It has become something of a tradition that the November meeting of the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s Fence 2 Fence Team is a three day event and also incorporates a meal at The Dragon Hotel in Montgomery.
Not everybody can escape the clutches of employment on a Friday so on the first day a group of eight parked at Heniarth Station to unload the tools and equipment. The plan was to work back towards Llanfair Caereinion clearing unwanted vegetation and attending to the culverts and fences. The owners of Heniarth Mill had agreed that we could also cut down some of the vegetation on their side of the boundary. For the railway that meant improved views of the River Banwy and for them some firewood.
As the Track Gang were out and about with a works train we had rely on our light weight trolley for moving tools and materials around the site. The trolley is equipped with a spring brake that has to be held in the off position in order to move it. Let go of the brake handle and it stops. It is easily dismantled and the components fit in the back of a small estate car. Prior to use this season it was examined by Bruce Webber the lines Chief Mechanical Engineer ans signed off as fit for use.
By the time it ready for use Bob had already got plenty of small stuff cut down. The water on the other side of the fence is the old leat that used supply the water to the wheel at Heniarth Mill.
Loading the trolley with brash. In the distance you can see the yellow ‘caution’ flag and the red ‘Stop’ board protecting the work site.
The trolley and its load are propelled over the bridge at Mile Post 7 3/4 towards Heniarth Station for unloading.
Upstream of the bridge there is an old gate across the stream to prevent livestock escaping from their field and into the land belonging to the mill. It traps twigs and branches which then allow leaves and other debris to build up behind forming a dam.
As the water level was quite low it was a good day to clear it out.
Water trickles through the debris and under the bridge.
After fishing all the bigger bits of wood out of the water is was necessary to agitate the water and leaves so that they would flush away down the stream.
So for now it is all clear but no doubt it will not be long before we have some heavy rain which will wash down more material to form a new dam.
About 70 yards towards Llanfair a drainage culvert benefited a bit of tender loving care.
At the close of work on Friday the landowner appeared and was so impressed with the work done that he asked if we could fell some more trees (willows) on his side of the boundary fence. Well, it would have be rude to have refused, and as they were leaning over onto our side it was agreed to take them down.
On Saturday the team swelled to 18, not including myself as I had planned to check over the Track Gang’s power tools and extension leads. I can report they were all in good condition and fit to use.
Several trees along this section have ivy growing up them. Whilst this will not directly kill the tree, if it is not in good health, the additional weight can affect the stability especially in windy conditions. Here Chris is cutting the ivy away.
Taking down the additional trees down was a good move as at least one was hollow and could well have eventually fallen onto the railway line. The trunks were chopped into movable lengths then carried by train to Heniarth and left by the entrance of the mill.
On Sunday I was allotted the task of Works Train Driver and most of the gang travelled in the Mess Coach with a few joining us on site having taken their cars to Heniarth.
Jeremy volunteered to don the waders and deal with some branches that were overhanging the old mill leat.
In between driving duties, and with the help of Marguerite, I checked and and where necessary repaired the fences on both sides of the work site. In all nine new fence posts were inserted. We had brought seven with us and cut a two more from suitable sections of silver birch. Additionally several ‘living’ fence posts were pressed into service. Almost a whole packet of staples was used up in the process.
Loading the dropside wagon with brash. This was taken the short distance to the bonfire and burnt.
As the day progressed the lineside was taking on a new form with views across to the river.
There is going to be a wonderful display of bluebells here in the spring. Lets us hope that winter is not too harsh to cause damage to the plants.
The site is now looking neat and tidy. All that is required is some kind person to spend a day or so with a leaf blower clearing the track so that the sleepers can dry out a bit.
Getting ready to leave the site. All in all it was a productive weekend. The next Fence 2 Fence session is on the weekend of 26/27th January 2019 when we will be returning to Golfa Bank to work on the upper section of Quarry Cutting.
If you would like to become a volunteer on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway please click on this LINK where you find further information. There are a range of opportunities including entry level activities that require no previous experience of railway operations through to the various training schemes for Guards, Station Masters, Footplate Crews, etc. Please note, however, that some roles require a reasonable level of physical fitness.