Godfathers, Buckets, and Spades

The second report is from Bill, covering a miscellany of activities, but primarily reporting on the good progress with the Pod  move preparation.


Tim and Mick (not a Vaudeville  cross talk act – but close!) were in long before me to start the work required for the placement of 3 godfather spurs to bolster the strength of the fence posts adjacent to where the Pods are being moved to.


Here Mick is lining up godfather number 2, on the newly drilled holes in the offending post.

Postcrete pre mixed concrete is used to fix the  godfathers in the ground. A simple process providing the bucket you intend to use does not have a hole in it!IMG_0525

Nevertheless, in what  seemed double quick time the fence was restored to its original rigid state, with new anti climb steel wire mesh attached.


It remained for Lewis to cut back some of  the nearby Hawthorn hedge which was putting additional pressure on the setting concrete.


On other fronts, the Diesel Gala was in full swing, operated with a variety of locos growling   on the  CRC run around, on generally well packed trains. Here  a 47 series sporting the Cheltenham Spa Express  headboard.


And finally, GWSR Chairman Alan Bielby is snapped here chatting to the BS Lads who are continuing to repair the slag wall on Platform 1.


“Your digging it round and it ought to be square……”

Alan spent all morning on carpark duty at CRC, only surviving with some CAG coffee and a doughnut!


Yesterday at CRC

Two  reports on the CRC activities yesterday – this from Bob Stark

Dear Bill,
    Another good turnout today with a great deal of useful progress with the maintenance tasks.
Before I run through the playlist I would like to highlight the return of the Broadway team to Platform 2 where they are preparing the access arrangements to the Platform prior to its being surfaced. For the last couple of weeks John Crawford and his team have been removing the remains of the concrete foundations of the old BR signal box which were in the way of the ramp leading up to the Platform. The image below shows the team earlier this week laying in the edging stones for the pathway ramp.


    While on the subject of platform 2 Andrew continued his strimming of the upper embankment today and as can be seen the weeds have certainly benefited from the wet and warm weather. Due to other priorities we have left this weed cutting activity a bit late and we shall no doubt suffer next year from the large number of seeds that have already been deposited into the grass.


    With agreement from John Crawford we have started to tackle the weed growth that has already invaded parts of the rolled stone platform surface and today I managed to treat the whole platform surface and some of the neighbouring embankment weed growth with a motley mix of herbicides. If only we could stop the fall of pine cones so easily.


    On Platform 1 Peter Dickenson and his team continue to rebuild the failed wall at the bottom of the Platform 1 ramp and the are optimistically predicting that work on this long running appearance blot on our entrance to the railway’s services will be completed in the next few days. We will be glad to see this task completed I am sure that Building and Services will also.


    Midst the coming and going of Diesel engines – well it was their Gala day today after all – Dave Griffin managed to Present two 15 year volunteering certificates to Alan and Roger.  Well done both, congratulations on completing the short course!



Elsewhere, Tim, Lewis, Mick and Bill were working on the container site, Mary maintaining the gardens, David the Group shop and the Ledamun brothers the collection of pine needles and grass cutting in front of the Station building.
Lastly I must mention the fine work being done by Andy Protherough and his lineside drainage team who are continuing to seek a resolution to the flooding problems in the Hunting Butts cutting. Andy has posted some very revealing images on their team blog and they are making significant progress in resolving this long standing problem area. It is worth paying their blog site a visit to see the fine work they are doing.


A Tuesday Special

Bill reports:-

Tim Winstanley and I spent a productive couple of hours installing a services duct for the new Pod location. We have a surplus of 4in  Osma pipe in stock, and this was ideal for the purpose.

2016-07-26 11.00.50

Having got the pipe nicely bedded in, it was just a matter of completing the infill and it was job done!2016-07-26 11.17.40

Here Tim is about to demonstrate a one-handed handstand to celebrate.



