Progress Report - August 2021


Good progress continues to be made, although we have still not ‘broken ground’ for the foundations.

In the next few days, we will have complied with the two outstanding planning issues - we will have completed the tree barrier and will have a design for foul and surface water drainage.

Work on the tree protection fence commences –
(L-R) Steve Ryder, Alan Whiffen, and Robert Heron in the foreground with other members of the team behind.

Although from a planning perspective this allows us to start work, we also need building control approval, and this may still be a few weeks off.  But progress has been made with lots of further component measurement to make sure everything is spot on.  We will need the structural engineer to approve the design of the new canopy.  Brunel’s detailed design was very good, and we hope we can recreate it with a minimum use of additional steel.

We collected and transshipped onto site a large quantity of spear fencing and posts that have been donated by MTR/TfL from Taplow and Langley recently.  We also carefully hand dug a trench through the woodland to allow us to bring an electricity cable on site.

Tom Sweeney continues with the ongoing task of stone sorting.

The team supported the Civil Engineering team in constructing a GWR workshop hut that now sits at the London end of Shanty Town.  Doors remain under construction.  The frames are mostly original, but are probably from more than one hut.  This will allow us to set up a workshop and store and provide us with shelter to drink tea and eat cake when it is raining.  We had previously prepared a base re-using Tiverton Junction platform slabs and since the hut was positioned, we have made a set of steps to make our journey from work-site to hut much easier and safer.

The Civil Engineering Team having successfully delivered the new ‘portable’ GWR style site hut during work week.

One of our next tasks will be to dig another trench (this time with a mini-digger) for a new cable to provide light and power to the hut.  The electrical team at Didcot are providing skilled help.

The Society has, in recent years, supported an intern from Reading University each summer.  This year we employed Chris Loder, a Philosophy student who had long been an enthusiastic visitor to Didcot.  He has helped us progress our heating design and also enjoyed a couple of days working with the team on site.

Chris Loder - obviously before he started work!

Getting bulk materials on site has been even more difficult than normal recently owing to the wagons being needed to support filming. However, since the filming finished, we have received several loads of type 1 aggregate, with a couple more due for delivery soon.  The steel for the foundations should be here this week along with the ground reinforcing geo tex.  It is worth noting that the cost of steel and other building materials has gone up significantly this year, so any financial help you can give will be very welcome.  We should soon have everything on site ready to start building the foundations.

We had to miss one work day whilst the filming was taking place, so we had a works outing instead, to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.  We had a great day and were lucky enough to have a tour of the Winchcombe Carriage and Wagon workshops courtesy of Alex and of the Locomotive shed courtesy of Pete Jennings.  It was good to see Alex at Didcot the following week when we were able to return the favour.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be unloading steel; completing the tree barrier; digging the electrical trench and starting constructing the steel reinforcing cages for the foundations.  This will take quite a number of weeks, and should occupy us until we break ground for the foundations proper.

Cake Spot - (l) Ian savours a slice of banana bread baked by Robert, (r) Alan enjoys a slice of Birthday Cake provided by Dave
The central picture is of general cake consumption on the newly completed hut steps!

As always, we welcome new volunteer workers.  Most work takes place on a Thursday, but there may be work at weekends too. If you wish to volunteer or otherwise aid the project, do please get in touch with Tim Part at or via the Didcot Office.