A Busy Week at CRS!

Wednesday 26th October 

The fence along the northern boundary, adjacent to the Racecourse northern carpark, was replaced earlier this year, but not on the correct boundary line.   Racecourse contractors came on site to remedy this.


A “dog leg” in the fence, facilitates the inclusion of the GWSR mains power supply.


Also on Wednesday Pete Dickinson and his trusty Building Services crew attended to start the resurfacing of the  Barrow Crossing. The size of this task, together with the need to leave sufficient time for concrete to “go off”, means it will take several weeks to see the task completed. Nevertheless, a good start was made this week by installing a new gully drain across the platform 1 side of the track and shuttering up the base for the concrete pour. A lot of incidentals were also sorted out, including the reversing of the direction of the gate opening, to allow for the movement of passengers to and from platform 2.

Saturday 29th October

Building Services were back in action today, pouring the concrete on the eastern side of the barrow crossing.



Altogether now – A’tamping we will go….

There was also a good turn out of the CRS  “regulars” today.  The main task was to start the building of a pathway from the new container, along the hedge line to the top of the Platform 1 ramp. The challenge is to complete this task over the next few weeks during a closed period, and thereby reduce the risk of getting mud  everywhere! Five of us (Mick, Stephen,  Maurice,  Andrew and self) set about the task of digging a 300mm trench to accommodate the edging slabs – great progress was made. Here Maurice and Mick get down to the nitty-gritty of digging out and removing the many roots impeding progress.


By the end of the session 10m had been completed to the required depth. I have to say the picture does not do justice to efforts that went into the job!


Elsewhere the  Saturday stalwarts were doing the essential  weekly tidying up. Here  Mike Townsend with his ever trusty broom in hand and Paul Ledamun uses the the Billy Goat to remove the ever present pine needles.wp_20161029_09_21_58_pro

Back at the Ticket office, Bob and Andrew Stark were putting the finishing touches to the security lighting. Here is Bob’s report:-

Dear Bill,
    Not a lot to report from my family tasks at the Station this morning on what was a rather damp and dank start to the day. Probably appropriate, however, for the first “Steam and Scream” trains which were well loaded with both adults and children to the extent that Dave Griffin had to drop his paint brush and take over the second booking office window to sell tickets alongside Pauline.
    Andrew and I completed the replacement and wiring in of the new LED Ticket Office security lights this morning. These last two we installed this morning finishes this task, so next week we move on to pastures new on Platform 2.
On leaving the station I noticed that Andy Bint has replaced the two front gate flood lights so we will be all systems go for the night lighting required by the railway special services in the darker evenings. Thanks Andy.
Thats about it for today –  it only remains to comment on the arrival of the diesel hauled train.  D8317, an unusual resident of GWSR  attracts many diesel enthusiasts and seeing it in action I can understand why.


Monday Afternoon

Bob Stark was in attendance this afternoon and sent in a nosegay of activities in progress. There are no pictures, but a good description from Bob is always worth having.


 A chilly Monday afternoon the promised Indian summer weather did not materialise at the Racecourse this afternoon and the early shift started in competition with a light shower of rain. With the evenings drawing in, working hours on Monday afternoons are getting shorter and I regret that I did not have my camera with me today.
    4 stalwarts this afternoon plus one Monday irregular (yours truly!) Dave Tomlin was taking advantage of a no passenger day to burn the ever present piles of pine needles collected by our “Billy Goat” on Saturdays as well as an accumulation of packaging materials that seem to appear in the worker’s room from nowhere. Roger and Dave Griffin were continuing the long running repaint of the railings at the top of the embankment adjacent to the entrance gate. More red anti rust paint appeared today, so I know from past experience from our master painter Dave G that at least two more coats will be required before we finish this task. Mike Towsend cleared the entrance area of pine needles and of more importance in terms of team morale, organised the tea parade for us all. John Leeson was continuing his tree root removal from his “Dig For Victory” allotment patch and was enriching this area with DIY compost from our own compost bins. This will give him a little more room for growing his vegetables and provide this welcome wartime backdrop for our Cotswolds at War event in the Spring.
    I managed a mixed bag of little jobs today. The gardeners hosepipe has been replaced by one that does not “kink” and was put into action watering the new bushes that we intend to camouflage our storage containers from racegoers and another security light has been replaced with an up to date LED device. Only 2 more to go to complete the transition to long lasting energy efficient lighting, but I wonder if any of us will be around to claim on the guarantees of 20,000 hours of operation? (we wont hold our breath!)