Tim Winstanley  put on his reporter’s hat today and  sent me the following blog post. Thanks Tim (I haven’t mastered the cedilla yet)

Dear Bill,

There was fair collection of volunteers on duty this morning, engaged mainly in ongoing tasks such as making new foundations for the storage PODs, gardening, platform cleaning and strimming.  Not that all this isn’t valuable, of course, it’s just that at this time of year, when we aren’t on holiday or putting on special events, we seem to be running to keep up – especially with the vegetation, both the planted and the invasive varieties.  So, in particular order, here are:

Mary, ridding the pots of unwelcome visitors:


Two Starks a-strimming:



and Bill overseeing the foundations work:


Can there be sexier shorts than those – I don’t think so! Ed.


With the 8 (7 visible) perfectly aligned, entirely level and correctly spaced foundation slabs (we hope) ready for POD moving day – coming soon.  After that we can build some more foundations for our new container and (finally) move some of the paint etc out of the staff ‘office’!  Which, though much effort has been involved, will be very much worthwhile!


Meanwhile, colleagues from elsewhere ‘up the line’ continue with the repair of our slag-stone wall on Platform 1 and soon will begin the work to finish off Platform 2.  For which assistance many thanks to the PLC, B&S etc.


Finally, I thought I might challenge the view that the CAG are somehow less than cheerful.


Or at least this lot seem amused by this morning’s events, or maybe one of their number’s teeth were in the process of being doughnutted together?


Anyway, thanks to all for their sterling efforts.





Hunting Butts Cutting Drainage

Bob’s report to Andy Protherough :-
Dear Andy,
    Further to your GWR Volunteer Announcement re forming a working party to clear the ground on the southern upper level of Hunting Butts cutting so that the failed drainage can be investigated, I went down to this area this morning armed with my strimmer (and appropriate PPE!). I have cut a pathway up to the gate in the fencing on the southern bank of the cutting and also around 35m of the drainage ditch towards the station where I expected to find the entrance to a small culvert and a drainage inspection chamber.
I found the former – see below, but failed to find the inspection chamber where I thought that it was located.



As you can see in the top image I have tied a piece of red and white plastic marking tape to the fence close to this  pipe to assist you team relocate it.
I did not recall the inspection chamber being so far from the gate so I went back down to the track bed level drain inspection chambers that your team have been excavating and located the chamber where the down pipe from the upper level sedge drain is supposed to bring the water into the track bed level drain inspection chamber. After a battle through the virgin undergrowth back up the embankment to the upper level ditch system I located the missing inspection chamber. This is covered with short sections of Brunel’s Bridge, or Barlow, rail and is located some 25m beyond the entrance to the culvert/pipe shown above. I have marked the inspection chamber location also with some red and white plastic tape placed in the bushes above the chamber. I made a pathway (unstrimmed) through the undergrowth back to the culvert entrance from this chamber, so you should now be easily able to locate it. It did seem that at least part of the upper level ditch was running uphill to the culvert, so I suspect that some excavation of the ditch is likely to be required.
I regret that following this exertion I did not have the energy to try and locate the culverts and chambers on the Hunting Butts Farm side of the upper drainage ditch (I seem to recall that there are 2) – I leave that interesting task to your team – good hunting !

Saturday 16th July, the Sun Shone and 12 Volunteers were in Harness!

12 Volunteers were signed-in today and working on a variety of jobs. Bob Stark has submitted the following report covering todays general activities and has also submitted a second report of his own exploits. Frankly I’m not sure how he’s found the time to do these so quickly, when you see how much ground(literally!) he covered this morning! Nevertheless he has, and it’s much appreciated.

Dear Bill,
    Having been agreeably surprised this morning to note that you had included yourself in the list of those volunteers at Cheltenham admonished for failing to provide “fodder” for the blog, I hereby submit my round up of activity as seem through the lens of my camera this morning.
    The Ledamun brothers exercised “Billy Goat” and cleared platform 1 of pine needles, they also cut the internal grassed areas, but this week their efforts were supported by the Racecourse maintenance team who yesterday cut the grass in our car park with their gang mowers. Whilst on the grass cutting theme, I can report that following my excursion with strimmer seeking to locate the failed Hunting Butts Cutting upper embankment drainage system this morning, Andrew took over strimming the grass and weeds on the upper level of the Platform 2 embankment. There is a great deal to do in this area and like cutting one’s lawn it makes such a difference to the view from the window (in this case the carriage window!)


