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Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Great shed move

On the 26 of December, the members of Romsey signal box turned up to 'make their move' on the shed. The shed needed to move to allow the construction of the new building which will not only house Cowly bridge junction, model signal box, but will be our meet and greet building. In the month leading up to the move, members Gavin, Jamie, Ray, Keith, Dave, Neil,Peter and Tom spent time moving the compost heap, clearing the area, then levelling and paving it ready for the big day.

The day started by clearing the shed and then dismantling the shelving which had been built into the shed when it was first erected. After this the lean-3 was removed and the shed was ready to depart. To save time, instead of dismantling the shed, moving it, and reassembling it, the members jacked it up onto 2 trolley jacks and 'simply'

wheeled it to its new home. After a few close encounters with a shed (and a well earned lunch break), the shed was very happy in its new location. But now the team were against the clock to reassemble the shelving, reattach the lean-3 and then re-load the shed with its contents before it got dark

After forgetting how the shelves had come out, then trying multiple combinations, the shelves were finally reassembled and the shed was almost ready to be reloaded.
Following a bit of elbow grease and alto of lifting, the very heavy lean-3 was finally positioned alongside the shed ready for re attachment, once this was completed the movement was complete. The members could now breath easy as the shed was repositioned and all that was left, was to sort through  the contents of the shed, decide what we wanted to keep, and then reload the shed.

So, now Romsey signal box can now proudly, we have the most travelled shed in Hampshire, if not England.

 (Keith is hiding behind the camera, don't think you can hide that easily Keith!!!)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Laying down the foundations and a lock out !

Even before the day started, we had problems. Due to the progress on the site, we will be loosing access to the site via the main gates (on the main road) in January. However, Christmas seem to have come early as the gates were already padlocked shut by the contractors. Therefore, we only had pedestrian access to the signal box today. We would like to take this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience caused by today's events, but it was outside of our control.

Once we had 'broken in' to our own site, we could start work on the days proceedings. Today, the foundations were laided down for the relocation of the small gardening shed. As mentioned
before, the shed has to move to allow the building of the cowly bridge housing. After many month of perpetration involving cutting of brambles, moving of the compost heap and many barrows of soil, the ground could finally be leveled and slabs laided.

The actual shed will be moved at a later date, but this progress would not have been possible without help from Gavin, Jamie, Keith, Dave, Ray and Tom.Also today. Neil worked on the vegetable plot by turning in leaf molsh. Later next year, rhubarb will be planted closely followed by runner beans.George and Jamie sorted the BBQ and supplied food to the members.

And Dave provided some (a whopping 36!) scones which were a great way to end the day along with Keith's delicious Victoria sponge and Jamie's muffins.
The day ended with the members grouping round the fire and having a cup of tea and a cake looking back on the signal box's progress from being just the signalbox, to today, where many active members come on a monthly basis to maintain the box which now has some beautifully maintained gardens and artifacts. It is these members that have allowed this progress to take place and means that we do not have to spend open days just getting the site tidy, it is self maintained. 

But of course, none of this would be possible without the generous donations and presence of the visitors that come to view the box. We would like to thank you for visiting throughout the years and look forward to opening for the arts festival and the big re opening in 2015.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

All change please, all change.

We are currently undergoing a reorganisation at the signal

box. To enable us to build a suitable housing for Cowley bridge signal box (our fully working model signal box), we are moving our small gardening shed to behind the strong sign, this means we had to move compost heap and cut away some of the bank.

Today, Gavin, Jamie and Raymond started by moving the compost heap to behind the big shed (the ground had been prepared earlier in the month and a path added) . While the heap was being moved, Gavin and Jamie added a divider to it so that it would allow compost to be separated one year from the next.  Once it was in its new location, the compost was transferred and the structure made secure. After a well earned lunch break, Gavin and Jamie went on to start cutting away at the bank that needs to be removed to allow a level base to be laid for the shed to sit on. Unfortunately, due to the evenings drawing in, darkness got the better of them and they had to leave it till the next open day.

