30 Apr – Trench Warfare!

Having put the thermals in the loft, washed the winter fleece and mislaid my gloves I wasn’t prepared (was anyone?) for the return of the cool (cold) weather.  However, following a strong hint from colleagues, I thought that Monday morning would be a good time to put in a shift – rather then the prospective Monday afternoon of rain showers.  Fortunately, although it was as cool as forecast, it was certainly not as wet – for which small mercy we thank the weather gods.

The real reason for getting there early was to assist Bob and Ros in removing the bunting – a tedious task but significantly more so if it is ‘soggy’ bunting.  So I beetled in for 0815 and got untwining.  Bob and Ros duly arrived and took the professional lead: you have to be a bit careful when wrapping it up otherwise it has self-tangling tendencies.  However, with all 3 of us up ladders and whatnot there was no-one to take a photo.  So the masonic secrets of bunting wrapping will remain inscrutable.

More prosaically, Wylie arrived mid-task and was looking for work.  Which meant trench digging in Platform 2!  So here are the fruits of our labours:

And here’s the main man himself adopting his scrutinising pose:IMG_20180430_103503

Good work.  All we need now is a cable to go in the trench!



PS: I am sure the Monday afternoon team got up to some good work as well;  John already had the allotment in trim by mid-morning.

28 Apr: ‘Put that Light Out!’

There were no prizes for guessing who was in temporary control at the Racecourse Station:IMG_20180428_125424

Or, in control of that bit of the process anyway.  I am less certain who was in control of the ticket sales but I do know that there seemed to be more passengers than seats available on the departures from the Station this morning – car park overflowing etc etc. One for the management team I suspect.

That said I was hugely impressed by both of the ‘enactors’ and the general train travellers who had made great efforts to dress up and join in the spirit of the occasion.  Here are some samples:

Rather than be overwhelmed by the numbers and mayhem a small team beetled off to the safety of Platform 2 to do some more shed bashing!  Having reported upcycling success on Thursday I had a less propitious start by having 3 lengths of mains cable all of which were a few feet short!  Drat it!  So, reluctantly, we detailed Bill off to consider purchase of a new stretch whilst Ben, Andy M and I concentrated on some old-fashioned preparation work.  In keeping with the 1940s no mechanical aids were used in the digging of this fine trench!

Such was the level of frantic activity that I could make no sense of which other volunteers were present (the list was full of non-CRCS names) though I did see Steve fixing stuff, Dave T hedging, Colin assisting and John ‘digging for victory’.  I am sure there were others that I didn’t spot – apologies.  However, I capture Mike having made his down the Platform 1 slope to join in the fun:IMG_20180428_094153

And finally, by lunchtime, Dave G was very sensibly resting in the staff room having a well-earned break, with a sandwich lunch and a sympathetic ear from Ros Stark.IMG_20180428_123855

Actually he was thinking up a suitable response to the question ‘Why don’t you just put some more trains on?’.  Why not clone P&O:





It was quite delightful to be at the Racecourse Station this morning in pleasant sunshine and dry conditions.  There were reasonable passenger numbers but I guess it is something of a lull between the Easter holidays (plus Broadway festivities & Asparagus Day) and the first of our regular special events with ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ this weekend.  That said there were a fair sprinkling of pre-schoolers with their grandparents, plus some lucky person enjoying a footplate experience, as Dinmore Manor steamed splendidly out of the Station dead on time:IMG_20180426_105322

So whilst Bob Stark and David Miles (with the plan!) continued their locating of UXBs and various wartime signs, I ploughed on with developments for the new shed.

I am frequently aghast at the amount of infrastructure work involved in maintaining a railway.  Trying to run a system to 21st century Health and Safety standards but utilising essentially 19th century technology on the railway itself adds another layer of complexity, as of course does the desire for as much ‘authenticity’ as possible.

Wouldn’t it, said the authorities at CRCS, be a good idea if the new shed had power and water.  Water’s no problem since there had been a rather ugly blue pipe sticking out of the ground since the Platform 2 build team departed – right next to the shed base – so an easy fix.  Power, however, needs to be brought for preference off the platform, with the junction box a mere 150m or so away.  So, up came the chamber covers out with the lengths of heavy duty mains flex and away:

A little additional drainage required here and there but the existing cables (which feed the lights) are snug and dry.  After much tugging and heaving I was pleased with progress – having run a 100m or so of cable invisibly under the platform.  So this aspect of the job is about 2/3 complete.  And working at my own pace I was free to admire the flowers growing on the track bed:IMG_20180426_092225

Sadly, they won’t be allowed to stay and our next run of hoe or the weed killer will see them exterminated.  Ah well I’ve recorded their brief moment of glory!



23 Apr Part 2: After the horse had bolted….

Subsequent to the asparagus festivities in the morning, normal work was resumed on Monday afternoon.  Or at least that’s what we expected until a train turned up – always a little unnerving on a Monday!!

Anyway, it wasn’t a rogue engine hijacked from Toddington but Neil Carr and his acolytes storming down the line with some ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ paraphernalia for the coming weekend.  So here are some snaps of a relatively rare visitor to CRCS:IMG_20180423_145207

The event looks even more complex then ever – but should be fun!