Saturday 22nd October 2016

Another fair weather  day, and the CAG Volunteers homed in on the winter schedule of ‘must do ‘  jobs. The racecourse was generally buzzing with the first meeting of the season under way.  The GWSR Food and Drink Festival was also this weekend, and the first train of the day was very busy with  gourmet punters!

Below  – Bob and Andrew Stark are replacing the Ticket Office security light system. The latest technology here posing a few problems  -I think you have to connect that wire to something Andrew!


We have decided to put a slab path down to the new container and choosing a route that didn’t intrude too much on the landscape proved a bit tricky. For better, for worse we decided to run it along the hedge line and work will start in earnest next week.


Down on Platform 1, Tim and Mick were putting new fencing around the Klargester pit. This was required both from an aesthetic and safety point of view –  its amazing which route some passengers  will try to use to catch the last train  on race days!


The pathway to Platform 2 looks a skateboarders delight. The new fencing between it and track is coming along nicely. The less than salubrious container in the background is due to be moved on shortly (we hope!).


Post Script

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Peter Hickox, one of my oldest Broadway Area Group  colleagues and friends.vol. Peter and I work worked at Broadway virtually from the beginning and he was the kindest, pleasantest  and most hardworking gentleman  you could possibly wish to meet. He will be missed by his Broadway chums.

Rest easy Peter……

A Sunny Saturday Morning

An interesting blog post from Bob  Stark:-
Dear Bill,
    Some of what follows has/is also being covered by Tim, but better 2 views of activity at the station than none. Yesterday was a big day as Tim covered in his blog. John Crawford’s contractors laid asphalt over the entire surface and how good it looks. This marks the end of a long project that started back in October 2012 with Steve Warren digging down to the base of the old GWR footings (see below).
  In March 2013 huge quantities of concrete were pumped over considerable distances into the reinforcing mesh to fill the hole behind the old platform footings.
Subsequent GWR blogs have covered progress and yesterday was the finale – without the Champagne! Thank you John and all concerned – a great job.p1060524
Today (Saturday 15th Oct) was blessed with a good turnout of volunteers and beautiful warm sunshine under blue skies whilst the East and West parts of the country enjoyed rain. Paul Ledamun had already swept the pine needles and cones away with our “billy goat” by the time I arrived at the station and was giving said machine a well deserved wash down and polish.


    Stephen was again strimming the embankment adjoining the Platform 1 ramp and what an improvement it makes. This year keeping the embankments strimmed has been a task where resources failed to keep up with weed growth.
Maurice was involved in that thankless task known as “getting rid of the rubbish” and  braved the Saturday queues at the Cheltenham recycling centre.
Dave Griffin was taking advantage of the sunshine and managed to complete the repainting of a couple of panels of our Spear fencing by the mini Anderson shelter- another long running task that has had to take 2nd place behind bringing in our shipping container and Station Master duties. Out on the estate Tim and Mick have completed the installation of a 2nd tap for the Platform 2 garden (sorry folks – no image of this success story) and made progress on the new fencing at the back of the Klargester as well as clearing out more of the undergrowth – see Tim’s report. Adjacent to the Klargester John Leeson has been excavating the roots of bushes that had outgrown the limited space on the edge of his “Dig for Victory” garden. I hope that this will mean more fresh veg straight from the garden next year? – thanks John, the fresh potatoes and runner beans have been much enjoyed this year.
    On Platform 2 Ros and I (as ordered) kept clear of the new soft platform surface and went mountaineering on the embankment to plant some spring bulbs to add colour to this area next year. In the area we chose the ivy has taken over and even the grass has given up. Another task for next year.
    I also treated the area down near the signal box on both sides of the trackbed with weed killer to try and eradicate the pernicious prickly dandelion weeds that have spread greatly in the last couple of years. My first sortie with the spray a few weeks ago was very successful, but with the continued warm weather new plants are still emerging.
    Before we left we noticed that some of the recently planted hedging bushes by the new container were becoming distressed with the dry weather and Ros used the hose to water them. In changing position she manged to create a pool of water on the ground adjacent to the PODs which was promptly used by supervisor Robin for a bath. A Blue Tit that joined the splash party was however seen off in a most unfriendly manner.


