First Day of the Steam Gala

Dear Bill,

This is the first (I hope) of the reports from the team on the work at the station today and the wonderful locomotives that have been gracing us with their presence today. I regret that by the time I arrived at 0900hrs this morning I had missed the first run of P & O and the car park was already half full. Stephen was on gate duty with volunteers from other parts of the railway and within the hour our car park was full and we were directing our visitor’s cars onto the overflow car parking areas.

The Ledamun Brothers were working with Billy Goat and the lawn mower on Platform 1 and the front of house grassed areas – it all looked very tidy for our visitors who were still arriving by the busload at lunchtime.

I did not have too much time for train spotting and “glint” pictures – there were dozens of other camera wielding visitors doing that, so no doubt we will see a good sprinkling of their efforts in the railway press in the weeks to come. I did however take a moment to admire 46521 looking imaculate on Platform 1

You requested that those of us who were not otherwise gainfully employed supporting “revenue protection”, or car parking for the Gala today should make an effort to fill your skip with unwanted “stuff” and Andrew and I took you at your word to remove sanitary items and other really useful rubbish that has been languishing in the secure compound for nearly 20 years.

There is still plenty more “stuff” to go, but we did clear some shelf space for items that are currently more useful for our future projects – Oh yes and your skip is now nearly filled!.


A Wednesday Special

Two Posts have been submitted today, which have now been combined as follows:-
Dear Bill,
    Dave G, Dave T and myself had a meeting this morning with Peter Muir and Peter Dickinson from B&S to discuss the access pathways that will be required to bring platform 2 into operation, we believe, next year ?


    We had a very useful discussion on the way ahead for this project and for the repairs to the Platform 1 back wall and access ramp walls which have been in a sorry state for some time. There is hope that some work may take place on the ramp wall sooner rather than later. Pete Dickinson also delivered gifts of fencing panels and slats for repairs to the Klargester fencing that is showing its 15 year age – thanks Pete for the delivery and Tim for placing them into the compound.
    Tim was already active on Platform 2 when I arrived excavating the water supply pipe that we had buried to protect it from the machinery being used to construct the platform and as you will see from Tim’s email below we are reaping the rewards from a little forward thinking. I will leave Tim’s report to stand on its own with his images.
Tim’s report:  I was at CRC early this morning to take delivery of some fence palings (another story, another set of decisions to be made).  So, whilst waiting, I set to work on our potential chamber & additional ‘stand pipe’ in the middle of P2.  I am not there this coming Saturday, but you are very welcome to take it from there if you do go up – enlisting whatever help you can lay your hand on!
I had a lengthy dig around and, as we discussed on Saturday last, believe we can get a 3-way chamber in, mating with the grey pipes.  I have uncovered a good area and depth (I think) including a line to where we will want to bury the blue pipe as it comes out of the chamber on its short journey to the edge of the potential garden area.
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I had forgotten we put this short length of split pipe in around the water supply – a slightly bodged job! (Obviously less professional in those days!!)  However, seeing that the blue pipe appeared to go off somewhere else up the slope I discussed with Bob that we might cut this off and insert a new water pipe up the slope actually in the pipe.  Imagine my surprise on taking off the split pipe and finding we did that last time, and inserted a joint – doesn’t say much for my memory! (but a great deal for your forward planning Tim and Mick !!! Bob)
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So the cut off pipe can be ignored and I guess we simply need to put in the necessary fittings and lead off the extra pipe, re-attaching the existing bit.
I have put the 3-way chamber (it’s a Y-shape not a T-shape which might be a bit tricky as I recall the blue stuff doesn’t bend much) back in the store on the rack – it is the only one we have I suspect and Bob, as you may recall, is intending to procure some extra extension sections and the necessary water pipe fittings.  More blue pipe in the store obviously.
For the record I removed a barrow load of rubble and Bob agrees that this time we re-fill with the stuff from the dumpy bags at the end of P2, rather than reusing.
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Saturday 21st May 2016 – A Pot Pourrie of Posts

It was certainly a damp old day at CRCS, but, as ever the die hards turned out and some good progress was made. I had two contributions  towards todays blog post – from Tim Winstanley and Bob Stark – and they’re much appreciated!

