The End of the Yellow Brick Road (almost!)

A grand turnout of 10 Volunteers today,  New Years Eve.

The blue timetable was in action, on the run up to the end of the 2016 season, and there was still a steady flow of passengers boarding the trains. What a great season it seems to have been – our railway is more popular than ever, as it continues to grow in  commercial confidence. Brilliant!

For my part today I was the chippy’s mate, helping Andrew Stark clad the inside of the container (when I nod my head you hit it comes to mind….) Nevertheless, some good progress was made. In other areas Bob was doing an early Spring clean of the electrical equipment Pod, in anticipation of it being converted into a paint store. On the painting front, Dave G was touching up (paint wise) one of the new signs. The Billy Goat was in action and all the volunteers seemed to be enjoying a respite from the Christmas excesses!

Mainly in my view  today, was the progress being made on completing the pathway. Tim, Mick, Ben and Maurice were doing their best to get to the far end by close of play. In reality concrete had to be left to harden and a a few more slabs are required. However the end is in sight! Here is Ben on the horizon – quite pleased that there are no more roots to chop out, or concrete to mix!



Happy New Year!


A Boxing Day Quickie!

Tim Winstanley, up to the gunwales  in mince pies and Christmas cheer, took a trip up to CRS to work off some of the calories. Tim reported the following :-

Dear Bill,

As light relief from the family festivities I popped up to CRC to do a bit of work this morning.  Amid the cheerful crowds (goodness was it busy with coach loads of pensioners) I managed to lay 3 slabs and clear some more turf.  We now have only 2 slabs left.  How many more we need depends slightly on how we finish the final run, although you/Mick may have a plan for this.  Perhaps 8 but we can measure up more carefully on Saturday coming?

The festive crowds were in chatty mood and, in our exchanges of banter, I commented that I was on ‘double time’ since it was a bank holiday – on the grounds that twice nothing was still nothing!

Finally, to amuse all addressees, someone commented favourably my paving work and asked if I had a business card!! [We are now contracting Tim out at an attractive rate]

Sadly, I didn’t take my phone so no pictures.

Festive regards, and hope to see you Saturday.


A Seasonal Caption Competition!

In an idle moment yesterday Tim Winstanley  snap this interesting shot of some  gardening boots sunning themselves by the containers.


His vivid imagination then took him through the following thought process:-

“I wondered idly if anyone else imagined that one of the gardeners had dived into the compost bag and all one could see was the soles of their boots!  A bit Alice in Wonderland maybe but perhaps the Christmas spirit has overcome me! (I think so – or the smell of impact adhesive coming from the container!)

Tim then floated the notion of seasonal caption competition and suggested the following:-

‘John: you’re taking this deep digging thing to extremes’

‘It’s all got too much for one of the gardening team’

To which I add my own suggestions:-

‘The Ba Humbug attitude prevailed at the Garden Centre as Santa mysteriously disappears from his grotto’

‘Monty Don should have known better than to criticise Carol Klines hairdo’

 Now send us your offerings – there may be a prize!

The Saturday Gang

Twelve volunteers were on duty today – full of Christmas cheer, as large numbers of Santa seekers passed to and fro.  Everyone seemed happy, just as it should be at this time of the year.

Regrettably I was largely engrossed in the pathway project and my photos are restricted to this activity. Sorry about that – I must try harder!


There was a full complement of helpers on the pathway build – including Tim, Mike, Ben, Stephen and Maurice, all moving what seems to be a never ending exercise forward to completion. Here the end is literally in sight, the  yellow dumpy bags sitting at the end of the line!


Here is the view looking back towards the container.. Tim and Mike are doing a bit of fettling to a wayward edge slab. It was all sorted in the end…


Stephen and I drew the short straw to sort out the chicane around the Corsican pine – its not as haphazard as the photo implies – the final connecting slab was a watchmakers fit!

Thanks to all who lent a hand. What I omitted to do was take pictures of the carpentry work being undertaken by Andrew Stark, who was pushing on with the other marathon job of lining the container with plywood.

Friday Extra

Bob Stark reports:-
Dear Bill
    This morning the task of repairing and replacing the broken manhole cover on Platform 2 was completed. Ros and I took it up to the station mid morning and having cleaned the asphalt chippings out from the supporting ring we placed the cover back in position.
Job Done, BUT, for the time being we have placed the thick plywood cover back over the top of the manhole cover – just in case


Dear Bill,

A short note from the enhanced ‘mid-week gang’ as you recently referred to us.  The pictures reveal a complete fence around the Klargester!   Only the revetment work behind the garden remains –  a January project I think.