Also on the open day, Neil worked on getting some of the newly located compost into the vegetable patch ready for next year.

Tom and Josh (young member) did some general work on site

To add to the excitement, we also had a film crew visit the box, they were/are making a documentary for the buildings trust.

And of course, Dave and Marion Canning looked after the visitors accompanied by Janet , giving demonstrations and tours.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Bush cutter trial

Today, Gavin braved the land that time forgot behind the big shed and Strong sign to try and regain control of the bramble and weeds. This battle is long over due and is the start of the next big project at the box. For further progress at the box the small gardening shed needs to move to the other side of the big shed. To start this project we needed to get to this section of the site, so we volunteered Gavin to take on this task. These images show just the start of the project, and next moth (weather permitting) there will be further weeding and progress on this section of forgotten land.

Cutting edge Turfing technology

Today saw the completion of the area at the back of the site, in front of the big shed. After Dave's hard work to complete the second bench for the site,  and Peters work to clear this area we felt that this undeveloped area was a great place to put the bench so that visitors can sit and look at the site from a different angle.
After starting the day looking like this(on left); Gavin, Jamie and Allan (relative of a new member) started by laying the slabs, donated by Dave, in a way that would ease the user but also give space for turf. Once the ground was prepared, the slabs were put down and levelled. Once complete Jamie went over to the old school ground to cut squares of turf to lay round the slabs.
At the end of the day, the site was left looking like this(on right). The turf was watered in and has now been left to root. It may look a bit shabby at the moment, but after a couple of mows, it will fit in perfectly with the rest of the turf on the site.
On a side note, Josh (new young member) and Tom (young member) started work on protecting the two trolleys built by previous young members. the job involved sanding down the surface and then protecting it with new preservative. this is a job that will ensure the onward use of the trolleys without costly repairs.
All in all, another progressive open day which has improved the appearance of the site and the state of the woodwork we have at the box.

Friday, 27 September 2013

One Side Of Signal Box Complete - Nearly!

Yesterday the painting of one side of the signal box was completed.  The only thing remaining is the window, which needs new putty and then final painting.

It has taken many hours to complete this work, with much of the old paint being burnt off back to the wood.  A good deal of wood filler, primer, undercoat and gloss has been used along with plenty of elbow grease.

This should ensure the box is kept watertight and looking good for years to come.  Putting all this effort in this time around means that next time a repaint is required it should be a great deal easier.

I would like to emphasize that without Keith's expertise the end result would not be so pleasing.

Not every single blemish has been filled and sanded smooth, but partly on purpose.  Would such and old building look "real" if it were absolutely perfect?

Well... must get that door finished on the heritage centre next!


Sunday, 15 September 2013

More slabs, a tidy up and weed control!

 After a lot of tidying by Peter, on last months open day, the area by the big shed was cleared of old metal work, old lawnmowers and general rubbish. Most of the waste was taken to the skip today so the area was ready for development. On todays open day, another row of slabs was added to the path, making it easier to walk down and allow wheel chair access to almost all of the site. This area has plans to be further developed by adding a grassed area with another bench allowing people to sit and look at the site from another angle.

 In the nice weather we've been having, the weeds have been growing too well through the slabs. So to ensure the site stays in a presentable condition, Keith, very kindly went on weed duty and cleared the ground frame area of weeds. This should give us clear paths through the winter and for a good few months into the spring (weather dependent).

So all in all a very good heritage weekend. Well done to the site team for continuing to progress

the look and resources of the site (Keith, Dave.T, Jamie and Gavin). But an equally big thank-you to all the operators of the box (Peter, Neil, Dave.C, Jamie, Steve, Allen and Dick) some of whom spent most of the weekend talking or operating. We must also remember to thank Marion for taking members of the public around the site and telling them what's what, she must have done many laps of the site so she could walk it blindfolded. This just comes to show that without the different skills and abilities that we have at the signal box, we would not be in the state we are in today, everyone has their own way of helping, and we couldn't ask more of them.

