History in the Making!

The Panel Preservation Movement is Born!

This morning there were no large-scale preserved panels. This evening there is one.

Thanks to an excellent turnout of SPS and GWS volunteers and P&D Specialist Services at Swindon Panel today, the culmination of two years’ careful planning and preparation since the project was first formed over three years ago, the panel was successfully extracted from the building at last!

The team assembled at Swindon Panel at 6am to start the roll-out of the panel. The panel had been raised up to the appropriate height and position on previous weekends, and the runway out onto the roof had been prepared on Friday.

Lots of checks took place on the frame and panel to ensure it was ready for departure. The wooden boarding that had temporarily replaced the end window and door was removed and steel channel rails laid out of the control room onto the roof. In small steps the panel was pushed out onto the roof by SPS volunteers.

By 8am the panel was positioned outside on the roof, and was ready for collection.

Meanwhile an enormous lorry and hi-ab had arrived outside the building (much to the concern of the driver, given the access available!).

Shortly after 8am, right on time, the lifting harnesses were applied to the frame and, after more checks, the hi-ab took the strain and whole panel was inched off the roof. Once confident, the panel was lifted over the barriers that were around the edge of the roof and down onto the trailer. It was a momentous occasion for all those present and everyone in the Society following on Facebook, Twitter, etc, that the day we had waited so long for had finally arrived!

The panel lorry departed at about 9am, on schedule, for Didcot, followed by an entourage of SPS members’ vehicles taking photographs! It arrived at Didcot shortly after 10am.

The panel was then loaded into a waiting wagon in the DB Fuel Point yard by P&D for onward transit by rail. Some other items, such as blocks and steelwork was also loaded into the same wagon.

66176 arrived at about 11.40 to collect the very short train and at 12 noon it moved from the West Yard to the Main Yard, and then about 15 minutes later shunted forward at Didcot East to set-back into the Railway Centre.

The panel then spent a lovely afternoon in the sunshine that it would have seen so little of in its life before, sitting alongside the Demonstration Line platform. Later that afternoon it was shunted into the locomotive shed for under-cover storage until later this week.

Meanwhile, at Swindon, the team worked hard to restore the building to better-than-original condition. All manner of debris of the closure, decommissioning and our removal of the panel was removed, picked up, hoovered, replaced, squared up and secured: The window steel frames, uPVC fittings and glass panels were all replaced, door frame welded back into position, the handrails on the roof replaced, the floor in the control room made safe and holes covered with wood. The control room really is cleaner a lot than we found it!

At Didcot, work continued in the afternoon in preparing the building for the acceptance of the panel on Thursday. The many tools and items of equipment that we had used over the last several weekends were also brought back into the Railway Centre and returned to their correct places.

It was a fantastic day at Swindon and Didcot. We hope you enjoyed being part of it, whether that’s because you were there or because you followed progress through the day on Facebook or Twitter.

If you took photos today, please do send them in. The photos are extremely useful for ‘selling’ the Society to prospective supporters.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped the Panel Society reach this stage – what a fantastic achievement for all of us! WELL DONE!

Not finished yet!

However…….. we must remember that the job hasn’t finished yet!

Not least because we need to now get the panel into its new building and settled in.

The interior of the new building is a long way off completion, and then requires to be fitted with an education and interesting set of displays and equipment.

The panel also needs wiring up (which will be a huge task) so that it can work as realistically as the real thing.

Come and join us at Didcot in completing the preservation of Swindon Panel – it will be great fun!

We will be at Didcot tomorrow (Sunday 3 April) and then from Thursday (7 April) to Sunday (10 April) inclusive, during which time we will install the panel in the new building.

Photo and Video Competition

We will be very pleased to receive photographs of the panel on its journey today – 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!)

More details

Welcome To Didcot – Saturday 30 April

Let us welcome you, and give you the opportunity to welcome the panel, to Didcot!

This will be the first time the covers are taken off the panel, and everyone can take part in starting to re-insert the Domino tiles!

More details