26-28 May – There’ll be another one along shortly….

Blimey it’s like a real railway line! Second blog of the weekend and approaching the Racecourse Station on a Monday morning – albeit a Bank Holiday and a Festival Weekend – one does not expect to see the car park 2/3 full with overflow already in use at 0830!  And it wasn’t just spotters in evidence there were passengers wanting to use trains – lots and lots of them. And it’s been like that (or worse/better) all weekend.  I won’t overdo the negatives (noticeable queues and frazzled volunteers) but the positives are that, for much of the day, there’ll be another train along (fairly) shortly and, what’s more there was plenty to see and do when not actually getting on or off the train.


Oliver Cromwell – in black naturally!

Not least the fact that all the trains I saw this morning were executing a stately dance up and down the platforms, through the points and back.  Now I am not aware whether this was intentional to provide the punters with lots of footage of steaming in progress, or was some delicate manoeuvring required by the complex timetable.  All I can say is that, at times, it looked rather like me trying to reverse into a parking space!

With all this going on it wasn’t the day for intrusive maintenance activities but I engaged briefly in what my good colleagues John Leeson refers to as the ‘extreme sport’ of stump removal.  Here’s this mornings haul:IMG_20180528_111848

Tough work but cheaper than gym membership

Elsewhere the garedens looked very fine – benefitting from the weekend’s rainstorms and here’s a composite of the Platform 2 gardens:

Equally impressive are the views of Mary’s work on Platform 1 gardens now that we’ve managed to unlock the photos (it was an IT issue – so we had to find a suitably qualified 7 year old to tell us how to do it!).Capture 2However if that’s the flora then the fauna is coming along too:IMG_20180528_111638

Here’s the inhabitants of the ‘des res’ (see blogs passim) which I managed to swiftly snap without disturbing mum and dad.

However, since it was a train festival here’s some more engines:

And as a special treat:


Yours, exhausted just from writing the blog!


Cotswold Festival of Steam


The annual GWSR Festival of Steam has drawn to a close for another year and many agree it was the best yet! If you measure success by visitor numbers or just smiling faces it has to be in the top rank of GWSR events.

The visitor numbers on Saturday were tremendous – I have never seen the  Racecourse Car Park so full.  I think this was boosted by the good  Saturday weather forecast, but even thundery downpours  on Sunday did not deter the diehard enthusiasts.


It was great to see Platform 2 in use, both by enthusiasts and trains. Roll on the time when the station  has a   P2 shelter, and a footbridge spanning the tracks so that this can be a more frequent occurrence!

Of course there were many loco “stars’ of the show, which were helping to draw the crowds in. Not least of these was the presence of King Edward II. Presence is the mot juste – it is so large and grand. That said I’m still not sure about the blue colour!




Not withstanding the presence of a King the  prior arrival of Britannia Class  Oliver Cromwell set a few pulses racing. This 1951 British Railways loco, now heading for retirement,  looked resplendent.


Here running around its train on Monday afternoon train:-


The orchestrated running around of the locos would have been the envy of Strictly Come Dancing!


The finale of the day was stalwart Dinmore Manor double heading with the King –  a sight for sore train enthusiasts eyes!


There will be more CFOS action to see on the other blogs so please seek it out. Finally a sincere thank you to all the effort that went into the preparation and running of the Festival.  It is no mean feat and was enjoyed by one and all.



19 May: Amazing Shed!

With Dave T away we were left a clear set of instructions regarding important jobs needing to be done, some maintenance and some in preparation for next week’s Steam Gala.    Dave G was giving the orders, Bob & Ros were ‘gardening’ behind Platform 2, John was vegetating (!), Mike sweeping and edging, Colin was weed killing on the track bed and the ‘A Team’  (Bill, Terry, Wylie, Ben and yours truly) were shed fixing.

And so preoccupied was I with getting the shed through it’s difficult resurrection that I forgot to take any pictures of anyone else.  So, unless I receive images from others, this week will be confined to a short burst of shedmania.  Here is the work in progress:

You can tell who the gaffer is – the one in the peaked cap with the air of authority.  So we lifted and pushed, we bolted and hammered, we angle ground and drilled……until finally we managed to get the Amazing Shed upright (roughly) and temporarily in place on its base:IMG_20180519_124849

Any thoughts that it might not be quite straight are probably due to the distortion of the camera lens (spherical aberrations!) rather than dodgy workmanship!

At least it won’t, I am fairly sure, blow away!  And the water supply and electricity are laid on waiting to turn it into another Racecourse Station ‘des res’ – might just get a single bed in there I imagine.  Can’t  wait to hear the estate agent’s blurb!


PS: I did get some more images – from the Shed team!!


18 May – Another one bites the dust!

A short note on the morning’s activities.  I did a bit of lawn cutting outside the ticket office and then cut some more of the bank – which can now be mown – though it is something short of bowling green standard!IMG_20180518_111626

Elsewhere, I failed (as usual) to capture Dave G painting but did spot Bob (& Ros) sign fixing (as usual):

A smart new one (sorry for the pun)

More strangely, a train appeared with seemingly no genuine passengers but a drone .  Now there are often a number of drones at the Racecourse Station (people talking about their illnesses for instance!) but this one was quite unusual – hovering a couple of hundred of feet above the steam engine.  Some PR footage being gathered I assume.

I did a fair stint of stump bashing:IMG_20180518_113016…….but am beginning to think that there are more stumps to remove than I have energy left!

