April Showers!

Bob reported:-
Dear Bill,
No complaints about the weather forecast today it was spot on: Get out early, enjoy the sun then watch out for rain, hail and possibly snow on high ground. Cheltenham Race Course (CRC) Station is not on the highest ground around so we missed out only on the snow.
A great morning with a good turnout of our regular volunteers. As always I cannot mention the efforts of everyone, but we try to do the rounds and give credit for the great variety of work done by all our volunteer team at CRC. This week with the share launch for the Railway’s push to Broadway, that end of the line has been much in the local news “assisted” by Pete Waterman and other notables.


Stephen reluctantly emerged from the lamp hut for the image above having just fitted the rear window grill and re-fitted some of the security fittings. These were efforts that required brute force and the use of the angle grinder due to eons of rust and paint. As you can see, it is very pretty under the pine trees with daffodils and bluebells showing through and the Lamp Hut slowly returning to GWR colours after years of neglect. In a few weeks we will need to be out with the strimmers as the weeds also are now starting show accelerated growth. Terry was on his way to Platform 2 and  paused just to be in frame to prove he was working! – More of Terry’s efforts below.


Amongst our many visitors this morning were a Group from the Great Central Railway’s Carriage and Wagon Department guided by Richard Johnson (left of picture) our Company Secretary and head of our Carriage and Wagon Department. They were complimentary about the state of our station – thank you gentlemen. We hope you enjoyed your day with the GWR and your very short time at CRC.


Down on Platform 1 Tim and Mick were finishing off the new inspection chamber setting the new chamber cover into the flagstones. Having cut the first paving stone successfully they looked very pleased with themselves, albeit the second set of cuts on a full sized flagstone would be more of a challenge. A challenge that they rose to manfully as can be seen below.


Job done – well done team – I am sure that Cheltenham Borough Council could use talent like this – their attempts to inset stop cocks, etc into the pavement paving stones leave much to be desired!!!
Out in the gardens Mary was again weeding the entry garden beds at the top of Platform 1 and John was tending to his “dig for victory” garden down on the platform. I can confirm that his broad beans are doing well with flowers already showing. We just hope that the threatened snow does not arrive and spoil this wartime garden show for the Wartime in the Cotswolds weekend on 23 and 24th of this month.


Out on Platform 2 Terry assisted by Maurice were working the soil behind the rear edging kerb of the rolled surface. This area between the kerb and the original slagstone wall of the platform has benefited from the removal of stones, bricks and self seeded weeds and with the addition of some wild flower seeds and plants could look very attractive to our passengers as they sit in their carriages on Platform 1. If any of our readers live locally and could donate hardy plants and seeds that do not need constant watering we would be happy to accept them for Platform 2.


At the Cheltenham end of Platform 2 my son Andrew and grandson Lewis were digging out the trench for the extension of the service ducting to a new access chamber beyond what will become an all-weather asphalt surface in due course. At Cheltenham we try and future proof our installations so that the great work done by others does not have to be damaged at a future date. The saying that “If a job is worth doing it is worth doing 3 times” is not good for volunteer morale. As Andrew reminded me there is an original GWR drainage chamber at Cheltenham that we dug out 4 times in all, but that is another story for retelling years from now when the passions and pain have diminished.
Up in the ticket office Dave Griffin, CRC’s senior Station Master, was not today on front of house duties and was making a new sign board to go on Platform 1 under the canopy. Following the lead of other stations on our line, this board will contain information on the “Loco(s) of the Day” with information on the locos and pictures of them. Another plus for enhancing the customer experience at our station.
Our Billy Goat was again out and about this morning under the control of Paul making short work of the pine needles and cones on the platform and ramp. Paul has an apparent passion for machinery as this morning he employed all our powered garden machinery – the blower to clear the grass cuttings from our entrance road and the lawn mower to trim the grass in front of the Ticket Office – as well as Billy Goat.


And finally an image of one of the unsung heroes of the CRC station volunteer staff. In the waiting room/shop today we had Elaine and I can confirm it was the warmest place on Platform 1 this morning. Thanks Elaine.

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