More work is being carried out on the tramline feature near the start of the walk. To ease maintenance in summer and to help the feature stand out the turf around it has been removed and reworked into an uneven area in the grounds. The aim is now is to lay down a water-porous membrane to inhibit weed growth, then to infill with a natural material that will contrast the feature.
Work is taking place near posts 17 and 19 to repair a wall close to the tramroad and the entrance to Oakwood Mill Deep Level. The work is ongoing. Please comply with all signage to enable the work to be carried out safely.
The photo above shows the entrance to the level in early 2021.
Due to the failure of the post to which it was attached we have temporarily removed the waymark discs at point 10 – where the walk crosses the Gloucestershire Way.
From post 9 just walk straight ahead then down the same track after the bungalow until you see post 11 at the bottom of the hill. A new post will be erected at point 10 as soon as work to install it can be scheduled in.
Two sculptures of deer can now be seen on Pastors Hill. As you walk up the field between waymarks 47 and 48 . Can you spot them as you walk up this long field known locally as The Langett?.
A new section of tramline has been installed in the centre of Bream. The feature uses six original stone sleeper blocks from the Oakwood Tramway. Part of the course of the tramway is followed on the walk. New iron chairs were cast at a foundry in the Midlands – using an existing Oakwood chair loaned by the Dean Heritage Centre for use by the foundry Pattern Maker. The engineers at the Hang Hill Works, The Flourmill, Bream carried out the fettling and fitting.
There are still stone sleepers to be seen in the Oakwood Valley but there are no iron chairs or rails left in situ now due to their value as scrap iron. Look out for the stone sleepers during your walk.
Tramway rails were held in place on the stone sleepers by iron “chairs”. The lugs in the bottom of the chairs dropped into the holes in the stone sleepers. The rails were then held in place in the chairs by wedges.
This particular stone sleeper has 3 holes. The middle hole was used for an earlier type of rail and fixing and is explained below.
The trucks or trams that ran on the rails were pulled by horses. The arrangement suited the horses as there were no obstructions for their hooves Local iron ore, coal and stone were carried in the trucks.
Early type of sleeper and fixing
The composite photo above shows how an early tramway join was made between two plates (rails):
Cast iron plates A and B were butted up together. The plates were positioned in such a way that the hole formed by the alignment of the two notches at D was directly above above the hole in the stone sleeper block E into which an oak peg had been driven. Finally the iron peg C was hammered into the hole at D and forced down into the oak peg at E.
As the years passed the single hole stone sleeper design was improved and the two outer holes were drilled to take the iron chairs. New stone sleepers then needed two holes. This was a more robust design that needed less maintenance and can be seen in the feature.
Examples of local tramway plates, sleepers, chairs, a wagon and much more can be seen at the Dean Heritage Centre at Soudley.
After heavy rains, part of a bridge over the Oakwood Brook has collapsed. Although this is not on the route of the heritage walk it does rule out taking a shortcut from post 12 to post 15 as the footpath is closed at the brook.
The lambing season will be with us for the the next few months – so no matter how well behaved your dog is, PLEASE KEEP YOUR DOG ON A LEAD AND STAY ON THE FOOTPATH when following the public footpaths that cross farm land.
The exceptionally heavy rain that fell in December 2020 has left some of the tracks and paths on the heritage walk very muddy – the paths will remain muddy for some time.
Unusually, part of the forest track from Post 14 to Post 15 is covered in a couple of inches of flowing water. This extra water is taking the most direct route it can find down to the Oakwood Brook. On this section, wellingtons are currently needed if you want to keep your feet dry!. The water should clear after a few dry days.
Bream Sports Club has generously given permission to locate the feature for the Bream Heritage Walk in this prime location in the centre of Bream Village. The pegs in the foreground show where the feature will sit.
In the photo, Julie from the Foresters Forest is taking some measurements. Behind Julie, across the road is Bream Community Library.
To accompany the walk, a feature is being made at the Flourmill works in Bream. The feature will be a short section of tramroad set on original stone blocks from the Oakwood tramroad.
An original “chair” from the Oakwood tramroad was used to make a pattern. The pattern was then used to make a mould using sand into which molten iron was poured to form the six new cast-iron chairs shown in the photo above.
The chairs were cast in a Foundry in Birmingham.