Watercress Line

Digging Around

This report details the work undertaken to provide a route for a power cable to our Container located at the remote end of the Miniature Railway. With the works under Blake's Crossing already completed, thanks to the splendid efforts of Bernie Dench and his team, it was now time for us to complete the route to our Container. This involved:

  • Digging a trench along the path from the north side of Blake's Crossing to the front of our container
  • Installing the tubing into the trench with a draw cord threaded through to enable the power cable to be pulled through later
  • Backfilling a few inches and laying power cable warning tape
  • Complete backfilling, tamping and levelling

Luckily we had the services of Ben Spraggen and his brand new digger. If he did not want to get his new machine dirty then he volunteered for the wrong job! The path was very muddy from the recent rain. After getting a suitable barrier and warning signage put in place to keep the public away the first job was to get some of the overhanging branches lopped to provide access for the digger. Bens friend John kindly did this for us on and we removed the lopped branches. Ben then started the trench works in earnest whilst the rest of us organised the tubing and a method for dispensing the draw cord. 

All our cord was transferred onto an old cable drum which was placed onto a section of scaffolding tube suspended in a portable A Frame. Very Heath Robinson but it proved most effective. Keith Hoddy took charge of cord dispensing and all was OK until he leaned over and his chair collapsed! This was, of course, blamed on the chair! Thankfully no harm was done and work continued. The cord was pulled through each section of tube in turn using drain rodding. Each threaded tube was then lowered into the trench and pushed firmly into the coupling on the previous section. About 4 inches of backfilling was followed by laying down a warning tape over the whole length of the tubing. The idea being that should anybody dig here in future they will encounter the tape warning that a power cable is below before hitting the tube. The whole trench was then backfilled, tamped and levelled by the rest of us. All sounds very simple! The truth is that the above was the best part of 3 days very hard graft.

With this completed we now await the works being completed on the south side of Blake's Crossing and the cable pulling gang to get the cable through to us, connected and tested. We also hope to have a short spur to our station.

Thanks are due to all who helped including Ben Spraggen and his friend John, Dave Ford and several members of the Loco Wednesday Gang including Ian and Peter, plus Miniature Railway Group Members Martin Pratt, Keith Hoddy, Dave Hill and Martin Champion. Apologies to anyone I've omitted - I have to admit I was only there for first day, my excuse being it was the only day I could get off work and all obviously expressed their sympathy towards me!

Ray Briscall

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