collecting a lot of logs, between the 14¾ and 15½ mile posts.  A blocked ditch has been dug out, using a digger we have hired for the week, and we have laid a perforated pipe along it as the land is likely to collapse into the ditch again.  We have also cleared more of the access roadway along the track, to allow maintenance vehicles and fire engines easy access.  We created a couple of turning points too, removing the need to reverse.  We have been supported by colleagues from Network Rail and the Junior Volunteers.

Meanwhile back at the Station, a lot of painting has been undertaken.  Multiple coats of paint have been applied to Whistle and Gradient boards, a pair of mileposts, platform seat bases, the signal box desk, and the side of the GW Mink wagon!  All the signal box windows have also benefitted from a good clean.

14th-16th February 2020

After the fun of Ciara last weekend, we have had to cope with Dennis this weekend.  Our Work Week commenced a day early on Friday, as the digger was delivered that morning.  Work commenced near Newtondale Signal Box clearing the old formation of grass and scrub roots.  The old siding formation, which had been covered with old ballast, has been cleared off as well.  A new turning point has been created to allow vehicles, such as Fire Engines, to turn round.

The large timbers have been recovered from along the lineside by our timber contractor.  This will allow us to clear and burn the scrub much more easily.  Scrub burning has now recommenced with four fires today; two north of the old signal box and two south of it.

The collapsed culvert near the 14 mile post has had the displaced stonework carefully removed.  The side walls have been rebuilt and the two top stones refitted; a simple sentence but not so easy to do.  The retaining wall nearby has also been raised to the correct level, using stone we recovered from the Beck 18 months ago.  Unfortunately, there is a 12’ section of collapsed wall between the culvert and the good retaining wall.  We will have to see how easy it may, or may not, be to rebuild it.

Back at the Station, two mileposts have been wire wheeled clean and given a couple of coats of primer.  The replacement Weighbridge kitchen unit kick boards have received further coats of undercoat and one gloss coat of paint.  90 primulas were unexpectedly delivered last weekend, and these have been planted around the Station now the storms have passed.

Works will continue all week and include brash burning, log collection, seat and milepost painting, fencing, guards van repainting, ditch digging, and lineside roadway improvement works.

8th, 9th February 2020

Well, we have survived storm Ciara which – according to the press – was going to be the end of the world!

On Saturday we were joined by the Railway’s new Lineside Conservation Officer, Kerry, who came to meet us and see what we were doing.  She was surprised by how much we undertake, and how far along the line we cover.  She was impressed with our work both on the lineside clearance and the retaining wall repairs.  Beyond the 15 mile post we have cleared more scrub and dangerously leaning trees.  We didn’t have a fire as the wind was too strong.  Back at the Station, lineside ditch clearing has continued – much needed with Sunday’s rain!

The wet weather on Sunday morning meant we have had a day at the Station.  This was used profitably; getting gear, materials and work ready for the big 4Ws (Womble Winter Work Week) which starts next Saturday.  Stone and concrete blocks, needed for the culvert repair, have been brought to the level crossing ready for transporting to site.

In the Weighbridge the kitchen kick boards have been trial fitted and adjusted as required.  Several damaged ones have been cut down to make shorter lengths, whilst 3 new ones have been made and given a first coat of paint.  The rotten platform seat plank that was drying out in the General Room has been cut down, to become a 7’ spare bench seat, and the bare wood given a coat of primer.  Several small pieces of steelwork, needed by the S&T, have been wire wheeled clean for them.  ‘Our’ brake van has been delivered to the Station and placed alongside the platform.  This will allow us to give it a sand down and repaint over the next couple of months.

1st, 2nd February 2020

Well we are into the second month of the year and after a dry Saturday, today was decidedly wet until lunch time.

At the Station, undercoat has been applied to all the items under restoration in the General Room.  A further section of the lineside ditch has been cleared of dead grass and other detritus, and is flowing much better.  After 5 months parked up, the dumper truck has been moved onto site ready for use during our work week.  It took a bit of effort to get it started, but once running it was fine.

Back up the line, the glade area has had all the scrub cut down and disposed of on fires.  Several rotten small trees were also removed; indeed one was so rotten all that was left of it was the bark around the edge, the centre being missing!  This area now looks very good.

A section of old pig wire has been recovered from alongside the river and rolled up ready for re-use elsewhere.  This has allowed more scrub to be cut and burnt this afternoon, on a huge fire, as dusk was setting in.

25th, 26th January 2019

We have been back along the lineside burning scrub again.  The weather today was a bit damp at times, but the fires were going well and it didn’t slow us down.

The main area cleared has been between the 15 and 15¼ mile posts, giving good views of grass areas next to the river.  The awful lot of blackthorn scrub, all tangled together, has gone onto the fires.

Further north, more rotten trees have been dropped and the branches logged. The brash has been moved into heaps ready for another fire, once we get rid of the timber.

Back at the Station, the platform seats in the General Room have had a coat of undercoat and the Whistle and Gradient boards have had a sand and prime, now they have dried out.  The cleaning of the ditching north of the Station continues, slowly but surely.

From the 14th-24th of February we are having our annual Womble Work Week.  We have a packed programme of works including; culvert repairs, lineside ditch clearing, burning scrub, cutting down dangerous trees, fencing renewal, wagon repainting, platform seat rebuilding, and wagon turntable repainting.  Could you lend us some time? Many hands make light work!  Weighbridge Teas will also be in attendance to keep us hydrated, in between refurbishing their catering facilities as well.

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