Elsewhere, Mary and John were gardening, Dave T was tree tending whilst Roger and Dave were engaged on the usual painting tasks.  A small but perfectly formed team of Ian and Chris jet washed the final section of edge slabs on Platform 1.

And as a stress buster I took out 2 monstrous bramble roots from the cleared area behind P1 bank:

I then back filled the hole with soil but (accidentally) added my phone to the mix.  On discovering it was missing I had to ask Dave T to phone me and listen out for the ring tone and unbury it!  Let’s call that one a senior moment!


23 Apr: Green Men and A Horse at CRCS!

Ed: The following is from Bob Stark regarding today’s Asparagus Special:

There were strange goings on at the Racecourse Station this morning in advance of a special “Asparagus” train  marking the beginning of the Vale of Evesham asparagus season. In the margins of this celebration a fund raising event for our neighbours at the Cotswold Riding for the Disabled (RDA) was taking place. With no official duties to perform, other than meet and greet old friends, Ros and I helped Steve (from Coventry) to set up his stall to feed the anticipated hungry travellers after their long journey south from Broadway.Picture1

As well as dozens of rolls and the fillings Steve brought with him 3 enormous polystyrene asparagus spears to set the stage. After the train arrived he was supported by a couple of the “Green Men” who were seemingly guarding the consignment of fresh asparagus that was to be auctioned at the RDA later in the morning. As you can see below this guardian was clutching his portion of “gras”, as apparently it is known locally, and was not prepared even to sell it to lovers of this vegetable. This was a marketing opportunity lost!Picture2

Others were more fortunate and here you can see Edward Gillespie the County deputy representative and our strong supporter when he was managing the Racecourse accepting a somewhat more generous portion of asparagus for auction later at the RDA. The immense value of this gift being presented by one of the Morris Dancers can be gauged by the close attendance of St George’s representative with sword and shield at the ready.Picture3

Elsewhere the travelling public were being wined and “burgered” with a long line of thirsty travellers enjoying the entertainment (and Prosecco). Note that your scribe had none! (So he says – Ed!)Picture4

Colourful music music was provided for this happy occasion by the two roving “artistes” below:Picture5

You have seen the green men above, but the prize for silent patience and good manners must go to the visitor below from the RDA.Picture6


PS: And there were no unwelcome presents left on the Platform!

21 Apr: Oh what a beautiful morning!

And it was even slightly too warm to be doing some tasks.  But don’t let anyone think I’m complaining – definitely not.  The good weather again brought out the masses (of passengers and volunteers) so that much was achieved in fine conditions with the car park bulging.  Luckily at Cheltenham Racecourse we might be short on some aspects of infrastructure but we don’t lack for parking! Anyway, Dave T & Mary, Bob and Roz, Terry, Bill, Wylie, Maurice, Andy M, Maurice, John, Mike, Colin and Paul L were all in fine fettle. (Dave G at a meeting and Ben in the Shop – see later.)  Here’s a rough sketch of what went on.

Bob and Roz were early bunting hangers (ahead of the Wartime Weekend next Sat/Sun/Mon) so there was a festive air to the Station:

Great effort guys – Roz looks to be taking it more calmly than Bob!

Up on the Platform 1 bank a deal of tidying and tending remain to be done, on this occasion by Dave T, Maurice, Terry and Andy M:

Sterling effort though I suspect there may be one or 2 more stumps to remove!

And down at the other end Bill, Wylie and I were enlarging the base for the ‘new’ shed:

(Pictures from Bill and I’ve no idea why Wylie was doing a ‘Thinker’ pose?!)

For the record here are the genuine GWR shed bits during their ‘storage’ phase:

Although there aren’t many pieces in this jigsaw I have a suspicion that mantling it back together wont be straightforward; however in the interests of authenticity and all that we will certainly try.

John was gardening on the allotment, then fixing a loose slab and easily wins the weekly prize for best hat:IMG_20180421_121341

Mary, Colin and Paul were also busy gardening but escaped the candid camera on this occasion.

And for those who didn’t believe Ben could look smart here he is in Shop Assistant mode:IMG_20180421_110603

I can’t imagine that any other Shop Assistants in Gloucs look more impressive!

And finally, Mike was providing a stream of railway reminiscences during teak break :IMG_20180421_111407

A great deal accomplished – so thanks to all concerned!




Carry On Painting… Again!


Blog Meisters

Whilst you were labouring with the “new” (well distressed and heritage) hut for Platform 2, Dave Griffin and I were making the most of a temporary possession of the Ticket Office and its precincts.
Dave’s newly painted worker’s notice board was put up in its new position on the wall above the future tea/coffeee making table – which also moved – and temporarily the fridge freezer and several other items that were fixed to the wall close to it were moved to new locations. This will enable Dave to “carry on painting” (Could a comedy film be made of this activity?) those parts of the worker’s room that so far have been out of reach of his paint brush.IMG_0331
Outside with sole possession of the brick running line I lifted an area of paving bricks and improved the soak away potential of the surface below. It is hoped that this will provide a quick fix to the puddling that occurs in this area when the rain doth pour.IMG_0329

     The image above was near the end of relaying of a small section of 32 bricks that were lifted and relaid and now all we need is an April shower to test the efficacy of the repair.