Updated 23 August 2021
To mark its 40th Anniversary, the GWSR is operating all of its operational steam and main-line diesel locomotives, creating a spectacular and rare combination of sights and sounds. Both steam and diesel have played a part in the development of the GWSR since its earliest days. Doubtless an event like this was the stuff of the dreams of our pioneering volunteers who took over a 15-mile stretch of derelect, trackless and stationless former main line back in 1981. The first train on the GWSR ran in 1984, comprising a diminutive Avonside 0-4-0T industrial locomotive: 'Cadbury No. 1' and a single Mk.1 coach. Today the railway typically runs seven-coach trains hauled by superbly restored steam and diesel locomotives locomotives.
Which way are the steam locomotives pointing?
Following is the way that the locomotives are pointing (ie North = chimney towards Broadway, South = chimney towards Cheltenham)
- 4270 - NORTH
- 7820 - NORTH
- 7903 - NORTH
- 35006 - SOUTH
Steam locomotives in order of age:
Churchward 4200 class 2-8-0T no. 4270, built 1919
1919-built 2-8-0T no. 4270 restarts its train from Toddington station (pic ian Crowder)
This locomotive spent its entire working life in South Wales handling mineral traffic. Essentially, it is a tank locomotive version of the 2800 class and in fact, was the only 2-8-0 tank locomotive design to run in the UK. The majority (including 4270) were used to handle coal and other mineral traffic, primarily in South Wales, where high power was needed to convey heavy freight over relatively short but steeply graded routes. It is a pleasingly attractive engine that returned to steam for the first time since withdrawal from British Railways in 1962 just in time for the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam. The locomotive was subject to an extremely comprehensive restoration both at Toddington and off-site.
Bulleid Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 no. 35006 Peninsular & Oriental SN Co, built 1941
SR Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 no. 35006 Peninsular & Orental SN Co makes good progress near Laverton (pic Jack Boskett)
The powerful Merchant Navy class are associated with the heaviest express passenger services on the Southern Railway's routes from Waterloo to Bournemouth and to the West Country. The class of 30 locomotives was ostensibly a mixed traffic design introduced by O V S Bulleid in 1941 to a highly unconventional 'air-smoothed' appearance and incorporating many new features such as chain driven valve gear within an enclosed oil bath. Although the engines were extremely capable, the design was let down by high maintenance demands. As a result, the entire class was rebuilt to conventional appearance during the late 1950s, as 35006 is now presented. 35006 was withdrawn from service in August 1964 having spent its entire working life allocated to Salisbury. It was the second locomotive to arrive at Toddington, from the scrapyard at Barry, South Wales, in 1983. It moved for the first time in preservation on 10 August 2015. This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the locomotive. You can find out more about the Merchant Navy class on our feature pages.
Hawksworth Modified Hall class 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremarke Hall, built 1949
Modified Hall 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremarke Hall near Gotherington (pic Malcolm Ranieri)
The Great Western Railway's standard mixed traffic locomotives were the numerous Hall class 4-6-0s introduced in 1924 by C B Collett as a development of Churchward's 'Saint' class. The Halls were extremely successful, economical and versatile - as at home with fast freight as they were with express passenger trains. When F W Hawksworth became Chief Mechanical Engineer at Swindon in 1941, he set about making a number of design changes to the class, the result being the 'Modified Hall' which was introduced in 1944. Production contiunued until 1950, after nationalisation of the railways. 7903 was built at Swindon in 1949 and withdrawn from Old Oak Common in 1964. Now owned by Foremarke Hall Group, it was restored to working order in 2004 and this popular locomotive has proved to be an extremely reliable performer over the ten years before its '10 year' overhaul. It re-entered service just in time for the 2017 Cotswold Festival of Steam since when it has continued to provide outstanding service.
Collett Manor class 4-6-0 7820 Dinmore Manor, built 1950
Manor class 4-6-0 no. 7820 Dinmore Manor starts away from Broadway station (pic Ian Crowder)
The Manor class is a smaller version of the earlier 'Grange' class designed by C B Collett and introduced in 1938. The Second World War interrupted production, which resumed in 1950 after the Great Western Railway had been nationalised to become the Western Region of British Railways. With a light axle loading the 30 'Manors' were very much at home handling freight as well as passenger trains and were particularly associated with secondary main lines such as the Cambrian route to the West coast of Wales. They were also common on the former Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham - part of which is the present-day GWSR. The class famously handled the 'Cambrian Coast Express' which started from Paddington, usually behind a 'Castle' class locomotive, the 'Manor' taking over from Shrewsbury. No. 7820 was the first post-war member of the class and the last steam locomotive to haul the 'Cambrian Coast Express'. The locotive is owned by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited.
