29 Apr – Tidy Up and Pump Out!

It was a lovely afternoon to be working at the railway and only a shame that our ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ passengers didn’t enjoy the same over the weekend.  Nonetheless, people seemed to be in the spirit of things and the railway seemed busy (the advantage of advanced ticket sales!) and hopefully it was all good for business.  Less positive was the apparent issue with the toilets and our trusty Klargester waste disposal system – of which more later.

However, this afternoon was busy with 12 volunteers including your truly plus Dave T, Mary, Dave G, Ian, Chris, Roger, Dick, Maurice, Mike, Bob and Ros.  First task was to undress the station – here’s a couple of our stalwarts engaged in debunting (is that a word?):20190429_131345

And half-way through the job:20190429_131405

(I think there may be a Brexit metaphor in this picture but I’ll refrain so don’t send any suggestions!)

Anyway, the job was done, normal maintenance resumed and we were treated to a variety of visitors:

First a train turned up with Mr Carr at the controls to remove the WW2 paraphernalia: UXBs, sandbags, camouflage netting, old ARP wardens etc etc.

Second Elliotts arrived to remove the skip (see above picture).

And third the ’emergency services’ rolled in (with Mr Carr in tow) to mend Kenny the Klargester – who had a bad case of indigestions due, apparently, to not being emptied in the close season.  Anyway, after Neil’s ministrations he was alleged to be feeling a lot better.



There are so many potential comments which might be applied to these pictures I felt it better to refrain (again!).  Let it not be said that our faithful Operations Manager is afraid of getting his hands dirty and, for the record, he doesn’t receive any extra pay for such ‘unpleasant duties’.   Many thanks Neil.




29 Apr – Wartime in the Cotswolds (Again!)

A visual feast is in store today since Mary took some pictures (all the best ones!) and there was much going on at the Racecourse Station.  She, Bob and Ros were on ‘ticket inspection’ (or pseudo-ARP wardens) plus other helping duties whilst Dave T, Steve and Dave G engaged in more general station maintenance.  I didn’t spot anyone else doing normal stuff but rumour had it that Wiley was prowling with his camera on ‘official’ PR and I happen to know that Ben is on shop duty tomorrow.

So here’s some snaps of what transpired:

P1060062Digging for Victory in John’s vege plot!


Waiting for the Eggspress?


Bunting flying wildly in the gales!

Some of our allies apparently?


A more faithful ally perhaps!

However, just so readers don’t think we were all having fun, dressing up etc this is the week’s unearthed item – vintage oil can about to be re-purposed as a watering can for seedlings (after a good wash out).


And finally, this is not Steve’s bike but one of the props – an allegedly wartime machine (looks newer than Steve’s actually!).20190427_110411

Regards, and remember there’s a war on!



20 Apr – Move over Time Team!

Easter celebrations rather reduced our volunteer numbers this morning – as some of the faithful were away on egg hunts and other similar pursuits.  As such, full shifts were carried out by Ben, Wiley, Steve, Terry and Mike, with Dave G as Stationmaster plus a brief appearance from Dave T (also on family duties).

It was, of course, remarkably sunny and warm so that working outside was a real pleasure.  Shame 3 of us spent most of the morning under the arches.  Adding to the sense of isolation and confinement was the brief glimpse of trains through the razor wire:20190420_104717


You might at first glance, think that we had just begun to tidy up rather than having spent the last 10 weeks doing so! All I can say is that the Augean Stables were only just on the same scale.

Anyway, here’s the same keen duo enjoying a brief snack around 1100.20190420_111323.jpg

Irritatingly, Wiley (in the foreground) admitted that he was 5 years old when the first renewed services ran through the Racecourse Station in 2003.  Get some time in!

Fortunately, some of the more venerable and long serving volunteers were around to identify this bit of discarded memorabilia which dates from that same period:20190420_111313

However, colleagues failed to suggest what this unearthed object was:20190420_150651.jpg

Yellow/orange in colour, hard, seemingly ‘crystalline’ and quite dense.    All suggestions gratefully received.

It was good to see that the Station was busy with visitors old, young and in between.  Though not, I imagine, as busy as we may be next week for the  annual ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ extravaganza.  Tin hats on everyone!



15 Apr – Fair of Face?

It might be an exaggeration to say that the Monday gang are ‘fair of face’ but they were looking pretty reasonable (for their ages!) this afternoon and comprised: Dave T, Dave G, Mary, Ian, Maurice, Roger, Andy M and Mike.

For a change I won’t just bore readers with tale of skips but celebrate the blooming nature of our spring vegetation.  Here’s a sight normal visitors don’t often see: our composting area at the top of the Platform 1 embankment:


The dustbin – just visible on the right hand side is full of telegraph pole ceramic insulators.  We’ve tried to compost these but they just don’t rot down and so have been recovered and are now destined for grateful recipients elsewhere on the railway.


