Progress Report - October 2021


The steel for the foundations was unloaded in late August and we lost no time in making up the cages – finishing the last cage on 21st October.  We thought it would take longer.

The steel mesh reinforcing panels awaiting unloading

By cage we mean a combination of long steel bars which are positioned evenly by rectangular hoops.  Typically, this means there are 5 bars at the top and bottom of the cage, so that the cage is 750mm wide and 500mm high.  When the concrete is poured, they will be cocooned into beams that will be 600mm deep and 850mm wide.  You can get the idea from the photos.

Some of the team working on Beam 12 - this is a complex shape as it sits under the bay window.

There is science behind this – concrete is good at taking compressive weight, but less good at dealing with tensile (stretching and differential force) so the steel compensates for that.  There will be more to it than just the beams, as above them will be a concrete raft encasing two layers of steel mesh – all of it cast into a single structure.  Despite the ground being quite soft, all this steel will mean the building will have a very firm foundation.

We've still not broken ground, although the vegetation was scraped off again recently.

Our architect rightly wants a high technical standard and needed to measure lots of components to ensure the building is ‘square’ and the lintels and roof are exactly as they were before.  The structural engineer and architect have to be confident that the new building will be sound and we still have to comply with modern insulation standards.  They are also working on how we will construct the canopy.  When they finish that work, we can apply for building regulations approval.

Recently we were contacted by two members of the Friends of Heyford Station (the current Network Rail one).  They were really pleased to see that we were now working on the station building and are offering to publicise the project and support us. 

Chris Adamson soon realised that the best way of helping was to join the Society and join our working parties – you can see him in the orange jacket helping make one of the cages.

Chris Adamson.

We now have a design for the drainage, and that, along with the completion of the tree barrier, has allowed us to notify the Planning Department that we have complied with their pre-construction requirements.

The electrical department have taken delivery of most of the equipment they need to create an outdoor supply cabinet, so all we need to do is to dig the trench for the cable to go from the cabinet to our workshop – when the building work is complete, the supply cabinet will be moved to the forest side of the proposed bay platform to enable a land electricity supply for any coaches stabled in the bay – we are already looking forward to tea and cake in the Ocean Saloons there.

Presently, we will be ordering the cement; shuttering and spacer blocks so that everything is on site ready to lay the foundations.  Our skilled concrete team will look after the excavation and most of the foundation work, although the Thursday team will be placing the cages and supporting the concrete gang when they need it.

We are asking the Board to raise our 2021 budget, as we likely to be overspent – this is mainly because of the well reported increase in the cost of building materials – particularly steel, which was double the cost we expected.  If you have not done so already, don’t forget to contribute to the Diamond Jubilee Fund, or contact us directly if you want to fund anything in particular.

If you want to join the working parties over the next few weeks you are likely to be helping to identify and measure some of the largest pieces of stone – we had to stop doing this over the summer because it is stored next to the main demonstration line which was in use most Thursdays and every weekend.

You could also be preparing the electricity trench (most of the digging will be done by our mini-digger).

Finally, we are improving the fencing around the Heyford Forest – as we have named it – which has deteriorated over the last 40 years, and needs to be replaced.  It will mainly be GWR post and wire with a couple of bridge rail straining posts and some baulk end posts too, but we will also make up some chestnut cleft fencing, which was typical rural fencing before wire became technically and commercially available.

As always, we will welcome new volunteer workers.  Most work takes place on a Thursday, but there are weekend working parties planned for 6th/7th and 23rd/24th November.  If you want to join us, please contact Tim Part or via the Didcot office, just in case our plans change.