A good-sized team of volunteers enjoyed a really fine day at Wenhaston onView looking south – both driftway crossing gates
Saturday October 18th. Sean and his loaders first collected our new gates, all the tools, and 8 pieces of repaired original SR fencing from our Southwold workshop, and then travelled in convoy to the Trust’s Wenhaston land. The pastures are now too damp for vehicles to reach the trackbed itself, so Digger’s 4-wheel-drive mini-dumper was used to transport the timberwork to the worksite.
John and James had, during the previous week, assembled the original SR gate fittings to one gate, and a set of new – but similar – fittings to the other. Thus we were immediately ready to hang them. This would seem pretty simple. However, as the two hinge parts have to be facing in opposite directions (to prevent the possible loss by theft of these quite expensive gates), it turned out that we had to take off, and re-fit, much of the already-fitted equipment. We have no power onsite, so there was a great deal of taking turns with a brace-and-bit hand drill, making holes through the 8 inch posts. But we live and learn – and we will know better next time. So we now have a fixed gate (driving in the angled 6-inch nails was painful, given the gate’s quality) to the south, using four original SR parts, and a fully-working gate to the north, providing access if needed.
James, the fence fanatic, then of course had to fit the first panel of original materials (four rails, two connecting “droppers”) to the
west of the southern gate. This was – “interesting”. The dowelled joints, for example, turned out to be fragile, particularly when dropped. The cut clasp nails (the nearest we could get to the original hand-mades) seemed especially designed to split the fence-rail ends. The design used by the SR’s contractors – 12-foot spans of heavy timber, rather vaguely supported at 4 feet and 8 feet by extra vertical timbers which reach the ground but do not go into it – seems more and more bizarre, as we see its disadvantages. Still – this fencing was a very important part of the SR’s style – so we will continue to repair and re-erect it onto the posts which remain.
Meanwhile, Digger Sean was continuing to cut up an old rotten stump (while being called on, from time to time, when we needed a really strong back), while Maureen and Bob discovered and unearthed even more buried fence rails, good enough to re-use. Quite a bit more trash was burned, and the trackbed path raked and cleared, ready for the turf and woodland plants to grow in spring.