29 Jun – Fetlock I & Well done Steve!!

A good showing on a hot day with Mike, Dave G, Dave T, Mary, Maurice, John, Steve, Mike and Ben all present.  It was day for taking care when working outside: hats, sunscreen and ample water supply all required.  However, the  trains seemed to be running on time and whilst it wasn’t as busy as last weekend the car park was quite crowded.  Sadly, I was so preoccupied with my own activities that I didn’t register the good work being done around the Station but suffice to say that all was looking fine.

A major event of the morning was celebrating Steve’s 15 Year Certificate – here is the presentation outside the Staff Room:


And later here’s most of the crew assembled to congratulate him:


We figured that there were about 150 years of volunteering experience in the photo. (Thanks to Mary for the 2 photos above – much better efforts than mine.)

The primary stage of Operation Fetlock (Find the Lost Klargester) took place this morning – and it was useful that Ben and I could carry this out in the shade of the arches store – under the Evesham Road Bridge.  The photographs and Bob’s advice proved invaluable, although it was still pretty hard work to locate the pipework.  Here’s one of the workers putting his back into it and locating the point where the waste pipe breaks cover:


And here’s the long buried ‘Rodding Eye’ access point half way across:


And just to remind everyone this is the 1997 version:

99-5 Klargester 5

Sadly, it wasn’t the weather for trying to unearth the Klargester itself but we have a good idea on line and Steve kindly strimmed the area.  So we should be well placed for Fetlock II in the coming days.

And elsewhere our valiant colleagues from B&S were putting in the very impressive looking posts to hold the new gate and new spearpoint fencing at the Signal Box end of Platform 1:20190629_095913

Good enough for a small country house I’d say –  thanks guys!.




Having trailed the mysterious disappearance of our ‘other’ Klargester (aka septic tank) I have been asked for a further report!  So, I joined the Monday gang yesterday to get busy with my spade and report on progress.

Dave T, Dave G, Mary, Roger, Ian and Chris were present on a warm but rather humid afternoon.  Roger was, I believe, painting, whilst Dave G was renovating the ticket office from the weekend’s mayhem and restocking the ticket supplies.


Chris and Ian were busy out on the embankment mowing and chopping down the encroaching weeds.

This work was supplying the results to Dave T for the bonfire pile.  Mary minded the gardens and stemmed the flow of weed growth as best one can in these jungle conditions. Here they both are recuperating and changing back into normal gear (no comments required!):20190624_160822

And having spent a couple of hours digging around for the Klargester (as per Time Team) I gave up and emailed Bob to see if he had a pictures of the installation process.  And here fresh from 1999, is what we’ve mislaid:99-5 Klargester 2

Yes, I know what you’re all thinking – how can anyone fail to find something this big? Well, all I can say is that the area doesn’t look like this any more and if not even the top 6 inches are sticking out of the ground……!

Helpfully, however,  we have another angle which gives and idea where we are in relation to the Evesham Road bridge.

99-5 Klargester 1

And for amusement (NB the line wasn’t in use at this stage!), here’s how they were able to drive nice and close to the work site in the old days:99-5 Klargester 3

So having, I think, got some good bearings – Operation FETLOCK – (Find the Lost Klargester)  can commence.  I will keep you informed!





22 Jun – Ale and Rail 2019

The pressure was on today with a mass of thirsty passengers wending their way towards the bars of Toddington and Winchcombe stations.  It was busy but good natured at the Racecourse Station and, hopefully (!) a similarly happy crowd for the return journey! Anyway, we workers mostly stood back in admiration as the ever patient Station Staff dealt with the hordes – including, most unusually, Dave G selling tickets.  And the good weather brought our volunteers in good numbers as well with Dave T, Bob, John, Maurice, Steve, Mike, Andy & Mary all in evidence.


