16 Feb – Still Skipping!

A fair morning and a fair morning’s work to be honest.  Luckily, last week’s stalwart team of volunteers (Steve, Dave G, Mike, John, Bob, Maurice & Terry) was reinforced by the youth element: Ben and Wiley and the young at heart (Dick and Andy B)!  This allowed us to continue with the weekly tasks of making the station tidy (only 3 weeks to first train), to keep up the bench refurbishment programme, to fix some ailing lights and to redouble our efforts on pre-bridge inspection clearance.

Here’s some samples of what we are wading through – do they come in the ‘might potentially have been useful’ category or the ‘objects of historic interest’ category?


Anyway, they’re now in the skip category! Along with lost of other stuff: including, amongst other things, miles of razor wire, lots of plastic fencing and dozens of shuttering boards.IMG_20190216_115819

The might still be useful category is still pretty large and one of our number said he could see a use for this old door:IMG_20190216_115837

Never let it be said that we don’t try to recycle, upcycle or generally preserve stuff!

Anyway, only one more entirely clear weekend before we start thinking about putting everything back on the platforms and really smartening the place up.

Spring is in the air…



9 Feb 19 – More of the Same!

It was another groundhog day really.  Cool but not too cold, windy, damp and rather low on volunteer numbers.  Bob popped in briefly to do some much needed maintenance on the Platform lighting whist Dave G was in the warm (lucky chap!) painting up the benches:

IMG_20190209_121416Always a very professional job!

Elsewhere, John was doing some early season gardening and, I gather, fitting a new fridge in the ticket office.

Others were evident on the track bed – with a visiting team doing some preparation for the main drains to be ‘spring cleaned’.  Thanks guys.

Main effort, however, was with the hard core team of Steve, Maurice, Terry and self on further clearing out of the archway store (Racecourse Station’s equivalent of the Augean stables – although come to think of it we are lacking a Hercules).  This initially started as an effort to reveal all the brickwork – so that the bridge can be inspected.  However, after we’d done that it seemed an opportune moment (ie it was long overdue!) to clear out some of the stuff stored in there.  Now, I am quite sure  that it was all stored with the thought that it might one day be useful – and some of it definitely has been – but the collective view is that we (the Railway) have moved on and what once we might have countenanced doing by ‘self-help’ is now much more likely to be work of a professional or contractual nature.  So, I think it is now fair to throw out the broken doors, the rusty metal desks and some of the miles of razor wire.  Hence, multiple trips up and down the platform carrying heavy objects! Plus ca change!

There were a few surprises including what must have been a very tricky achievement by a highly security conscious bird:IMG_20190209_113517

Anyway, we still have much to do and our target date of getting it all straight again by Cheltenham Festival Week remains as ambitious as………………………..as an easy Brexit!

Some of the team taking a well deserved break:








I was, sadly, prevented from attending Saturday morning’s session due to foreseen circumstances – namely being snowed in!  As such the text and pictures below are courtesy of colleagues Dave T, Mary, Bob and Wiley – for which efforts many thanks.  Any mistakes or misattributions are entirely my own!

It seems that, in addition to the above contributors, only Stephen and Andy B made it in – probably for the same weather-related reasons as yours truly.  However, they recorded some interesting developments at CRCS which are evident in the following:IMG_5704

Wagons aplenty have been parked up at the Racecourse to facilitate inspections of bridges and other essential maintenance work.DSC00265

Not sure Platform 2 has looked this busy – ever!

Andy was repairing the platform lights  whilst Bob cleaned the glass on the two under repair and also finished off a bit of the UPVC cladding around the door frame of the visitor’s entrance.IMG_0631

Mary was busy clearing the dead grass from the vicinity of our veg patch/allotment whilst Dave T and Steve had bonfires.  Wylie assisted wherever required and everyone ‘admired’ the rolling stock.

Overall, it was pretty chilly whilst the remaining snow and ice precluded any more major endeavours.  Mary kindly sent a couple of scenic shots from early morning:


Lovely place, Cheltenham Racecourse Station!

Back in person next week (I hope)!


26 Jan – Racing Uncertainty

It was a race day today, and numerous volunteers were on family duty, so numbers were restricted.  Bob put in a brief appearance on ‘special duties’, Dave G was busy on the eternal round of painting benches, doors, signs etc and the remainder (Ben, Wiley, Andy, Steve and self) were, as per last week, exclusively on clearance duties underneath the arches, where we dreamed our dreams away. (Sorry – difficult to resist that one)

So busy were we that I only managed one photograph and a murky one at that! IMG_20190126_111519.jpg

There is ample scope for a caption competition here – but I doubt many of the entries would be publishable!  Suffice it to say that contained within this picture is one of the largest tools I have ever seen.  However, don’t worry it isn’t going in the disposal pile!