Elsewhere, Mary was busy planting up some rather nice tubs – out with the Spring stuff, and in with the Summer:IMG_20180518_111357

Now it was pretty sunny and hot so I though it a good excuse to wear one of the excellent sun hats brought back from Australian by Mick Best:

Good piece of kit!

And the big news of the week: the ‘des res’ is occupied!  Look at this photo closely:IMG_20180518_120623

On the level of the bird box about 2 feet to the left you’ll see a blur of wings and that’s a blue tit, one of a couple who are busy nest building!  Hurrah!!  That’s the best capture I could manage from some fast flying avians.   Further reports on progress as the breeding season develops.

Best wishes,


12 May – Pot Pourri!

Another fine day at the Racecourse and a good number (but not too many!) passengers.  The workforce included Bob & Ros, Steve, Bill, Ben, Maurice, Terry, Colin, John – with Dave T & Mary absent on leave and Dave G absent on duty.  Thus it fell to us to implement the latest task list – and I can report that much progress was made.  An early bird mowed the grassy areas and Colin was good enough to trim and tidy up the edges:IMG_0370

A relaxed gardener but a super neat job done!

Meanwhile, Steve was celebrating the arrival of the new strimmer with a few test runs as well as planting up some new annuals:IMG_20180512_114642

Bill and Ben were shed fettling by removing all the existing nuts and bolts joining frame to corrugated sheet.

These surely have to be the snaps of the week – good see Bill enjoying himself and what odds on Ben letting one or more of the fixings roll into that soakaway!  Sitting down on the job mind you!

We have a new extreme sport at CRCS, it’s basically called stump removal, and today’s contestants were Maurice and John:

Actually, they were much happier than the images might suggest – look at the stylish pick wielding! The aim is to have a nice walkable (and ‘barrowable’) path along the top of Platform 1 Bank – so holes are being filled in where stumps once obstructed:


I think we are winning!

Even less glamorous was Terry’s task (with me) of weeding and debris removal from the track bed – a thankless, irritating and endless routine but it does leave a much neater looking station.IMG_20180512_120305

And finally, Ros was busy on the P2 garden while Bob was engaged in finishing the repair job on the front the Ticket Office building (see yesterday’s blog for the before picture):

Looks a professional job to me!

And finally, finally there was a little watering to do as usual:IMG_20180512_114405

Keep up the good work ladies and gents!


11 May – Stumped!

The  trouble with good weather is that it tends to make you complacent – you expect it to carry on being warm and sunny.  So, whilst I expected to be wearing my sunhat the Racecourse Station this morning, I need to wear the winter woolly job – at least initially.

Various job were being done in the quiet of a (more or less) passenger-free day.  Bob was renovating the top Platform 1 signage and then in-filling some of the rot in the wood on the Ticket Office building:img_20180511_114631-e1526044646171.jpg

Dave G was trying to locate some signs and then working on innumerable painting tasks.

Meanwhile, I collected some more of the remaining brash on Platform 1 and the fallen pine timber on the Platform 2 embankment, then made (but did not light) a bonfire.  That was swiftly done so I reverted to clearing tasks and took some exercise by attempting  stump removal.  The brambles succumbed reasonably easily but, where we have felled substantial hawthorn the stumps prove pretty intractable.  This is a classic example:IMG_20180511_091249

And, after an hour of work on a similar stump, this is progress:IMG_20180511_113200But it ain’t out yet by a long chalk!

So I decided the score was Stump 1 – Volunteer 0 and moved on.  The last blog mentioned some of the industrial archaeology finds and there are several of these buried in the P1 bank:IMG_20180511_101010They are, I am confidently informed, tensioning stays for the telegraph poles which used to adorn the bank behind the current station buildings.  This one was rather in the way and a substantial trip hazard so it has been removed.  The telegraph poles have, of course, long gone but similar ones can be seen alongside Platform 2 in this image Old Racecourse.  Nowadays you just have to manage with a mobile and 4G!

And suddenly the peace and gentle thump of pickaxe on stump was disturbed by a train:IMG_20180511_113646Diesel experience I presume and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves!  Here’s the cab where the finer points of train driving are being explained:IMG_20180511_113658

Tomorrow’s a(nother) work day!





7 May: Strike it Lucky!?

I dropped in for a couple of hours work this morning (luckily pay is at ‘time-and-a-half’ on Bank Holidays) and treated to a glorious scene – there can’t be a prettier sight on the GWSR than a busy Cheltenham Racecourse Station on sunny spring morning.  However, after mowing grass for an hour it seemed too hot for such extravagant activity so I filled the water butt on Platform 1 Bank, dug out a stray fence post (obviously the blog labelled ‘The Last Post’ was over-optimistic!) and generally pottered around doing odd jobs and train watching:

The extraction of the concrete post was reasonably easily accomplished though I had to realign a couple of new hawthorns afterwards.  However, since lifting the post whole proved beyond me, I took mild revenge by breaking it in two for removal.

I am sure David Attenborough is aware of this but the oceans are not the only places where there is a lot of bits of stray plastic; there might be 2 trillion in the seas but there almost as many at the Racecourse Station.  And leaving this hedge line undisturbed for 30 (or is it 50?) years has only made the litter problem more noticeable.  Well, it’s either litter or we have the only naturally occurring seam of plastic bags in Gloucestershire, with occasional deposits of polystyrene cups and Walkers crisps packets!  Viz:IMG_20180507_112125

However, the compensation  of working on Platform 1 bank is, of course, the view one gets of the rest of the Station.


Worth a visit surely!

I am sure there will be other colleagues at the Station this afternoon doing other equally valuable jobs – Bank Holiday or not.