Monday Progress

It’s not always obvious to the passengers passing through our Station that a great deal of hard work goes on in the closed season to keep the Station and its services shipshape (if you’ll pardon the change in transport!) The following post from Bob Stark gives a nosegay  of the many tasks involved:-

Dear Bill,

A black and white progress report – without images to record the progress being made against a tight schedule to have the Platform 1 building facilities refreshed, up and running in the next couple of weeks.
My first thought is for the loneliness of the long distance painter – one Dave Griffin. As someone who has painted professionally Dave sets a very high standard and over the years we have benefitted from his workmanship. This writer cannot aspire to such levels of competence and has faced censure from Dave in the past for my artistic shortcomings. Over the last few weeks Dave has been giving all the toilets in the Platform 1 building a clean, repaint and general facelift. The difference is fantastic. In recent days the Gentlemen’s facilities have been completed and today Dave was completing the disabled toilet – the ladies is next. As part of the supporting cast I filled all the holes left by the removal of the old roof lights and after some rubbing down in the next few days we will be able to repaint the remaining ceilings where new LED downlighters are being installed.
Being Monday we had a good supporting cast this afternoon with several volunteers out on Platform 1 and the ramp clearing away the normal leaf fall and spraying the growth of moss and other slippery algae growth that has resulted from this winter’s wet and grey weather. Under cover in the ticket office Dave Griffin’s assistants Roger and new volunteer Stephen were hard at work painting the repaired notice boards that will be gracing our infrastructure when we reopen.
Between brushstrokes Dave Griffin hosted a local resurfacing company representative to obtain an estimate for the repair to the worst of the cracks on the Platform 1 ramp. We live in hope that this work also will be contracted and completed before we reopen.



A  big Blog welcome to new volunteer Stephen.


Another good turn out saw Mick, Bob, Ros, Steve, Dick, Dave G, Bill & Andy arrive at a rather busy CRCS for the Saturday morning shift. The race crowds were quite sizeable – more practice for the Festival I imagine – but we seemed to get in via Gate 6 okay and progress was achieved on various tasks.  In no order of importance these were:

Improved lighting in the Platform 1 building: Mick was chief sparks (whilst I acted as tool fetcher) to remove the existing light fittings and re-plumb for the new LED downlighters. The task was ‘more fun’ because it required access via the loft space – crawling about in which is quite a tight squeeze for the more mature figure and hard on the old knees!!

The new lighting (via 12V transformers shown) should be brighter and use considerably less electricity – hopefully boosting visibility and trade in the shop.  Anyway, despite a couple of cut fingers (and 3 broken light bulbs – old ones fortunately!) the task was accomplished so it just remains for the ceilings to be fettled and then given a coat of paint.

Elsewhere, the ladies and gents loos underwent a number of minor upgrades.

Good teamwork from Ros and Bob in their matching his ‘n hers boiler suits! (Are they on offer in Screwfix I wonder?)

Elsewhere Dave was as busy as usual with the dustpan, brush and paint pot – although one might suppose from the temporary lighting that filming was imminent!

Steve and Bill continued with the seemingly sisyphean tasks associated with the new container though I can report that we are ‘getting there’ according to the project manager.

And a quick look at the action, Stephen cuts  a remarkably straight line (!) and by the end of the morning all walls are completed – just the ceiling to go!



Dick, as ever, was industrious in removing the debris from the station surrounds whilst Andy was up a ladder fixing the CCTV system. Sorry no pictures – they’d downed tools by the time I got there!

I should note that these blogs reflect mostly what goes on when I am there on Saturday morning or mid-week; I am very much aware that there are numerous others – especially the Monday group – whose work is unrecorded and unsung but equally valuable.

Anyway, I am sure it will all be in tip top shape by the time the real Cheltenham Festival comes around (just about 7 weeks to go!).  Hopefully, utilising Platform 2.



Our Own Prodigy Fire Starter!

There were 9 Volunteers in attendance today – all cheery and wrapped up against the cold weather.