Dave T did a bit of ‘parking management’, then spread out the sodden bonfire pile (during which he found a pair of secateurs!) to try and dry it out a bit before a Monday burn.  This inspired him to prune the laurel bushes where they were sticking out over Platform 1 – two barrow loads of trimmings.  In a similar vein Maurice continued his battle with the overgrown pyracantha – tough issue that one!  Meanwhile Steve got the brush cutter out – did some essential maintenance and then a bit more clearance across on the platform 2 bank.

John was back in the saddle – on the veg plot that is.20190622_10523120190622_105224

I think it’s the sign of a truly great gardener that you can’t always see them for vegetation!


Bob appeared to do a little tidying on the Platform 2 embankment gardens and then lead your truly to the alleged site of the lost ‘Klargester’!  Sounds like a Sherlock Holmes mystery but there is apparently another, much smaller disposal unit south of the Evesham Road bridge.  And now it’s my job to get busy with a spade and uncover it.  Mind you if it has been working successfully for the last 10 years undisturbed it might be better left well alone!


And here’s some of Mary’s hard work – note the seamless transition from tended bed to wild flower embankment!


Personally, I did a stint on the Billy Goat with the new ‘dust proof’ (I don’t think!) bag attached – just as well I’m from mining stock and used to working in adverse conditions!  It is surprising how much debris accumulates on the Platforms – most of it being natural not man-made.


Let’s hope it was only the engines which were ‘steaming’ for the return trip!



15 Jun – Damp Course!

I may be deluded but I think the weather is looking up!  Or at least this damp doesn’t feel as unpleasant as last week’s damp.  Anyway, the hardy volunteers weren’t deterred and I noted Dave T, Mary, Bob, Ros, Maurice, Ben, Steve, John, Andy and Mike. (And Dave G as Station Master.)  I forgot my phone so the photos are courtesy of Mary – though any errors are entirely my own.


The serious spotters amongst the readership will, no doubt, be able to identify the guest engine rumbling up the main line – as observed from Cheltenham Racecourse Station.  And for those that can’t – it’s just another steam engine!  Seriously though it was apparently important enough for us to put our tea break back by 10 mins – and you don’t get graver than that on a Saturday morning.

There was, as you might imagine, no need to water anything today (or for the next week or so I imagine) but what you gain on the swings…..

Lots of green stuff was growing so Maurice and Mary were pruning and weeding respectively.  I cut some grass (just dry enough) and John attended to the allotment, while Bob and Ros returned from holidays to take control of the Platform 2 garden.

Dave was fettling the hedge and then convened a sub-committee to consider a mystery hole dug by Ben in the P1 embankment.  They were, as the old saying goes,  ‘looking into it’!


It was in fact the location of a bit of corrugated plastic pipe, which may or may not have indicated where some subterranean services were buried, but consistently caught on the mower blade.  Anyway it’s gone now and the location marked by a notch in the fence – so remind me if I forget this in years to come.   When not disfigured by volunteers the “top o’ t’ bank” is looking quite smart now with a 3-year old hedge line, an area of mown grass and a strip of wild flower meadow before the slope down the Platform.  Just got to keep it looking that way!


Elsewhere Steve and I sought to reinforce the wooden fence on the (staff only) steps by fitting braces between fence posts and concrete steps.

And finally, here’s Mary (aka David Bailey) doing a panoramic of the same area:


Or maybe it was the Flying Scot which caused distortion in the space time continuum? (Did I get this from Einstein or from an episode of Dr Who?)





8 June – All Quiet on the Railway Front

I was absent from the railway yesterday but was provided the following ‘3rd person’ report:

   “With some on holiday or days out and others possibly put off by the damp start, just four in today. Dave G, Dave T, Steve and John had no better offers so came in to see what was happening. Certainly no watering was necessary after the overnight rain, the lawns were too wet to mow and the ramp and platform were too wet to get the billy goat out.  Dave T (aka Lionel Messi) kicked a lot of cones into touch, Steve was under the bridge arch tinkering with some metal steps and Dave G was examining the “Ut” and investigating the complete disappearance of the ladies’ loo door retaining hook – a real mystery! Once the 11.05 train departed we adjourned to the workers’ room for tea, joined by John.  Then a pleasant surprise – Mick Best arrived with his son-in-law (from Australia) and joined us for an extended tea break. Good to see him again and the news of a possible return in the autumn was welcomed by all” (Hear hear! – Editor)

