A Week in the Civil Gang

Whilst we all stand and admire the restoration of locomotives and rolling stock, the attractive stations and the scenery around the valley and enjoy the fruits of the labours of the catering team, few of us will give any thought to the work that goes week in, week out to make sure that the Railway runs smoothly and that new lineside projects are brought to fruition. None of what we see would be possible without the dedicated orange clad team of the Civil Maintenance Department. What lies behind locked doors and what goes on during those line possessions, when work is undertaken away from the public gaze, is a mystery to most of us. All we see are the results of their toil.

As reported last week, members of the Civil gang were out and about, especially down at Keighley, where considerable work was being undertaken in connection with the establishment of the Keighley signalling installation and commissioning of Keighley signalbox. Amongst the gang was Paul Brunt, long time working member, and here he gives his account of what the ‘boys’ got up to before he returned south to his home in South Yorkshire. Paul has kindly put virtual pen to virtual paper and written about what happened during his 3 days working with the ‘Gang’. Other members cleared out the turntable pit whilst others, on a hot Saturday, whilst the rest of us were enjoying Haworth 1940s weekend, were out on Oxenhope straight clearing up the debris from a previous round of tree felling and scrub clearance.

This is by no means a comprehensive account of last weeks Civil work, but certainly gives a flavour of what goes on to keep the Railway we enjoy running, to the benefit of us all.

Here is Paul’s Report and photos

Day 1 – The day consisted of a small group working in Keighley West signalling cabin giving it a general tidy up and clean out to allow some alterations to equipment locations within. Another group worked under bridge 72 (Keighley Station overbridge) installing a Trackside electrical cabinet whilst next to the one installed a pit was dug to cast a concrete foundation for a second cabinet (both at the Skipton end).

Civil-150512_1-PBCivil-140512_2-PBLeft: Shovels and ballast forks taken out of Keighley West cabin. Most of these were returned to the Permanent Way riding van
Right: Various items of signalbox equipment were removed from Keighley West cabin and taken to Keighley Signalbox

Left: The first of the electrical boxes being lifted at Oakworth Yard and placed on the Atlas Wagon for Keighley
Right: Volunteers dig out the foundation for one of the electrical boxes required under bridge 72

First of the trackside cabinets in place

Day 2 – More work was carried out under Bridge 72 utilising the mini digger this time at the Oxenhope end, but what exactly I am not sure as I was involved in finishing the tidying up of Keighley West Cabin and cleaning out Keighley Turntable Pit and a general tidy up of the area around the signalbox at Keighley. This involved removing the three tankers which live at the back turntable road to allow the Atlas wagon access to lift 0ut some large and heavy bags of detritus.

Civil-140513_6-PBCivil-140513_7-PBLeft: View of bridge 72 on the Tuesday with the mini digger at work
Right: The three tankers from the turntable road are moved out to allow the Atlas wagon access to assist in the tidying up of the area around Keighley Signalbox

A tidy Keighley West cabin, the S&T engineers can now move equipment
around and install additional equipment with more ease

Day 3 –  This was a different day as, being 2nd man on the diesel, I didn’t see Keighley much except for lunch. Due to the land moving at the west side of the north end of Mytholmes tunnel, a group using, the mini digger and Atlas wagon, removed some of the spoil, which was starting to encroach onto the railway, and tip it on Oxenhope Straight. After lunch at Keighley, it was back up to Oakworth to collect the 2nd trackside electrical cabinet for installation under bridge 72 and to assist in removing an old ground bench which is part of the point rodding system for Oakworth Yard and place in a new one using both the mini digger and Atlas wagon. Meanwhile, at Keighley, a test pit over bridge 1 was put in to see how deep down the bridge deck is in preparation for S&T week in 2015.

Civil-140514_9-PBCivil-140514_10-PB Left: Digging out of the slipped spoil at Mytholmes to ensure that trains can pass safely
Right: Dumping of the Mytholmes spoil on Oxenhope Straight.

Left: Digging out of the S&T point rodding bench at Oakworth.
Right: Installing the replacement bench at Oakworth

Civil-140514_13-PBCivil-140514_14-PB Left: 2nd Electrical cabinet on the Atlas wagon ready for transportation to Keighley, seen at Oakworth
Right: 20 031 brings the 2nd cabinet across Keighley West crossover and into Platform 3

At the end of Wednesday the works train is stabled in Haworth Yard
and Paul departs for home

Down in the turntable pit clearance of accumulated detritus was going on an the efforts of the gang had a couple of surprises. Whilst cleaning the turntable pit of various wood and leaves a drain grate was found. It was totally blocked by dirt and was cleaned to allow surface water to drain away. In addition this little fella made the volunteers jump as it sprang from under a pile of leaves being swept up. It was removed from the turntable pit and returned to the picnic area at Keighley, hopefully to live a long and happy life, having learnt its lesson.

Photos: James Barlow

And on Saturday along Oxenhope straight, the ‘gang’ clear up the lineside of branches and tree clearance debris.

Photos: Philip Lawton

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