Neat & Tidy…

A quick Monday Report from Mick,

Hi Bill
I called in today with the Monday team who were  all working hard on a sunny Monday, I cleared all the odds and ends , it still needs some sorting but Andy needs to have a look.
One shelf holds all the safety gear ,all the straps are on the tower equipment.
I also put up some more piping still needs cable photo attached.
See you Saturday.



Thanks Mick!

Right said Ben both of us together, one each end and steady as we go….

A summary of proceedings today:-

Firstly the container began to receive its first load(s) of  tools and equipment from the Ticket Office this morning. Here a picture of the new workbench (its too high they moan…. No its not – its ideal for my 6’4!”)IMG_0983

The scaffold tower components fit nicely behind the LH door.

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The next step was to empty and  shift (lug!) the tool cabinets from the Ticket Office to the container. This was no mean feat – getting them from their current positions, out of the door, onto a trolley, wheel said trolley  100m and do the whole thing in reverse at the container end!

Well, as the Bernard Cribbins song goes,there was good deal of “heaving and straining”  (not much complaining!) but in the end 2 of the 3 cabinets duly ended at their destination.

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At this point 2 things happened – we ran out of time and energy – and  my phone ran out of juice to take further pictures.

However, I must report that whilst the “Big Cheeses” were away today, the rest of the team worked on in welcome  Spring sunshine. The drone of the Billy Goat was quickly replaced by the hum of the mower . The station soon  looked its neat and tidy self. (Cheers Paul)

Much  sweeping (Mike),  and weeding, snipping and clipping was undertaken by John, Andy and Stephen.


Note the container, when completed will only be used to hold a modest range of  hand tools  and materials. All major items of plant and machinery are held securely elsewhere on the Railway.


A short note just to point out the rumours of the mid-week gang’s demise are greatly exaggerated!  Mick and I did a morning’s work in relative peace and quiet (one train did appear – slightly to our surprise) to make some further headway with the container fittings.

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Anyway, the main lights are up (and they work!) the bench is finished (more or less) and the power supply out to connect the other PODs is re-established, whilst a little more time/effort should see the electrics finished off.  Here is the main(s) man at close quarters with his screwdriver and a recalcitrant light switch!IMG_20170323_120818

γενηθήτω φῶς




The morning after the night before….

There was a distinct sense of hangover at CRCS this morning – more psychological than physical obviously – and not because of anything we had consumed (of course!) but simply because the Racecourse environment always looks rather a sorry sight after the punters have departed.  It was then a morning for sober reflection, some quiet maintenance and a spot of railway TLC –  so, with these handicaps, a short blog only.

That said, few weekends at the railway are properly complete without pictures of a couple of trusty thoroughbreds in harness early: Mike  with his leaning stick and Dave with a paint brush.  In the former case there was plenty of post-Festival debris to remove whilst the latter is working on a fine new memorial bench.

Elsewhere, through a redundant pair of racegoer’s binocular, I spy a second pair of old warhorses were cantering up on the rails:  Bob on bench seat replacement and Paul lawn trimming.

There was also further improvement under way at the new container – almost ready for us to move our vital kit from the staff office into a more appropriate location.  First out of the stalls this morning were Mick and Ben, with Bill (and your truly) coming up late on the rails.

Anyway, the bench is made, the  walls and ceiling complete, the first light fitting is up and it’s odds on we will be moving the first cabinets next week!  And our staff room can be refurbished to palatial standards (well, perhaps not quite palatial)!

John, having had multiple blog appearances as the bookies’ favourite in recent weeks, escaped the cameraman but continued his re-seeding and care for the veg bed.

So, the railway returns to it’s gradual Spring build up with Easter events looming large in the near future with ‘Eggspresses’, ‘Fish & Chip Specials’ and ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’.




And a Couple of extra  photos:-

John continues his labour of love , seeding the newly profiled embankment by the Platform 1 slope. The blue rope is for John to abseil  down the bank safely.



And finally the motley container crew (Ben, Mick and Tim), rightly looking pleased with their efforts!


















Saturday 11th March – the Big Tidy Up!

