Monday – Red Sun Day!

Dear Bill,
    A short report covering the small Monday Gang activity at our station yesterday and the follow on today.
    Despite its high priority with Autumn rapidly showing its teeth, yesterday was not for painting railings – or anything! With the outer edge of tropical storm (once a Hurricane) Ophelia swirling around our station yesterday any painting would have been well peppered with pine needles and flying dust. It was however acceptable for gardening and Mary, refreshed after a holiday in Brittany, was catching up on the flower pots and beds adjacent to Platform 1.
    Up on the embankment Ian having swept some of the rapidly falling pine needles moved on to watering the Hawthorn slips that we have planted along our fence line.
As these youngsters continue to grow, further down the embankment Tim was redressing the balance of nature cutting down and burning some of their big brothers and sisters who have invaded from the fenceline onto the embankment. The pile of “cuttings” continues to grow, albeit the bonfires Tim has been feeding are just about keeping abreast of his clearance activity.
    Having been banned from painting the repaired panels on the front of the building,  which I found resplendant in 2 tone undercoat courtesy of Dave Griffin whilst I was away, I restarted the smoke alarm replacement task in the Ticket Office begun a couple of months ago. This did not go quite according to plan last night and I had to return today (Tuesday) to finish the task. My thanks to Andy Bint for turning out last night to debug the power supply issue I had encountered.
    Today our station was very busy with members (and their friends)  “cashing in” their shareholder tickets which run out at the end of this month, a couple of school WW2 visits accompanied by the “spy” who was duly arrested and send back to Winchcombe again and a coach tour – all good business.
Bob (with Images courtesy of Tim)

Saturday 14th October 2017 – An Ugly Duckling comes calling…..

Class 20 D8137 was on duty today –  I suppose somebody loves it….


Anyway,  a brief nosegay of activities at CRCS today.

Building Services continue to beaver away on the pathways to the crossing by the signal box. The wall on Platform 2 was finished on Wednesday and work started  in earnest today  on the pathway from Platform 1,

Apologies for the jaunty angle on the  wall photo – I was concentrating on it, rather than the overall panorama (hire a new photographer I hear you cry!)

Back on the car park boundary line Tim and Ben were doing battle with the brambles. A horrid task at the best of times but always worth a pose…..


More tidying up was in progress with the return of the Billy Goat. Here Stephen gently puts it though its paces on Platform 1. It was  revitalised with a new half motor, the old one having expired. We will have to stop using it for Formula 1….


Stephen having completed Billy Goat duties, moved onto the cutting with  the brush cutter.  Stephen emerged at the top just as I was driving home along the Evesham Road!


A good mornings work by anyone’s standards!

As ever, there was other work taking place across the site but not all captured by my lens. Next time chaps.



A Monday Morning Special….

A report from Bob Stark:-


Dear Bill,
    A few lines and a couple of images on the “goings on” at our station yesterday. It never ceases to amze me how many people travel considerable distances to travel on our trains on closed days. On monday I went up to the station early to continue the building repairs whilst the station was supposedly quiet, but the first prospective passenger arrived at 9.30am and were very disappointed that we were not operating – the frequently asked question is why? On responding that we are all volunteers operating the railway my FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) is “did you not look on our website before travelling” in virtually all cases it is NO, some of them even having a copy of our timetable in their hands. Nuff said. A lovely couple of gentlement stopped my “play” for nearly an hour having travelled from the north of England and wanted to know all about our Railway and will be returning next year to travel to Broadway. They made a donation to our work, so thank you gentlemen.
    Now to other matters. I resprayed the last survivors of the Mares Tail weed on both sides of the track by the signal box and tackled the new growth of the prickly dandelions on the Platfrom 2 embankment. I suspect that we will be treating this area for some years to come given the amount of seeding and soil movment that has taken place in this area, When the Monday gang arrived after lunch, many hands were employed sweeping the pine needles from ramp and area around the booking hall in the absence of Billy Goat. Charles and Ros were working in the gardens on respective sides of the track – no pictures today I’m afraid.
    Up in the “jungle” areas of Platform 1 Tim was continuing his assault on the years of invasive growth of blackthorn and hawthorn bushes, burning as he goes as can be seen in the image below. On Saturday, Tim and Terry collected 3 full bags of litter from the cleared hedgeline, the result of many years of access denied. Clearly it is not just the Oceans that are suffering from non-degradable plastic


    In the background of this image a steel galvanised pipe can be seen rising from the ground. This formed part of the original GWR early 1900s system of providing water for the two toilet blocks that once stood on our platforms. A small diesel pumping  engine was located down by the stream that passes through our embankment to the north of the station and river water was pumped up this pipe to a small header tank that fed the toilets. Many years later a 3/4 inch copper pipe was laid from the water supply on the Evesham Road to replace the stream supply and we reused this copper pipe to provide the “new” supply for the station building on Platform 1 when we needed a water supply for the Ticket Office building. The challenge was locating all the buried stop cocks along the 300m route of this pipe and making sure that they were in the “on” position – the one that was not took several weeks to locate.
    The image below shows the measure of Tim’s challenge – and his success!
    After tackling a few other small jobs around the site I finally got back to the front of the station building restoration, this time  caulking all the  new joints. With a measure of luck we will perhaps get some undercoat on the refurbished woodwork this week.
    Finally Dave and Roger continued the work on refurbishing the spear fencing railings in front of our storage bins and a couple of the wooden fencing sections were rehung on the completed fence panels.
And a comment from one of the hardworking Monday  Carriage Cleaners:-

Hi Bill,

It made me smile to see Bob’s comment about prospective passengers turning up on Mondays expecting trains.  When we are carriage cleaning at Toddington on Mondays we have exactly the same problem!  And in our case they have passed FOUR “Closed” signs to get to the platform (the side gate to the platform is open to allow access for business visitors).  Several with American accents assure us they have come all this way just to be able to ride our railway on a Monday!!  With the internet today it is not difficult to check opening times, but still they come!





