Reconstructing the Three Way Point
August 2008

Many moons ago, when the Brockham Museum Trust moved their collection to Amberley, one of the major track items which arrived was a 3-way point.

The history of the point is known - it was originally in use on the 3 foot gauge system at Staveley Minerals Ltd, Scaldwell, Northamptonshire. It was donated to the Trust by Staveley Minerals along with one of their side-tipping mineral wagons. A further item from that source was subsequently purchased, the 0-6-0ST Peckett locomotive 1316/1913 "Scaldwell". Both items remain at Amberley.

The 3-way point was relaid at Brockham but at the same time regauged to 2 foot gauge - not as straight-forward as it sounds because when you alter an item of this complexity in such a radical way, the geometry has to be completely reworked. This job was completed and the point used at Brockham for a number of years.


Photo by Richard Cossey

This first picture shows the point as installed at Brockham. This is, for some reason, the only really clear photo we have of the point while it was in use either at Brockham or at Amberley.

Such an interesting item would, you'd think, attract the attentions of at least a few photographers, but it seems not. Probably its biggest claim to fame came when Grace Jones crossed it shortly before being blown to Kingdom Come in the James Bond Film, A View to a Kill. However, it did feature on the cover of the Museum's Guide Book in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

With the remodelling of the track layout in the early 90s the point became surplus to requirements and was dismantled and stored. However, it has always been our intention to relay it somewhere and a scheme is currently being hatched to do just this.

So early in 2008 the kit of parts was brought out of the storage area and stacked by the concrete apron outside the workshop for work to start. This had to wait until after Gala Weekend as the space was required for exhibition space, and in any case we had other jobs on-going at the time - like Jubilee Sidings for example.

There's a lot of it - most of it very heavy - and we don't have the original box and instructions any longer so we will have to "wing" it.

It is also very long - our longest item of "special work", to use tramway parlance, at a smidge over 33 feet - and requires 13 sleepers spaced at roughly 30 inch centres (Metric? 1 inch is 2.54 cm - work it out! We're a heritage site).

The sleepers were laid out and the straight stock rail placed along one edge for use as our datum. The sleepers will be cut to length later.

The rest of the kit was then placed in the relative positions along the considerable length of the point. Some fishplates still have to be located from our stock pile but many of the bolts are past their use by date and new ones will be used - never a bad idea in the long run.

The second pair of sleepers will carry the operating levers.
John Martin at the other end is preparing to make some "adjustments". Don't drop that hammer on your foot JM!

View of the same from the blunt end. This end just about fits onto the length of one sleeper.

The track gauge was then brought out and the frogs placed in-gauge. We now begin to get an idea of what it will look like.

Early November and here's a general view of the point - just the curved stock rail to be gauged and fastened.
The team are just about to find that one of the sleepers has split right along its length.

The split sleeper is prepared for removal - that means we have taken out the track screws.

The frog end - it looks quite complicated from this angle. The test wheelset runs through with no problem - which is reassuring!

A wider view with Peter Trinder casting a critical eye.

The whole thing was then jacked up off the ground onto some more sleepers ready for lifting.

Just the point levers to be fitted now - but these will have to wait until another major job is completed
which will release the necessary levers for re-use

Unusual ground level view. The tie bars are in position.

26 November, Frank and his crane arrived to take the completed point to its now position at Redcar Sidings.



Gerry Cork & Amberley Working Museum - November 2008
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