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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Signal box open day

This Sunday we'll be putting our latest trainee volenteers to the test. They will be controlling Cowley bridge signal box and giving talks/demos in Romsey box. So come along and try them out with some difficult and challenging questions.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Latest open day and a recap

Jamie explains and Peter is operating (calm before the storm)
Smile Colin
This Sunday was our regular open day and  we had a healthy 27 visitors. The usual activities were happening, David canning was working Romsey signal box and giving the public the usual demonstrations. The buffer stops cafe is still building momentum but we have now covered all our costs so its now making profit. Matthew, peter and myself were manning Cowley bridge with help, here and there, from James. However, as Matthew got used to the simulator, Peter (and many members of the public) soon got lost with the train movements as Matthew and I were really putting Cowley bridge through it's paces. We also had a mini training session for a couple  of people wanting to volunteer on the front desk.

This month we are also running a training day for members who want to 'move up the ranks and learn the ropes for the signal box and Cowley bridge.

Bill.T being put to the test on C.B by Allan

In other news, it feels hard to believe that this is our third month of being open! In memory of the big day, here are some pictures from the re-opening (we didn't actually post any when we reopened so these could be the first you've seen).

Allan and Bill pose with Cowley bridge and the VIPs

The grand reopening

The traditional pose on the trolley, but who's missing? Yes, our site manager is camera shy....

Thursday, 29 October 2015


We have recently been informed that the bridge under the railway has been locked up (probably by network rail). Anyone who was thinking of attending and planning to park in the Nightingale surgery can either walk along the canal to get in, or should park somewhere else (see visit page of website).

More updates as soon as we get them.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Double post alert!

Cowley Bridge signal box

Don't forget the signal box is open this Sunday with usual activities going on. We would also like to announce the exciting news that as of next year, we will be opening twice a month!!!!

Members trip to St Albans SB
For this we will, of course,  be needing more volunteers to operate Cowley bridge, give signalling demos in Romsey box, serve drinks at our cafe and people to be a welcoming face around the site. If you feel you can help, please get in touch, we will be running training days for giving Romsey demos and operating Cowley Bridge in the near future. There's plenty of jobs to do on open days and as a member you get unlimited free tea and some cake when you're helping out. We're also looking for gardeners and maintenance workers to help out on open days and workdays in the week, so you don't need signalling knowledge to help out.

Members 'party' at christmas

End of a work day
Anyone can help in one way or another, and we're happy to teach you about signalling if you have no exsperience but want to lean. We're a friendly dedicated bunch of people to work with. We don't care if your a GWR supporter, LMS, LNER, Southern or you have no clue what any of this means, you can help (Southern supporters get more cake... we wish!).

Dave being very dedicated
Unlike preserved railways, if you just want to oporate the frame, you don't have to go through months of training, we just teach the basics and arrange an operating day.
Team work!!!

You also get the exclusive opportunity to come on our members only trips to preserved railways/signal boxes. We're looking into heading to the Isle of Wight steam railway and Brading in the spring, so please get involved.

Visit our membership page for more details/sign up

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October open day

Although our aim on the first Sunday of the month, now that we've reopened, is to prioritise the public, we often have enough volenteers present to do some work as well. On this open day Neil and the younger members started coating the Cowley bridge biulding with a weather proof seal (additional to the wood preservative we've already got on there)

Gavin did some metal restoration. He's striped and painted an old signal lever and started work on a lever clamp. This is one that we found in an area where the signal box used to stand so is probably an original from the box and is probably from lever A,B or 24 (which the frame no longer has).

Gavin also cut out some coloured disks to go in the GWR signal. These aren't see through, but are the best we can do for the time being.

Jamie sank a post to hold the 4 aspect signal for our new signing display (opening soon) and he also spent time on Cowley bridge training young member Matthew. In addition, while peter was on CB frame, he gave member Garth an introduction to the new frame/setup.

A hygiene inspector came on Sunday and passed out 'the buffer stop' cafe with flying colours, giving it 5 stars (and yes, he did have his glasses on, we're really that good)

Although quiet on the visitor frount, it was a good day and plenty went on!!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Something new??

After our work day yesterday, signs are appearing of a new display that should be active by spring next year!  More info soon, or come along on Sunday to find out more

Monday, 28 September 2015

Little Reminder

Don't forget that this Sunday is another chance to visit the signal box!! The usual activities of talks, tours and demonstrations will be taking place. Cowley Bridge miniature signal box will be running and the Buffer stop cafe will be selling tea, cakes and light refreshments. Details on parking and access can be found on the visit page of our website.

