A Thursday Special – The Container Arrives!

It was  a milestone day when the long awaited container actually arrived.  It was an early start  (7:40 am for yours truly) and even earlier  – 7:20 for Bob. By 8:00 there were a gang of four (Bob, Tim, Dave G and self), with ours eyes staring at the horizon in anticipation of the Lion Containers lorry coming over the hill. After a slight detour around town it duly arrived and work started on the unloading.

Somehow the container did not look that large on the back of the lorry but as it  was gradually “steered” into position its sheer bulk on our small patch became a sight to behold.

What was particularly impressive was the way the driver (Mark)  from David Watson Transport was able to steer and guide the HIAB crane to lift the container over the PODS and on to its final resting place. It was all done with great care. Here CAG Volunteer Tim Winstanley is reeling in the container and thereby keeping it square to footings.


Here it is in its final position, looking for all the world as though its always been there!


The CAG Team are now looking forward to the next task of lining the container and of course filling it in a neat and tidy fashion.



Bob Stark kindly sent me the following report which covers both the container arrival and some other important work that has been happening this week:



An early start this morning with a late advisory that the long awaited 20ft shipping container was to be delivered to Cheltenham Racecourse Station at around 8am. A small team comprising Bill, Dave Griffin, Tim and Bob were there to greet the delivery driver Mark from David Watson Transport and show him to the site where we had the footing ready prepared to take the containerp1060494 After a quick site appraisal Mark manoeuvred the container off his truck, over the fence and into position. Some slight adjustment was achieved by a gentle push from the work team and ensured the container landed in correct spot. The next image shows the container in its final position close to the ex-Army PODs. Before we receive adverse comment – yes the big white “BULLBOX” self adhesive label was quickly removed from the Racecourse side of the container.  p1060498

Elsewhere both the Broadway team on Platform 2 and building and services on our car park have been busy this week. Bob White and his small team from the northern reaches of our Railway have been completing the laying of a compacted sand layer on the platform surface in advance of the laying of the final tarmac surface.p1060500

This last stage of surfacing of Platform 2 is now expected to take place on 7 October. Bob expects to complete the sand layer distribution on 2 Oct after our team has adjusted some of the more jaunty angled OSMA drain covers to the final surface height. As you can see from the image taken this morning, the fox and rabbit families have enjoyed playing sandcastles on Platform 2 during the night.

p1060506Pete Dickenson and his small team of B&S volunteers have now started the not insignificant task of creosoting the wooden railings surrounding our car park at Cheltenham. Thank you all.


Saturday, 24th September 2016



A short blog input today – commensurate with the activity levels at CRC this morning.


Naturally, most activity was focused on ‘Thomas’ so it was left to a few hardly annuals to potter around doing the usual.  Needless to say things kicked off early with Paul sweeping the platform and slope – ready for our many visitors.  Slightly later Mike arrived to do a general tidy and Mary to garden, whilst I started with some scrub-bashing behind the Klargester (to make replacing the fence easier during the close season).  When joined by Steve we engaged in a small improvement to P2  ‘facilities’ by beginning to put in a second stand-pipe by the old toilet block foundations – much nearer the middle of the platform and close to the nascent P2 garden.  As usual, digging at CRC proved less than easy, we didn’t quite have the fittings we required and made a couple of minor false starts!  Never mind, it’ll give us something to do next Saturday!!  Luckily all this could be done without trespassing on P2 itself – which shows signs that it might just possibly be growing a layer tarmac sometime soon!


The real bonus of the morning was that Teresa (on Stationmaster duties) had made fairy cakes (NB these are not ‘cupcakes’) and insisted she didn’t want to take any home, which made a nice change from doughnuts.


I attach a couple of snaps of passing interest.





An Enjoyable Saturday

There were 9 stalwarts in attendance this morning and much good work was done. As you can see on the Front Page there was extra company today with the 30 or so French travellers  caravans lodged in the Racecourse car park, adjacent to the GWSR car park. Clearly it was their intention to have a good time this weekend, judging by the loud music coming from their marquee – I understand a wedding was in the offing! Live and let live is the motto, I guess.

I’m afraid the photos today were limited to the final groundwork activity for the Container – now bought and almost paid for! There was, however, lots of gardening going on with Mary, John and Maurice filling many barrows of weeds and half the Ledamun Team (Phil) on the mowing!

As far as the Container groundworks were concerned,  Stephen and Tim finished off the planting of the hawthorn hedge – here we see Tim hiding in the bushes.2016-09-17-10-05-50

The remaining groundwork consisted of levelling off the ground to make sure there were no humps and bumps protruding to foul the container.


Here Starks  2 and 3 (Lewis and Andrew ) do the serious stuff while Tim demonstrated his line dancing technique. In fact there  were 3 generations of Starks in attendance  today with Stark number 1 (Bob) snipping, clipping and dead heading on Platform 2.

