STEAMY! Northern Soul 2019!!

There were hundreds of passengers enjoying the late Spring sunshine yesterday – and very few volunteers.  To be fair, a Bank Holiday weekend does tend to involve commitments beyond the railway and some of our colleagues were on the trains as passengers anyway!  The hard graft was being done by Dave G and his team of station staff, whilst Steve, Mike, Maurice and I filled in around the edges.  Dave T & Mary plus Bob & Ros are away on holidays whilst John and Ben were mixing it with the hard core rail buffs!

A selection of phots which need little narrative:20190525_095423


Familiar colleagues!




A new acquaintance (above) and an old friend (below) !


….. and some odd glimpses:

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Consulting the map of the Racecourse Station?

And what did we workers do whilst all this fun and merriment was going on? “…… we do what we can. We keep off strangers and the foolhardy; and we train and we teach, we walk and we weed.” Having featured the container plants in last week’s blog here’s a tribute to the ‘new’ garden on Platform 2.

  20190525_09034920190525_09034120190525_090326You can, I hope, see the adverse soil conditions and generally inhospitable environment which makes Bob & Ros’s efforts all the more commendable.  Even if Platform 2 isn’t in use it’s nice for passengers to see this as a backdrop.

From an income point of view I hope the trains over the long weekend remain just as busy – from a staff point of view perhaps a little quieter!



18 May – Hosta La Vista, Baby!


A good turn out of 10 volunteers was in evidence today – usefully for the prep ahead of next weekend’s Festival of Steam – including Dave T, Bob, Wiley, Maurice, Andy B, Andy M, Steve, John, Mike.

Mary wasn’t present so I decided to feature the excellent tubs of flowers which she (and others) tend so carefully and which add much to the colour of the Racecourse Station:



Wiley was busy with me throwing out more scrap – when he wasn’t gobbling up the cakes:20190518_112526

How to you get to eat this much and stay slim? Youth I suppose!

Elsewhere several parties were busy on grass cutting and weeding including  a stint from Andy B on the steep embankment with a battery powered strimmer:20190518_122907

Luckily Maurice was down below (out of shot) collecting the debris.  John, meanwhile, has kindly taken an old bench recovered from the arches store and upcycled it; here he is trying it out:20190518_112510

Great work!

Dave T was tending the new hedge whilst Steve helped me put some crowd barriers in place, fixed a leaking loo and then strimmed some of the unwanted weeds on P1 embankment.  Andy M billygoated the considerable amounts of debris from Platform 2 – which will be in use again (hurrah!) next weekend.  Bob fitted in a quick stint watering the P2 gardens prior to time away and Mike maintained the allotments garden with the same treatment.

Dave G was absent at a meeting but  here’s the final paint scheme for  the main gates:


Not really, final coat to go on later in the week I presume!  (And the observant will have spotted 2 x 5 Sainsbury’s jam doughnuts waiting to be admitted – vital rations for the troops at tea break.)

So, I think we can be fairly confident the all will be shipshape and Cheltenham fashion by next weekend.



A Steaming Monday!

On a warm Monday I received this report and picture from Mary:

“Just one photo from today, advertising the BIG event. Dave G and Roger aim to have the main gates repainted by then:


Dave G behind bars with his ‘warder’ looking on!

“There were eight of us in this afternoon, and it was thirsty work for the plants, trees and volunteers! Even Dave T had to imbibe to swill down all the dust from the weeds he was pulling off the hedge plants. Everything is growing very well this year, including all the things we don’t want.  As a result, some hay making will be needed on Saturday and a bonfire on Monday!”

Thanks, Mary!


11 May – P&O Special

A nice if cool start with a small number of dedicated volunteers on display: Dave T, Ben, Mary, John, Paul and Mike.  The Racecourse was buzzing with events including the British Heart Foundation Cotswold Cycle Ride, some sort of camping/caravanning event and an organised walk.  So that by 0815 when I arrived there was some chaos – which only got worse as the morning wore on!

However, the trains – as per normal – ran on regardless. And one welcome visitor was P&O, splendidly impressive as usual. So, rather than the usual pictures of the usual personalities engaged in the usual activities here’s some of the station with P&O in action:20190511_10462320190511_104619.jpg20190511_10444820190511_10443220190511_104420

 I hope these give a flavour of what it was like.

And meanwhile, Mary was weeding the beds on Platform 1, John and Dave were taking a strategic look at the gardens and other vegetation, Mike was keeping the pine needles in their proper place (as well as conversing with someone from Georgia who was sympathetic on the same topic), Paul had made a fine job of cutting the grass whilst Ben and I did various jobs around the storage issues and watered our new pine trees.

Also, gratifyingly, colleagues from B&S etc were busy doing some major maintenance tasks for us – including the new fence and gate at the end of Platform 1 as well as improving the location for one of our passenger benches which has tended to sit in a rather unattractive puddle during wet weather conditions.  Thanks for all your efforts gents.



4 May – Bank Holiday Blues!

It all started off so badly! First, I couldn’t get access to the Station Car Park – the Racecourse staff at the races last night had locked the gate with the wrong padlock: Jockey Club not GWSR.  Second, the loos were allegedly blocked again (despite Mr Carr’s hard work last week – fake news!?).   Third it was too damp to do any Billy Goating – as the leaves and pine needles were all stuck to the platform!!  And fourth, for quite a while, no other volunteers turned up.

So I borrowed a very helpful security person’s key, made sure the loos weren’t actually blocked, removed what debris I could and waited for everything to dry off – and lo, colleagues arrived to assist, namely Steve, Ben, Mike, Andy M and Bob.  There were too many absentees to count!

It’s that time of year when everything appears to be growing – the things you wont and the ones you don’t!  Here’s our 2-year old hedge on the P1 embankment looking suitably lush and vigorous and desperately trying to outgrow the weeds.



Steve is just visible trying to keep the green stuff in check.

Elsewhere Ben and I put all the World War 2 stuff up in the loft for another year under Bob’s careful guidance, removed some more razor wire and finally finished the arches store area.

Andy M was engaged in the final stages of paint removal from the hut – see many earlier blogs – whilst Mike swept, made the refreshments and kept up his role as temporary, deputy, assistant vice-chief of gardens.

Oh, and there was a nice shiny engine on view in the sunshine:





So, it didn’t turn out so badly after all.