"A selection of sights to be seen at the signal box"

Monday, 14 September 2015

The heritage weekend

 Over the two days of the heritage weekend we had 181 visitors, a record for Heritage Open Days.  Having had an average day Saturday with 62 visitors, Sunday we had 119 visitors, just 7 short of our single day record set last year during the Romsey Festival. We also had a couple of new memberships.


We'd like to thank everyone who came and who donated generously. The buffer stop café was a great success and we actually sold out of cake on the second day (you greedy lot).

To those who didn't come, you missed out on a great weekend and the chance to get in for free.

Next open day will be the first Sunday in October (Sunday 4th) with a £2.50 entrance charge (£3 if you'd like to gift aid it) children are free.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Open Day

Tomorrow is the grand reopening of the signal box!!!! Come along from 2 - 4  to see all the hard work that's been going on. The search light signal is wired up! Cowley Bridge will be working, usual talks and site tours will take place and you can buy drinks and light refreshments from our new Café "The Buffer Stops".

£3 grift aid for adults
Free for Members and children under 16 (must be accompanied by an adult)

You will not be able to park at the site of the signal box, go to our website's visit page to see where's best to park and for public transport info.

Friday, 21 August 2015

A productive day

Myself and Dick were over the signal box today and we finished up with a great sense of achievement! A lot of work was completed and it moves us ever closer to reopening.

The first job I did today was to fix in place the fencing I had started on Friday. I then went on to add a piece of chain by the distant signal to complete this section of fence and to allow access onto the track for S&T and other workers. Further down the site I also altered another section of chain because the supports were not very sturdy. All that is left now is for the fencing to be painted white for a better appearance

In the mean time, Dick was getting on with some turfing to complete the area by the fence and around the ground frame.This turf had to be purchased (unlike the free turf we got fro the old school site) but it is the best looking grass we have on site. Dick then went on to move some older turf to round by the sheds and then added some turf by the new building. (I've made this sound like a 10 minuet job, but he actually spent all day on it, but it really makes the site look good, Well done)

After Lunch, I decided to stay out of the mid day sun (well that's my excuse) and used this time to reinstate the Oxted display. This is an old signal box diagram and some bells which have been linked to a computerised simulator and it just runs a couple of simple train movements every 5 minuets. It adds an atmosphere to the pavilion and also makes the diagram look more interesting.

After this I went on to add some fencing around the ground frame to stop people wondering into the area where the signals are moving. This has been done with a combination of chain and ridged fencing. It sounds like we are putting up a lot of barriers with all this fencing going on, but its a safety requirement we sadly have to fulfill. (I also turned the levers around so they are now facing the right way and the ground frame is ready to be connected)

Last night, Gavin and I were over the signal box (we should have a revolving door put in) and constructed a very sturdy stand for the searchlight signal to sit on. This will allow people to view the operation of the signal in the Cowley bridge building and also not end up underneath the very heavy signal. (In all the excitement, I forgot to get any photos)

Also, our hot off the press leaflets were delivered today and they really make the signal box look great!! Look out for them in a tourist information center near you!!

All in all a good day!!


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

No, we're not a great western box

What with Cowley bridge and all the GWR ground frame activities, you may be getting worried that we are being drawn to 'the dark side', but fear not fellow S.R enthusiasts, we can't be changed (sorry GWR guys, we haven't got anything against you really).

Today was a wet one, and it was inevitable I was going to get soaked because today I'd planned to re-assemble the ground frame and install some track-side fencing. The result of today were:  

The ground frame is complete and in place, it just needs fixing to the sleepers.

I have driven in the required poles for the fencing and balanced the rail on top, I just need to bolt the fence to the posts.
One very wet Jamie.

Dave spent his day doing a temporary fix for the flooring of the pavilion veranda  which had rotted because of water running down the slope.

The alarm has also been serviced today and is now functioning properly (not that it wasn't already).

During the heavy rain I decided to find shelter (call me a wimp if it helps) so I used this time to strip and paint the searchlight signal casing (which Dave and I disassembled today). Once this was done and it was still raining, I had nothing else to do, so decided to admire Cowley bridge. I really think this is a great 'little' signal box and I really enjoy using it. Hopefully it will show people what a busy signal box is like and we can use it to its full potential.

 (Well done to those of you who noticed that I have installed the ground frame back to front!! If you look closely, you will notice the catch handles are on the wrong side. Back to the drawing board)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The eagle has landed

The big news that's going around is that Cowley bridge model signal box has arrived at Romsey. As I was not around when it arrived, yesterday was the first time I had seen it, even without the bells ringing and levers clunking, it still makes quite an impression. It is a great piece of engineering and it looks to be a great exhibition at the signal box. The plan is to have Cowley bridge being operated by a volunteer to demonstrate what life would be like in a busy signal box. This will be an interesting insight into the life of a signal man.