Firstly from Tim:-


Dear Bill,

A slightly reduced turn out this morning: the weather was pretty blowy with some rain so not conducive to painting or other delicate tasks.  As such, various odd jobs were performed along with the standard activity for May to trying to keep up with and control the rampant growth of both the wanted and unwanted plants.  Highlights (or lowlights) of the morning’s activities included:

A team were working on the bank behind Platform 2, alternately strimming the nettles & weeds etc whilst trying to preserve the blend of wild flowers behind the newly instituted flower beds.  All very attractive: the flowers that is, and the team as well obviously!

Others were adjusting the 12 chambers on P2 to try and get each one simultaneously level, square and the same height as the platform edging.  The original Broadway Team swore than they were all perfectly aligned when originally installed and we CRC types claim that t’weren’t us that messed them up. (It’s known as the Albert & the Lion conclusion: ‘….no-one was really to blame….’.)  Anyway the chambers are now firmly fixed (I hope); all the interests of having a nice even platform surface when the long-anticipated tarmac is laid.  We live in hope.


Bill, having manfully negotiated the delivery of the a decent-sized skip, set us the challenge of filling it (with enough of the right stuff) but being careful not to transgress the huge list of things which were not to go in it (the wrong stuff).  Now I’d have thought that it would take about 5 minutes to locate enough junk at CRC to fill 5 skips but then again I don’t always have the right heritage mindset when it comes to knowing what to keep and what to chuck, so I kept well clear.  Anyway the skip was more than half full by lunchtime so I imagine we will have no difficulty filling the rest.  Always providing people don’t start removing to keep what others have discarded!

Equally valuably I noted that the garden pod was undergoing a major tidy and clear out!  Excellent work and one suspects that there are other areas with would benefit from similarly thorough approach (including my garage).

And finally (as the 2 Ronnies would have said) the lockable tool cupboard in the staff area – which according to Bob has been difficult to close since at least 1995 – has been fixed.  Seemingly one shelf clashed with the closure mechanism and a bit of mild reordering means that one no longer needs to apply a boot to close it.  Well done Mick!!

So, it’s good night from me and its goodnight from him.



And from Bob:-

A Damp Saturday at CRC

Dear Blog Meister,
    Another good turnout of CAG volunteers on a rather grey day. I suspect, however, that due to the closure of the Racecourse roundabout for resurfacing only the dedicated visitors made it to our station today.
    The Stark family were once again working on the embankments of Platform 2 taming the explosion of green matter that has occurred on the passenger facing slopes. Today we strimmed the grass (and weeds) up the Platform 2 ramp and carried out further excavation of some of the still growing stumps of unwanted self-seeded trees. The hope is that this year we can once again regain control of this embankment after many years of partial neglect following the demolition of the old platform.P1060296 2
On Platform 2 Mick and Tim were AGAIN leveling up the tops of the inspection chambers. (I will say AGAIN before one of the Broadway team do,  as they previously had carried out this task, but apparently we upset the levels when wiring in the lanterns). This time Mick and Tim fixed the adjustable chamber risers with set screws so they cannot move – all we need now is for the the platform to be given a top coat of asphalt – perhaps we can put it on our list for the Plc Santa? The image below shows the precision engineering in progress – OR is it Mick trying to contact his family in Australia with a prayer from Tim.
P1060294 2

Finally from my input today is an image of Bill’s skip. Bill with Stephen’s help has been trying rid the small ex-army containers of unwanted “stuff” in advance of their movement to permit the installation of a 20ft ex shipping container primarily for our estate and gardening materials. John Leeson has at the same time been weeding out our unwanted tools



And Finally, an extra from Bill
An enjoyable morning!
It was an enjoyable couple of hours at CRCS this morning, despite the damp conditions. Stephen, John and myself set to at having a Spring clean of the MOD Pods which contain a wonderful array of “useful” tools and materials. We seem to be nation of squirrels (not least myself!) but there is a time for having a jolly good sort out – and this was it! Thanks go to my chums who did most of the hard work.
There is a  stile adjacent to the pods  on the Racecourse side and I was able to view some rather reluctant walkers (hikers?) wending their way out into the country – not for me, me thinks – I will stick to the CAG volunteering!

One of those”One Off” Days 16th May 2016



Couple of photos from Tim Winstanley:-





The significant event of today was the arrival of 35006 with 12 coaches packed with P&O Project  Stake Holders and Supporters. First past the post with his copy is Bob Stark!


