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!



15 Apr – Fair of Face?

It might be an exaggeration to say that the Monday gang are ‘fair of face’ but they were looking pretty reasonable (for their ages!) this afternoon and comprised: Dave T, Dave G, Mary, Ian, Maurice, Roger, Andy M and Mike.

For a change I won’t just bore readers with tale of skips but celebrate the blooming nature of our spring vegetation.  Here’s a sight normal visitors don’t often see: our composting area at the top of the Platform 1 embankment:


The dustbin – just visible on the right hand side is full of telegraph pole ceramic insulators.  We’ve tried to compost these but they just don’t rot down and so have been recovered and are now destined for grateful recipients elsewhere on the railway.


Looking the other way is what is known as Ben’s chicane, since he was mainly responsible for putting in the paving slabs around the tree trunk.  Useful to prevent the more bullish volunteers speeding towards the ticket office with their wheelbarrows (or their Zimmer frames!).

Amongst other activities today were garden weeding, indoor painting, rubbish removal, sweeping, attempted fitting of the new ‘hearing loop’ (unsuccessful apparently) and hut paint stripping.

All very pleasant in the warmish conditions.  That said it has been quite dry – to the extent that plant watering has, once again, become a regular feature of Racecourse Station duties; it only seems a week or two since it all was waterlogged.

I won’t be going in on Wednesday since the staff might be ‘full of woe’ but I expect to return to see the Saturday troop ‘work hard for a living’!  As per usual.




13 Apr – Pot Luck!

Aladdin has his cave, Pandora had a box and Cheltenham Racecourse Station has a store under the arches of the Evesham Road bridge.  My apologies if the theme of these blogs is becoming repetitive but I’m afraid the focus of my current activity is such that I don’t get around the Station enough to properly record everything else which is going on.

Anyway, the contents of the heaps of stuff does seem to throw up the occasional blog comment – even if they are mostly along the line of “You’re not throwing that away are you!”.   No-one, I note (with just the faintest hint of bitterness), ever says “Great job you’re well shut of that lot”!  Just joking, and for the reassurance of interested parties, everything is pretty well scrutinised and picked over by a local team of semi-professional hoarders.  And then the rest of the GWSR is invited to come and review the whole lot in situ before we actually dispose of anything.  This morning, for instance, there were takers for several redundant 13A plugs, an old plastic jug (500ml capacity), some table legs, a door and several handfuls of large size washers. And no prizes for guessing  what seems to the most overused phrase anywhere on the Station: “That might be useful – sometime!”

Meanwhile, train services continue apace in the sunshine and the fact that I am spending most of my time at the bottom end of Platform 1 does allow me to focus on an area of the Station which I didn’t much visit previously, except to pass through.  As such, I’ve observed the sterling efforts of the Water Tower team who are at CRCS but not really of it.  So here’s my brief tribute to them and the train staff who were busy entertaining the viewing public by rehydrating the first train of the day:





They obviously have a penchant for certain types of head gear – probably caused by working in the shade of the cutting for most of the year!

And, as per usual, the remainder of my colleagues (Steve, Ben, Dave T, Mary, Terry, Bob, Ros and Andy B) were hard at it gardening, tidying and cleaning.  Also unsung (and these days unphotographed) volunteer heroes!



6 Apr – Chain Reaction?

It look like being a disastrous start to the day!  I was first at the Racecourse Station, whizzed through security, opened the car park gates and hurried to the main gates to get cracking.  Unfortunately my trusty key snapped in the lock and, for several minutes, it looked like there would be a difficult conversation with the day’s Station Master since it was impossible for passengers (or anyone else for that matter) to enter the Station!  Luckily the broken half had engaged the lock and after some fiddling with a screwdriver (ably assisted by the Booking Office Clerk) the thing pinged open.  Phew!

So, the usual crew (Dave G, Dave T, Mary, Bob, John, Ben, Steve, Maurice and Mike (and Andy B) were able to continue their tasks unaffected.  We had another skip delivered during the week so priority one was getting the ‘junk’ up from the Platform to the Malvern Road end of the Ticket Office.  Much care was taken with skip packing (after our previous issue) and we left spare room for anything else we find which hasn’t managed to find a use in the last 25 years.


Here’s our leader carefully sifting through the heap and making sure we don’t get rid of the sign boards (mainly ex-Snow Hill I believe) which a GWSR heritatge group has claimed.  Other treasures included a 40ft plastic banner (RACING POST, ex-Cheltenham Festival of yesteryear) which will from today cover someone’s compost heap.  And once again some of our scrap wood will be burning in a Prestbury log burner rather than  a bonfire.  So don’t say we aren’t trying to upcycle stuff and protect the environment!

