GWR Festival Marks Railway Revival
19 April 2006
It’s a century since the Great Western Railway opened its line from Stratford-on-Avon to Cheltenham – and 25 years since volunteers of the modern-day GWR (Gloucerstershire Warwickshire Railway) started to rebuild the line after British Railways closed it in 1976.
So the GWR has plenty to celebrate during 2006, a year that also sees the 200th birthday of I K Brunel, father of the Great Western.
Volunteers of the GWR are celebrating with a Festival that takes place from 27th May to 4th June when a range of visiting locomotives will be joining the home fleet, in an effort to capture the essence of the busy and much-loved railway that it once was. Up to 10 steam and diesel locomotives appropriate to this once-vital route for the Great Western Railway will be working.
Two visiting locomotives are expected to steal the show, however. First is the ‘coffee-pot’ (as it was known by local people) – a small tank locomotive and carriage that worked local services until intermediate stations closed in 1960. Second, and at the other end of the power extreme, is a ‘Castle’ class locomotive, a type that used to haul the heaviest express trains – including the ‘Cornishman’ express, which once ran from Wolverhampton to Penzance. Another popular locomotive is one that has scored two centuries – now owned by the National Railway Museum, City of Truro was the first engine to reach 100mph – a feat performed over 100 years ago!
There will be opportunities for visitors to see the railway ‘behind the scenes’, too – at the yard at Toddington and at the carriage restoration facilities at Winchcombe. Many of the individual locomotive restoration projects will be represented during the Festival, too.
There will be plenty of free car parking at Cheltenham Race Course station (entrance through the main racecourse entrance – follow AA signs) and limited car parking at Toddington (£2.00 fee invited). Special ticket prices apply.
More information at www.gwsr.com