19 May: Amazing Shed!

With Dave T away we were left a clear set of instructions regarding important jobs needing to be done, some maintenance and some in preparation for next week’s Steam Gala.    Dave G was giving the orders, Bob & Ros were ‘gardening’ behind Platform 2, John was vegetating (!), Mike sweeping and edging, Colin was weed killing on the track bed and the ‘A Team’  (Bill, Terry, Wylie, Ben and yours truly) were shed fixing.

And so preoccupied was I with getting the shed through it’s difficult resurrection that I forgot to take any pictures of anyone else.  So, unless I receive images from others, this week will be confined to a short burst of shedmania.  Here is the work in progress:

You can tell who the gaffer is – the one in the peaked cap with the air of authority.  So we lifted and pushed, we bolted and hammered, we angle ground and drilled……until finally we managed to get the Amazing Shed upright (roughly) and temporarily in place on its base:IMG_20180519_124849

Any thoughts that it might not be quite straight are probably due to the distortion of the camera lens (spherical aberrations!) rather than dodgy workmanship!

At least it won’t, I am fairly sure, blow away!  And the water supply and electricity are laid on waiting to turn it into another Racecourse Station ‘des res’ – might just get a single bed in there I imagine.  Can’t  wait to hear the estate agent’s blurb!


PS: I did get some more images – from the Shed team!!


18 May – Another one bites the dust!

A short note on the morning’s activities.  I did a bit of lawn cutting outside the ticket office and then cut some more of the bank – which can now be mown – though it is something short of bowling green standard!IMG_20180518_111626

Elsewhere, I failed (as usual) to capture Dave G painting but did spot Bob (& Ros) sign fixing (as usual):

A smart new one (sorry for the pun)

More strangely, a train appeared with seemingly no genuine passengers but a drone .  Now there are often a number of drones at the Racecourse Station (people talking about their illnesses for instance!) but this one was quite unusual – hovering a couple of hundred of feet above the steam engine.  Some PR footage being gathered I assume.

I did a fair stint of stump bashing:IMG_20180518_113016…….but am beginning to think that there are more stumps to remove than I have energy left!

Elsewhere, Mary was busy planting up some rather nice tubs – out with the Spring stuff, and in with the Summer:IMG_20180518_111357

Now it was pretty sunny and hot so I though it a good excuse to wear one of the excellent sun hats brought back from Australian by Mick Best:

Good piece of kit!

And the big news of the week: the ‘des res’ is occupied!  Look at this photo closely:IMG_20180518_120623

On the level of the bird box about 2 feet to the left you’ll see a blur of wings and that’s a blue tit, one of a couple who are busy nest building!  Hurrah!!  That’s the best capture I could manage from some fast flying avians.   Further reports on progress as the breeding season develops.

Best wishes,


12 May – Pot Pourri!

Another fine day at the Racecourse and a good number (but not too many!) passengers.  The workforce included Bob & Ros, Steve, Bill, Ben, Maurice, Terry, Colin, John – with Dave T & Mary absent on leave and Dave G absent on duty.  Thus it fell to us to implement the latest task list – and I can report that much progress was made.  An early bird mowed the grassy areas and Colin was good enough to trim and tidy up the edges:IMG_0370

A relaxed gardener but a super neat job done!

Meanwhile, Steve was celebrating the arrival of the new strimmer with a few test runs as well as planting up some new annuals:IMG_20180512_114642

Bill and Ben were shed fettling by removing all the existing nuts and bolts joining frame to corrugated sheet.

These surely have to be the snaps of the week – good see Bill enjoying himself and what odds on Ben letting one or more of the fixings roll into that soakaway!  Sitting down on the job mind you!

We have a new extreme sport at CRCS, it’s basically called stump removal, and today’s contestants were Maurice and John:

Actually, they were much happier than the images might suggest – look at the stylish pick wielding! The aim is to have a nice walkable (and ‘barrowable’) path along the top of Platform 1 Bank – so holes are being filled in where stumps once obstructed:


I think we are winning!

Even less glamorous was Terry’s task (with me) of weeding and debris removal from the track bed – a thankless, irritating and endless routine but it does leave a much neater looking station.IMG_20180512_120305

And finally, Ros was busy on the P2 garden while Bob was engaged in finishing the repair job on the front the Ticket Office building (see yesterday’s blog for the before picture):

Looks a professional job to me!

And finally, finally there was a little watering to do as usual:IMG_20180512_114405

Keep up the good work ladies and gents!


11 May – Stumped!

The  trouble with good weather is that it tends to make you complacent – you expect it to carry on being warm and sunny.  So, whilst I expected to be wearing my sunhat the Racecourse Station this morning, I need to wear the winter woolly job – at least initially.

Various job were being done in the quiet of a (more or less) passenger-free day.  Bob was renovating the top Platform 1 signage and then in-filling some of the rot in the wood on the Ticket Office building:img_20180511_114631-e1526044646171.jpg

Dave G was trying to locate some signs and then working on innumerable painting tasks.

Meanwhile, I collected some more of the remaining brash on Platform 1 and the fallen pine timber on the Platform 2 embankment, then made (but did not light) a bonfire.  That was swiftly done so I reverted to clearing tasks and took some exercise by attempting  stump removal.  The brambles succumbed reasonably easily but, where we have felled substantial hawthorn the stumps prove pretty intractable.  This is a classic example:IMG_20180511_091249

And, after an hour of work on a similar stump, this is progress:IMG_20180511_113200But it ain’t out yet by a long chalk!

