Today was the real pits. Well only one pit actually.

We began the excavation of the old Ashpit, unused and filled since some time in the 1960’s.

It took the best part of the day to gentle dig out what we could with the digger, with the remaining all scrapped out by shovel.

The lower pit structure is in remarkably good condition, however the top courses which were obviously modified in the 50’s (or there abouts) were are a little worst for wear.

As this was an ashpit, instead of having longitudinal timbers running the length of the pit for rails to mount upon, it had a series of timber blocks, mounted between bricks and secured to heavy duty angle irons concreted in to hold gauge. (this was a later idea as the original would’ve have had longitudinal timbers)

Seen above in its various states of health. The east side was in very poor condition compared to the west which is probably a result of the bulldozer or loader that filled the pit in.

The timber blocks were sheeted over with metal, presumably to stop hot embers setting them alight!

This here actually shows the original top of the brick work and the old through bolts for holding down longitudinal timbers were (very rusted) still in place at a couple of locations. It’s only the above additions which are unserviceable and now we know the condition we can plan around the best way forward.

As we won’t be using this as an ash pit, we can consider other options. It will simply just be an inspection and running repairs pit.

We even cleaned out the silt trap… Which appears like the railways had never ever looked at, going by the compactness of the material in there.

Only really one other interesting thing was discovered, this little drain that lead into the pit, probably just the drain from a standard garden style tap used for hand washing or similar.

As it was cold and wet and we had a large amount of very dirty timber and general timber mess to clean up, a bon fire was most welcome.

An old sewer plan showed a connection from the shutters cabin under the creek to Gingell street, which if still good (will need lining most likely) may save us a lot of money and effort to connect into the sewer.

And sure enough we found it right at the back of the shed, much shallower than predicted, but none the less there and in good condition. However a camera will need to be sent down to check it out properly.

Bit more at Castlemaine again tomorrow, final tidy up around the pit and a bit more cleaning up along what will be the fenceline.

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