Monthly Archives: December 2014

Stop Press – Registered Charity Number 1159646

To all members and supporters

A brief note to let you know that Swindon Panel Society has now found its home on the Register of Charities, we are now Registered Charity Number 1159646!

The process was extremely hard work and has taken a long time to organise, so thank you very much indeed to all those who helped in the process.

Happy Christmas!

Tom, Danny, Brian, Tim and James.

All I want for Christmas is…

…Swindon Panel!

SPS are helping Father Christmas and all the other elves at Didcot Railway Centre again this weekend, with Brian and Danny on duty on Saturday and Tim, Mark and Natalie today (Sunday).

The DRC Santa operation is very well organised indeed, and as such sees A LOT of custom. The families arrive at the Railway Centre and can look round in the normal way, before joining Thomas (+ autocoach) at Didcot Halt, on the “Branch” line. The train takes them to the very north end of the site, where Santa is waiting in a large compartment in a carriage in the transhipment shed, surrounded by mountains of presents all neatly sorted out into age- and gender-specific groups.

When the families arrive at the transhipment shed they board Santa’s coach and are filtered into meet Santa in family groups. The elves (i.e., us!) chat to the children or parents immediately before they meet Santa to find out the names and ages of the children, and then pass this information to another elf in the grotto compartment to assist Santa in selecting the appropriate present. (It probably sounds more complicated than it is!)

It is certainly a very enjoyable day indeed, with a wide variety of families and children, all very excited about the prospect of meeting Santa, having just met Thomas, and layered onto the excitement of a family day trip out to the Railway Centre as well! The children we had yesterday ranged from 7-weeks old to 14 years old, and in a lot of cases the parents and grandparents are just as excited as the children themselves!

It goes without saying that it is also an extremely commercially important set of events for the Railway Centre, and therefore, by extension, extremely important to SPS too. Although the work isn’t linked directly to the building or the panel, it is paying for it!

The days are relatively short, about 9am – 3.30pm and no special skills are required, so if you can help the furtherance of the preservation of Swindon Panel by coming to Didcot and having an enjoyable day chatting to happy people, let us know!

Operations Week 3 – Highworth

The Tuesday Operations Conference was held this evening, with more interesting discussion and uncovering forgotten history of the Swindon Panel area.

This evening South Marston to Swindon East was covered. Some interesting points to come out of this:

* A replacement switch was added in 1975 according to the WON, in connection with bridge works. This was removed by 1990. By its temporary nature it may not even have been a conventional switch in the panel. Will not be modelled. Same applies to DM74.

The WON from January 1976.

* SN22 and SN24, flashing yellows were added in May 88. Will not be modelled. (The flashing yellow DM81 was added in 1979 so will be modelled, so there will be examples of flashing yellows on the preserved panel).

* 321 points, Highworth

Shown in early material as a trap, and currently is a trap, but there is evidence that it was a run off to a buffer stop in between. Panel Domino shows buffer stop and Google maps shows a ballast trail and the remains of a buffer stop, and shows 321 in new ballast suggesting a relatively recent re-lay.

Will be modelled with buffers. No interruptor.

Click to enlarge.

* Noted that all the HCR telephones at Uffington (x3), Bourton and Highworth (east) had auto phones, but the one at Highworth Junction had a direct phone.

* SN24 – The Down Reception was converted to a Down Goods for one month before the stencil indicator on this signal was removed and a number 1 feather provided.

* 277 (A ground position limit of shunt that can be pre-set by a main aspect – my lords!)

This signal moved about quite a lot. Was at 76+330 until 1977, then the WON shows it moved to 76+220. Current photos (2009), scheme plan (2006) and cab ride video (c1992) all show the GPL as being 5-10 yards Swindon side of SN24. No evidence of when it was moved to its current position, but it looks as though it has been moved to achieve maximum standage between 277 and 216. Will be modelled at 76+220.

The operations groups meet by telephone conference on Mondays and Tuesdays and are working out exactly which items of infrastructure are going to be shown on the preserved Swindon Panel. There have been a lot of changes over the years, but a period of roughly the mid-1980s is being followed.

Monday Operations Group – Week 3

The Monday Group Operations Meeting was held this evening, covering the route from Wootton Bassett to Hullavington.

Interesting points from this evening:

* Blanches Siding was gone by 1977 so will not be provided. In any case this would be almost mutually exclusive with the reversible signalling. So only one route from GPL 280 to 764 (not LOS).

* Wootton Bassett Goods GF – not shown by 1977, not to be modelled.

* SND4 will not have an automatic plate. This was absent during the lifetime of Hullavington GF. As that GF will be modelled (see below), SND4 should not have an auto plate.

* UB92. The current locking sketches show an (R) button (representing a guaranteed emergency replacement switch), and 2015 scheme plan shows this in black (indicating that it is already present and not being removed). There is no evidence that this ever existed, but the signal itself is a relatively structure, so it may have been moved/renewed at some point, and as ‘new work’ had an R button designed, but never provided. Unless evidence arises to the contrary we will model it without a replacement switch.

* Points into Hullavington Loops: The trailing ends of these were previously slotted joints, and latterly motor worked. We will model them as motor worked for two reasons – one because the Dominos are already there in the panel and we don’t want to throw them away unnecessarily, and secondly to provide educational variation in comparison to Uffington Loops, which we have already agreed will be modelled with their slotted joints.

Hullavington Ground Frame was removed in 1993, so will be modelled. This was accessible in the up direction only, and could be released with the track circuit occupied (LN), as long as a short track circuit beyond the points (LO/1) had been occupied for 60 seconds. We guessed that this may have been to enable an engine and wagon to be cut off from a train on the Up Badminton, drawn forward over the points, shunted into the siding, and then the engine come out again and back onto the train. Either way, we will model the locking that we know existed, as described above.

We were also able to add mileages to all signals on Badminton line.

Thank you very much to our keen Operations Detectives who are working through many sources to determine what infrastructure will be modelled on the preserved Swindon Panel.

The Tuesday Group will meet tomorrow and will pick up from where they left off last week between Uffington and Bourton and work westwards.