Dear Bill,
    As you are aware a great deal happened at our station today. However, before the news I must correct a statement made last week that I was AWOL (Absent WithOut Leave). My ex military colleague was in this instance using incorrect terminology – I was AOL (Absent ON Leave).
    Before the BIG news of the day arrived at CRC station Ros and I continued with our gardening efforts on Platform 2 and after improving the soil with so called “organic matter” we have started planting out the first area of garden that has been de-stoned by Terry and Maurice. We have planted the donated Primroses and some other colourful plants, but there is a long way to go and any further donations of plants from your garden that arise from thinning would be appreciated.
Just after lunch quite a gathering of folks arrived at our “back” gate by the signal box and were clearly very interested in what was about to happen. I can confirm that it was not to listen to a rendition from the person in the next image, who despite calls from the audience refused to sing the well known George Formby song of “Leaning on a lamp post”

Stopping Camera Shake was the song!

No, the BIG event of the day was the arrival of P&O with her 12 coach train of happy passengers making the first of two runs from Toddington to Cheltenham carrying the many people who have made the wonderful restoration of this locomotive possible.
P&O arrived tender first at Cheltenham with 12 coaches in tow. This I believe is the longest passenger train to come to Cheltenham Racecourse since BR days. (I stand to be corrected, but I believe that the previous record was 11 coaches on the member’s special train on the opening day of CRC station in March 2003).
Following its arrival, there was an outpouring of passengers to the best photographic positions.
Rank and seniority does have its privileges and I think that my position in the signal box was better!
Following the run past I noted that you had changed your position to get a better view of this huge locomotive and I include this side on image of this beautifully turned out machine. I sadly missed the opportunity to photograph Andrew Marshall with the engine. Andrew’s knowledge, drive, enthusiasm and endurance has seen the project through to today.
Apparently there were some minor adjustments to be made before the return to Toddington, or perhaps the lady needed a little scratch??


A great day for all concerned – well done all the members of the P&O Locomotive Preservation Society. It is sad, however, that many of our senior members who have supported this long running project did not live to see this wonderful performance today.
What a well deserved accolade from the HRA – the locomotive wears its “medal” with pride.


Bob Stark
PS  If any readers want copies of my images of P&O at our station today then please contact me through the contact link above and I will send them to you.

Saturday 14th May 2016 and Such a Sunny Day!

A Blog Post From Tim Winstanley,
Dear Bill,
Another fine, sunny morning for working on a railway line!  I attach more photos and less text than usual!
There were 14 active volunteers and I attach a sadly out-of-focus copy of the list – which saves me writing all the names!
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However, it was certainly a busy morning – both for the workers and the customers.
Ding, dong the fence is done!  Or at last the fence down the P1 ramp is painted for 2016 – we still have more fence to do elsewhere.  So no more fence blogging – you’ll be pleased to hear.
This is the final section:
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Elsewhere much work was going on with gardening on P1 (fine tuning) and P2 (more rustic work this).  I attach some pictures of happy workers:
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The goat’s lair continued its refinement – what would a Saturday be without some angle grinding and painting!
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And here’s Bill, looking very happy for someone in a cage!
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And my favourite for the day, with the suggestion that we run a Caption Competition.  Prize for the person who sends in the best (printable please!) version of what Mike was saying here:
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Best so Far –

“It’s amazing how a little point lubricating oil enhances the flavour !!”

But I thought you said we were being paid when we got to here!”

“If the boss catches us, I will tell him that this donut is the first one I’ve had since the last one!”

Apologies for anyone which excellent efforts were not recorded and didn’t make it to the final blog.


Saturday 7th May 2016

Two reports today:-

From Tim Winstanley,

Dear Bill,

I said it would be the finest tap cover in Gloucestershire and sure enough here it is:

(As designed by M Best.)

It was at this point that my phone battery ran out – so no more pictures.  However, if Bill hasn’t already immortalised our activities in words or print then this morning was a variety session with the standard (but most valuable) platform sweeping, gardening (it is certainly looking very nice) and general maintenance.

Stark Associates – minus their senior member who was AWOL on holiday (again) – declared that they were not willing to dig yet another hole so were readily enlisted into the fence painting team – which constituted 4! Mike was manfully making his way down the concrete steps whilst Andrew, Lewis and I made more progress down the slope towards Platform 2.  Only 4 panels now to go so then end is in sight!!  Alas, one of our visitors commented that one of the panels at the top near the Ticket Office now needed re-doing;  I offered her the brush and paint pot.  Apart from that we had one particularly enthusiastic visitor who commented that it was the best station he visited (and he’d seen a few) and every time he came there were people maintaining things – perhaps he only comes on Saturday mornings?

