Onsite activity at Snapper Halt throughout the early part of October was preparation work for our previously announced Working Weekend over Saturday 24 & Sunday 25th. After these dates, our volunteer workforce was employed in tidying up the site.
Work actually commenced on Monday 19th using professional service providers and heavy machinery, the consequence of which can be seen in the photo images below.
1. On Tuesday 10th October Chris (L) and Rob (S) cleared the area around the river blockage of the laurel trees which were preventing good access to the river in advance of the working weekend. The above image shows Chris loading up the bonfire to dispose of the cut vegetation, but the larger logs were stored for use during the later work of repairing the river bank.
2. The priority task at the start of the Work Week was the felling a pair of dead trees overshadowing the platform, trackbed, public highway and the power lines. Both trees were removed before they fell over.
3. Between the closure of the original railway in 1935 and EA purchasing the trackbed in 2010, an overhead power line was provided across the trackbed. There being no railway in operation to obstruct, the stay wires of one of the wooden support poles was anchored into the old railway trackbed as can be seen in the above image.
4. The power line connects the village of Bratton Fleming to the national power network and our working week was timed to deliberately coincide with the fact that Western Energy Distribution would be power downing the route to upgrade their equipment at Bratton. The above two photo images show the energy company’s personnel transferring the power line onto a new pole so as to remove the stay wires that would have obstructed train operations.
5. And here is how the power line now passes above the trackbed. A new support pole was erected by the boundary fence as can be seen on the left in the above image, whilst two of the old poles which were removed are seen laying on the platform surface awaiting disposal.
6. Meanwhile the digger was in operation at the opposite end of the trackbed near to Bridge 16 where it was deployed removing tree stumps from trees after they had been felled. It was necessary for us to clear the trackbed of all vegetation to provide vehicular access for further work by Western Power Distribution, and also provide vehicular access for the heavy machinery required to complete Phase 1 of the flood defence/prevention work in accordance with the the ‘Flood Defence Consent’ document issued to Exmoor Associates by the Environment Agency.
7. Here is the site of the damage caused by the flooded river. The site was cleared to allow vehicle access to remove debris from the river and then undertake repairs to our river bank. River bank repairs consumed a number of large logs and on the date of this photo the work was awaiting completion. A number of logs were also used to build a number of ‘log piles’ along the river bank to provide habitats for the wildlife that lives near to the river.
8. Although the problem cannot be seen in this image of the trackbed approaching Bridge 16, the line of trees to the right of the trackbed are growing through another power line. Western Power Distribution have requested that we provide vehicle access along the trackbed to enable them to cut back this vegetation clear of their power lines.
9. Another project undertaken was to reinstate the platform lamp provided to Snapper Halt by the Southern Railway circa 1930. We took advice from Steve Phillips (co-author of The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Measured & Drawn) as to the type of lamp post originally fitted. We were advised by Steve that the lamp column and 4-sided lamp was an ex-LSWR pattern, with just one ladder arm pointing towards Barnstaple. We were extremely fortunate to locate an ex-LSWR lamp column with just one ladder arm remaining intact at an architectural salvage dealer in Oxfordshire. This was duly collected, sandblasted, primed, and delivered to site and is seen in the above image laying on the Snapper Halt platform prior to erection.
11. And here is the completed task, the lamp column having been correctly erected at the foot of the footpath coming down from the public highway above the station, with the single ladder arm pointing towards Barnstaple. The lamp column currently awaits painting (into Southern railway green) and an ex-LSWR 4-sided lantern sourced and fitted.
12. Here is the view along the trackbed looking towards the Platelayers’ Hut, Bridge 15, Snapper Halt and Barnstaple beyond. The smoke is from the bonfires burning the considerable amount of cut vegetation.
13. And finally here is a close-up view of some of the volunteers on site over the weekend. Other work undertaken but not photographically recorded included the removal of the fencing from the top field.
The Directors of Exmoor Associates would like to thank all the EA shareholders and volunteers who participated in the work, along with all those professional people and organisations who offered their services to assist us in completing the scheduled work. This includes the team of tree removal specialists, those involved with the provision and operation of the heavy machinery, the loan of the marquee, and those who supplied and prepared the refreshments and lunches on-site. Finally we would extend our special thanks to Mr Jones who kindly made his field adjacent to the trackbed available for our use during the period of work.
Photo credits: Mike Buse 2, 3, 4, 8 & 9, Chris Dadson 5, 7, 10, 11, 12 & 14, Jenny Driver 6 & 13, and Rob Sadd 1.