Shedding the Light – Lighting the Shed

Thanks to Bob and Andy B’s good offices there is now power in the line side ‘ut  on the end of platform 2


This means that crossing monitors will have somewhere to shelter from the wind and rain on race days for example, and importantly be able to avail themselves of the power source to provide lighting or other appropriately  rated devices.



Count Down to the 2019 Operating Season

Tim is on leave at the moment and Bob Stark kindly produced the following blog post:

Dear Bill,
A mixed bag of news. Quality rather than quantity was the message of the day with just Dave(G), Stephen, Dick, Mike, Maurice and Ros and I on parade.That said a lot was achieved.
Stephen “Billy Goated” Pl1 whilst Mike and Dick cleared the ramp.
Stephen also dug out the weeds between the Platform 2 edging stones and helped me put all the spare and old signs up in the attic for inside work another day.
Dave was setting up all the admin “stuff” for our opening next weekend and Maurice cleaned the lantern glasses on the ramp and platform 1.
Ros and I scrubbed the wall of the T Office nearest the telephone box then jet washed it all down – it now looks quite respectable!
I also managed to clean the glass on the tall lampost by the gate and cleaned the lens on various CCTV cameras around the site.
A useful morning’s work by “the few” and, on the surface, it seems we are all ready to go next weekend.

Autumn is Definitely Here!

With the regular Bloggers out of circulation  Dave T and Bob stepped up to the plate and to give there perspective on the mornings activities. There is some duplication but the report is no worse for that!


From Dave Tomlin:

Hi Bill

A little report for the blog – sorry, no pics again.

DaveG, DaveT, Mary, Steve, Maurice and Bob in attendance today and Ben was in the shop. The early gloom gave way to sunshine and warm temperatures but the wind was strong and gusty all morning. Steve, Mary and Maurice tackled the inevitable tree debris with billy goat or broom and barrow whilst DaveG preferred indoor work painting the worker’s room. Bob did some work on the frontage of the ticket office and then searched for mares tails on and picked litter off the track bed. Another huge pile of pine needles and other debris to try and burn on Monday – we covered it all with spare bulk bags to try and keep it dry until then.

DaveT assisted Steve to re-erect the Heras fencing around the picnic area where the new paling fence will soon be installed. Some panels had blown down across the signalman’s path, forcing him to find an alternative route to collect the train staff (platform 2 path and then across the track!). The other had blown down preventing usage of the disabled access. Additional bracing panels were fixed between the two fences and all left sturdy and secure.

A very pleasant surprise at tea break was a visit from our mate Mick Best. His daughter is on a visit from Australia and drove Mick over to share a cuppa, have a chat, and view progress on several projects.



From Bob Stark:

Dear Bill,
    A short summary of activity at the Racecourse Staion this morning which started wet and windy and ended in bright sunshine. Sometimes the forecasters get it spot on and today was one of these days. By 10am the team of stalwarts, Dave and Mary, Dave (G), Stephen, and Maurice were already hard at work undoing the unwelcome effects of storm Callum and getting the station working areas ready for our passengers. The first train out at 11am was again well filled – good news for our finance Director and for the infrastructure of the railway which is benefitting from the revenues resulting from the “Broadway Effect”
    Dave (G) was continuing his long and often interrupted task of repainting the mess room.
    In between he also found time to prime the first section of the exterior cladding that I managed to rub down between passengers entering the Ticket Office. Just two more to go on this section then we start the next three damaged sections! Volunteer painters and decorators please get in touch.
        At tea time we were delighted to welcome back Mick Best and his Daughter over from Oz for a short social visit. I advised Mick of the task list we have for him and he responded favourably, albeit with more treatment planned he sadly will not be able to join the working team for a while yet.
    Down on the platforms the little “ut” on Platform 2 was today quiet and not enjoying the usual crowd of restorers/admirers. I was pleased to note that the administration of the last spraying of the invasive Mares Tail has been successful, but suspect we have a way to go before we can call victory. I walked back up the trackbed adjacent to Platform 1 removing Ragwort plants from between the sleepers. It was interesting to note that there were very few in the area between the tracks, or on the Platform 2 trackbed. I wonder – does this indicate that the carriage sets are bringing the seeds into the station?
    On Platfrom 1 Dave(T) was cutting back some of the overhanging branches of the tree adjacent to the end of Platform 1 that has been stopping the gate opening. With this warm and unseasonal (for October) weather everything is still growing quickly, so plenty of tasks on the estate for coming days.

Billy No Mates!

The majority of the Cheltenham volunteers  sensibly had a day off,  with the weather being so foul! I found myself ploughing a lone furrow  fettling the hut on Platform 2. Dave G was in attendance on Station Master duties and Dave Tomlin was having a sort out of the  Friends of Racecourse  Station shop stock.

