31 Aug – Oh Yea!!!

Saturday was a good morning to be at the Racecourse Station, with a hard core of local volunteers:  Dave T, Dave G, Steve, Bob & Mike.  And the activities were traditional as well with Dave G painting, Dave T sorting, Steve strimming, Bob gardening and Mike sweeping.  There’s a song in there somewhere : ‘On the first day of autumn, GWSR said to me………………..

Ah well perhaps not!  However, there was much entertainment to be had on Platform 1 ahead of 2807 departing with the first train: namely the Cheltenham Town Crier!

A regular visitor apparently and great supported of the railway he was in full cry celebrating someone called Philippa’s birthday.

Elsewhere we were being ably supported by teams from ‘railway central’.  First were B&S filling in the gaps between platform edging slabs on the Platform 2 – well done gents, that’ll reduce the space for the weeds to grow.  Second S&T who were conducted some regular maintenance activities on the signals side of the house.  This specialist support is very much appreciated – especially so since the days when local groups could do this sort of activity have faded into the past.  Best left to the ‘professionals’.

There is an increasingly cool feel to the air as we progress into what is technically autumn – though thankfully followed by some pleasantly warm days.  All signs that we are approaching the end of another season – the GWSR season!  The list of potential jobs to be done in the short close season (ie November!)  is growing.

And finally another chance to see the best dressed man at the Racecourse:20190831_1042367142773653294114286.jpg




26 Aug – Volunteer Meltdown!

Phew – hot again,  This summer seems to have been either on or off – with little middle ground.  Just a perception I expect, since there have probably been as many mediocre days as usual but it was certainly a little warm for anything to vigorous on Saturday and most volunteers were (I believe – since I wasn’t there!) absent.  For anyone who did attend – thanks and bravely done.

Today was Bank Holiday Monday and by mid-afternoon it was almost equally warm.  So our work period was transferred to the morning and for those hardy few who turned up (self, Mary and Dave T) it was pleasantly misty and cool ’til about 1100.  (I am sure I will live to regret this sort of comment when the first frost arrives.)  I did a little restoration work in the loft – after last weeks electrical repairs: restoring the grab rail and re-stacking the kit we have up there.  After that a session of billy-goating on Platforms 1 and 2 – just to keep everything tidy.  There I happened upon Mary – watering and weeding – when the King arrived!  Edward II, in this instance, looking ‘blue’:




Died, aged 43, in Berkeley Castle, buried in Gloucester Cathedral – so a good local connection!


Here’s the happy crowds awaiting the Red Dragon’s departure at 1105!  Or just after, since the station staff try very hard to make sure even late arrivals can get down the ramp in time.  And there’s no rush really!

Dave T was re-stocking the small area in the Ticket Office where we sell railway-related stuff – books magazines etc – most of which are kindly donated by well-wishers and the income from which helps supplement the maintenance of the Station.

I had the privilege of trying out the new lawn mower – life has few greater excitements after a certain age – and do a bit of scything (or was it sickling) – with a newly sharpened sickle!  And the outcome looks more or less like it did after using the old lawn mower and a blunt sickle:20190826_121120

But with less effort!




17 Aug – Snakes Alive!

Another day – another wildlife experience.  This week (actually Monday) I lifted one of the metal ‘lids’ we have at various places on the embankments and was rewarded by the following:20190812_143053

And in case you can’t see it amidst the debris, here’s a closer up:20190812_143103

A lovely young slow worm – in a delightful metallic bronze. But of course it’s not a snake at all, or a worm for that matter; it’s a reptile or legless lizard (Anguis Fragilis apparently) which has the ability to autotomize or shed it’s tail to escape predators.  Luckily, on this occasion, I wasn’t hungry and it scuttled off semifossorially (ie burrowing) into the undergrowth.  Surprising what one learns at the Racecourse Station!

Another memorable event which occurred this week was Saturday’s completion (more or less!) of the fence at the bottom end of Platform 1 embankment (known euphemistically as the ‘picnic area’).  This work was carried out by Pete Dickinson & team – and very splendid spear point fencing it looks too!  Bob was on hand to offer a celebratory bottle to the workers. (Note: not to be opened there and then or consumed on GWSR premises – see HSW guidance.)

Well done gents and many thanks!

(Note: better add that to the list of things to paint!)

Elsewhere, Dave G was in action with the refurb to the end of the ticket office, ie the bit facing Malvern Road.  This is a difficult place to work as the traffic is both incessant and heavy.  And, trying the patient of a saint, any activity it regularly interrupted by cars pulling into the ad hoc ‘lay by’ just beyond the buildings to ask how to get to the Station.  Sage advice is then followed by these customers pulling out into the traffic which is rushing unawares over the bridge; I have to to say this is not the safest of circumstances!

