Having  carried out a detailed doughnut audit I can confirm  that there were  10 Volunteers on parade today. By no means discounting their hard   work gardening in the baking heat, I’m afraid I only had eyes for the GWR Hut restoration!

I had to strong arm both Ben and Stephen into lifting, tweaking and generally manoeuvring  with this task, for which I was most grateful.


As you can see the car parks are pretty parched and the whole area akin to Bournemouth Beach! Nevertheless good progress was made and encourages the belief that it will soon be finished!


25 Jun – Phew What a Scorcher!

It hardly seems more  than a few weeks since the Racecourse Station was knee deep in snow, the platforms were icy, the track covered with winter debris and the whole operation in the deep freeze.  And here we are sweltering under desert conditions (well nearly) in stark contrast!

Another thing which is a stark contrast (sorry Bob) is the Platform 2 garden, developing slowly but steadily under Ros and Bob’s guidance.  Here’s the man himself plus some of the results:



Could do with some rain ideally.  However, it wasn’t all standing about with hosepipes and we conducted some further leak tracing – and now consider it time to hand over to a professional for what we hope will be a lasting cure.

Meanwhile, I had another fit of anger with a tree stump, having added the axe to my armoury of tools:IMG_20180623_100620

Above before and below after!


Sadly this one was so big I couldn’t lift it out of the hole even after I’d detached it from the roots. I could just dig down a bit more and bury it I suppose!!  Anyway, with the help of young, fit, able bodies next weekend I expect we’ll get it to the fire and I can concentrate on the next one.  Oh good!

Yours in the Gloucestershire Sahara,







23 Jun: Astoni-shed!

Sorry, another weak pun to start off ‘Blog of the Week’.  A ‘Thomas’ weekend beckoned a slightly younger crowd of passengers than usual, though car parks didn’t seem as full as they would have been 12 months ago.  Perhaps we have grown used to the post-Broadway crush and don’t count it as a busy day unless it really is!

Anyway, there was no reduction in the age of the volunteers (!) with yours truly, Dave T, Maurice, Mike, Steve, Colin and Bill making up the Saturday shift.  Dave G was Station Master and Ben in the shop.  Gardens were fettled with some watering now proving necessary for pots and newly planted specimens; it’s certainly dry now up on the P1 bank:IMG_20180623_101327

However, our wild flowers seem unconcerned and continue to bloom in profusion:IMG_20180623_101255

In the same neck of the woods, Steve was strimming and Dave adopting a gentler pace of weed removal:

Elsewhere a small heavy team manoeuvred the shed roof into place and here are 2 of the proud ‘parents’:

Don’t, whatever you do, suggest that it looks like a bus shelter – or they’ll be very offended.  You might also have to wait along time for the next service.  It is of course, only a work in progress and needs 2 more sides (one with a ‘window’) and a door, plus layers of paintwork.  The hieroglyphics visible on the side are not primitive graffiti or ancient runes but indications of which way round the bits went – designed to assist us in reconstruction.  Someone, who will remain nameless, later admitted to painting over similar signs on the roof which might have saved some considerable angst and unbolting/re-bolting!

D6948 looked very much the part this morning – belying the diesel’s dodgy reputation in the Thomas narratives.


And there was much hard graft also on display in our guest volunteers on ticket collection and car parking supervsision – thanks gents!

And finally, we may have located the mysterious leak which has been trickling down the bank behind the ticket office – does it come from the mains supply on the other side?IMG_20180623_125014

Bet you can hardly wait for next week’s episode!

Kind regards,






18 Jun – All Change!

I am frequently surprised by how many visitors we get to the railway – when it is closed! (That’s almost all Mondays and Fridays).   Sometimes, like my first visitors this morning, it is ‘a recce’ – which I can understand; though if I hadn’t had the gate open they would have needed to climb the fence to get to the timetable.  But my second visitor this morning simply expected to catch a train – with which I sympathised and offered him a paper copy of the timetable.  No thanks he said – I’ve got one!!   For anyone in any doubt here’s a link to the Timetable! Which is enough customer facing activity for one day.