Dear Bill,
    A very busy day and I admit that I grabbed all the early arrivals to replace our entrance gate sign before the first of our passengers arrived. In their defence I admit that they were expecting to start on your container project, but the sign erection was time critical before the first train. Thanks to Mick, Ben, and Dave Griffin, assisted (I hope) by your scribe the work was quickly completed and the flood lights rewired in preparation for the home going racegoers next week. Sadly as erecting the signboard and taking pictures were not mutually compatible activities I have no image to show the team at work complete with hard hats to tick the H&S box!
    The big activity carried out by Dave Tomlin, Dave Griffin and anyone else who could wield a broom use a shovel, and or push a wheelbarrow was to try and remove the evidence of the civil engineering works and the heavy plant movements that were necessary to complete the ramp repairs (see yesterday’s report). Evidence of these activities is still there in our car park, but now much diminished thanks to the hard work of the team this morning.
 Dave T and Terry in the top photo, Dave G in the bottom photo, and one of the offending machines that managed to churn up the car park surface in  such spectacular fashion.
Around the gardens Mary was adding colour to the entrance and ramp garden beds, Evelyn and John were doing likewise on Platform 1 and Ros was adding more plants to the platform 2 Garden bed – all very colourful and well done to all the ladies. The added colour is much appreciated. Andrew and I “had a go” at the last uncultivated section of Platform 2 flower bed between the ramp and the old building foundations, removing the slagstone blocks that had fallen from the old wall and cutting back some of the soil that had come down from the embankment
    Stephen amongst other repair and cleaning activity put up our new metal “Gentlemen” sign on the door of that toilet having finished the painting of the sign lettering at home – an activity I fear my hand is no longer steady enough for.
    Andrew and I rewired the emergency platform floodlights where an inspection a few days ago had shown the wiring to the halogen floodlights in need of replacement. This work was carried out with heat resistant cable – another tick for the H&S box – two in one day.
    Paul Ledermun was back in action with both the “Billy Goat” on the ramp and Platform 1 and with the lawn mower on the grassed area in front of the ticket office. He skilfully managed to weave between the clumps of daffodils without casualties as the image below shows. The image also shows the “VIP” interview platform that will be used by the racing TV Company next week.
    And finally from my part of the report on the day’s activities, here is what it is all about and why even we labourers of the garden beds get a thrill when the unexpected like this happens
  Our passengers on the lunchtime train from Toddington and the return service from Cheltenham were treated to not just one, but TWO mainline GWR steam locomotives in charge of their train. I am advised by those that know these things that Dinmore Manor was preceded by Foremarke Hall because the latter was having an outing to test recent works carried out on it. It was an unusual treat for us all and much appreciated by our visitors.
A big thank you to Bob  who supply the above report, and Tim who added a selection of pictures. For my part the ongoing fit out of the new container seems “small beer” but Mike and Ben worked hard together in preparing a new work bench for the endless maintenance tasks undertaken by the volunteers. The bench reached the ‘kit of parts’ stage by the end of the morning and will be installed in all its glory next week.  Being  the tallest of the bunch I drew the short straw to put a coat of emulsion on the darker ceiling boards, which will brighten up the end of the container when in use.

A Close Run Thing!

Dear Bill,
    A week of occasional high drama at our Station as contractors worked against the elements and machinery gremlins to complete the resurfacing of our Platform 1 access ramp in time for our weekend’s visitors and the full trains of merry racing enthusiasts for the Cheltenham Festival next week.
    Whats it all about ? Well once a year Cheltenham becomes the centre of Irish attention as many thousands of racing enthusiast descend on Prestbury Park for the Cheltenham Festival of national hunt racing. For our Blog followers it is all about having our station ready to greet GWR trains from Toddington full of racing enthusiasts “beating the traffic and arriving in style” – see the poster below.
    Our Platform 1 access ramp can be likened to the San Andreas fault – always on the move, but very imperceptably. As the image below shows the surface has deteriorated considerably since it was laid some 15 years ago and after another wet winter it was agreed that the movement was such that patching up the cracks again was no longer and option and that major surgery was now required.
    Due to several factors the only slot available for this work to be done was this week, but with the Cheltenham Festival only days away there was no “wiggle room” if unexpected problems arose. Arise they did, but the contractors managed to finish laying the new tarmac late on Thursday afternoon


    This morning, Friday, we can see here the “after” image that matches the “before” image above.


  Other visitors to the site while all this heavy engineering actiovity was in progress were  a scaffolding team from Cotswold Scaffold to construct the scaffold interview platform used by a London based racing TV channel company to interview owners and trainers away from the Racecourse, but overlooking the course activity. A busy week for everyone.
    Tomorrow, the Saturday gang have the final tidying up to  complete, but that will be tomorrow’s blog storyline.


The weather at Cheltenham Racecourse station was fairly kind, if a little blustery, for both volunteers and the first passengers of the season on ‘opening morning’ 2017, .  A healthy turn out of volunteers included DaveT, Mary, John, Bob, Andrew, Maurice, Ben, Mike and Andy plus, of course, the water tower gang, the duty station staff and, on the early train, about 17 guards, drivers and other assorted fellow travellers!

DaveG was also present but now resplendent in his Station Master role, having foresworn painting – at least for a while – to ensure that all ‘i’s were crossed and ‘t’s dotted before the first train.  And so here, spied through my trusty binoculars and to kick us off in 2017, is Andy advising on why the 1034 has arrived facing backwards:

Earlier our Head of Department did a test walk down the slope to Platform 1 whilst Mike swept away everything in his path – in our case strewn with pine needles rather than palm leaves.  (On a serious note: an extensive contractor-led resurfacing task is taking place on 6-7 Mar to replace much of the degraded tarmac on the top half of the slope).20170304_101653

Meanwhile Mary did some serious tidying up whilst John was in full design flow with his raised beds/planters alongside the vegetable patch and Maurice engaged in that old CRCS perennial game of ‘pick up sticks’!

Elsewhere, Andy advised Mick on how to drill a neat hole and later the correct Health & Safety procedures for using large ladders.  (Actually, he was just about to disconnect and take down our big sign above the entrance so that the grader/tarmac machines can get in next week.)

The real progress was, of course, in the new container where, as always, Ben was out of shot supervising (he’s got a real talent for leaning on a spade that one) whilst Mick was on his knees (ouch!) plumbing in the electrics – for the jacuzzi, obviously.  Power now available at the flick of a switch.


Regrettably I didn’t manage to capture garden development on Platform 2 (Bob & Andrew) or any of the other splendid efforts which went into making our first revenue earning day of the year such a success.

Many thanks to all for getting us off to such a great start this season – all the customers I spoke to were most impressed.