The other work on site is a bit boring in comparison to the above news. Work on the ground frame is in its final stages, the mounting for the GWR signal has been attached to the post and the pulley and crank have been position to connect this up.

A 'Voice off' device has been installed on the site to verbally warn any intruders on the site that they are being filmed and that they should vacate the premises.

Dave has also spent much time working on the floor in the kitchen to make it more hygienic and appealing. He has also spent many hours filling out the required forms for the catering that we plan to run when we reopen.

Things are coming together and its only 3 weeks until we reopen!!!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

July workday

Today we had a good turn out at the signal box. The last part of the site which is not landscaped has had work started on it. Gavin, Jamie, Dick, Ben, Tom Matthew started work by moving the post for the signal to be connected to the ground frame and set about cutting a sleeper in half to mount the ground frame on.

Positions were decided and changed and re-decided and at the end of the day, the post, ground signal and 'foundations' for the ground framer were in place. The path can now be completed and finishing touches (ballast and grass) put in place.

Further down the path, there will be a display area were various temporary exhibits can be placed. 

Other work included cutting the grass, clearing out the level crossing hate post sockets and general gardening. 

It was also great to see the young members having a go in the signal box and learning about the operation procedures.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Spring cleaning

Here's the spring and now it's clean. End of post...

Not really, today we had a film crew at the signal box filming for a new TV program about holiday locations (about as much as I feel comfortable to say). In the mean time, I continued to clean up and paint the metal work required for the GWR signal. This includes the bracket to hold it to the post, the aspect plate and the crank. The spring above is used in the cushioning part of the bracket to stop the signal breaking a casting.

Also, all of the parts for the levers for the ground frame have finished being painted  and the ladder for the smaller lattice post has been returned to the signal box after painting. A small platform now needs to be made

I have also started to manufacture a few parts required to make the GWR signal work (the parts we don't have for lower quadrant operations). 

And finally, today's uses for a signal artefact that you wouldn't think of, use the lense of a lamp box to focus the sun to start a fire (for survival reasons of course) 

Don't forget, this Sunday is our regular work day, all member who would like to attend but have not been to the signal box recently should get in contact before turning up. 
THIS IS NOT A PUBLIC OPEN DAY, we cannot accept visitors.

Sorry for the inconvenience, we'll be opening to the public as of September 

- Jamie

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Recent Work

Ground frame base and GWR aspect plate
The past two days, I have spent some time over the signal box. Most of my time has been spent working on the ground frame restoration. The levers and catch mechanisms have all had two top coats. However, because one lever is to be a demonstrating a distant signal and is therefore yellow, it will require a third coat because the primer can still be seen though the paint. All the parts that are required to be painted black are now complete, but the lever tops and catch handles need masking and parts painting black to give a neat finish. The GWR aspect plate has also had a 'rough' coat of primer as I was running out of paint.

Spacer and washer on pivot
Spacer on pivot
A spacer has been made and fitted to the back of signal No 5 because a part is missing from the rear of the signal pivot. This means the pivot pin slides forward and we were concerned that it could damage our signal or injure someone walking underneath. This spacer seems to work and the signal is functioning normally.
I also found, whilst walking to the station, that a sign has been placed by the canal walk at the plaza end about the history of the canal. It is an interesting read, and I was hoping they would put one by the signal box, about the signal box, but I am doubtful this will happen.

Also, whilst moving the compost further back into the compost heap, I found a couple of slow worms warming themselves. We've found slow worms on various parts of the site, but in the developing of the site, they lost their home. But it is good to see they have found another home.

 A few various other jobs were completed today, I started work on various other parts for the GWR signal that will be connected to the ground frame and found one of the two key missing pieces, just one more to go. I also sorted out some other bits and pieces that will be needed to reconnect the ground frame.

Its all coming together!


Friday, 5 June 2015

New Building Update and Car Park Barrier

The new building decoration is finished...

The interior decorating of the new building is complete - Well, apart from small bits of touching in.

This is the Cowley Bridge end, before the Southern end was painted.

The Southern end is now complete.

Considering it was just bare plywood I think the end result is quite pleasing.

To distinguish between the GWR and Southern ends a vertical batten has been installed and painted GWR brown, along with the tongue and groove boarding at that end.

The upper walls above the dado rail are all painted Bamboo, the same as the outside of the signal box.  The lower walls are Buckingham green, also the same as the box.

On my next visit the dust sheets will be removed and the touching in done.  The floor then needs to be sealed as we are leaving it bare timber.

The other news is that the new car park barrier has been fitted.

...and very good it looks too!

It is very solidly constructed and should look good for many years.

There has been a lot going on recently, as you can see.