The first message of the day is to our colleague and friend Mick Best – who is in Australia – and it is from all the gang at the Racecourse Station: our ‘Best Wishes’ (apologies for the usual weak pun), ‘Get Well Soon’ and we look forward to hearing your version of ‘The Crystal Chandelier’ (again)!

In addition to those above (Tim, Maurice, Terry, Colin, Bill & Steve) also present this morning we had Bob & Ros, Dave G (as Station Master) and Ben (in the Shop).  It was Diesel Gala Day so the trains were whizzing in and out with alarming regularity.   The weather has been pretty inclement recently which means – at this time of year at CRCS – leaves and pine needles all over the place.  Missing from our list of helpers above was Billy, who’s off sick for the moment and acting the goat elsewhere.  So it was like old times with all hands required to sweep the platforms clean of debris,  whilst avoiding dumping it onto the line (causes trackside fires):

Elsewhere, Terry and I were into further clearance at the top of the Platform 1 bank – where having removed the live vegetation we are left with the dead stuff and, irritatingly, accumulated rubbish: heaps of polystyrene cups, plastic bags etc.  My suspicion falls on nearby stall holders during the Cheltenham Festival who may ‘accidentally’ have left their waste behind. Grrrr – not how we want to spend our Saturday monrings! Anyway, it’s all looking much tidier and, like all these tasks, will be so much easier now we can keep on top of it.

Bob and Ros had in mind their usual tasks, beautifying Platform 2, but I managed to catch them both before they escaped:

I was actually trying to capture the train really:

So here is another view of Freightliner 1995 plus the increasingly impressive ‘entrance’ to Platform 2 – courtesy of Pete and the gang from Building Services.

And finally, another diesel snap plus a shot of Colin doing his David Attenborough impression in the forest around the Klargester pit.

So with that, and a general feeling that another railway season is drawing to a close………’s goodbye from me and it’s goodbye from them.



Meanwhile, rightly concerned that I might fail to represent the work carried out properly, Bob has written his own inject:

As promised a couple of images from the work ongoing this morning at the station for the blog.


Above Ros is planting spring bulbs on the embankment above Platform 2 (the ground is like concrete, hence the post hole digger).Capture2

The second image is how far I have managed to proceed with the repair to the lower front panels of the Ticket Office – between digging holes for bulbs that is. The damaged wood has been treated and hardend. A new sloping surface has been created with fibreglass to ensure that the water runs off the bottom rail and does not collect in the joint with the panelling as before. Another few hours of preparation, filling and priming will be required before we can apply a weatherproof topcoat. My thanks to John Leeson for manufacturing new corner pieces for me on planed timber kindly donated by Messrs Bence and Sons and to Dave Griffin for making a special journey to get me a new tin of primer when he had many other tasks to do yesterday preparing for the Diesel Gala.



Wednesday 4th October 2017 – Hadrian’s Wall?

Not quite Hadrian’s Wall but looking impressive, the Building Services Department continued with the Platform 2 retaining wall. These photos were supplied by BS member Jim Hitchen and a more detailed report will be found on the Building Services Blog.

Building Services

In the course of work, an Elliotts lorry turned up to remove the pile of surplus ballast at the end of Platform 1, destine for platform filling at Broadway. What will Tim and Ben do now for exercise?


Saturday 30th September – News at Cheltenham

 A Blog report from Bob today.
Dear Bill,
    A smaller work party than usual at the station today with many regulars having alternative employment, holidays or AWOL. The biggest loss was our “Billy Goat” leaf sweeper which is again in for repair. Its absence a “stark” reminder of how long it takes to sweep up the pine needles by hand.This morning Mike, Ben, Colin and Stephen were all involved in this activity. Here Colin was posing for me as 2807 ran in with the 2nd train of the day.
    Before going on holiday Dave Tomlin left me with a small package of signs for our Platform 1 embankment to try and seek parental support in restraining their children from rockclimbing on the slag stone back wall. Stephen and I erected these on steel poles this morning and only time will tell if they will be heeded.
    Roger was continuing the painting of our iron spear fencing by the Ticket Office and luckily the expected rain held off for long enough for him to make progress with the preparation of another panel.


    Down by the signal box level crossing Pete Dickinson’s B&S team were working on the new Platform 2 retaining wall and the construction of an all weather new path from the end of Platform 1 down to the crossing – all preparation for the use of Platform 2 at future events.
    Earlier on in the week we “undressed” the station following a successful Thomas weekend and as Monday was wet and soggy all our bunting had to be cleaned, dried and folded before being packed away for its next outing. Today said decorations were returned to their storage area in the attic of the Ticket Office.
    Finally an image of Mike in his most popular role as the provider of tea for the thirsty workers.
    Bob Stark

Wednesday – Building Services at Cheltenham Racecourse Station

One of Building Services many current projects is to build a safe and secure pedestrian pathway between platform 1 and 2, at the northern end, via the road crossing. Jim Hitchen sent me a briefing of yesterday’s related activities :-

“We spent a lot of time in the yard at Winchcombe sorting out materials and loading the truck.  7 of us then went to Cheltenham to lay more of the brick wall, instal two gates and a length of fencing near the SB and start to clear the ground along the fence line on the P1 side.  It is intended to put a 1.5m wide path along this fence for when P2 is brought into use and a full standard footpath needs to be provided between P2, over the crossing and up to P1.”