I suppose it’s one of the joys of working as a volunteer at the Racecourse Station that you never quite know who or what will turn up. I popped in for a morning’s stumpery today and was – via email – diverted onto finding a leak. And I couldn’t – find it that is!
There appears to be a slight seepage down the bank behind the ticket office at the Station. Only a dribble really but enough to set the alarm bells ringing – not least because it hasn’t rained much for some weeks and the sight of a muddy patch suggests all is not well somewhere farther up the slope. So I was dispatched with spade in hand to dig around. The guidance (form Bob) was helpful but slightly vague: ‘……..the foul water pipe emerges from the building here and enter the compound there (about 25 yards away), so the pipe must lie somewhere between, but could be up to 4 feet down!’. Thanks!
So, off with the chamber lid – screws all rusted up naturally!
And naturally the pipe emerges at quite a different angle; probably a bend a bit further on said the guru, before departing! Anyway, I pressed on with the one slight benefit being that theses slopes aren’t comprised of the hard intractable native clay which one finds just below topsoil elsewhere – in fact they are quite easy to dig for a couple of feet down. So I dug and then I dug some more………………………………………………………and then carried on digging.
Eventually, I unearthed (or at least revealed) several pipes – criss-crossing the slope somewhat but basically heading downwards (unsurprisingly!). All the soil was damp, some slightly wet. Hmm – where was the leak? So feeling full of initiative I worked my way up from the seepage only to find a large tree in the way – drat it!
So I resigned temporarily and went to watch a train: Foremarke Hall to be precise:
On a ‘Footplate Experience’ run. And as usual all the customers were bright and cheerful:
I laboured on and produced more holes (test pits as they are known on ‘Time Team’), which may or may not fill with water overnight. Looks rather like there’s been a badgers’ all nighter and they haven’t cleared up. I bet readers just can’t wait to hear what was leaking! I promise to let you know if we ever find out.
However, in conclusion I note, not for the first time, that there is more to running a railway than meets the eye. Some serve by escorting happy passengers on joyous steam journeys; some by hard labour of digging holes and clearing out foul water pipes!