2013 season gets under way
article by: Ian Crowder
posted on: 09 March 2013
updated on: 06 May 2013
Damp weather didn't dampen spirits as the 2013 season got
underway for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, over the
full line length for the first time.
Although a limited service of diesel multiple-unit trains from
Toddington via Winchcombe and Laverton began in February, Saturday
9 March saw the full line reopened, with a two-train service, one
train steam and the other a 1960s diesel multiple unit.
'History making' is a term often over-used but this day was a
historic occasion for the 'Honeybourne Line': for on this day:
- The 09.45 departure from Toddington was the
FIRST timetabled steam service to complete a round trip over
the full length of the 12-mile railway. Although the Broadway
extension as far as Laverton has been open since 2011, the landslip
at the so-called 'Chicken Curve' just north of Winchcombe, severed
the line meaning no through train services were possible until late
2012. In addition, the loop at Laverton has not been use
until now, meaning any locomotive-hauled trains over the extension
had to be 'top and tailed' with a locomotive at each end
- A timetabled diesel-multiple unit service ran over the full
length of the line for the first time
- The Laverton run-round loop was used for the very first
- This was also the first time for almost exactly three years
that it has been possible to catch a train directly between
Toddington and Cheltenham (and vice versa)
"We've made it!" commented a delighted Malcolm Temple, chairman
of GWSR Plc. "We've been through so much that at times, a
'normal day' seemed little more than a distant dream. But
here we are, people are arriving to catch the train to make a full
round-trip on our railway. This is a normal service day - the first
of hundreds. Isn't it fantastic?"
Spot on time, 1924-built Great Western small Prairie locomotive
no. 5542 whistled and eased its seven-coach train over the damp
rails out of Toddington station, on its way into the railway's
history book. It stopped on the way to Cheltenham at
Winchcombe and Gotherington. At the regulator was Ian
Windscheffel, and on the shovel was Clive Norton, the significance
of the day not lost on them.
"It's quite a privilege to be driving this train," said Ian.
"We'll be using the Laverton loop for the first time and a 24-mile
round trip is certainly something for us to enjoy."
On the return journey, the train passed the first
diesel-multiple unit service, on its way to Cheltenham, which was
also racking up its 'first' for the new season.
When the trian reached Laverton, there was a 'reception
committee' of high-vis-suited permanent way volunteers and
volunteers from the Broadway Station rebuilding team, to witness
the locomotive run over the newly-opened track over the new
concrete bridge over Dumbleton lane. They watched as the
locomotive detached and eased over the pointwork, without any
problems before it ran past its train and coupled on to the
opposite end, ready for the trip back.
At Laverton, there was once a meagre timber-built halt - little
used, since it was some distance from the village it was meant to
serve. It closed (along with other stations on the route)
back in 1960. And while there are no plans at present to
reopen the halt, it does mark the half-way point between Toddington
and Broadway - and the arrival of the train there gives great
cause for optimism for the Friends of Broadway who are
re-creating the long-demolished station.
By the time the train had made its way through the misty
weather, there was quite a crowd at Toddington to catch the
train. The on-train catering team were doing a roaring trade
in bacon rolls and toasted teacakes, the evocative smell drawing
more and more people to the buffet car.
A successful day? "You bet!" says Malcolm. "Our staff are made
of stern stuff; they have gone through an awful lot over the past
two years. Now things are back to normal and we're looking
forward to a successfull future."
The railway will be operating over 180 days during 2013, with
dozens of special events and trains on the way. You can find
out more by clicking
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