Sadly, we can’t see the robin’s nest any more.  However, the daddy robin was around supervising (standing in for Bob?) and singing loudly and cheerfully.  I wondered aloud  if it was because his nestlings had grown up, left home and were no longer a burden on him and his mate?  This may, of course, be slightly Freudian wishful thinking on my own part.



Thanks Tim

And from yours truly:-

I was pleased to get back in the volunteering saddle today – the sun was shining, and it was a great day for continuing with, what seems to be, a never ending to-do list! There were 12 volunteers on site today, all keen to do their bit. When I arrived, the  front car park grass was getting its weekly trim from Bob and  Paul Ledamun – the  neatness of the stripes would have done a stately home proud.

Fence painting was the order of the day (again!), but the work was distributed around the troops somewhat, much to Tim’s relief (I think!). Here Mike Townsend works on the fence adjacent to the  staff access steps that descend to the southern end of platform 1.IMG_0691

Further down the the ramp, Tim aided and abetted by Andrew and Lewis (behind the fence) continued with the last quarter(?) of the job. Please note the bag of doughnuts  on the ground(supplied each week by Andrew), which are the standard currency for keeping the volunteers happy!IMG_0696

Stephen drew the short straw for weeding the gravel at the foot of the fence -its amazing how quickly they grow and low and behold there will be more waiting at home!


My morning was pleasurable enough putting second coat of paint on the roof of the Billy Goat barn. It never ceases to amaze me what  care and attention we lavish on these wonderful relics. I have visions of them still standing proud in another 100 years.


The newly painted fence sets off nicely the impending Gala Poster. I’m very impressed with the art work.

Also if your thinking about really whooping it up over the Gala Weekend why not go along to the Broadway Open Evening on the Friday night – everyone is welcome.

Open Evening Poster 2016(jpeg)

Extra! (I like gadgets!)

Can you keep fit volunteering? My Fitbit Tracker indicated that during my morning’s activity at CRCS I walked 4215 steps,  covering 1.93 miles and burned 1,450 calories! Can’t be bad!




“35006 Peninsular & Oriental S N Co” makes her first visit to CRCS

Hi All

We have a new kid on the block at CRC. Very successful first loaded test run last evening and the low sun was perfect for a nice location pic. I had asked Ian Carpenter weeks ago about the possibility of being on the footplate for the first visit of 35006 to Racecourse – he remembered and I got my wish! I returned “on the cushions” – well, hanging out of a window, actually. Mary had to later remove a grit from my eye!


No problems with the engine at all and it gave some loco crew a chance to learn how to manage the beast. We did an “emergency” stop in the middle of Bishops Cleeve followed by our first “hill start”. Photographers had heard the Bullied whistle and were at the crossing on the return trip – there was a photo on the Facebook closed group “The Honeybourne Line – a GWR Mainline in the making” before I even got back home!




From Tim Winstanley who I believe has been sniffing the paint for just  a bit too long!


Readers of the CRC blog will be familiar with my occasional fence painting inputs!  However, this morning – another fine and sunny occasion for slapping on a bit of black stuff – we reached a significant milestone: 50 panels painted, only 17 more to go!


The above picture may, of course, just look like yet another bit of freshly painted fence but, for those in the know, it shows that we are getting closer to platform level and must, therefore, be nearly finished.  What am I going to do on sunny spring mornings?

Today’s visitors to the railway were fairly sparse in number (a post-Bank Holiday lull one suspects) but full of cheery greetings and compliments. One gent even offered to take the brush and painted the top of a fence post himself.  I mused as to whether Michelangelo had the same responses when doing the Sistine Chapel?  (‘Ere mate, give us your brush a minute and you take a breather while I finish off that cherub for you….).  Anyway, all help was very gratefully received; there are only a few panels left if anyone else feels inclined to memorialise their skills in ‘oils’.


There was also a fair amount of laurel to trim back – in order that one could get at the fence to paint it – but luckily the variety we grow at CRC seems hardy enough to withstand even my limited gardening talents.  The above image is my haul of prunings, with the 1200 departure in the background and the end of the fence in sight.