    Ros was continuing the “beautification” of platform 2 with the addition of further plants donated and purchased for this small area of colour behind the rear platform edge. She received a passenger compliment from the window of the train this morning – it makes it all worth while.


    On the upper levels Maurice was trimming our front hedgerow, having just returned from cruising the Baltic. Another escapee back into harness keeping the estate neat and tidy – thanks Maurice.


Dave was able to continue painting this morning not being on duty as part of the station staff, who today were 3 ladies – you missed a trick there Dave!
    Dave thus continued the rubbing down and repainting of the front of the GWR lamp hut that shelters “Billy Goat” and today discovered a small brass plate on the door advising that the building was constructed by Joseph Ash of Birmingham (see below). Another little piece of railway history preserved on our railway. (Editors Note: Joseph Ash are still in business today. Click Here)


    And finally Bill, there are the exploits of your small team this morning (Stephen, Tim and Lewis) creating the new bases for the relocation of the two ex-military transportable containers in preparation for their move and the installation of a new 20ft container to provide much needed secure (and H&S compliant) storage space.
2016-07-16 10.46.39
And some sketches of the work being undertaken with the repositioning of the Pods and the new ISO container.
The re-siting:-
 The foundations  for the Pods:-
Progress is measured and sure. Well done everybody.

Friday at CRC Station

A report from Bob Stark:-


Dear Bill,
    A short report with a couple of images of work completed and in hand by the stalwarts from B&S. Ros and I went up to the station this morning to deal with a security issue and do some gardening on Platform 2 without interruption from normal operations. With the technical task completed I was relegated to digging duties whilst Ros planted some new recruits for our small garden and we further improved the irrigation system that will be required when we are denied access to Platform 2 during the surfacing operations.
    As we noted earlier in the week, Building and Services have been active working on rebuilding the collapsed sections of slag stone wall on Platform 1. This work has been a source of “angst” for the Cheltenham Area Group for some time and it is great to finally see progress. The downside is that next year we will have lost our UXB (UneXploded Bomb) site for the Wartime in the Cotswolds event, but that is a price we are prepared to pay.
    Image 1: The repaired section of slag stone wall on the Platform 1 access ramp, now reinforced with concrete blocks behind the original stone facade.
    Image 2: Work in progress at the bottom of the Platform 1 access ramp.
    There will be a full report tomorrow.


Apologies for the lack of posts this week – many  volunteers have been away at the same time – how dare they!


Normal service will be resumed this week. In the meantime have a read of the new article in Disconnected Jottings by Brian Basham. Thanks Brian….

Yesterday at CRC Station

Bob Stark reports:-
Dear Bill,
    This short report has been delayed and sadly I did not have my camera with me yesterday. It was however a busy day at CRC station with several teams hard at work on our estate infrastructure.
Andy Protherough with Chris and Alistair were again uncovering our trackside sedge drain chambers and excavating the debris from within. Andy and I went to visit the top of embankment drainage system that has failed and resulted in water flooding into the cutting near to the stored rolling stock for several years. Sadly mother nature thwarted us and the under (and over) growth has made access very difficult. A session with brush cutters and strimmers will be required before we can again see what needs to be done.
Pete Dickinson, Michael and Ken from B&S were again busy rebuilding the collapsed wall area at the bottom of the Platform 1 Ramp. We now all seem to be agreed that following the scalping the Platform 1 embankment is stable.
Pete and Trevor from the Loco Department were present at the water tank “winterising” the walls to protect our investment in the water treatment plant installed under the tank.
And finally, Neil Carr and his team from S&T were hoping to finish painting and servicing the distant signal on the Hunting Butts side of the Evesham Road bridge. This signal post we recovered from the Honeybourne Line many years ago with a promise that it would be replanted as close as we could place it to Cheltenham on our running line. That is another story and at some stage I will search my images for the story of its recovery to go on our history page.