Top job on such a cold day is starting and tending a bonfire. Tim was fast off the blocks to carry out this task and managed to disposed of some  old fencing and general rubbish from tidying up the adjacent bank.20170121_095726


Tim also split his time and helped me out by shifting 10 sheets of plywood from the Ticket Office, along Bills Boulevard (as some are calling it) to the Container. His head balancing skills were impressive and I suspect he is a little shorter as a consequence!

On the subject of the container,  Stephen and I made good progress on lining the container and we may yet get on Chanel 4’s Grand Designs. Bob was once again knocking seven bells out of an old GWR sign. What is impressive, is that they return from his garage looking as good as new, and look so splendid in situ.


Bob sent me the following report from his perspective on the day’s activity:

Dear Bill,
    A small contribution to our blog for today with numbers somewhat lower this morning and a bitterly cold start to the day. That is perhaps an optimistic assessment as the sun disappeared very early along with only some of the frost and as a result it stayed fit for Penquins down on the platforms. No doubt you will cover the container progress, but here are some other bits and pieces to swell the report.
    Down on Platform 1, despite being in the shadow of the hedge and permafrost on the platform surface, Mary was raking out the dead leaves and twigs from the garden bed .
    Above on the embankment Tim was burning the left over pieces of wooden palings from the Klargester re-fencing project that he and Mick recently completed. Mary’s dead leaves and some branches from the embankment clearance were also consigned to the fire.


“Up top” Dick and Mike reverted to sweeping up the leaves by hand giving them an chance to keep warm and have a social chat – not something that can be done whilst following the noisey “Billy Goat” whose normal keepers were not with us today.
 My first task was to investigate a report (and put to bed an action outstanding from 2 Department Committee meetings) which suggested that the Platform 2 lights were not working. Perhaps we had an intermittent Gremlin?  However, this morning when the appropriate switch was put on  – LO there was light from all but one lamp on platform 2.  A quick check and a tightening of the offending screw LED bulb fixed this minor blemish and I can confirm that all lights will be working for the next event that requires lighting on Platform 2. I offer as evidence the image below.


     My next task was to dismantle one of our many old GWR poster boards to recover the original GWR wooden border for the re-make of one of our customer facing notice boards that has been taken down for some TLC. These boards face the extremes of weather in the winter wind tunnel of our platform area and however well we try and seal them, the water eventually penetrates the joints. This will be another job for my garage which is warmer and more convenient than working outside at the station at this time of year.
    During the week Ros and I removed 3 of the old plastic roof lights from the disabled toilet on Platform 1, replacing them with modern LED fireprooof downlighters. If this move to brighter lighting finds favour (yes I know the GWR did not have LED downlighters in the “old” days), then perhaps we can brighten up the lighting in all our Platform 1 building rooms. Dave Griffin has been working down on Platform 1 during the last couple of weeks cleaning and repainting the toilets. The result is super, albeit new lighting would show off his workmanship even better. At present the jury is out on extending the new lighting style.
    Finally I collected another 2 baskets of treasures from the 2nd POD that we are trying to empty in order to re-use it to store flammables such as paints away from the Ticket Office. The contents of these baskets will go to the recycling centre along with other surplus items. POD 2 is slowly emptying!
    Bob Stark
And one more thing:-

I forgot to mention that Andy today dismantled the scaffolding poles used to hold the Christmas lighting for our Santa services. Not a task for the faint hearted ! Andy and Stephen returned the poles to the storage area at the back of the secure compound and Andy then man handled the boxes of coloured light bulbs and wiring back into the loft of the Ticket Office. A great clearance job.



There was a certain sense of relief in the air this morning at CRS – because we weren’t obliged to do any footpath work!  Anyway, a good motley collection of volunteers was in evidence doing a variety of out-of-season activities.

John and Maurice (and Dick after Billy Goating) were busy redesigning the garden: more grass bank, less beds on the precipitous slopes.  Good idea though heavy work removing/relocating the kerb stones and clinker stones! (Note the benches etc are ‘under cover’ prior to their off-season coat of paint.)