Diesel locomotives in order of age:
Class 24 - BR Sulzer Type 2 Bo-Bo no. 5081 built 1960
1960-built Sulzer Type 2 no. 5081 accelerates away from Toddington (pic Malcolm Ranieri)
5081 (Latterly 24081) is one of just four survivors out of a class of 151 Sulzer Type 2 diesel-electric locomotives. It was completed at Crewe works in March 1960 (others were built at Derby and Darlington) as part of the British Railways 1955 Modernisation Plan and is owned by a small group of voluinteers based at Toddington. It was the final survivor of the class, being withdrawn in 1980 and rescued for preservation in 1981. It has recently undergone a major refurbishment of its bogies.
Class 45 - BR Type 4 'Peak' 1Co-Co1 no. 45149 (originally D135) built 1961
1961-built BR Type 4 'Peak' no. 45149
The Class 45 - or Sulzer Type 4 locomotves were a mainstay of traction on the Midland main lines from the early 1960s, displacing steam classes such as the LMS Pacifics on top-link services. They continued in this rôle for some 20 years, eventually being displaced by new HSTs. Nevertheless they still performed valuable service on secondary routes and latterly, became associated with the Stratford-upon-Avon-Cheltenham line, over 14 miles of which the present-day GWSR operates. 45149 emerged from Crewe works in 1961 and was initially allocated to Derby, but was in fact well travelled, being noted as far apart as Glasgow and Paignton. The engine was withdrawn following a traction motor failure and was bought for preservation, initially moving to the Crewe Heritage Centre, before being acquired by the Cotswold mainline Diesel Group in 1997. The locomotive has since been comprehensively overhauled, re-entering service in 2013. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the locomotive. You can find out more about this locomotive on the CMDG's website.
Class 37 - English Electric Type 3 Co-Co no. 37215 (formerly D6915), built 1963
Class 37 no. 37215 approaches the site of Bishops Cleeve station (pic Ian Crowder)
This popular class 37 - one of two on the GWSR (the other is D6948 currently undergoing repair but will be on static display) - was built by English Electric at the Vulcan Foundry works at Newton-le-Willows in 1963 (others were built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns). The locomotive enjoyed a varied life across the UK until being withdrawn from Cardiff Canton depot in 1992, then sent to be stored at Inverness from where it was bought by the Growler Group. A permanent resident on the GWSR, it arrived at Toddington in 1994 since when it has been comprehensively overhauled. 35 of the class have been preserved and, underling their usefulness and reliability, some 60 of the 308 built remain in service on the national network. The Growler Group's website provides more information.
Class 47 - Brush Type 4 Co-Co no. 47105 (formerly D1693), built 1962
Class 47 no. 47105 coming to the end of its 10 year restoration (pic Ian Crowder)
47105 was completed at the Brush Falcon Works in Loughborough in 1963, one of 512 members of the class built between 1962 and 1968. Allocated top Bristol Bath Road from new, it spent its 30-year career in various depots around the UK, eventually being withdrawn from Old Oak Common in December 1991. This was a highly successful class distributed across the UK, replacing steam as part of the British Railways modernaisation plan. It was purchased by the Brush Type 4 fund in 1994 and is a permanent resident at Toddington. It has recently been extensively overhauled and returned to service earlier this year in BR blue to an astonishingly high standard of finish. The Fund also owns sister locomotive 47376 which is also in working order on the GWSR.
Class 117 - 3-car Diesel Multiple Unit, built 1959
Class 117 3-car DMU
Built by Pressed Steel between 1959 and 1961, these 3-car units spent most of their lives on the commuter services out of London, Paddington, Plymouth and Cardiff. Normally comprising cars W51405 (DMS), W59510 (TCL), W51363 (DMBS), this Class 117 unit was purchased in 2011 by Cotswold Diesel Railcar Limited and is now running regular services from Toddington. The group own several DMU vehicles at Toddington and you can find out more on their website.
On the North Gloucestershire narrow gauge line at Toddingston station:
(Additional fare applies)
You can expect to see at least two 2ft. gauge steam locomotives opertating over this delightful 2ft-gauge line. Those available for traffic are:
- Henschel & Sohn 0-8-0T no. 1901 of 1919
- Hunslet 0-4-2T no. 2075 Chakaskraal no. 6 of 1940
- Chrzanow 0-6-0T no. 3512 Tourska of 1957