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.



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!