Following the clearance of the mine tip area, a large quantity of partially-dressed stone has been stockpiled at the other end of the running line. Part of the planned work to utilise the flat area on top of the tip includes re-laying the track which leads to the container. Most of the sleepers will need replacement and some of the soil needs digging away to allow better drainage so the new sleepers won’t rot away like the old ones. To this end, our volunteers have started to construct a retaining wall to alow this embankment to be remodelled.
The ground has a well-compacted layer of road planings on top of the original mine waste which has hardened well after 100 years in-situ. Digging the top layer away allowed us to place some of the largest and flattest stones into a trench before adding mortar to hold them in place. On Sunday 25th June, the first course was laid with the aid of a string line to keep everything straight. In typical Forest of Dean fashion, blocks of different sizes will be used to build the wall. Once it reaches almost the desired height — just below rail level to allow ballast to be retained — a number of smaller stones will be used to make the top as level as possible. We are then planning to finish the top with a course of bricks (known as “rowlocks”) with a few “shiners” added as a feature. This means that some of the named bricks we have found at Lea Bailey will be incorporated into the wall with their writing on show.
Following the Grand Tidy Up in February, we decided to take the opportunity to do some groundworks around the site. We are certainly not short of shovels, nor of enthusiasm, but the nature of the work to be done would have taken several months of Sundays, so we enlisted the help of a mini-digger with a skilled operator for the day. Your generous donations at our Open Weekends and annual Membership Subscriptions make projects like this possible.
One important job was to level the top of the mine tip area following the removal of a large quantity of stone and the re-positioning of the two halves of the ex-Sharlston pit wheel. This will allow better access for HGVs and more space for our volunteers to park their cars on a Sunday. A hole was also dug in the centre of the steel ramps giving us the start of an inspection pit, although we will still need to do some work later to line the sides and bottom, as well as putting in some basic drainage. A future project will see a second track running down from the points outside the mine to the top of the tip which will pass across the pit.
As well as some general tidying up and levelling of the ground, the digger was also put to use in widening the gulley at the Southern end of the line. This area was previously used to hide a stockpile of rail (now recovered) and we intend to lay some rails into here in order to demonstrate our Eimco 12B rocker shovel on open days. The bank leading to the top of this area has been graded to allow visitors safe access to watch the Eimco in action.
Editor’s Note: This post was first written as a draft, but only published in December 2017. It has been backdated to the beginning of March, when the events described took place.