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Monday, 31 October 2011


The buffers are beginning to look the part. We have deliberately placed them over a couple of manhole covers that needed protecting from possible damage by heavy vehicles. The letters L and R prevented any assembly hitches. They will be covered by the buffer cross beam eventually.

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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Tank repainted in 1959

I met a man in Settle yesterday who remembers the tank being re-painted grey in 1959.   He cannot remember what colour it had been but from photographs it was probably already grey.   At that time he worked in the coal yard by the water tower.   He says that a British Railways (or possibly British Road Services?) lorry that did railway deliveries was garaged inside the tower in 1959.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Reactions to the view

Now that the internal staircase is there it becomes possible for people to enter the tank and appreciate the views.   Today, daughter Lorna - intelligent, beautiful, sophisticated London solicitor - saw the view for the first time and her precise words were "Bloody Nora".

In stark contrast, six year old grandson James - boy, conversant with modern phraseology, cool dude - came out with "Astonishing".

Our parenting skills were lacking somewhere.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Concrete progress

Near the centre of the picture can be seen the reinforcement mesh rectangle that will be the garage block base awaiting two lorry loads of concrete.

And here is the first one - able to drive right onto the site thanks to the newly widened entry gates from The Sidings. A plastic manhole, placed just yesterday for the sewer works right in the middle of the entrance way at the insistence of United Utilities collapsed under the load - inevitably.

The figure on the right is Bob the Builder wearing the very latest in fashion footwear. Read Bob's exciting concrete adventure in the posting below.
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Bob the Builder's Wellies

Today we have been laying concrete. Concrete is a bit like mud but dearer. This means that the men have to go for a paddle. Here is Bob the Builder. Silly Bob forgot to bring his wellies. Actually Bob hasn't got any wellies because he spends all his money down the pub. Bob is a clever builder. He put his feet in plastic bags and sealed them up with tape. Inventive Bob.

Here are Bob's welly substitutes. Stylish Bob.

Very soon, Tumbler the concrete truck came. "I'm a rumblin' and a tumblin' and rollin' and a tumblin' " said Tumbler. Bob got to work. See Bob in the middle smoothing the concrete. What's that oozing between my toes, thought Bob. Oh no, it was concrete!

By the time the job was finished Bob was thoroughly pissed off with life in general and his new wellies in particular. Bob's mummy will be very cross with him when he gets home tonight. Bob has decided to get himself some proper wellies very soon. Sensible Bob. Can we fix it? Yes we can!
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Action men

This is the Kilburn and Johnson building team at 7.30am today - ready for action. Having been denied access to the site by roadworks for the past week they are throwing everything at it today. From the left we have Gav, Richard (The Stig) Kilburn, Tim, Peter, Bob, Scott and Carl Johnson.
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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

We have access

After almost a week of road works to connect sewage and water the trenches have been back-filled and we again have access to our site.   Builders Kilburn and Johnson are returning in force tomorrow.   Several door frames have been fitted today by joiner Dave Richardson.   The plumbing is finished and the rainwater harvesting system seems to work.   More and more lights are coming live and there is a feeling of progress about the place. The heating works too!

I went to Carlisle yesterday for a new pair of glasses and was measured up for them by Specsaver's finest - Amber - a credit to her firm and a new reader of this Blog.  

One of the features of Blogs is that you can examine the statistics and see where in the world people are viewing it.   Unsurprisingly, the UK has most readers by far but, in descending order, the UK is followed by the USA, Germany, Canada, Australia, Russia, India, New Zealand, Latvia and Spain.   You needed to know that didn't you?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sewer setback

This is as far as we can go with our road works until somebody from United Utilities comes and certifies our work as satisfactory. For that we need an authorisation code. Does anybody out there have one they could lend us? This is the connection to the sewer manhole - which necessitated us boring into 12" thick reinforced concrete.

At the house end of the sewage connection we had to put a manhole. PLEASE United Utilities, hurry up with our authorisation code so that your man can come out, look into it and certify it. If anybody from UU's sees this can they tell the authorisation code people that the work appears to be OK?

Meanwhile, progress is on hold as part-completed road works span the site entrance - and the bill keeps increasing.
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A cool birthday present

Today, October 15th is my Birthday. Let's just say the year I was born Hitler was bombing us and I can still remember being put under the dining room table during air raids. I'm what some would consider to be an old bugger. What has this to do with the picture above? It is a 'brick light' - one of four that will illuminate the pathway to the side entrance. As Ollie the electrician was fitting it I remarked that it looked cool, hastening to add that cool was not a word I often used.