    “By now the sun was trying to appear, the rain had stopped – time to get some work done.  Dave G got his paint brush out to work on the car park gate, Steve carried on with his steps, John spent some time on the ramp garden and then in his veg garden (lovely pick of broad beans today) whilst Dave T got the long-handled clippers out and finished cutting the long grass & other weeds from around the “new” hedge plants. This will all need raking out on Monday and carting to the bonfire place – a rather wet place at the moment! There’s a circus setting up just outside the car park fence – always something seems to be going on these days.  Over at the ‘Smith’s’ traffic lights (Southam Lane), another (this time American) circus is already set up with performances today! I was quietly clipping away by the racecourse boundary fence, when a group of people on the public footpath asked me if they could reach the (American) circus this way. I advised them to carry on down the footpath and over the railway line, which would land them in the correct field. I later noticed they would have to walk through a flock of sheep and over an electric fence before reaching the circus – oops!”

Sorry no snaps so a video from the archive – since we aren’t likely to see Thomas & Co on the GWSR this year.



3 Jun: Health & Safety Best Practice

A quiet Monday which featured nothing unusual – even allowing for the odd customer who came to buy an advance ticket when the railway was closed (and so, of course, was the Ticket Office).  Still, a crop of summer perennials also arrived to do some work including Chris, Ian, Roger, Dave T, Mike, Dave G and Mary.  Here are the first 2 named – above Platform 1 – ‘hay making’!  – or rather gathering the dead  strimmings for the burn pile.  As you can see the Wychwood Festival funfair etc is still in evidence.


As it happens I had a collection of rotten timber and other wooden scraps to burn – alongside some pernicious weeds of my own – so arrived early to start a summer bonfire.  Rather easier to light this time of year as most of the items are tinder dry in any case (but without producing that satisfying inner glow which a winter blaze provides).


There was also a fair number of pine branches to be gathered in from the embankments – courtesy of the last few windy periods; all now incinerated.  And, in accordance with best practice the Gloucestershire Fire Service were notified before and after the bonfire.


And that short glimpse of a leisurely Monday afternoon is about it.  No noisy trains or passengers to bother us – just joking!

However, the absence of scheduled service shouldn’t make us any less safety conscious and it was good to see all concerned observing the rules about crossing the track, wearing high visibility vests, the correct use of tools etc, as well as informing the authorities where required (see above).  However reluctantly we do these things (and despite the occasional moans) it is very important that we all attend to the issue: our own and our passengers best interests.  I suspect it is a subject we may have to return to in further blogs. Best practice!  Keep it up and watch this space.


Glorious 1st June!

And it was – a glorious 1st June! Having been a ‘train heavy’ narrative last week, apologies for being a railway light in this blog.


However, continuing our horticultural background theme I noted these fine specimens growing in profusion on the Platform 2 embankment.20190601_104624

Meanwhile, the volunteer numbers were still a little low with various resignations, illnesses, holidays and ‘better offers’!  We managed to muster Dave T, Mary, Maurice, Mike, John and Steve (with Dave G as Station Master again).  And, thankfully, we had a slightly quieter time compared to last week’s roaring success of a Steam Festival. At least in terms of passenger numbers it seemed quieter, although the Wychwood Festival at the Racecourse proper provided a background accompaniment of ‘music’ so that one could hardly hear the tannoy at times. Bah humbug!  At least the tents provided a colourful backdrop beyond the car park fence.20190601_112319

After the usual post-Festival relocation of kit, there was much gardening to be done with lawns cut, beds weeded and plants watered; stock control in our ‘shop’ areas and general maintenance.

And of further interest (to me at least) was the presence of what I believe to be a moth – distinctively red in colour (Cinnabar Moth)


Good at providing ragwort control I understand.

More train related materials next week hopefully.