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Aireside Station - Steve Smith

For those of the Leeds Bradford Shed who have trundled, or zoomed, around the Aireside Railway there has been a change to the far end station area to note. Those who haven’t steamed in Bingley here is an account of replacing the station taking the name of the Railway.

In those halcyon days before lock down and during the closing weeks of winter, the railway management had a walk around to take stock of wear and tear. The Aireside station, on elevated boards on posts, seemed awfully lumpy so investigations were made, see Photo 1, finding rot!


Photo 1 two layers of roofing felt were stripped back. It was disappointing to find wet and swollen OSB as it had been repaired only a couple years ago - 15 April 2020

The OSB formation was wet and swollen at the ends and along the side which was supported by the brick wall part of the former compost bins. 18mm thick OSB was, in places, swollen to almost 30mm with sealant and paint failing to protect the edges. Replacement was the only option.

The felt and boards were removed revealing the substantial structure below, Photo 2.


Photo 2 showing the substantial frame work beneath the boarding and the adjoining composters - 16 April 2020

Having previously used, unsuccessfully, external ply and now OSB, a new option was to use concrete flags. There are varying sizes and standards of flags, the railway selected grey 600mm x 600mm x 38mm thick. Supply lines were a bit hit and miss in the lock down but a local builder’s yard delivered a pallet with 20 x flags plus half a dozen tubes of a silicon grab adhesive.

As the flag depth of 38mm was greater than the designed OSB 18mm and to avoid a ramp at either end, the structure had to be lowered. The whole site was cleared (photo 3) and posts dug out. I got a bit nervous here – it was like the garden was winning and the railway was losing.


Photo 3 With the exception of one post the cleared site - 20 April 2020

The 4 x 2 beams were recovered, holes filled and repainted for reuse.

For levelling, I used a static laser level between the two walls carrying the railway at either end. One end was found to be 20mm above the other so I had to factor in an incline. This part of the railway encloses a grassed area and access for a lawn mower is required. The previous Bridge 4 was still required but probably of a different dimension as I needed to complete the structure without too many additional complications.

I had three unused 100 x 100mm fence posts 1.8m long from a previous project that wasn’t started and these were cut to length and dug in approx 330 mm. The site slopes so each post had to be tailor-made. The formation was to be widened over part of the composters so bricks had to be removed. The spans are max 36 inches so it was considered 3 x 2 timbers were adequate and since they were part of the unfulfilled project, they were in stock. However over the posts spans, the 4 x 2 joists were reused, Photo 4


Photo 4 the framework takes shape - 06 May 2020.

As construction progressed, the frame became a more comprehensive support system for the substantial weight of the covering, including the corner triangle designed to be equilateral, mainly to accommodate the best alignment for the track cornering, Photo 5.

It should be noted that the flags were to overhang the framework (as part of weather protection) between 65mm and 100mm. The 4 x 4 posts and 3 x 2 lengths had been purchased pre-treated but the softwood pse required painting and the Dulux Weathershield system was used.


Photo 5 The framework becomes more comprehensive and undercoated pse – 08 May 2020.

Photo 6 shows the (almost) final frame left for the paint to harden before heaving concrete flags over the timbers.


Photo 6 the completion of the framework with timber gloss painted and left to harden – 09 May 2020

Then after a couple of days to allow paint to harden, the flags were lifted into position. Some cutting was required. Four reduced size pieces were required, in addition to the corner slabs, and only three full sized flags were used, see photo 7. Cutting was undertaken with a small angle grinder with a masonry cutting wheel. Laying the slabs identified two further cross frame supports were required and I decided the corner needed another post support. Most flags are supported at the joints and that made seating the flags on the adhesive easier and more controlled. Around 6mm was left at each joint and a silicon sealant used to fill the gaps topped with a weak mortar. These need to be re-sealed as most leak affecting the supporting timbers!


Photo 7 the flag laying completed with the additional corner post erected - 11 May 2020.

During the construction, Bridge 4 had to be considered. The formation had been shifted some 200mm over making the bridge gap longer, over a metre long – too long. The station framework was extended before flags were placed and the bridge was almost the same length as the first incarnation, it was just in need of “poshing up” and that led to a complete rebuild, see below.

Thoughts had turned to the station layout and whilst a basic idea lay at the back of my mind, lengths of track, points and imagination were used on various solutions. Initially the main line, with a passing loop, was laid so trains could run again. This will be the main platform area. I found it fun trying the options but the final layout is now a commitment see photo 8.


Photo 8 Aireside station layout on the concrete flag formation. The main line passing loop is on the extreme left. Road three (reading left to right) is to be a bay platform. Road 4, perhaps needs swinging over nearer to the bay, but is the goods road with coal staithes and maybe a cattle dock. Roads 5 and 6 are for the engine shed with 7 and 8 at the far end for coaching stock – 22 June 2020.

Bridge 4 can be seen in Photo 8, 9 and 10. It is now wider by some 25mm which gives enough space for it to form part of the main throat to the station. With a home made curved point, the right arm is the main line and the left the sole access to the station and store area. Here there is a limited headshunt for internal movement, but not a great length.


Photo 9 the throat to Aireside Station on bridge 4 illustrating the limited headshunt before the station lines  join the main line. The train is in the bay platform – 22 June 2020.

The structure of the bridge is the same as previous with a steel box frame and timber outriggers and facia plastic with roofing felt on top. The upright sides are new, being knocked together from 6mm plywood and panelled in stripwood including a covering of the end grain and top with 10mm x 2mm strips The curved top is 6ft radius and the whole painted Weathershield Black. And for fun the rather expensive Dunlop Advertisement was purchased to make the bridge unique. So the Dunlop Bridge can be seen in action in Photo 10.


Photo 10 The unique bridge that holds the throat to Aireside station with the train in the previous photo departing the station – 22 June 2020.

Conclusion. A complete rebuild of the superstructure of this elevated section of track has made an opportunity to re-think the railway design as a whole and allows the formation of the largest station. This, appropriately, bears the name of Aireside. Most services will originate here and can be out and back or end to end with a circuit inbetween. The Ghyllwood branch can also be used to commence services.

The form of the concrete covering is weighty but once the joints are sealed, should provide a basis of the railway for many years. There are still many jobs to be undertaken – ballasting the track, the formation of platforms, a new station building, build a two road engine shed. Signals here would be appropriate and a new box will be required. Railway walls and protective boundary fences are needed, even town buildings such as shop or two, a pub and dwellings, plenty to keep me out of mischief for years to come.

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