February 1, 2018

Newliston Exit

Progress Report…..

Phil was delighted with the good turnout of about 8 volunteers which meant they were able to achieve the following:

Moved stone, timber, benches, short track panels, rolls of mesh fencing, tools and other shed contents to Newliston

Dismantled the wee shed at the rear of ‘Findlay’s Cabin’

Sorted out and burned rotten timber

Re-instated the footbridge across the weir to match the design of the one which was there originally

The heap of stuff to move is much diminished leaving some slabs, slates, a small amount of stone, a few random track panels, the wee shed, and various steel in the form of angle posts, point rodding and some random scrap.



The fence posts have been delivered so we can do the fencing when the final position has been confirmed and the strainers posts have been positioned.


 Thanks to all those who have turned up to help with this mammoth task, it is appreciated.  Still plenty of material to move to Newliston, if you have a trailer and can help then please contact me (Phil).

The usual rates of pay will apply!


Nearly there!  Plan for Saturday, 15th April:

Assemble at Newliston for 10:00

Since the ‘Big Push’ weekend work has continued at a steady pace to clear Newliston.  We are now entering the final stage which is to shift as much as possible of the remaining material to Almondell by trailer.

If you have a trailer please feel free to bring it!  The more trailers we have, the quicker the material is moved.  This is just some of the material to be moved: stone, slabs, edging boards, sleepers, other timber and benches.

In addition:

The small shed needs to be dismantled before it can be moved

The site needs to be checked over for other material that needs to be moved to the stockpile area.  A general tidy up would not go amiss.

We are expecting a timber delivery of the footbridge deck and fence posts.  These will need to be stacked away from the recovered material to avoid in our enthusiasm it getting inadvertently moved to Almondell!

Final tasks to be planned for another day….

– footbridge installation using the timber planned for delivery.

– landscaping with a digger and dumper (any final ballast removal required and spreading of topsoil)

– final emptying of Findlay’s Cabin, so if you have anything still there please MOVE IT.

– fence construction.

If you can come along to help we would appreciate the extra bodies as many hands make light work.

Big Push Weekend Friday 9th – Monday 12th March

We have planned a big effort this weekend to complete the bulk of the remaining tasks.

A mini excavator and dumper has been hired from A-Plant with the primary aim of lifting the ballast from the track beds and the debris from the dismantled bridge.
The machinery is expected to be on site from about 09:30 on Friday and off site Monday from 15:00 at the latest.

The main task: Is to use the excavator and dumper to move the ballast from the track beds to the heap which has already been started in the car park.  Following behind the excavator, there are the manual tasks of removing edging boards and stakes.  We have a vertical plate lifting clamp which has proven to be very effective gripping the steel angle used for many stakes and this makes short work of pulling them up when used with a lever made from point rodding.  This is likely to occupy a team of 4-6 people.

Other tasks:

  • The digger and dumper will be used to remove the in-fill from the bridge approaches which will then be used to fill the base of the cutting.
  • There is still some work to do with the concrete breaker to finish dismantling the bridge piers and fine tune the remaining pier structures ready for the footbridge.
  • There may be some man-handling of the bridge stone to help remove it from where it has been stacked after dismantling.
  • There is still some concrete to be broken up at the steaming bays.
  • All of the previously dismantled stuff can be moved to Almondell.
  • The lean-to carriage store at the bothy can be removed.
  • The small shed can be moved to Almondell.
  • Finally, top-soil will be spread over the track beds to return them to their original state.

It will help to have a trailer or two available to move previously dismantled stuff to Almondell.  This includes timber, sleepers, benches, slabs, etc.
Let me know if you can bring a trailer so we don’t have too many!

It will help me to organise a work plan if you could let me know if you are planning to help and on which days so I know if we’re going to be over-whelmed some days and left alone on others!

Please park outside the car park as the car park will be used for the ballast heap and room will be required for erratic dumper driving and for the loading of trailers.

…….as at the 16th February 2018

Progress to date has been very encouraging, with good sized working parties on site on Saturday’s and Sunday’s which has meant that a number of tasks have been ticked off the list!

The remaining track has been lifted and sorted into appropriate stacks as per Jame’s labeling plan.  These are now awaiting uplift to Almondell where they will be checked over for any re-sleepering and maintenance before relaying on the circuit ‘B’ trackbed.





The steaming lies and turntable have been removed.  These will be reused at Almondell.  Preparatory work in the steaming lie area is ongoing, with tree felling and clearance undertaken on Thursday, 15th for example.

Blythe Bridge is to be removed along with the short embankment wall leading to weir and embankment stonework leading to bridge.

Part remove the central stone pillars, but leaving supports for us to reinstate the old style bridge with wood boards and chicken wire.

This is an example further along the weir system.



As you can see work has already started, but this will be a delicate operation owing to the state of the weir.


The Signal Boxes, Signals etc have all been removed and placed into safe storage.  The exception being the Junction Signal which has already been set up ready for the first train into the station at Almondell.  Optimism or what?


Remaining tasks…….

