Monthly Archives: March 2016

Nearly Time…

The time of the Great Lift of Swindon Panel has nearly arrived.

You can read about the times planned for Saturday in this recent news update.

Don’t forget our Photo/Video Competition of the panel move.

You will hopefully be able to hear us on BBC Wiltshire at about 7.30am on Saturday too.

If you are planning to join us at any point over the weekend, please make sure you’ve read the notes in the email that was distributed on Thursday evening. If you have any problems please let us know.

Thank you to everyone for all the tremendous help over the last several weekends. It’s been great fun, and now we’re getting our panel at last!

Danny S.

Swindon Signalman Colin Baldwin

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing away of former Swindon Panel signalman Colin Baldwin.

Many members and supporters of this group will have known or worked with Colin up until his retirement from Swindon Panel in 1995. Colin enjoyed a joint leaving do with his friend and colleague Glyn Thomas who retired at the same time.

Colin and his wife Sybil were kind enough to invite SPS to visit them at their house about six months ago to talk about the panel and Colin’s memories of it after they saw us on Points West. They were also kind enough to allow us to scan their collection of photos, now available in our photo gallery.

Our deepest sympathy is with Colin’s family at this very difficult time.

Swindon Panel Ready to Go!

An absolutely astonishing effort by the thirteen SPS members in attendance today at Swindon PSB has seen the paneldrawn up to the signal (the door) ready to depart the sidings and embark on its journey to its new home and its new life.

The panel has been raised a further 12 inches from last weekend, up to its required height to leave the building, and a blockwork runway has been built underneath the frame. The jacking bolts that have worked so hard over the last few weeks raising the panel up have been retracted allowing the frame roller wheels to be lowered down into steel channel on top of the blocks. This concludes the preparations in the control room for Swindon Panel’s extraction from the building!

As a test the panel was moved about 4 feet along its runway towards the Bristol-end doors of the building and it was found that the panel does move with relative ease.

Before:

After:

THANK YOU, on behalf of everyone involved with and supporting Swindon Panel, and from me personally, to everyone who has contributed in all and any ways to the progress of our project thus far; getting to this stage is an immense achievement! It has not been without its hurdles, but a significant number of people helping in exactly the right way at exactly the right time has got us over those hurdles. The breadth of skills in our supporter-base is immense and everyone’s willingness to contribute has been very impressive indeed.

So the panel is ready to leave the control room, but there is still a lot of work to do to get it to Didcot.

Commencing at 0600 on Saturday 2 April the panel will start to be rolled-out onto the roof. Help is needed with this! As the rear of the panel clears the runway at the back, so the blocks are require to be moved around to the front to support the further forward movement. The panel is 30 feet long and requires to move about 40 feet and there is about 15 feet of runway blocks in hand.

The road lorry will arrive at about 0700 and lift at about 0800. If all goes to plan the road journey will commence at about 0930. (Don’t forget our Photo Competition regarding its journey!)

Then, from 1000 our main working days starts in the making-good of the building: The doors and windows have to be replaced and all our waste and debris tidied away to leave the building in a good condition for hand-back to Network Rail.

So there is plenty to do, and if you can help on Saturday 2 April then please get in touch – many hands make light work and we can promise you’ll feel very rewarded at the end of the day when you see how much progress can be made!

The panel will be taken to Didcot’s West Yard (Deutsche Bahn locomotive fuelling point) for transshipment to a railway wagon, on which it will move into the Railway Centre, via Didcot Parkway station. It is expected that the panel will move into its new building in Didcot at the end of the week, possibly the Thursday or Friday.

Great work everyone – keep it up!


Re-enacting a famous scene!

Do you have a flat-bed type van ….?

Or something similar?

If so, and it is capable of carrying some weight, would you consider conveying some items from Swindon to Didcot for us please?

There are two main groups of things to be conveyed, one is a lot of Thermalite blocks that we are using for the runway for the panel to leave the building, and the other is the metal door plates from the panel (about 5′ x 2′ each).

The panel doors could also fit in a large car.

It will save some considerable work if these can be moved to Didcot on Saturday 2 April and loaded onto the same train as the panel, to remove the need to carry them through the station subway (as was the original plan).

As always, please let us know if you can help. Many thanks.

Don’t Forget Didcot!

We really have found ourselves understaffed at Didcot recently, unfortunately.

We also have several jobs at Didcot that need our attention -

- Undercoat-painting of wooden doors for new panel building

- Continuing work on the rail wagons to be used for bringing the panel into the Centre. Mainly scraping and painting.

- Plus an opportunity to man a sales stand for Swindon Panel during the Tornado Easter Gala at Didcot Railway Centre over the bank holiday weekend. If you would like to help out, but the work at Swindon isn’t your thing, here is a great way to raise some awareness and sales for the Society! The sales items are things such as our mugs, coasters, badges and magnets. Please let us know if you can help.

Please let us know if you can help with any of these and we will make arrangements at DRC.

Many thanks!

Move Day – 2 April – Early Turn “overtime” available!

The move of the panel is planned to take place at about 8am on Saturday 2 April.

This is before the advertised working party commences, but I am now seeking an additional ‘early turn’ on that day, to start at 6am, in the panel, whose task it will be to wheel the panel out onto the roof ready for its lift. All railwaymen and women love a bit of overtime, so here’s your chance!

If you are an early riser and could help with this early start (whether you’re already booked to be with us for the main part of the day or not), please let us know. Bacon rolls will be provided by Danny! Many thanks.

After the panel has departed, and for those arriving for the ‘standard’ working day, the task will be putting the building jigsaw back together again for handing-back to Network Rail, and saying a final goodbye to the building that has been Swindon Panel’s home for the last 48 years.