Anyway my main theme today is a short blast on change. The Broadway extension, and resultant revised timetable, have changed the dynamic of the railway – which might be temporary to some extent but also may have permanent features such as increased average numbers of travellers and slightly different expectations.  As I have noted before I think the Board are juggling this one as well as they can – reacting to the obvious pressure points but not making radical change to what has proved a successful business model.  As Broadway (and its nascent car park) settles into the programme, time will tell whether we need to have a more fundamental shift in what we do (more regular services on more days; less Specials?) and by whom it is done (volunteers or otherwise).  One thing is certain the pressure on volunteers and duties shows no signs of letting up as yet – judging by the numbers of increasingly urgent calls for help I am seeing!IMG_20180618_114515

Change of a different kind will be  arriving soon at CRCS.  The Racecourse Station and other places up and down the line are due to have some tree pruning and tree removal of our mature pines which are, I believe, Pinus Nigra (Corsican)  rather than Pinus Sylvestris (Scots).  Native species or not these have been a feature more or less since the Station was built but, like all trees, they do have a finite life.  Quite a number of ours suffered in the heavy (wet) snowfall of early 2018 and, due to their dense needle structure, suffered branch breakages.  Similarly, a number are leaning slightly alarmingly towards track and platform.  As such, and very sensibly, the Railway commissioned a survey of this and other Stations which recommended quite a bit of work – with, obviously, passenger safety being paramount (and volunteer safety a close second!).  I am given to understand that this will be carried out by contractors (phew!) and will hopefully extend the lives of the remaining trees.  Any suggestion that the work is to reduce the number of pine cones and needles we have to remove is purely a scurrilous rumour!IMG_20180618_114507

I believe some of the overhanging branches will be lopped off and this, for instance, may make the appearance of the P1 slope somewhat different.  However, apart from the aesthetics and the obvious safety implications there may well be some incidental advantages such as drying out some of our more shady spots (the water tower end of P1 can get very damp, green and mossy!)

One thing that hasn’t changed, as readers will be unsurprised to hear, is that there are tree stumps to remove on Platform 1 embankment.  Luckily, after today’s efforts, I think we are down to one more big one.  Here’s the pit, post-stump:IMG_20180618_101510

Eventually, perhaps, there may be enough pits to join up and make a path!

Onwards and downwards,



Saturday 16th June – There’s a Mole in the Camp

Blog Meisters were in short supply yesterday, but Bob came to the rescue with this resume of the day.

Dear Bill,

Yesterday (Friday) Tim performed a human mole routine and left the embankment in the rear of our Ticket Office as a fair representation of a WW1 battlefield. All this energy expenditure was in support of an investigation into why water appears to be coming out of the embankment behind the Ticket Office. So far lots of theories, but no hard answers. The good news from Tim’s work is that our fears of a broken water supply, or soil pipe seem to be groundless, but as for the real culprit? – then we may need professional help.

Slim pickings for the blog today (Saturday) with many away on less active (?) pursuits, but a few notes to keep up interest in our activities.  Stephen was involved in other local activities today, but made an early trip to the station to resolve “comfort” issues with the seats in the “Ladies” on Platform 1 – thanks Stephen.
Mike with suport from Terry continued the never ending tasks of keeping the pine needles at bay and weed control.
Dave continued his epic and time consuming paint job on the telephone box. As yet he is ONLY at the undercoat level – he will have to do it all over again with the top coat!
IMG_0398 2
Ros continued the task of filling the spaces in the garden bed on platform 2 with new plants from our garden and greenhouse and Bob completed (well almost) the repair and repainting of the 1 section of the lower woodwork of the Ticket Office adjacent to the worker’s room door that remained “Work In Progress”. There is only another 20 plus to do!
IMG_0400 2

John started to reap the rewards from digging for victory and tonight we will enjoy some of his organic leeks and broad beans. As a measure of our thanks I can tell him that the lights in his gardening “POD” are now working again.

