31 Mar – Easter Saturday

The weather, various illnesses and other activities on the railway for the most part precluded volunteer activity at the Racecourse Station this morning.  (Steve had signed in, Maurice was on car parking duties and Dave G was Station Master.) However, both Bill and I dropped in to see what was happening.  And guess what – it was raining!  So just some of my slightly murky snaps to show that the ‘Back to Broadway’ theme continued from yesterday.







If the weather doesn’t pick up soon I’m moving to Australia! Or the Sahara Desert!!


Tim’s photos show his neat and tidy mind –  my efforts, which  follow, are less so!


2807 being coupled up – always a source of interest


Headboard bracket transferred


Yours truly hoping to hitch a ride


A busy carpark on such a bleak day weather-wise


Broadway  ready for the next train


Good Friday 2018 – The First Public Steam Railway Service at Broadway for 58 Years

Such a great milestone for the GWSR  today who, after 10 years of fund raising and many thousands  of  hours invested by the hardworking volunteers, launched the first operational  service from Broadway Station southwards to Cheltenham. It will have been a day full of nostalgia  for the public and volunteers alike.  For some, a dream fulfilled.

Unfortunately our blog meisters were laid low today but the the other blogs will more than compensate with their coverage.

Bob Stark sent us the following account of his  Good Friday on the Railway.

A Special Journey on Good Friday

Today I had a very special railway journey thanks to the kindness of the Trust and the “long time ago” period when I had the honour to be Chairman of the Railway. A few of the early Plc Chairmen were invited by Trust Chairman Glyn Cornish  to join the second train of the public opening day of trains to Broadway and I attach below some images from the event.     Following a warm welcome from Glyn and Henry Howard at Toddington, we started with the journey from Toddington to Cheltenham where I felt that it was appropriate to re-enact the champagne reception of the first train to the Racecourse Station.   P1070010  As wine waiter, I am joined in this picture by ex Chairman Garry Owen who Chaired the Board of the Plc both before and after my “tour of duty” in the 00s. Pour memoire, I attach below the image taken on Platform 2 at Cheltenham in the winter of 99/2000 when the first train into our platforms was the permanent way diesel locomotive with a works train.


These images are separated by 18 years, how time flies when you are having fun.”

My beautiful picture     At Cheltenham Glyn and Station Master Dave Griffin kept us in order until the hour of departure arrived. I did not investigate the pagoda structure in the background, having deemed that it was unlikely to contain a bar dispensing free celebration alcoholic beverages.” P1070012 During the journey to Broadway we reminisced on the many times in days of yore when we had been asked the question “when will you get to Broadway” – my stock response was always “when we do”. Well today we did!” P1070014   On arrival at Broadway the heavens opened, but the generous proportions of the excellent canopy (in contrast to ours at Cheltenham) let everyone mingle and enjoy the ambience of the morning under cover away from the rain. Station staff were in abundance – Station Masters by the score – well more than 1- and so much gold braid. I almost felt I was back in the Army on parade! ” P1070016   This was a very happy event topped off by excellent working “facilities” at Broadway – well done the team that completed this task against a tight deadline. We, the passengers, were very “relieved”.    Finally, in case readers wonder what happened to the bottle of Champagne shown on the first image above, we sipped it slowly between Toddington and Broadway and toasted our volunteers past, present and no longer with us who had made this day special possible. The question on many lips today was “what’s next”?

Bob Stark”

26 Mar – The Last Post!

With the novelty value (I hesitate to say pleasure) of planting hawthorn rather than chopping it down still fresh, and the weather (whisper it softly) fine and dry, I repaired to the Racecourse for a Monday afternoon shift.  The usual band of faithful volunteers were present including Dave T, Dave G, Mary, Roger, Ian & John.  (Noting that Bob and Ros had been busy on Platform 2 in the morning.)

Dave G was organising and preparing for the anticipated weekend of mayhem (sorry that should read ‘orderly busyness’) coming up with Broadway’s official service commencement etc.  You might have assumed that this far down the line we would be immune but there is much involved in running a railway that the casual observer (such as me) fails to appreciate.  Anyway let’s just say that the team are planning for all contingencies.  And  in the middle of that Dave was supervising some final painting touches with Roger.

And to play our part in making everything look shipshape there was a clean and tidy team (Mike and Ian) hard at work:

Honestly, this was just a short well-earned sit down after and before some stiff platform brushing!

Mary was reassuring herself as to ‘how does her garden grow?’:IMG_20180326_152034

A late spring for certain here in Gloucestershire in 2018.

Dave T was replacing hedge saplings which had been planted in 2017 and eaten in 2018! Meanwhile, further down the hedge line John and I were busy with this year’s new crop of hawthorns.  Having dug a hole or two I discovered that there was rather a clean hard line beneath the surface of the old drainage ditch – and began to wonder if the ditch had been lined or brick faced?  However, a little more digging revealed – guess what –  a buried concrete fence post!IMG_20180326_162749

A moment of pure nostalgic joy for those lost days of autumn when no Saturday was complete without knocking down and carrying away a few of these, vizIMG_20171111_115902

(Historic image – October 2017!)

All gone now of course and hopefully this really was the ‘Last Post’!  Here is the ditch/fence line before and after our efforts this afternoon:

Or for a slightly wider perspective:IMG_20180326_162753

Only another 50 or so to plant.

Looking forward to Broadway busyness over the Easter weekend.



24 March Part 2: MARY GO ROUND!

Our faithful volunteer Mary, not content with a morning’s gardening at the Racecourse, then did a shift serving cream teams on the trains.  As a result she was in place to see all the fun of the fair by mid-afternoon.  So here’s couple of her shots from station side – you can certainly see our rickety fence! (Will be an impenetrable hawthorn barrier in a few weeks obviously!)  Mary didn’t say whether she had ventured onto any of the rides or not!