Panel Move Day – Calling All Photograhpers

The panel will move from Swindon to Didcot on Saturday 2 April on a road lorry, leaving Swindon at approximately 9am. When it arrives there it will be placed onto a railway wagon for transit into the Railway Centre later that day.

We will be very pleased to receive photographs of the panel on its journey – being lifted off the panel roof, being transported by road, being lifted onto the train, then being moved by train into the Railway Centre (including through Didcot Parkway station!)

Photos that you have taken can be sent to us via any of the usual methods (or by reply to this email). The best photograph we receive by midnight on Sunday will receive a Swindon Panel goody-bag!

Needless to say, no Flying Scotsman antics trying to get the best shot!

Latest Panel Progress and Where You Can Help!

Progress update on Monday 21 March 2016.

Thank you to everyone who has helped at Swindon Panel this last weekend. Fantastic progress was made and we’re pleased to say that the last of the major hurdles have now been cleared.

The two large frame beams were brought into the operating room and now complete the lifting frame at the front and back of the panel. With this being complete jacking screws were fitted to allow the whole frame, with panel on top, to be raised up about an inch and a half, which was sufficient to allow wheels to be fitted to the bottom of the frame. The panel was then moved back, against the back wall, (in the space on the right of the picture above), to align it with the doors.

The end door and window – another hurdle – were successfully removed by the team on Sunday (featuring father and son Chris and Andrew, pictured above), making a gap wide enough for the panel to escape the building on 2 April.

The handrails on the, rather substantial, walkway on the flat roof outside the building were removed by the team on Saturday (featuring father and son Jeremy and Danny).

Never let it be said that Swindon Panel won’t be a great day out for all the family!

These simple-sound tasks took a lot of materials, a lot of manpower, and a lot of working together. As with most things in railway preservation, they take longer than they would seem to, require more tools than they would seem to, and uncover all sorts of problems along the way!

But we are getting there – our dream is finally coming true! The panel has now been raised above 9″ (23cm) off the ground, and next weekend will be raised a further 12-14″. The “runway”(!) will then be built underneath it to give it a level journey out onto the roof (over all the obstacles such as the door threshold and flat-roof walkway).

There is still A LOT of work to be done to get the panel that last little bit raised up and the runway built out onto the roof in readiness for the move which is planned for 2 April. All hands very welcome in helping with this on SATURDAY 26 MARCH, this weekend. If you can help, even if for only part of the day, please do. Swindon Panel needs you!

We are meeting only on Saturday this coming weekend (Sunday is Easter Sunday), at 10am at the panel.

The following Saturday is….. move day.

Swindon Panel
is in the air!

Thank you very much to everyone who has helped at Swindon Panel over the last weekend. After much planning, preparations and a bit of a paperwork battle with Network Rail, Swindon Panel has now moved its first few inches towards preservation. Swindon Panel is now in the air!

Excellent progress was made and we are well on the way to moving the panel. All the steelwork has been delivered, and the panel has been lifted up and the first parts of the lifting frame inserted underneath. These will hold the weight of the panel when it is lifted by the frame. The clamp bars have also been inserted above the metalwork inside the panel to hold the panel down to the frame. The sections will all be bolted together longitudinally next weekend to make the grid base formation when some further steelwork is lifted up from ground level into the control room.

A lot of work was also carried out inside the panel to remove breakable items and unnecessary heavy items in readiness for the move, and tidying up and tying up cables inside the panel to stop them falling out on the way. Inside the panel is very full of thousands of wires, all going in different directions, and none of which were installed with moving the panel in mind!


Some of our small-part steelwork.

It is a very exciting time, now that our plans are finally coming to fruition, and we are very excited about the next couple of weekends leading towards the (planned) move date on 2nd April.


Some of the Swindon Panel members in the panel on Saturday enjoy a cup of tea from a Southern Region mug!

Special thanks from all those members present on Sunday go to James Nelhams who cooked us a full Sunday lunch in the panel kitchen!


Sunday Lunch in the Panel! Very civilised.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out, this weekend and previously to help us get to this stage. A huge number of people have done us a huge number of favours, we are very grateful indeed and promise to be putting everyone’s effort to very good use!

Swindon PSB Pin Badge Sets – Limited Edition


Click to enlarge.

Happy Birthday Swindon Panel!

To celebrate Swindon Panel’s 48th birthday (opened 3 March 1968), we are delighted to release our set of six, limited edition, Swindon Panel Society pin badges to celebrate the life of Swindon Panel and its movement into preservation.

Each badge is a different shape and colour and depicts a Swindon Panel-related image.

SN48, the signal on the end of platform 1 at Swindon, was picked as the panel was 48 years old this year.

The badges are £2 each or a complete set of 6 for £10.

The complete sets are available now via HOPS: https://www.heritage-ops.org.uk/product/242/
(Unfortunately it is not economical to sell the individual badges online, these can be purchased from us at DRC or any of our events).

All proceeds used in the move and preservation of Swindon Panel. Only a limited run will be produced so don’t miss out!

Welcome to Didcot Day – 30 April

30 APRIL 2016 at Didcot Railway Centre.

Come and welcome the panel, and let the Society welcome you, to Didcot!

Be among the first to see the panel as we take off the covers in its new home, and among the first to ceremonially kick-off the restoration with the re-insertion of the panel lamps and Dominoes.

The “Welcome to Didcot” Day is being held within the Great Western Society May steam gala, with many steam locomotives and signalling in operation on the Branch Line: All the more reason to come and visit Didcot that day!

We will be there from 10am onwards. In the afternoon there will be a photo-presentation on the panel move, plus a guest speaker from the Great Western Society, followed by fish and chips in the panel!

We look forward to seeing you there.

(Note this is all pending that the panel moves to Didcot as planned on 2nd April!)