That said, much wood, scrap items of all kinds and general rubbish were removed and will be recycled, upcycled or appropriately disposed of.  All so that the people coming to inspect the bridge can get access to the arches brickwork.  Nonetheless, it is a great opportunity to clear out some of the decades of debris and leave behind a clearer, tidier and safer working environment.

Here’s to a better day’s weather next week.



19 Jan – Skipping with Joy!

It was a dreich old morning that’s for certain; a chill wind blowing across the Racecourse, rain in the air and a certain mid-winter malaise. As such it was good to see Dave T, Mary, Bob, Andy B, Steve and John in sterling form and up for some heavy lifting.  And for once we were all focused on the very same task – clearance within the archway storage area to allow bridge inspection.

To that end our leader had procured us a skip – alongside the Ticket Office – and we simply had to decide what could be thrown out and get it up from platform level.  I say ‘simply’ when in reality there is nothing easy about barrowing metal, wood, plastic, wire, hardcore etc etc up and down the slope. Well perhaps it’s easy the first time but after the 10th – can I please start raking down the embankment again!

However, having got the slight whinge out of my system, there was definitely something cathartic about heaving stuff out.  Here’s Mary doing her bit:


And here’s the skip a little later in the morning:img_20190119_121143

Don’t worry – it’ll be gone long before 9 March!

And as a result of these Herculean labours we had to have an extra long tea break:img_20190119_111836

You might think, from the apparent solemnity of the expressions, that it was a wake – perhaps the volunteers shown were troubled by the thought that some of the things we have skipped might just come in useful one day!  I think I’ll just nip out and have a final look through……..


Sonny Hammond (you have to be of a certain TV generation and others may need to Google that to know who he is/was!)



12 Jan – Winter Warming!

There is, of course, nothing like a bit of vigorous exercise on a cold morning for a winter pick-me-up!  The only downsides are the creaking joints, strained ligaments and sore muscles – symptoms of an ageing workforce!

Anyway, whatever the consequences there was a turn out of 10 this morning including Bob & Ros, Dave T, Dave G, Wiley, Steve, Mike, Mary, Dick and self.  Slight variations in the team but the tasks remain similar – largely vegetation clearing and maintenance.  So whilst Mike and Dick were engaged in their usual sweeping up the winter debris, Mary was getting in some early gardening preparation.  Dave G had a meeting with GWSR Events Organiser to review the role of the Racecourse Station in the 2019 programme.  Dave T was engaged in some ivy removal – standing precariously half way up (or down!) the steepest gradient of the Platform 1 embankment.  Bob was on signage and then assisted Ros with the Platform 2 gardening tasks.img_20190112_113831

Steve decided bravely to burn off some more of the pine rubbish, stones, soil etc which had been dumped in a large pile.  The resulting conflagration was successful if somewhat smoky! Before:img_20190112_113720



However, I hope nobody was disturbed as the clouds were essentially blown in the Southam direction!

Unfortunately, Wiley and I were busy raking up barrowloads as fast (or faster) as Steve was burning them – leaving a clearer if somewhat bare bank!img_20190112_113919

All of which effort will keep up the progress to have Platform 2 as a potentially useful part of the Station rather than a liability.

At which point I leave you with a shot of wire in the barrow – if you stare hard enough you can make out a face! Salvador Dali surreal or am I just delusional after a morning’s exercise.





It’s not that the Monday gang have ever been away – it’s simply that no blogger has attended their activities and celebrated their achievements recently.  So here’s to all those missing Mondays – well done gents.

On show today were Dick, Chris, Dave T, Dave G, PeteW, Roger & Mike – plus motley crews from Lineside Clearance and others who were considering the detail of how to get the rolling stock (and I use the term rolling pretty loosely!) out of the way so that the Hunting Butts tunnel – amongst other structures –  can be inspected.  There is rumour that the various wagons will be parked alongside Platforms 1 and 2 at the Racecourse Station which will be a sight for sore eyes!  Look forward to that blog.

Dave G and Roger were painting, Mike was sweeping, Dave T was burning small stuff and stock taking in the Ticket Office whilst Pete, Dick and Chris were weeding.  Meanwhile, down at the end of Platform 2 embankment conditions were ideal for a real bonfire: modest West/South-West wind keeping the fire well supplied with oxygen but blowing the smoke away from the A435!  So, as a reward for numerous Saturdays of hard labour raking and bagging pine needles, pine cones, pine boughs etc etc there was a couple of hours of glorious flaming conflagration.

Here’s some of the pile before:


And here’s the during


And a lot later:img_20190107_154022

Also burnt was one half of an old sleeper, two fence posts, three tree stumps, four ……. – well, you get the picture.

If anyone feels they have missed out I only managed to dispose of half the massive pile of debris so there’s plenty left for the weekend, viz the other half of the sleeper etc:img_20190107_133409

Burn, baby, burn!