Actually it could be said that there were 4 Stark generations in attendance. Robin “Stark” wined, dined and bathed (in a puddle of water). Andrew  told us that his Grandfather’s name was Robin also. One of those strange coincidences!





Bob kindly furnished me with these photo extras:-


Steady Maurice!


Saturday 10th September – The Mudlarks

It was a wet and dreary day weatherise, but a few of us were on a mission to keep the Container Project on course and set-to planting the pyracantha hedging, adjacent to the fence line. Tim, one of the select band in attendance yesterday, has sent me the report  below with some  light hearted comments on what turned out to be quite a tiring but  successful morning for all concerned. I have to preface the reports  (one from Bob Stark also) with an apology for the mud that seemed to get spread hither and thither by the end of the session. Valiant efforts were made to scrape boots – even remove boots before entering the inner sanctum of the  ticket office, but  with the glutenous nature of the soil, we fell short! We will try harder next time.



It was, as you are aware, a small but perfectly formed group of 5 which turned out yesterday at CRC, comprising Bob, Steve, John yourself & myself.


The weather was grey, cool and, at times, raining – so not very inspiring conditions for outdoor work.  Nevertheless, the imperative of trying to complete our new storage POD location drove 4 of us on!  Foundations having been completed and fence fettled so it was time to plant to screening – namely pyracantha and hawthorn.  Our first priority was the open length where the new POD will reside and where the planting line proved the usual CRC mixture of ancient root systems, tree stumps, redundant fence wire and intractable clay.  Nonetheless with (Slasher) Steve, and John (The Pickaxe) we eventually provided sound and fertile locations for the first 20 plants.  And we filled in the ‘Belgian Gap’ (no, not the northerly route around the Maginot Line) – a relic of previous unwelcome incursions by foreign campers from the Racecourse.  It was, on a difficult day, a satisfying experience to see a neat line of pyracanthas and to be able to say that we can now commit to delivery of the new POD knowing that the site is ready.


Bob, having provided strategic guidance to the POD team (basically: ‘get on with it you lot’) had cleared out the Klargester pit and surrounding area – from weeds of all kinds – an important task in very much a customer facing area.  The brambles are especially rampant this time of year and often grow several inches between train departures!

I for one, was glad to get home and change out of the wet gear and remove the 5kg of clay which had adhered to my boots!!



Dear Bill,
A short addendum to your report for the day as Digger in Chief of the new hedging. Whilst you Tim, Stephen and John were digging holes for the new bushes and spreading mud everywhere I was down in the Klargester pit clearing out the overhanging bushes and brambles and the invasive weeds,
No supervision from Robin, Ratty and Peter Rabbit down there, but a steady drizzle of rain and hundreds of tiny froglets (or perhaps toadlets?)
I attach an image of the end result.

Special Delivery

Some hard work on the horizon here!
Bob Reports:-
Dear Bill,
    A very short update on the status of the hedging for the new shipping container project. Unsupervised (there was  no sign of our animal friends this morning) Mick Best and I took delivery of 40 mixed hedging shrubs to replace the mature bushes that had to be removed to facilitate this project.


    As can be seen below they are very healthy looking bushes that should mature into a secure hedge within a couple of years. All hands to pumps now to get them planted and keep them watered until then.


A Big Thank You to Bob and Mick who turned out today to unload this delivery.

A Wednesday Special – Take 2

A report from Bob Stark – thanks Bob and Ros
Dear Bill,
    A day of frustration and success, I am glad to say more of the latter than the former. Following our recent discussion on hedging I went in to Town early today to purchase a fence paint spray so that this task could be completed quickly, but after half an hour on site and no paint emerging from said electric spray I decided to curse Chinese workmanship and cut my losses (and frustration).
    Plan B involved a more traditional approach to fence painting with wellies, rubber gloves and goggles AND assistance from my wife to push the job along with a 2nd brush. With one “slosher” (yours truly) on the inside and painter Ros on the outside we managed to complete most of the area where the replacement bushes are to go. There is still some work to do on the inside rails which took longer than anticipated to paint owing to the lack of the aforementioned spray and some excellent work by Tim erecting weldmesh security fencing that is now attached to the fence rails and posts to make entry into the site more difficult. We leave completion to others, but as can be seen from the image below most of the fence close to the proposed site for the shipping container is now painted. Our work was closely supervised by an ever growing menagerie of wild life: today we had Robin, Ratty and Peter Rabbit, all interested in the ongoing work and probably now sporting the odd spot of fence paint that I did not receive. This begs the question “At what point does a dirty high vis vest become unsafe ?”
    Also on site today were the B&S team led by Pete Dickenson.
    They have removed the last of the barrier fencing from in front of the slagstone wall on Platform 1. I gather that this is to be deployed elsewhere on our site.
    The removal of the fencing and posts has exposed the challenge of weed removal from the base of the wall  untouched for many a long month – a task for Saturday perhaps?  Our thanks to Pete and his team from B&S for a job well done – now for the car park fence and the roof of the Ticket Office.
    Finally Gardeners Corner. Ros’s garden plants must have been visiting the “confused.com” website as we have some very unseasonable flowering in the new Platform 2 flowerbeds. In the attached images we have:
1st year foxgloves starting to flower,


1st year holyhocks starting to flower


and a transplanted primrose showing flower buds


    In September – they have to be joking! Can anyone explain please ?