Looking the other way is what is known as Ben’s chicane, since he was mainly responsible for putting in the paving slabs around the tree trunk.  Useful to prevent the more bullish volunteers speeding towards the ticket office with their wheelbarrows (or their Zimmer frames!).

Amongst other activities today were garden weeding, indoor painting, rubbish removal, sweeping, attempted fitting of the new ‘hearing loop’ (unsuccessful apparently) and hut paint stripping.

All very pleasant in the warmish conditions.  That said it has been quite dry – to the extent that plant watering has, once again, become a regular feature of Racecourse Station duties; it only seems a week or two since it all was waterlogged.

I won’t be going in on Wednesday since the staff might be ‘full of woe’ but I expect to return to see the Saturday troop ‘work hard for a living’!  As per usual.




13 Apr – Pot Luck!

Aladdin has his cave, Pandora had a box and Cheltenham Racecourse Station has a store under the arches of the Evesham Road bridge.  My apologies if the theme of these blogs is becoming repetitive but I’m afraid the focus of my current activity is such that I don’t get around the Station enough to properly record everything else which is going on.

Anyway, the contents of the heaps of stuff does seem to throw up the occasional blog comment – even if they are mostly along the line of “You’re not throwing that away are you!”.   No-one, I note (with just the faintest hint of bitterness), ever says “Great job you’re well shut of that lot”!  Just joking, and for the reassurance of interested parties, everything is pretty well scrutinised and picked over by a local team of semi-professional hoarders.  And then the rest of the GWSR is invited to come and review the whole lot in situ before we actually dispose of anything.  This morning, for instance, there were takers for several redundant 13A plugs, an old plastic jug (500ml capacity), some table legs, a door and several handfuls of large size washers. And no prizes for guessing  what seems to the most overused phrase anywhere on the Station: “That might be useful – sometime!”

Meanwhile, train services continue apace in the sunshine and the fact that I am spending most of my time at the bottom end of Platform 1 does allow me to focus on an area of the Station which I didn’t much visit previously, except to pass through.  As such, I’ve observed the sterling efforts of the Water Tower team who are at CRCS but not really of it.  So here’s my brief tribute to them and the train staff who were busy entertaining the viewing public by rehydrating the first train of the day:





They obviously have a penchant for certain types of head gear – probably caused by working in the shade of the cutting for most of the year!

And, as per usual, the remainder of my colleagues (Steve, Ben, Dave T, Mary, Terry, Bob, Ros and Andy B) were hard at it gardening, tidying and cleaning.  Also unsung (and these days unphotographed) volunteer heroes!



6 Apr – Chain Reaction?

It look like being a disastrous start to the day!  I was first at the Racecourse Station, whizzed through security, opened the car park gates and hurried to the main gates to get cracking.  Unfortunately my trusty key snapped in the lock and, for several minutes, it looked like there would be a difficult conversation with the day’s Station Master since it was impossible for passengers (or anyone else for that matter) to enter the Station!  Luckily the broken half had engaged the lock and after some fiddling with a screwdriver (ably assisted by the Booking Office Clerk) the thing pinged open.  Phew!

So, the usual crew (Dave G, Dave T, Mary, Bob, John, Ben, Steve, Maurice and Mike (and Andy B) were able to continue their tasks unaffected.  We had another skip delivered during the week so priority one was getting the ‘junk’ up from the Platform to the Malvern Road end of the Ticket Office.  Much care was taken with skip packing (after our previous issue) and we left spare room for anything else we find which hasn’t managed to find a use in the last 25 years.


Here’s our leader carefully sifting through the heap and making sure we don’t get rid of the sign boards (mainly ex-Snow Hill I believe) which a GWSR heritatge group has claimed.  Other treasures included a 40ft plastic banner (RACING POST, ex-Cheltenham Festival of yesteryear) which will from today cover someone’s compost heap.  And once again some of our scrap wood will be burning in a Prestbury log burner rather than  a bonfire.  So don’t say we aren’t trying to upcycle stuff and protect the environment!

Here’s a contingent on a rather crowded P1 at about 1100 as the crew of 2807 were trying to get a water fill, we were busy sorting scrap and others were busy on their own duties…thumbnail_20190406_104106[2]


I known Mary, Bob and John were gardening.  At other times both Daves were supervising and sorting out important station matters, whilst Steve also mowed the ‘lawns’ and Bob (thankfully) set about replacing the lock that some clot had tried to wreck!

And ignoring the various vintage tools, valuable scrap metal and reuseable banners  our prize find of the day was……..thumbnail_20190406_120736[1]

I’ll get this on eBay shortly and hopefully someone will bid for it.  A unique, late 20th century item of domestic infrastructure; stylish, versatile and has an impressive patina. Book early as Sir Fred used to say!