You might think that there is a vague resemblance between one of the workers and a member of Santa’s elf fraternity.  You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment!


Meanwhile, elsewhere on the station the gang were joined by Dave G – who felt the urge to paint the toilets.  In loo of anything else to do perhaps?  (Sorry – Christmas Cracker level that one).



Thanks all,


Better than New!

p1060583Dear Bill,
    Since I have been absent from your missives for a while, here is an update on one of our mini projects that had been completed in Grandpa’s workshop rather than in the trenches of the container slab laying at the station.
    During the surfacing of Platform 2 the cast iron drain cover for the old GWR Platform 2 building drainage chamber received mortal damage at the hands of the machinery involved. The cover was recovered from the bottom of the chamber in several pieces, but the mounting ring for it was firmly integrated into the new platform surface. Following an internet search I was unable to find a replacement cast iron cover (which seems to date from the 1950s or 60s) and as we did not wish to start excavating the wonderful new platform surface to install a replacement cover and ring, I set the challenge to our local blacksmith to repair the broken cover and strengthen it to let it serve for years to come.
    Cast iron can be difficult to weld requiring preheating and controlled cooling and the loss of a couple of the smaller pieces broken from the cover made the task even more challenging. Over several weeks the cover was reassembled and strengthening bars of mild steel welded to the inside to give mechanical strength in the areas of the welds. In the last week I have further strenghtened the cover with fibreglass resin and matting and today the last task was to give the cover a final coat of anti rust paint. I attach below an image of the finished job. We now just need to remind vehicle drivers tempted to use Platform 2 that their help in not damaging the cover for the 3rd time would be appreciated.
    For advance notice – installation of the repaired cover will take place this weekend

Saturday Gloom

Not the kindest of days weather-wise but the bustle of the Santa Special passengers and  Cheltenham’s racegoers determination to have a good time, lifted our spirits.


4270 and Dinmore  Manor were on duty today. Here 4270 takes on water, regaled in tinsel.

From a work perspective I can report that 9 more slabs were laid – the distance to the end seems to be getting longer rather than shorter! Here the slabbers pose for a photo and a much need rest.


Elsewhere team Stark were spreading their labours – Bob  was on gardening duty on Platform 2. Andrew also gave the container floor another coat of varnish. Lewis ended his session helping the slabbers (second from left above).

Well done all!

A Thursday Delivery

We had a delivery of the final quantity of paving slabs required for the pathway to the container today.img_0824

Yours truly “steering” the pack of slabs – the HIAB being controlled  by Richard the Fairview Building Supplies driver, who can place  loads on a pocket handkerchief (if you ever made such an odd request!)


All safely “landed”!


Dave G was in attendance today, paint brush in hand,  decorating the Station Toilets (oh joy!). One of the never ending maintenance jobs required to keep the Station looking cared for.


Another Good Morning at the OK Corral

The first day of the Santa Specials always reinvigorates the atmosphere at Cheltenham Racecourse Station and today was no exception, with lots of excited children(and grownups!) filling the trains to bursting point.


The CRS Volunteers continued the various work in progress projects and in particular laying the container pathway,  which is wending its way southwards. The completed path will be some 90ft long, made up of 45, 2x2ft x 2″slabs. Mick and Tim are nearly half way now and complain of their knuckles dragging the ground by the end of the session!img_0803

Maurice and Terry continued with the equally arduous job of concreting in the edging curbs, and have to stay ahead of the slabbing in order to keep the momentum going.


The result by the end of the morning session was very pleasing! Well done chaps!


One face missing on the team was Ben, who today had volunteered to man the shop. My goodness he scrubs up well and looked very dapper in his suit. He really is a very pleasant young man and I hope he continues with us for many years to come. We definitely need an  influx of youth to take over from us old codgers!


Just looking forward to the next stages of the container project, today Andrew varnished the wood floor of the container in order to make it dust and spill proof. With the strong smell of varnish, I half expected Andrew to come floating out of the container, but all was well!img_0798

The only other aspect of container work today was Stephen removing the white markings from the external surfaces. The job was surprisingly straight forward  with a hair dryer – whether  the Wilson Amami nights will ever be the same, I’m not sure!


Down on Platform 1 John was tending to the station vegetable patch, which now has the  sleepers installed by the Thursday Gang.



Thats all folks!