A Wednesday Special -Not Sitting on the Fence

Bill, Bob,

I’ve finished off the weld mesh fencing.  It’s only held on with the cable ties at the moment.  However, I have tended to find that knocking the large staples into the fence posts and rails is doing more damage than is desirable.  I suggest we await a staple gun or similar.

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You (and older readers of the blog) may be amused by the following:

I felt that I should wear gloves as the fence material is rather hard work.  I searched for my usual pair of GWSR Saturday specials and couldn’t locate them.  After some mild expletives I completed the job with a substitute (and rather inadequate) pair.  A hour or so later I decided to take the redundant fencing down to the archways for storage.  I took off my gloves to get the keys out of my pocket to unlock the padlock to get into the store.  I turned to put my gloves down on the nearby oil drum.  And guess what?  The gloves from Saturday when I had taken them off to get the keys to open the padlock to get into the store!  Ah well…..

I was accompanied in this morning’s task by our mate Robin; he’s now quite a pal, in fact I have become quite reliant on him.  (Sorry couldn’t resist that one). [I think Robin deserves his own Blog! – Ed.]






Cheers Tim!

Saturday 3rd September 2016

Saturday morning report:
    We were fortunate that the rain held off until after our tea break (with doughnuts thanks to Andrew), so many of the routine tasks were accomplished before life became wet and a little unpleasant.
    The usual front of house tasks were accomplished by Paul Ledamun removing our pine needles from Platform 1 and cutting the grass at our front gate on the car park. It always looks so neat and tidy, thank you Paul. Maurice was once again trimming the hedgerow by the front gate, this too adds to the ambience of care we try to provide to our arriving passengers.


    Another long on-going project has been the repainting of the railings by the sign storage bins at the station entrance and Dave Griffin and Mick (the latter resting from foundation and POD wiring work) were applying coats of anti rust paint to the spear fencing. With all our other tasks this one has become rather stalled of late and it will be good to get some top coat on and the wooden modesty fencing re-erected before the winter months arrive.
    Due to the absence of the “Great Leader” and Tim’s completion of the shipping container mounting plinths, Tim and Stephen turned their attention to erecting the security fencing on the boundary fence by the PODs to repel unwanted boarders.
    This involved bringing up a large roll of weld mesh fencing from the security compound and one can tell that Tim’s military manual handling techniques training has finally paid dividends, albeit I suspect that it is a long time since military stores were moved in this way.  Sections of weld mesh were then cut from the roll and Stephen attached these to the fence as you can see from the image below.


     There were questions asked of me regarding the delivery of the long anticipated shipping container and I had to advise that this was now in your hands, Plc funding having been agreed. No pressure you understand!
    John Leeson finished the machining of the new seat plank for the ramp bench and when last seen this was about to disappear under the first coat of primer. Soon the less fit will once again be able to rest their weary bones at the half way point on the Platform 1 access ramp.
    My last section of this report covers the Stark contribution. Andrew strimmed another section of the Platform 2 embankment, albeit we are now encountering problems with spoil dumped on top of the embankment during the platform construction phase which contains many rocks and large stones that do not agree with our grass cutting machinery. Removing the rubble and leveling the surface will however have to be a task for next year.
    On Platform 1 we completed strimming the grass and weeds behind the flowerbeds between the Klargester and the disabled access gate. This does improve the first impression of our station for arriving passengers, but there is still much work to do at the top of the embankment where the bushes have encroached onto the grass banks.


    That is it – my apologies if I have missed out someone’s valued contribution.

Poddington Station

Tim Winstanley put in a valuable “stint” today.

Dear Bill & Bob,

I had a couple of hours this afternoon plus a strong assistant so did a little POD foundation work at the railway. As a result I think (I am confident?) that the 6 bases are now complete – see attached. They are as level as we could make them and, hopefully, sufficiently well spaced to allow a 20ft x 8 ft container to be accommodated thereon!


As such, we can consider doing some of the fence work Saturday.  I think the chamber we need to put in might be best left until the container has arrived and we work out the revised paving/door opening arrangement etc.

Ratty was present again – with a mate this time –   Robin was not visible!

Now waiting for a very welcome and well-earned pizza to be delivered!