It was the first day of the Autumn Diesel weekend  and there was a reasonable flow of enthusiasts heading northwards.

I captured 45149 on its way out, with stormy skies prevailing over Cleeve Hill.


and conversely 37215 on its way in, which was topped and tailed with D6948.


Sorry for the brief report but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear!



C & M Wednesday Activity

Jim Hitchen kindly sent me the report below:

Not a very inspiring report today.  I went with Jim M and Phil to CRC where we delivered the posts for the new fence.  The new fence panels were delivered today courtesy of Peter Kenealy but are to be painted at Winchcombe before being taken to CRC.  We then started to dig out the gate posts where the wheel chair access is to Platform 1.  Not an easy task as there is about 2ft of very solid concrete around the posts.  Anyway we got one out completely and about half the concrete from the second one before we ran out of time and indeed energy.
Jim & Phil on the first hole
The first hole with the post removed
Phil on the second hole
 P & O all wired up for sound recording.  According to one of the footplate crew the sound recordings will be used by a well known model railway manufacturer to provide sound on their locos.  See the 3 mikes on the roof!!
Finally taken at Tyseley on Sunday to show 45596 Bahamas which has now been outshopped following it’s overhaul.
Jim H.

Don’t Fence Me In!

Jim Hitchen from the Construction and Maintenance Department kindly sent me the following report on work in progress at Cheltenham

Hi Bill

Hope you are well and still blogging at CRC.
C & M have started to install some new fencing panels at the SB end of the station.  Today 4 of us were tasked with erecting some Heras fencing to maintain security of the site and to demolish and remove the old wood/wire fence.  In due course we will be back to erect two recovered and very heavy gate posts with gates where the emergency access gate is today, followed by a number of new and the 4 old recovered metal fence panels along the boundary fence line to the crossing opposite the SB.
Hope that makes sense.  Jo is away on holiday so feel free to use some/all/none of the photos.
Best regards
Jim H.

Yesterday at CRS – Getting the Needle(s)

A select band of 6 volunteers turned out yesterday, most with the intention of clearing up the pine needles  brought down by the storms of the previous week.


Here Stephen using the traditional method (rake and barrow) and Paul with the Billy Goat.  A determined effort eventually saw most of the needles on the bonfire pile.


Here Mary captures the final pile – a ‘guess the weight’ competition may have been in order but I’m not sure, after all the hard work, that anyone cared! It’s soul destroying that the next lot is  probably already on the ground today!

On the basis of out of sight, out of mind, I hid away in the line-side hut, pop riveting the new corrugated skirt in place.


At the rear you can just see the water service pipe which will supply an internal tap, primarily for watering on  platform 2 and, of course local cups of tea!

Trains were generally fuller today, with Foremarke Hall and P&O in steam. Here the latter is swathed in a clouds of steam and black smoke waiting patiently for some late comers to board.IMG_0680

Finally it pulls effortlessly away, heading northwards.


Tim should be back soon on Blog duty.



The GWSR ‘Day out with Thomas’ Swansong

It’s likely that this weekend’s ‘Day Out with Thomas’ event will be the last on the GWSR for the foreseeable future.  The ever increasing cost of putting  on the event,  regrettably now outweighs the returns. It was  noticeable also that the trains leaving Cheltenham were far from full – maybe another  sign of the times.

From a volunteers point of  view there was a good turn out, mainly pitching in to make the station and and surrounds neat and tidy for the  Thomas  Fan visitation. The double D’s (Dave T and Dave G) were on car park duty directing the traffic to the correct spot and many brooms and barrows were in evidence, with the occasional bit of leaning on the broom to take a breather. Stephen was using the brush cutter to good effect around the site. As an aside I have to say what an impressive job has been carried out by the tree surgeons in tackling the overhanging dead and wayward branches on Platform 2.   Apart from looking smart it will reduce the amount of tree debris on the platform and trackbed.

For my sins I carried on with the rebuild of the line side hut. Not quite to the Standard of the Repair Shop Team (what a brilliant programme this is on BBC 2 – 6.45 each evening) but satisfying nevertheless. I was ably supported by Terry who continued with the monotonous job of paint scraping.


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Fettler

This was my first Monday visit to CR Station and there was a fair turnout of the Monday Gang, although many were well hidden, wisely seeking shade from the hot afternoon sun!

For my task, no shelter was available at the end of platform 2, where the line side hut is getting its finally adjustments to the basic structure, before painting can begin. I have to say after a couple of hours the  heat started to make me a bit gaga, as the selfie will confirm. Nevertheless its looking good now  and the cosmetic work can commence.