Bob and Andrew popped into the container for a discussion and then did other valuable work sorting and sifting our vast electrical stores (later joined by Mick on his knees in the ticket office)!  I think the recycling centre at Stoke Orchard is due a visit.

Elsewhere, Steve decided to remove an old sign (too far gone even for CRS – the sign that is, not Steve) and Ben willingly assisted anyone and everyone:

The seal of approval was given to the Platform 1 garden, now enclosed in sleepers and awaiting the growing season whilst Dave T showed a prospective new volunteer around the Station:

Finally, Dave G was as busy painting as ever (see many earlier blogs for an image) and, if there is anyone I have missed, my sincere apologies – do send me a selfie!







The mid-week gang were out in force this morning – well, Mick and I went along at least.  Our intention was to finish off removing the redundant fence behind the Platform 1 vegetable garden and provide some revetment to prevent the embankment sliding down into the produce!  We agreed an outline plan with John the gardener and set to work in a passenger and train free environment.


In the best traditions of the GWSR we re-used some railway sleepers – plenty more life left in the these vintage editions – and they are suitably rustic with obvious areas of rot.  (Pre-aged I think the term is – like the volunteers at Cheltenham Racecourse Station!) The embankment itself is steeply graded (too much so, one suspects – probably why it tends to collapse forward slowly like a west country iceberg) and we had ‘fun’ digging out several barrow loads of clay.  As one can see from the photo we have several more cubic metres to go! However, some progress was made and by the end of the morning this was the result:


It is defintiely a work in progress and we have some more sleepers to add plus some fixings to apply but the overall effect will, I hope, be a more stable and even neater garden area for visitors to enjoy.  Inevitably, given the time of year, plenty of good Gloucestershire clay was spread onto the platform and my assistant/supervisor/mentor had to spend some time sweeping up in case the Billy Goat (see blogs passim) gets gruff!!



Tim & Mick, The Mid-Week Gang

Reluctant Blogger!

Bill has finally persuaded me to take some responsibility for keeping the blog up-to-date, as opposed to simply providing inputs!  As such I have decided to publish the one photo which I sent to him yesterday which he didn’t choose to use.  Well, if you hand over an element of editorial control……………..this is what happens!


There are various mildly unpublishable captions which I could suggest! However, to stay factual, this is Bill and Andrew continuing to do a sterling job lining the container.

Regards to all,


The Final Pieces of the Jigsaw!

A great turnout on a rather  dark, dank  day – the weather threatening to get wetter, rather than  better!

Nevertheless Mick, Tim and Ben made an  early start in order to complete the footpath to the Container and fit the final pieces to the pathway jigsaw.


This required some careful cutting of the final slabs. Mick was our master cutter –  it was best to avoid being down wind of the dust cloud!


Here Tim is levelling out the sharp sand base to accommodate each section of slab.


Eventually with much nudging and levering the job was complete!


It really was an excellent job, which brought much praise from the passing Volunteers, who were quite glad they had not drawn the short straw to be on the pathway chain-gang.

Ben completed the centre diversion around the tree in the pathway by carefully infilling with two narrow sections of slab and thereby  minimised the  chicane effect for speeding wheel barrows. (we may still require a speed camera there!)img_0888

The end result was quite magnificent. You couldn’t wish for a better result. Bravo!


On the topic of jigsaws, similar  (easier!) challenges were presenting themselves with the lining out of the Container.   I donned my Chippy Minton hat and helped Andrew Stark continue the plywood lining of the container – with the adage “measure twice, cut once” etched in my brain by my late father in law, we managed to make some steady progress and get a couple of more sheets of ply on the walls.



The job continues next week.

Elsewhere work was proceeding – unfortunately much of it out of my sight. (not earshot  – I heard Bob  knocking seven bells out of an old  metal sign!).

Tim did catch a good shot of John Leeson contemplating a renovation job on… mmm a small window box or ….. a brick mould or ….. I will find out….20170108_114908

Im sorry I missed others activity but all efforts are equally valued.