With ‘Bill the Blogmeister’ away (please come back soon!) I am reduced to composing a hotchpotch of pictures and posts – in no very coherent order, but with an alliteration theme.  Credit is due to Mick for some of the images, and to Bob whose narrative efforts I have plagiarised mercilessly.  (Luckily, this sort of thing is not frowned upon in GWSR blogging circles.)

A good turnout this mixed weather Saturday morning and excellent progress made on several long running projects (ie things we’ve never quite managed to finish).  Andy M was inaugurated into the driving skills required for Billy Goat and cleared the platforms and ramp before our visitors arrived; Mary, Dave T and Maurice worked various aspects of the garden/hedge maintenance whilst Stephen continued his Sisiphyean strimming struggle (try saying that whilst eating a biscuit) against rapid weed growth on the embankment of Platform 1.

Ben and I finished the long running water pipe repair task on the embankment by barrowing many loads of sand and gravel up from Platform 1 to bed in a new OSMA drainage chamber and complete the backfilling of the hole created a couple of months ago.  (Bob was kind enough to point out that I broke the tap off in the first place so it was about time I sorted out the mess!)  We should now have another accessible water supply on the embankment when this is needed in the future.

Meanwhile Mick and Bob were working in POD 2 – another forever task!!! This morning the last of the electrical ‘stuff’ was transferred and, in order to stop draughts and keep out the winter cold, some of the redundant MOD fittings were removed. Mick installed the anti-frost heater and, after sweeping the floor and washing down the work surfaces, the POD was almost back to the state that we received it in from MOD. With these tasks complete Ben and Bob went for broke and moved all the paints and associated materials out of the ISO container and into the pristine paint POD – we just hope that Dave Griffin will find everything when he comes back, and that Bill has a plan for what he will do with all the new shelf space that he now has in the storage container.

Just to show we (the Saturday gang) aren’t a clique here are some snaps from a very cheerful looking Monday team:


Sitting down again I see!!

And here is one of the many things achieved: on the LHS Mick’s super new fitting for the shop with nice bit of mahogany on display (let’s hope the workers appreciate it).  Compare this with, on the RHS, my efforts to dig out the fire pit used to dispose of our waste materials

You can, I imagine, draw your own conclusions about the relative skill levels necessary to achieve the above tasks!  And finally, John was busy improving the fittings in the Garden Pod whilst others had hijacked the new shed for assorted specialised storage.


I didn’t imagine it would remain empty very long!!



PS: In response to the request for a bench half way up the slope: here it is!!


A Quiet Day on the Home Front.

Dave Tomlin  has kindly sent me the following report on Saturday’s efforts  at CRS.

Dear Bill

Holidays, RIAT and family commitments reduced numbers signed on this Saturday. As all the keen snappers were amongst them, no pictorial evidence is available to illustrate the efforts of DaveG, DaveT, Mick, Ben, Mary, Mike, Maurice, John and Steve. Dave Miles popped in to discuss revised signage for the park and ride service and ideas for next year’s war (weekend) and as ever loco department were servicing the water treatment plant under the water tower.

DaveG put the first undercoat on the first section of paling fence, Mick and Ben were working on a draught screen for the shop counter, and Maurice was hedge trimming. DaveT nursed the new hedge saplings (which are looking a bit distressed after all the recent hot temperatures), and John sorted the gardener’s glory hole and salvaged usable timber from the bonfire before DaveT lights it up on Monday. Steve put the Billy Goat round, then managed to manoeuvre our 4-wheel truck into the new wooden “barrow” shed and finally used the brush cutter on the platform 1 embankment. Mary tidied the top garden and flower tubs and finally Mike swept up and, most importantly, made the tea!

A kind donor has just presented the Friends with about 150 railway books, the pride and joy of her late husband. They will keep DaveT busy for some weeks getting them ready for sale online or on our fundraising stall in the ticket hall. A further visit has been arranged to collect other railwayana and we are all most grateful for this impressive donation.

Scaffolding is shortly to be erected around the road facing sides of the ticket office building to enable essential repairs and painting of the roof and walls. The Friends will assist B&S with this work as much as we are able, to ensure prompt removal of the scaffolding to minimise hire costs.



Thanks Dave……

Here, There, Everywhere!

I’m afraid our main blog contributors were absent from duty on Saturday and consequently we have no report on the hard work of those that were there! (now superseded by the report above!)