  • Disconnect water supply to ‘Findlay’s Cabin’.
  • Remove boundary fence and entrance gate and the two short fences at the weir
  • Build a new fence from corner of ‘Findlay’s Cabin’ cabin to the Ha Ha inline with the weir.
  • Remove the short embankment wall leading to weir and all fencing leading up to bridge and gate.
  • Remove all plants from gate to boundary fence.
  • Extend existing boundary fence as far as the canal.
  • Lift all edging boards and ballast in the woods and then let nature take over.
  • On the canal area we need to lift the ballast and then landscape with top soil and sow grass seed as required to restore it in keeping with the existing grassed area.

The Ballast Challenge…………

This still remains our largest job.  As was set out in the original plan, we intend to use machinery.  Peter A. has had discussions with A Plant who have been very sympathetic in their terms which just leaves the setting of the date.  Phil will be liaising with the farmer to establish dates when his cattle will not be grazing in the area allowing us to load and unload the necessary equipment.

Could we ask that if you have a spare day that fits in with one of the working party days (Thursday, Saturday and presently Sunday) perhaps you would contact Phil or James to let them know you can come along to help.  That way a specific job can be allocated which will give you a productive day and help move the project forward.

As ever thanks go to those who do the planning, negotiating and organising behind the scenes and to those who have turned up and physically done the work.

…….as at the 29th January 2018

Target date for completion is the Easter weekend which this year falls on the 1st April (No fooling!)

As at the above date this gives us a total of 10 weekends. 

Phil has prioritised the action plan as:

Findlay’s Cabin

  • It has been agreed that we will leave this for the future use of the shooting parties. Therefore, it is not to be dismantled or moved.  We are discussing with the owners whether or not they would like us to leave the existing water supply.
  • Members please remove anything that belongs to you as soon as possible (e.g. Wagons). Unclaimed items remaining at the 1st April will be skipped.
  • ESME owned contents such as the stove, cooker, gas cylinders, crockery, cutlery, etc, etc will be stored pending future use at Almondell.

Immediate priority for the following working party dates:

Thursday 1st, Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th February

  1. Uplift the 7¼” / 5” trackwork as follows:
  • Completely remove fish-plates. Please bring along a 7mm or 3BA spanner or socket
  • Move panels to stacks in car park using ‘Comrie’ flatbed railway wagon which will ensure the panels stay flat and don’t get distorted.
  • Start from bridge working back towards the station area. The section past Lairds Halt and through the woods has already been done as a test for the methodology.
  • Panels to be stacked at the car park in separate piles as follows: straight sections, slightly curved, and tightly curved sections. Three stacks in total.
  • The panels have all been labelled using plastic ties. It is ESSENTIAL that these ties are not lost.  James has a spreadsheet setting out the dimensions of each panel and where it will be positioned at Almondell, hence we don’t want to lose the ties!
  1. Disconnect water supply to station and steaming bays. Just leave the tap and one hose connection by ‘Findlay’s Cabin’.

Future Jobs

From Saturday 10th February (to be confirmed)

The Ballast Challenge…………

  • To be moved from trackbed and heaped in car park for removal by self-loading truck. It is estimated the quantity to be removed is 100 to 160 tons.  Which is roughly equal to 150 mini dumper trips or > 1,000 barrow loads or > 10,000 shovel loads.
  • We plan to use machinery where possible! 1.5t excavator and two 1.2t dumpers move ballast to heap in car park (for self-loading lorry)
  • Manual assistance to pull remaining ballast into heaps for digger. Remove weed control fabric and cable ducts.
  • Ballast from single track sections to be barrowed to nearby wide sections (already part done)

Edging boards and posts

  • Detach edging boards intact as many are re-usable
  • Pull up steel angle posts for re-use at Almondell
    (Vertical Plate Lifting Clamp with digger)

Blyth Bridge

  • How much must be removed is yet to be confirmed. Therefore, an action plan for this task will be determined later.  One point for consideration is the protection of the fragile weir beneath the structure during the removal process.

Steaming Bays

  • Remove tracks and turntable for reuse at Almondell, the area for which has already been identified and some groundwork preparation already started.
  • Vertical supports cut off at concrete foundations? … or dig up foundations with mini digger?  The former option is less destructive to the ground.


  • Spread topsoil on track bed from piles previously excavated (1.5t excavator and two 1.2t mini dumpers)
  • Some fences and gates to be removed from Lairds Halt to Blyth Bridge and round car park.
  • We need to establish if anything needs to be replaced.


  • Signal box, signals, clock to be removed for safe storage by Robert McLuckie
  • Benches to be uplifted and moved to Almondell
  • Deeply buried water pipes to be left in situ. Something for future Archaeologists to ponder over perhaps?

There is a lot to be done and as ever volunteers are at a premium.  Presently we are resourcing it from the ‘Almondell’ teams, but this then reduces the progress at Almondell!

The various tasks have been identified.  Some involve more physical effort than others, but there are a lot of less physical ‘preparation’ tasks too.  Something to suit all abilities.

Could we ask that if you have a spare day that fits in with one of the working party days (Thursday, Saturday and presently Sunday) perhaps you would contact Phil or James to let them know you can come along to help.  That way a specific job can be allocated which will give you a productive day and help move the project forward.

Thank you.