The year is waning and the Tywyn weather mojo is flagging a bit, but it still managed a dry, if overcast, morning for the last working party of 2021. We were a much reduced duo this morning as we lost team members to other ‘duties’, but Charles Benedetto and John Olsen had a year end goal in sight, the fourth side of wagon no. 146.
Hauling the wagon out of the Gunpowder Store was just about manageable and it wasn’t long before one of the new end angle pieces had been aligned with the bolts and secured with finger tight nuts to start building the East wall. We had almost reached the reached the top plank when Ann McCanna turned up with a bag full of her special mince pies and Max Birchenough arrived to take pictures of the progress and join us for coffee.
With Sue Benedetto and Keith Theobald on site John handed a bottle of mulled wine to the cafe staff to be heated up as a winter warmer with our festive nibbles. Sue had brought bara brith and John cinnamon flapjacks to go with the mince pies, and chocolate biscuit selections supplied by Max; a veritable feast. We raised our glasses of hot mulled wine to toast the efforts of the working party through the year and then got on with the chatter as Mike Green swelled our numbers. Our discussions encompassed possible COVID effects on Christmas, exporting our carbon costs (if we didn’t mine it then it can’t be ‘our’ carbon) hence why buying Russian coal is so much worse for the climate than keeping our own mines going. Did you know that next year marks the centenary of the Great Western Railways absorption of Cambrian Railways? This event upstaged the slightly later, but more famous, ‘Grouping’ in 1923; you learn a lot at our little chinwags.
Refreshed by the wine, and high on the sugar, we hardy pair returned to the task at hand and cracked on with fitting the second new end angle. This had one hole misaligned by nearly 1 cm so a bit of work with a chisel and file was necessary to extend the hole through the plank to allow the bolt to be threaded through. Then the two outer straps were added in short order as, miraculously, all the holes lined up and that allowed us to attach the topmost plank, completing the side. But we went one better by installing the angle strap inside the wagon to firmly join the longitudinal roof timber to the east wall; though this required both of us to push up on the beam to lift the rib enough for the holes to align. Tired but victorious we then eyed up the challenge of getting the wagon back inside the Store, over the small but significant hump where rail gives way to concrete. We gave it a big shove and surprised ourselves by very nearly sending the wagon careening into the pile of wagon covers and boxes of bits!
By the close of play six planks, two straps, two angles and one angle strap had been attached by two determined men on a mission!
So we close our year with best wishes to you and yours for a happy and safe Christmas, ready for whatever the New Year throws at us.
Photo by John Olsen
The working parties will restart on Thursday Jan 6th 2022, COVID permitting.