A welcomed rain storm

 On Saturday the 14th of September, the guttering on the pavilion was finally finished after many years of being incomplete. To finish the job, the guttering from the lean-to was joined to the guttering from the side of the pavilion, this was then plumed into an old container which will hold the water till needed. This will also be fitted with a pump so that water can be pumped out or so that it can come out of the tap to fill buckets or watering cans. There will also be an overflow fitted to this storage so that excess water can be deposited into the soak away. So all we need now is the rain, one thing that we are never short of in Britain.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Painting, Preserving and Tidying...

Initial work on the side of the signal box is now complete. All old flaking paint has been burnt off and the surfaces sanded smooth.  This has been followed by a good coat of primer.  The next step is to fill all the imperfections prior to undercoating and glossing.  This process will ensure the box is water tight and protected for the future.  The remaining three sides will be treated the same way in due course.

The new seat that was erected by George and myself has now received it's final top coat of green paint.  This will be ready for use when completely dry and may be positioned in front of the sheds as there is no seating on that side of the site.

Speaking of the area in front of the sheds - Peter has spent some time investigating what was under the tarpaulin in that area.  This has now been sorted into rubbish and items worth storing properly for any future use.

Work has been started on the old picnic table to the rear of the heritage centre.  Young volunteer Tom has sanded all the timber and a first coat of preservative has been applied.  He will apply a second coat when next on site and this will protect it for the future and make it much more usable.

The second heritage centre door has had the exterior paint stripped and a first coat of primer has been applied.  Much more work to be carried out but at least it's started.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

New Blog Started

Hello and a big warm welcome to our new blog!

On it, we are going to post regular news and photographs, updating everyone as to what we have been doing. Previous news items have been archived on the blog, if you want to see these, you may wish to scroll down to the bottom of the blog and select a year to view.

Feel free to use the buttons under each blog post to send the page to a friend, 'tweet' it on twitter, 'share' it on facebook or give it a '+1' on Google. You can now add comments or questions to each blog post.

Hopefully this blog will give a more detailed log of the work that we do.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Latest News

A lot of work has been carried out since the last update.

Towards the end of February, we finished landscaping the last part of the site by removing the weeds that dominated the area by the canal and laying turf to improve the look of the site. The turf has taken well, and has improved the overall feel of the picnic area. As well as this, slabs were also put down to provide an area for another picnic bench, as well as providing a suitable path. Dave has been working to cement in the gaps between the slabs around the site to stop weeds coming up in between them.

In March, we held a joint event with the Romsey and District Model Railway society, where we opened for both days of the weekend in conjunction with their exhibition. We had a table at the exhibition where we signposted visitors to the box. It was a very popular event, and there is a short write up in the Spring 2013 issue of ‘The Signal’.

On the 7th of July we held our Annual General Meeting after the usual open day, with a barbecue for members before hand. There were lots of insightful comments made to do with the future of the Signal Box and the prospective temporary closure. The minutes of the meeting will be published in the next edition of ‘The Signal’.

Recent work includes repainting of the exterior of the visitor centre, and this has entered its final phase for the time being. Again, Keith and Dave have worked to repaint it to hopefully give it some protection against the weather. The side door and ramp have been fully restored and painted and look a lot better for it!

Also to mention is that Keith has started rubbing down and repainting the side of the Signal box, as this suffers from the weather worse than the other sides and will need regular attention to keep it free of rot and to make sure it doesn’t let the rest of the site down!

Visitors who have been to the site several times may have noticed that a short while ago out Meat container was removed, as it had lived its useful life with us and now more secure (and less damp!) storage was required. Instead of scrapping the container, it was donated to the Mid-Hants railway. Not sure that they would have said yes if they had known the condition beforehand! It has now been expertly restored, and should be running at their Autumn Gala at the end of October.