    Lastly whilst on the subject of flying objects, a vintage Russian Antanov AN-2 biplane, similar to the one shown below was flying low around the skies of Cheltenham this morning and passed overhead several times. Who said the cold war is over? Machines like this were (are still?) used in the outback of the Russian tundra as the local buses for moving people, animals and freight. I’m told they can fly backwards when they encounter a strong headwind, but perhaps informed comment from our Air Force member would be more appropriate than the ramblings of an ex-soldier.


And from Tim Winstanley – cogitating on the Container electrical supply!





A Friday “Very” Special

Today saw the tarmac surface laid on Platform 2 at CRCS. What a milestone event. It seems  a long time since I ordered the engineering bricks require for the task and at that time it seemed something of a pipe dream. However,  by a consummate effort from John Crawford and his Broadway chums, together with services work carried out by the CAG Volunteers, it is virtually complete. It now remains for the GWSR to follow through with its investment and make the southern end of the Railway  as special as the northern end.



And few extras from Bob Stark – what a fine job!



Diesel Fumes!

I was not on duty yesterday, but Tim Winstanley kindly sent me the following report:-



A solid crew turned out today – to match the diesel weekend perhaps – with few of our more volatile elements present (just joking!).  There was the gardening and clearance team (John, Dave T, Maurice and Mary); the one man platform sweeping team (Paul); chief strimmer (Steve) and the project crew (Tim & Mick).   Dave G was also present but doing far more important Station Master duties – like trying to fathom out the special, diesel only timetable!


I noted in passing that our passengers today had a wide variety of enquiries – including the history of the line, the future for Platform 2 (P2) as well as the usual ‘when’s the next train’ variety.  Perhaps this reflects the slightly different range of individuals who pitch up for the more specialised weekends?


However, between queries, much was accomplished including maintaining what is now a distinctly autumnal look and feel to the gardens – though they are still a very attractive backdrop.


The new container installation has produced a fair amount of debris – from bits of meld mesh, weed suppressant membrane, endless lengths of old wire and a selection of redundant sleepers/paving slabs.  All this will need removing alongside, one suspect, the usual accumulation of items donated and kept on the grounds that they might – one day – be useful.  Another skip is called for!!


A new standpipe and tap has been installed for the P2 ‘gardens’ – now much closer to the action and in a position which will also allow water and (eventually) power to be provided to any buildings which may be required on that side of the line.  Future proofing!  This work also removed the eyesore of metal sheets and exposed pipework – which were detracting from what will soon, we hope, be an in-use P2.  Bob, Andrew and Steve’s industrious strimming has done wonders but, once the tarmac is laid on our smart new platform, I suspect eyes will increasingly turn to the slag stone wall (what wall?) and bank behind as well as the general appearance of the line side.    I confidently predict that we will have more work to do!!


Finally, we will be replacing the fence around the Klargester during the railways ‘down time’ in November, reusing (upcycling!) the excellent lengths of round top palings left behind by B&S; so a little preparation work was carried out to put some solid new posts in place.  Should look good by Christmas (2016 – I hope!!).




Saturday 1st October 2016

In weather more suited to the ducks, 5 volunteers were in attendance today. It was a matter of dodging the showers or getting a soaking and mosts  of us got the latter!


On Platform 2, final preparations were going on for the laying of the tarmac – due at the end of the coming week. Tim and  Mick were adjusting the height of the inspection chambers to ensure a level  finished surface.


Here Mick is giving his Quick  Draw McGraw impression – I think John Wayne can rest easy!

Opposite the Station on Platform 2, I noticed that Ros and Bob Stark’s planting was coming into its own with the Japanese Anemones looking particularly colourful.


On the  Station Vegetable Patch John was  tidying and planting up – it all looked pretty  Monty Don professional. Stephen was on the cutting,  strimming back the overgrowth, trying to leave things neat and tidy for the winter months.

Thats about it,  apart from a reminder to the  CRCS visitors that much of the work carried out by the volunteers at Cheltenham is facilitated with materials bought by the Cheltenham Area Group. Please visit our Stall in the Ticket Office – any funds from sales go straight to the upkeep of the Station. Thank you!