Bob Stark

15 Jun – Drained!

I suppose it’s one of the joys of working as a volunteer at the Racecourse Station that you never quite know who or what will turn up.  I popped in for a morning’s stumpery today and was – via email – diverted onto finding a leak.  And I couldn’t – find it that is!

There appears to be a slight seepage down the bank behind the ticket office at the Station.  Only a dribble really but enough to set the alarm bells ringing – not least because it hasn’t rained much for some weeks and the sight of a muddy patch suggests all is not well somewhere farther up the slope.  So I was dispatched with spade in hand to dig around.  The guidance (form Bob) was helpful but slightly vague: ‘……..the foul water pipe emerges from the building here and enter the compound there (about 25 yards away), so the pipe must lie somewhere between, but could be up to 4 feet down!’.  Thanks!

So, off with the chamber lid – screws all rusted up naturally!IMG_20180615_101903

And naturally the pipe emerges at quite a different angle;  probably a bend a bit further on said the guru, before departing!  Anyway, I pressed on with the one slight benefit being that theses slopes aren’t comprised of the hard intractable  native clay which one finds just below topsoil elsewhere – in fact they are quite easy to dig for a couple of feet down. So I dug and then I dug some more………………………………………………………and then carried on digging.IMG_20180615_115151

Eventually, I unearthed (or at least revealed) several pipes – criss-crossing the slope somewhat but basically heading downwards (unsurprisingly!).  All the soil was damp, some slightly wet.  Hmm – where was the leak?  So feeling full of initiative I worked my way up from the seepage only to find a large tree in the way –  drat it!

So I resigned temporarily and went to watch a train: Foremarke Hall to be precise:IMG_20180615_113510

On a ‘Footplate Experience’ run.  And as usual all the customers were bright and cheerful:

I laboured on and produced more holes (test pits as they are known on ‘Time Team’), which may or may not fill with water overnight.  Looks rather like there’s been a badgers’ all nighter and they haven’t cleared up.  I bet readers just can’t wait to hear what was leaking!  I promise to let you know if we ever find out.

However, in conclusion I note, not for the first time, that there is more to running a railway than meets the eye.  Some serve by escorting happy passengers on joyous steam journeys; some by hard labour of digging holes and clearing out foul water pipes!



9 Jun – Summer’s here!


There a distinctly summery feel about today at the Racecourse – warm, dry and pleasant for travelling (if a little warm for physical activity).  So a typical day – one hopes – for the season though a little rain is always welcome (at night, preferably!).

And if the weather was pleasant then so were the conditions – enough passengers to fill the car park but not too many to harass the staff!  Lots of spare seats, a nice range of engines to admire and the service running on time (as far as I could tell!).  So the crowd of admirers could take their time and get all the photos they wanted talk to the crew, whilst the volunteers basked in reflected glory.

And these included Bob and Ros, Dave T, Steve, Terry, Bill, Andy M, Andy B, Ben, Paul, Mike and Colin.  I made no detailed record of their activities but observed the usual range of maintenance and gardening.  It is moot point as to whether we are running to stand still as far as the Station is concerned or getting the place – year by year – in better shape.  Perhaps it takes someone one looking in from the side-lines to advise on that issue?IMG_20180609_123447

Great to see Paul back and making a much more professional job of the grass cutting than his temporary stand in (yours truly!).

Anyway, I can say that there is no let up in keeping the estate ‘in check’ or certainly not at this time of year.IMG_20180609_123256

Here’s Andy B illustrating the advantages of the cordless electric strimmer at the side of slope down to Platform 1.

And Ben grinning (possibly with relief) having removed another large hawthorn stump from P1 bank:

IMG_20180609_120955 (2)

IMG_20180609_121648Bob and Ros in the distance with their special blend of wild and cultivated flowers on P2.

Looking the other way things are a bit less rosy and I think a sweep of the old station buildings’ bases is required on Monday:IMG_20180609_121637

Historically interesting perhaps but one can only do so much with the bases of 1905 urinals!


And finally a departing train ……………

Yours, hoping we can keep up the good work,