Here’s a contingent on a rather crowded P1 at about 1100 as the crew of 2807 were trying to get a water fill, we were busy sorting scrap and others were busy on their own duties…thumbnail_20190406_104106[2]


I known Mary, Bob and John were gardening.  At other times both Daves were supervising and sorting out important station matters, whilst Steve also mowed the ‘lawns’ and Bob (thankfully) set about replacing the lock that some clot had tried to wreck!

And ignoring the various vintage tools, valuable scrap metal and reuseable banners  our prize find of the day was……..thumbnail_20190406_120736[1]

I’ll get this on eBay shortly and hopefully someone will bid for it.  A unique, late 20th century item of domestic infrastructure; stylish, versatile and has an impressive patina. Book early as Sir Fred used to say!



30 Mar – The Fog is Lifting!

This was the scene which greeted us at 0815 this morning at the Racecourse  Station:20190330_082156[1]

And it was 3C!  So resisting the ‘advice to self’ to get there a bit later I dumped the refreshments (jam doughnuts) in the Ticket Office and got the Billy Goat out.  Which proved to be as reluctant a starter as some of the volunteers!  However, it warmed to its task (and so did I) sufficiently that by the time 2807 strolled in at 1030 everyone was happily basking in the sunshine on a spick and span platform.  And for a change I will indulge the keen reader with some ‘up close and personal’ shots:20190330_104551[1]




Certainly looks the part!

On the more mundane side (though who could be mundane on a glorious morning like this!) 8 of my colleagues were being busy bees: Bob, Steve, Dave T, Mary, Maurice, John, Ben and Mike. Plus the Water Tower gang and a team from Lineside Drainage.  Amongst other things gardens were maintained, rubbish swept away and rats poisoned (we hope!).



And stores were being cleared of rubbish – another Forth Bridge this task!

So, after a slow start to the season, the number of passengers seems to be climbing steadily; the fog is certainly lifting in more ways than one.



25 March – Monday Maximum!

There were an astonishing 12 volunteers at the Racecourse Station on Monday afternoon – a record I believe.  Assuming I counted everyone, there was: Dave G, Dave T, Mary, Bob, Ros, Mike, Ian, Chris, Roger, John, Dick and self.  I won’t list every task but suffice to say the great weather was very encouraging to us, to the flowers and to the weeds!


As usual it’s beginning to look a bit dry in some of the flower beds – why does it never seem to rain in reasonable quantities at regular intervals?!

20190325_144108The observant may spot the replacement conifers at the rear of the Platform 2 embankment; they’ll soon be shedding needles on the track no doubt!

20190325_144100… and may have noted that many of the signs (as above) have had a fresh coat of paint for the new season.  Or indeed a fresh everything!


This fire was last week but I failed to include it.

I noted a good deal of gardening, some jet washing, painting and sweeping up plus, of course, lots more clearance work.

Long may the Spring weather last.


23 March – Scraping and Scrapping!

A healthy turnout (the numbers were healthy – whether the volunteers were entirely so is a different matter!) this morning on an increasingly Spring-like day.  I noted Bob & Ros, Dave T, Mary, Ben, Wiley, Steve, Maurice, Mike and Andy M.  As usual I was preoccupied with my own tasks and may not have noted what everyone was doing but I am sure they were all hard at it!

Bob and Ros took off to Platform 2 to cultivate ‘their’ garden – which provides an increasingly attractive backdrop for our Platform 1 passengers.  Meanwhile Mary was doing her usual valuable stint removing the weeds from the much more established gardens on P1.  Mike ‘swept’ down to the allotment area, watered the vegetable plot and swept back again!  Then made the tea.

Close by Ben and I did some clearance in the Klargester pit – which is not the unpleasant environment one might suppose. Indeed apart from the odd gurgle one wouldn’t know that anything was going on.20190323_083847

Removal of weeds was our main priority – it’s amazing how the damp (rainwater only!) gritty base provides a great growing medium for our local perennial nasties. We also scraped away the winter accumulation of moss and other rubbish from the brickwork. Steve was busy lawn mowing – another sign of the improving weather – and watering the new pines – replacements for those trees felled in the autumn.

Later the youthful contingent (Ben and Wiley) provided some muscle power to shift ever more of the scrap metal out of the arches and prepare it for re-cycling.


Amongst the hidden ‘gems’ are an old desk, any amount of rusty Dexion racking and the odd ammunition box (empty!).


Maurice was also on hand to assist by removing the rather unsightly orange screening which has been in place for some time; more for the re-cycle pile.


I don’t know what Andy and Dave T were doing but I am sure it was useful!!

And the best thing – no requirement for the Billy Goat – must have been a calm week.