Thanks for the input Mary.


24 Mar – Hawthorn Street or Hatherley Road

There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect. Men do not quarrel about the meaning of sunsets; they never dispute that the hawthorn says the best and wittiest thing about the spring”     G K Chesterton

The use of hawthorn is fairly ubiquitous in the hedgerows of our countryside and, I guess, inevitably by the side of many of our railway lines – planted or wild.  Given the local prevalence of Hatherleys (apparently it means ‘a hawthorn clearing’) and the like, it should come as no real surprise that hawthorns grow well in the native Gloucestershire soils and climate.  And I guess like everyone at CRCS they are pretty tolerant!

So, the main new activity this morning at the Racecourse was hedge planting – though the team of Bob, Ben, DaveT, Mary, Terry, Mike, Steve & John also completed many of their normal tasks as well.  However, to start us off there was, as per last weekend, a fair amount of litter at the bottom end of the Station – this time from the fun fair attendees – an indicated by the candy floss wrappers and empty (!) plastic bags which were labelled: ‘Goldfish’.  Another event, another range of rubbish.  Whoops, sorry, forgot to be tolerant for a moment there!

Anyway, we made some considerable progress and have, I would guess, planted about a third of our 250 new hawthorns – mainly in the cleared stretch but also where we have lost the odd few to the bunnies or other plant predation!  Here’s some snaps of the team (Ben and DaveT) at work:

John, not pictured, was busy further down the track – digging a trench and removing the  extraneous roots of brambles and nettles.  Interestingly we are, in effect, planting up the old ‘drainage channel’ – so there should be no shortage of water one would think.

Elsewhere, Mary was planting up one of our more prominent flower beds:IMG_20180324_112605

Terry and Mike were keeping the place tidy, Steve was fixing things (wheelbarrows mainly) and Bob was trying to sort the slightly dodging cable conduits beneath the surface of Platform 2 (water ingress issues).

Luckily, the trains and passengers ran on regardless:IMG_20180324_123111

And if you don’t appreciate the train this has nice view of the Klargester in the foreground!

Next weekend’s blog will, I sincerely hope, feature the ordered chaos of the Easter Weekend and our new, extended, train services.  Onwards to Broadway!




22 Mar – Can you see what it is yet?

A short excerpt from the life of a volunteer today – just to keep readers up-to-date with progress at the Racecourse Station.  As the remaining elements of the Festival are being dismantled and put away for another 12 months a new bunch are busy putting a fairground in place for (I guess) this weekend.IMG_20180322_111139

Personally, I idled away my morning having a small bonfire and clearing the path for the new hawthorn plants.  In the process of which I raked under the current hedge where a (largely notional) drainage ditch lies.  Regular readers will be familiar with my frequent complaints about what this contains: let’s just say mostly ‘unwanted items.  Today, however, my mood was lightened by the following sequence:


See anything of value (except my gauntlets obviously)!


Any more ideas?


Surely you can see it by now………………?


……..but to remove all doubt!

Ha! So picking all that litter up was not a waste of time after all.  I had a good dig around just in case there were any more buried hereabouts – sadly not! – and I was just thinking about heading down to the Royal Oak in Prestbury for a much deserved pie and pint with this ‘well-earned’ windfall when the boss (DaveT) turned up with the 250 hawthorn plants.  So I felt obliged to hand in the £10 to the Treasurer of Racecourse Station funds, and left feeling virtuous but hungry (& thirsty)!  Here by the way are the hedging plants plus stakes:IMG_20180322_121952

Look promising for the new hedge – hope the weather is kind for us on Saturday to get some planting done.



19 Mar – How’s the Billy Goat……..Gruff!

A small band of sturdy volunteers braved the elements this Monday to continue our standard preparations and improvements: Dave G, Chris, Roger, Ian and John.  The remains of yesterday’s snow hardly troubled us other than leaving the normal legacy of dripping roofs and oozing embankments – dry it certainly isn’t, so don’t let me hear any murmurs from the Met Office of a drought for the next couple of years at least!  If we haven’t got enough water in Gloucs then I don’t know what in goodness name Severn Trent are doing with it!

Anyway, having got that out of my system.  I watched Chris and Ian from afar using the Billy Goat to sweep Platform 2 to a degree of almost perfect cleanliness.


Now we just need someone to use it……………….! I keep telling myself I must be patient.  Please note that isn’t my shadow intruding into the picture – it’s a troll (see later).

John was hard at work on some early season planting and weeding:IMG_20180319_144532

A hardy annual looking after hard annuals!

Elsewhere Dave G and Roger were painting the inside of the staff office – proper job this: filling the holes, using primer, undercoat and topcoat – so clearly not a task for your truly!

I was removing the last of the overgrown hawthorn prior to the arrival of some more biddable versions later in the week – so stand by for a mass planting session over the next few working days.  I wouldn’t normally be chopping down vegetation in mid-March but there seems little chance of any bird life nest building just yet, given the weather.  I checked on the local habitations (see Des Res!) but no signs of occupancy.  I expect Spring will come with a sudden rush – when it eventually does arrive!

Having wandered down from my lumberjack activities I passed Billy’s residence (in modern parlance he’s self-identified as a goat) and thought to myself that perhaps he should really live under the adjacent bridge but no, of course, he can’t because that’s where the troll lives!


Who’s that trip, trapping down the platform?

And finally, my route took back out of the main entrance – where the Festival remnants are still to be collected.  I mused on how useful one of these would be:IMG_20180319_130946 Ferrying the less able bodied passengers up and down to the platforms, pulling wheelbarrow loads of plants or compost etc etc.  Still one wouldn’t want to make life too easy otherwise it wouldn’t be the GWSR now would it?!