Ollie (21) replied "You should use 'cool' more often. It suits you."    Quite the nicest 68th Birthday present a chap could wish for.   Cool in fact.
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The fence is marked

This is a cat's paw print - fencer Les Brewer's special mark that goes on special fences. The large circle is of ebony and the four small ones are mahogany, set into a secret part of the fence. You would take you some time to find it as there is a lot of fence to look at.   A characteristic of this project has been the pride people have taken in doing a good job - and it shows.    Not least in the fences and gates.
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Yellow Balau

These planks of wood, the lower ones 16 feet long, have been sawn from two great baulks of timber that were way beams on the Settle-Carlisle railway. Way beams are hardwood sleepers used at places of high stress such as points. You can still see the marks where rail chairs have been bolted to them. We intend to use this wood for the treads and risers of staircases and for two window sills.

The long planks are identified as tropical hardwood Yellow Balau. The darker ones have still to be identified.

What is for certain, these pieces of wood will be beautiful when fitted - as well as being historically appropriate.

They were cut from the baulks this week and are seen here stacked for drying at Wonder of Wood's yard at Stainforth.
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Thursday, 13 October 2011

We have a water supply

Within an hour of Bobby the dog's vigil (see previous posting) two men arrived to connect us to the water mains. It took them next to no time.

This is the house end of things - a stop tap cum water meter. .  .

. . . and this is the water main connection - cleverly tapped into the live main without spilling a drop.

Within a couple of hours the trench was back-filled and the taps in the water tower were functioning. Why was it that we had to borrow water from a neighbour in order to supply our building site and were able to complete the building works in the time it has taken to connect to the water mains? Only the sewer to connect - tomorrow.
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No water at the water tower

Day two of frustration on the water front. Yorkshire Water just didn't turn up yesterday to connect us to the water main, diligently laid bare for them by Whitelocks. If the system spent less time on risk assessments and method statements and more on doing the doing we might one day get a water supply. Here we see smoke rising from a manhole like something from a pavement scene in New York
The smoke was Whitelock's man cutting in to the sewer - which belongs to United Utilities, not Yorkshire Water. Did somebody with a sense of humour come up with the name United Utilities?

Bobby inspects the unconnected water main and is not pleased. The No Water sign was a lucky find inside the water tower which somehow fits the situation.

From inside the roadworks Bobby keeps watch for Yorkshire Water's arrival.
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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Roadworks at long last

Peter Bullock the waller works on the retaining wall by the station drive under the watchful scrutiny of site supervisor Bobby.

This is a very welcome sight - road works in The Sidings in preparation for the connection of a water supply tomorrow. It has taken us more than six months to get to this stage. Whose daft idea was it to privatise the utilities? Note the rather optimistic distance sign saying 200 yards.

Soon corrected using gaffer tape. There was debate about making it 200mm instead.


Heating engineer Chris doing clever stuff with pipes. The gas boiler is installed and if all goes well we could have heating by Friday.

Meanwhile life goes on on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Coach drivers have coped with our roadworks with great understanding.
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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ladder for sale

This is the top bit of what was an exceptionally long and strong ladder belonging to Kilburn and Johnson - until one of Whitelock's Tonka toys drove over it. So far there has only been passing interest so the price has been raised to £6 from £5 in an attempt to push it into a higher sector of the market.

The slope to the side door is looking great. Those flagstones were salvaged from the floor of the tower and are 4 inches thick.

A bank of light switches - deliberately industrial in style. There is a similar array on each floor. We may need coaching on what does what.

Electric Ollie has done a super job on complicated wiring. He turns camera shy whilst fitting an 'up and down' light to an inside corridor. These stainless steel lights are designed for exterior use but look the part indoors too.
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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Visible progress on several fronts

Gav and Peter with the north retaining wall. Great stuff. Just wait until you see this finished.

Meanwhile Les Brewer has been taming the embankment.

And Jordan the tiler has most of the bathroom walls and floors tiled.

Chris Arstrong, Unimog and digger have been clearing the site and excavating the area where the main entrance onto the station drive will be. The flat area in front of the pile of stones is where the garages will be. There seem to be several layers of stone and tarmac already there so we may not need to lay such a substantial base for the outbuilding as we had anticipated.
Finally, we are gradually lighting the place up as the second fix electrics are installed. This is what was previously the exterior dentition stones just below the tank - now a well lit feature of the kitchen ceiling. It was builders Richard and Carl's idea to build the ceiling in such a way that these were not covered in by the ceiling. Electrician Jonathan Mounsey then suggested illuminating them with LEDs. What a pleasing result.
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