So, what next? We have several projects lined up for the coming months, including finishing cementing the gaps within the paving slabs, installing a rather substantial water butt to collect rain water to water the garden with, and finishing the rod work for the facing point lock we hope to have in due course.

As usual, all of the work that happens on the site would not be possible without the help of volunteers. If you have any spare time (or know of anyone that does…!), whether an hour or so every now and again to tend the garden or cut the grass, or something a little more involved, then please get in contact or pop along at an open day to see what you think of us! We do have an unlimited supply of tea…

It is no secret that during 2014 we will have to close to the public for a period of approximately 18 months whilst development to the neighbouring site occurs. Private group visits will still be possible by prior appointment, and needless to say work will continue during the closure so when we reopen the site should be up together. As and when we know, we will pass on any information on the website and in the newsletter.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Latest News

Romsey Signal Box will once again participate in a joint weekend event with Romsey & District Railway Modellers’ Society – Saturday 2nd March and Sunday 3rd March 2013 .

Their superb annual model railway exhibition will be held at Crosfield Hall, Broadwater Road, Romsey SO51 8GL – just a 10-15 minute stroll from the Signal Box! Opening times:

Romsey Signal Box will be open between 10am and 5pm on Saturday 2nd March and between 10am and 4pm Sunday 3rd March. The Model Exhibition will be open on Saturday 2nd March between 10.30am and 5pm, and on Sunday 3rd March between 10am and 4.30pm

Entry to the Signal Box, as always, will be FREE - donations welcome. Further news....

o Romsey Signal Box ‘20/30’ years Special Anniversary Event took place on Saturday 13th October, 2pm-10pm: 20 years since we first opened to the public, and 30 years since the signal box was closed. The event, attended by the Mayor of Test Valley and the Romsey Town Mayor, together with representatives of the Romsey & District Buildings Preservation Trust, members of the Friends of Romsey Signal Box both past and present, and public visitors, was highly enjoyable. Star of the show was a fabulous cake in the form of the Signal Box!....a full write up and pictures will follow in the next edition of our newsletter, The Signal....

o ...talking of which, sadly, Danny Scroggins, our editor of The Signal, has had to resign due to other commitments. We’ve very grateful to Danny, who has done a brilliant job in producing a lively and attractive newsletter. Apologies that the next edition is somewhat delayed; we hope to issue it around March/April. As usual, it will be available as a download on this website .

o The relationship between the Friends (the volunteers) and the Buildings Trust (who own the Signal Box) was further cemented following an EGM held after the October Anniversary Event. The Friends’ Committee are now members of the Trust and Dick Hewett, who represents the Friends at Trust meetings, is now a Trustee....see further details in the next The Signal.

o Site improvements continue. Notably, the Visitor Centre has been creosoted – a great improvement in its appearance – and the doors will shortly be re-painted. The very last corner of the Signal Box site is now being landscaped, and stirling efforts continue to keep the site spruced up – big thanks to all our volunteers.

o Just a reminder that all 4 semaphore signals are working – including the 3 semaphores, distant, home and starter, that replicate the sequence of signals that train drivers once encountered on the approach to Romsey from Redbridge....come and visit us and you can work them all!! Spectacles have been fitted to all semaphores, and two now have working lamps. Two ground discs are working, one with a lamp. The colour light, points and compensator also continue in operation.

*** Important announcement ***

o Please note that development of the neighbouring land, the former Primary School, is imminent. As a result, it may be necessary to restrict public access to the signal box site for a period during 2013-14. We will endeavour to keep information on the website as current as possible. If in doubt, please email or phone before making a fruitless journey.

*** An apology ***
We regret that Romsey Signal Box had to be closed for the December 2012 Open Day (Sunday 2nd December) at short notice due to adverse weather conditions making the site unsafe. This very rarely happens; however, we are very sorry if any visitors made a special journey to see the Signal Box on that day.