John was in the garden planting the latest crop and, working adjacent to him, I was the beneficiary by 3 onions and 2 small lettuces.  Thanks John!  Steve was busy strimming (again) and hoping that the vegetation growth can be kept under control during the last month or so of the growing season.  At least we haven’t had to do so much watering this year!  Maurice was also engaged in garden maintenance but the two of them escaped my roving camera.

There have been some minor problems with the lights the back office so Bob and I were up in the loft rearranging the junk stored items to get access to the cabling.20190817_095833

Apologies for the quality of the imagery – the light wasnt too good up there either.  Of note is the charred nature of some of the roof trusses and beams – the product of a fire lit by vandals in the years before the Station re-opened.

And finally, I cleared the Klargester pit of weeds (the big one, not the one which was lost).  This is a perennial task (like the weeds!) since the shale surrounding the digester itself has proved to be an excellent growing medium.20190817_091325

Before, and….



Finally, we (the team) were mildly amused to see this picture of a pile of pine needles 90cm high from the Broadway blog:Capture

This is the equivalent pile at Cheltenham:20190817_114803

Approx 1.5m x 3m x 3m!

All I can say is that we empathise with you Broadway!











10 Aug – Signs are Good!

It was a record low for volunteer numbers on Saturday morning – just 4 being Ben, Steve, Bob and myself.   Dave G was Station Master, whilst Dave T & Mary were away on holiday.  I assume everyone else was deterred by the weather which was mainly cool, rainy and very windy.  Not much fun for the passengers who nonetheless turned up in considerable  numbers for the ‘Bricks’ weekend.


As such, it wasn’t the morning for major activities and we confined ourselves to a bit of gentle maintenance.  Steve fixed various bits of our kit – in preparation for better conditions.  Bob maintained the Platform 2 gardens with some dead-heading etc (there was no need for watering for once!) whilst I tidied some (more!) fallen pine cones and plums off the passenger areas – a pointless activity this really as new ones were falling off as fast as I removed them.


You see P&O in all her glory – I see a platform covered in ‘pine straw’!

When Ben arrived we turned out hands to the erection of some new signs – of the ‘Keep Off’ variety!  I am never sure these are the most welcoming aspect of our Station but sadly necessary – from a practical viewpoint as well as Health and Safety.  You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) where some of our keener visitors get to in order to have a better view or a better photo of the trains.  We can’t have middle-aged men (sorry to be ageist and sexist but it is invariably this category – into which I fit) climbing up the steep embankments of the Station.  At least not unless they are volunteers!


After that we engaged in some highly topical drain clearance – another old favourite! On finding a ramp cross drain totally blocked we dug out the ‘drain’ pipe from the embankment and found it full of compacted soil and roots:20190810_115619

I thought this looked alarmingly like a giant insect – a 2-foot earwig or something!?Actually, it’s just comprised of debris which has washed off the ramp. Here’s another snap including Ben’s boots, the ‘insect’, the offending drain plus a drain rod:


Yours hoping for better weather and more help next week,






3 Aug – Brim Full!

It was a fine morning with the usual suspects present and the normal tasks under way.  Dave T, Mary, Bob & Ros, Maurice, Mike and Steve all gainfully employed and a car park full of cars and coaches to match.  Dave G was having a quite day at Winchcombe whilst others are still on holiday or otherwise engaged. Some train snaps to start with:


Including our very own rocket fuel: Welsh coal, though I am told this is a very different product from earlier generations.



And then there was power of a different kind……………………


……………….but just as shiny!

And for those waiting for the big news, here’s the lost Klargester, with the lid still on:20190803_102932If you have a strong stomach, here’s what was inside:20190803_103340

Admittedly it was a bit full but not bad after 20 years operation seemingly without emptying or any other form of maintenance – a credit to Bob and the team that installed it.  However, we decided that it deserves a pump out as a special treat, followed by a serious effort not to lose sight of the kit again. So here’s some markers to show where it is:



Since this is what the bank looked like in 1997 during installation I hope you’ll agree that it was little wonder we couldn’t find it.

99-5 Klargester 2

As usual, much unsung work was being done to water the garden, clean the platforms, keep the pyracantha in check etc.

As a bonus for working hard I got a free lettuce from the allotment area (thanks John) and then picked a crop of nearly ripe plums from the P1 embankment. Very tasty they both were or will be.


Regards to all,