So I decided the score was Stump 1 – Volunteer 0 and moved on.  The last blog mentioned some of the industrial archaeology finds and there are several of these buried in the P1 bank:IMG_20180511_101010They are, I am confidently informed, tensioning stays for the telegraph poles which used to adorn the bank behind the current station buildings.  This one was rather in the way and a substantial trip hazard so it has been removed.  The telegraph poles have, of course, long gone but similar ones can be seen alongside Platform 2 in this image Old Racecourse.  Nowadays you just have to manage with a mobile and 4G!

And suddenly the peace and gentle thump of pickaxe on stump was disturbed by a train:IMG_20180511_113646Diesel experience I presume and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves!  Here’s the cab where the finer points of train driving are being explained:IMG_20180511_113658

Tomorrow’s a(nother) work day!





7 May: Strike it Lucky!?

I dropped in for a couple of hours work this morning (luckily pay is at ‘time-and-a-half’ on Bank Holidays) and treated to a glorious scene – there can’t be a prettier sight on the GWSR than a busy Cheltenham Racecourse Station on sunny spring morning.  However, after mowing grass for an hour it seemed too hot for such extravagant activity so I filled the water butt on Platform 1 Bank, dug out a stray fence post (obviously the blog labelled ‘The Last Post’ was over-optimistic!) and generally pottered around doing odd jobs and train watching:

The extraction of the concrete post was reasonably easily accomplished though I had to realign a couple of new hawthorns afterwards.  However, since lifting the post whole proved beyond me, I took mild revenge by breaking it in two for removal.

I am sure David Attenborough is aware of this but the oceans are not the only places where there is a lot of bits of stray plastic; there might be 2 trillion in the seas but there almost as many at the Racecourse Station.  And leaving this hedge line undisturbed for 30 (or is it 50?) years has only made the litter problem more noticeable.  Well, it’s either litter or we have the only naturally occurring seam of plastic bags in Gloucestershire, with occasional deposits of polystyrene cups and Walkers crisps packets!  Viz:IMG_20180507_112125

However, the compensation  of working on Platform 1 bank is, of course, the view one gets of the rest of the Station.


Worth a visit surely!

I am sure there will be other colleagues at the Station this afternoon doing other equally valuable jobs – Bank Holiday or not.




5 May

May I first take the opportunity to record with sadness the passing of Bob Ledamun – who died a few a days ago after a long illness.  Bob was a longstanding and faithful supporter of the team at the Racecourse Station and will be sadly missed.  Our thoughts are with his brother Paul and other close family members.



There was, among the staff at least, a palpable sense of relief that this weekend didn’t hold any more operational pressures.  So a normal, reasonably busy service could be resumed on a nice sunny Saturday morning.  It is, I imagine, useful for the railway (or those in charge) to have a period of reflection and settling down into what should become the normal routine for the new Cheltenham to Broadway service and associated new timetables.  And as a consequence there will a need to avoid the ‘knee jerk’ reaction to what seemed, at times last weekend, to be overly busy trains and somewhat harassed Station Staff!  Anyway, I am sure the great and the good will be addressing these issue leaving those ’employed’ at a more mundane level to get on with the usual maintenance and development tasks.

To that end there was a medium-sized turn out this morning at CRCS with Dave T and Mary on their holidays in Scarborough (competing in the Tour de Yorkshire I wonder?) and one or two others absent on other activities.  I noted: Colin, Bob & Ros, Terry, Maurice, Dave G, Andy M, Bill, John, Steve & Mike – though there may have been others in the undergrowth and I wont try and pin down who did what!

Lots of gardening tasks  were accomplished with, surprisingly some watering (it being at least 48 hours since the last heavy rain!) – especially the pots and newly planted hedgelings! Here’s some of the work and the results:

Down on the bottom of Platform 2 the new shed preparation is coming on with the appropriate armoured cable being laid, backfilled with hardcore and fed into the relevant chambers and ports. (Note the buried yellow tape showing ‘Cable – Do Not Dig Here’ – professional job this!)

Bill, meanwhile, was busy fettling the shed by removing some extraneous rusty pieces and ‘designing’ how the bits will be put together again (hopefully!).  Anyway here is busy with the angle grinder:IMG_20180505_101725

It’ll be a fine sight when it’s back in one piece.

In answer to recent queries the 2 ‘Des Res’ are still not occupied – I popped up the P1 Bank and checked out the situation:

There was lots of avian activity mind you so perhaps more vegetation will produce a conducive environment.

Best wishes to all.


30 Apr – Trench Warfare!

Having put the thermals in the loft, washed the winter fleece and mislaid my gloves I wasn’t prepared (was anyone?) for the return of the cool (cold) weather.  However, following a strong hint from colleagues, I thought that Monday morning would be a good time to put in a shift – rather then the prospective Monday afternoon of rain showers.  Fortunately, although it was as cool as forecast, it was certainly not as wet – for which small mercy we thank the weather gods.

The real reason for getting there early was to assist Bob and Ros in removing the bunting – a tedious task but significantly more so if it is ‘soggy’ bunting.  So I beetled in for 0815 and got untwining.  Bob and Ros duly arrived and took the professional lead: you have to be a bit careful when wrapping it up otherwise it has self-tangling tendencies.  However, with all 3 of us up ladders and whatnot there was no-one to take a photo.  So the masonic secrets of bunting wrapping will remain inscrutable.

More prosaically, Wylie arrived mid-task and was looking for work.  Which meant trench digging in Platform 2!  So here are the fruits of our labours:

And here’s the main man himself adopting his scrutinising pose:IMG_20180430_103503

Good work.  All we need now is a cable to go in the trench!



PS: I am sure the Monday afternoon team got up to some good work as well;  John already had the allotment in trim by mid-morning.