For my part I was on a much needed (and enjoyable) break in Cornwall. I always try to fit in a visit to the nearest heritage railway (In this case it was  to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway) for a whiff of steam and see what locos are in action.    As with so many heritage railways it survives on the enthusiasm of its volunteers and this was much in evidence as staff on duty made sure the visiting holiday makers were well looked after.


It is a line full of charm and character. The  B&W offers a 13m round trip between Bodmin General (the home station) and Bodmin Parkway, which has the great advantage of being a Mainline Station. The star attraction is a  very well preserved SR footbridge, with reverse steps.


Class 5700 Pannier Tank 4612 was on duty on the day of our visit. It looked and sounded in fine fettle. It did, however  start to run out of puff returning with a well laden rake of 5 coaches up the 1:40  gradient back to Bodmin General!


A good day out !





Another Saturday another hot and sticky morning’s work.  And another day when our numbers were slightly reduced by summer leave & other duties.  So it was down to Mick, Steve, Bob & Ros, Terry, Maurice, Mike, Paul & John – as well as the undersigned – to make hay.  In fact most of us seemed to be gardening or doing garden-related tasks.

Some time ago we (well it was me to be accurate) half buried our water source near the storage containers and promised (unfaithfully) to restore and/or improve matters.  Finally (cried the gardeners!) Mick have done so and provided a handy new tap – which only leaks ever so slightly.

We also had another minor issue of a very slight leak (from a tap which someone – me again! – broke off) in the same supply line but further down the bank.  I have thought – in more irritable moments – that a major leak would be better; since it would be obvious where it was coming from and we’d have no choice but to fix it!  We’ll get there eventually.

Elsewhere, Paul, John and Steve were maintaining the gardens; Maurice, Terry (& Steve) were reducing the vegetation growth in various places on Platform 1 territory, whilst Bob and Ros were trying to encourage growth of the right things in the vicinity of Platform 2 and kill the wrong things.  What is it they say: a weed is simply a plant growing the wrong place?  Hmm – I’ve yet to find anyone at CRCS who that thinks bindweed, brambles, horsetail and dandelions possess much horticultural merit anywhere!

Anyway, above and below are some of the weary workers in their much appreciated efforts to maintain our station at its summer best.IMG_20170708_112338Later Mick and I took some considerable pleasure in knocking the relatively few unwanted elements of the recycled shed to bits, putting the more useful into store and the remnants onto the next bonfire pile.IMG_20170708_121141

And where did potatoes come into it? Well, the ‘Dig for Victory’ garden continues to bear fruit (= veg) and there were both onions and spuds for some of the hungry workers to take home for tea.  Being from Wigan mine had to be put into a pie –  and very tasty it was too!




Regular readers will have gathered that there has been a bit of a drive to increase and improve the storage facilities at the Racecourse Station.  We are (I sincerely hope!) nearing the end of this initiative with the ‘new’ recycled shed (see below), and there remains only the ‘Fogman’s Hut’ to install – this last being no more than an outline project at the moment, destined for Platform 2.  This work is all about future investment really: to better equip the team at the Cheltenham end of the line to maintain and enhance our Station and, thereby, the service we offer to the GWSR’s passengers. Progress can appear slow (and sometimes is!) but look back over a year and you can see how much things have come on.  Notably a great deal of effort has gone into creating more and better space: for the volunteers, for passengers and for our kit.  The Racecourse Station doesn’t lack overall area – in fact in some ways it’s so big that nothing is ever to hand and the geography can work against you – hence barrowing endless loads of ballast up 20 metres and along 200!  The words most frequently heard are: ‘when we get this finished, we’ll be able to…….’; trouble is we never do get it finished as each task is superseded by another!

This Saturday we were shorn of our leader (Dave T – away camping apparently) plus the Starks and one or 2 others of our regulars.  However, Dave G, Steve, Mike, Mick, Bill, Ben, Andy & John were shoulders to the wheel.

First, Steve was busy clearing space by removing the laurel branches on P2 slope:

And on the way up there I took some quick snaps of the Stark Gardens. A very nice space if I may say so!

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Mick and Ben were making better space by applying the final touches to the shed roof: felt, finial and all.  Not perhaps ‘shed of the year’ but……..

…..looking great and this should provide more useful storage for the garden equipment, viz:

So we won’t have to move 5 wheelbarrows before being able to reach a spade!  Hurrah say the gardeners!

Bill and Dave G were in close consultation on improving the state of the Ticket Office front wall:

More than a lick of paint required here I think!

Elsewhere, Andy was maintaining the hedge, Mike was sweeping/tea making whilst John was celebrating his new easy access Garden POD!

Beam me up someone!