BROADWAY STATION ON TARGET TO OPEN ON GOOD FRIDAY
Work on station and line nears completion
‘Astonishing’ volunteer effort
Lord Faulkner of Worcester to flag off first train
First train to depart from Broadway for 58 years
Volunteers on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) are working flat-out to make things ready for the first public train to stop at Broadway station for nearly six decades, on 30th March (Good Friday) 2018.
The Lord Faulkner of Worcester* will signal the triumphant re-opening of the brand new Broadway station by unveiling a plaque recognising the achievement of volunteers who have tirelessly resurrected the railway and built the new station on the site of the original.
The first train will be headed by the GWSR’s ‘flagship’ steam locomotive, Great Western Railway-designed Hall class locomotive no. 7903, Foremarke Hall which will depart at 09.40, bound for Cheltenham Racecourse, more than 14 miles to the south.
This follows years of effort to extend the popular Cotswolds heritage railway, from its headquarters station at Toddington, to the delightful village of Broadway.
The final rails were laid just before Christmas 2017 to complete the link between Broadway and the southern terminus at Cheltenham Racecourse.
The station building is substantially complete, using new heritage bricks and materials so that it looks almost identical to the one that once stood on the site. It even has a riveted (not welded) steel roof and platform canopy superstructure, to the original 1903 design, that was made by volunteers in the railway’s steam locomotive department.
The railway’s volunteer chairman, Richard Johnson, says: “This puts Broadway firmly on the railway map once again!
“British Railways withdrew local train services and closed the original station in March 1960 with the buildings and platforms demolished in 1963.
“Although the line itself, once a vital link between the West Midlands and Wales and the West Country, remained open for through freight and passenger trains, the whole line was closed in 1976 and, by the end of 1979, the track and remaining infrastructure had gone.
“The reopening of the line on 30th March is recognition of the vision of the early preservation pioneers, who took occupation of a derelict Toddington station in 1981 and started progressively to rebuild our delightful railway through the Cotswolds,” Richard Johnson says.
“It’s also a huge triumph for the railway’s 950 or so volunteers who operate and grow what has become one of the UK’s top heritage railways.”
Lord Richard Faulkner, who is a Patron of the railway, President of the Heritage Railway Association and a parliamentary champion of the economic contribution that heritage railways make to the UK tourist economy, commented:
“I’m hugely looking forward to the privilege of flagging the first train out of Broadway station, 58 years to the month since the last one departed.
“It underlines what can be achieved by the astonishing determination of well-coordinated and visionary volunteer effort. This is a railway that has come a long way in every sense, since the first moves to preserve it back in 1979.
“It is not only run to the highest professional standards, but has overcome hurdles** that would be beyond the economic capability of commercial organisations. These volunteers have rebuilt a former main line that back in the early 1980s, many thought was an impossible dream.”
Ahead of the opening, volunteers and larger contributors will enjoy the opportunity of a preview of the extended railway and the new station on special trains (that are not for public use).
Richard Johnson adds: “We are expecting huge interest in the opening of Broadway station; a vision that has been a long time coming. However, the facilities are not yet finished – although the booking office and toilets will be complete and functioning.
“What is also very exciting for the railway is that Wychavon District Council have recognised the tremendous tourist potential that the station brings that they are to build a 99-space car park across the road from the station. But this won’t be completed until later this year so until then, there is no car parking at the station itself but there is pay and display car parking within walking distance, in the village.
“As part of the celebrations from Good Friday to Easter Monday, a classic London Routemaster bus will operate a complimentary service between Broadway station and the Broadway centre every 20 minutes or so.”
Among remaining work is commissioning of the signal box, completing the station facilities including a refreshment room and the footbridge, construction of a station building for visitors on, and completion of, Platform 2.
Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers on its trains for the second year running and its fifth successive record year.
Train times and fares can be found on the railway’s website at www.gwsr.com
Ends / more
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8cmklk292jxm2mj/AAA8NKGOZvZyaBDwnefdwGg_a?dl=0
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Opening arrangements (not for publication): Bone-fide representatives of the media are welcome to attend the opening celebration of the station and travel on the first train. PROSPECTIVE MEDIA GUESTS MUST CONTACT IAN CROWDER, 07775 566 555 OR email@example.com in advance. There is no car parking at Broadway station (a new car park will open late 2018). Media may park at Toddington and travel to Broadway by train at 09.00. It may be possible for media to be present for the volunteer and shareholder specials ahead of the opening, contact Ian Crowder for details.
* The Lord Faulkner of Worcester is a Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords; sits on a number of Lords committees and is President of the Heritage Railway Association as well as having other railway interests. He is vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary rail heritage group and treasurer of the all-party parliamentary railways group; and a Patron of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR). http://www.lordfaulkner.net
**Six years ago, the railway was almost brought to its knees following the collapse of an embankment just north of Winchcombe station that cost £1m to rebuild – the third and, financially, most serious such collapse that the railway had suffered. It divided the railway into two and passenger numbers fell by more than 40%.
ABOUT THE GWSR
The GWSR is a heritage railway operating trains hauled by steam and heritage diesel locomotives and multiple-units, over part of the former Great Western Railway route between Stratford upon Avon and Cheltenham. It opened throughout in 1906 with several stations on its route via Honeybourne, Broadway and Toddington. Most of the intermediate stations closed in March 1960. The last scheduled (non-stop) passenger services over the line ceased in 1968 after which it was used by freight and occasional passenger trains diverted from the surviving former Midland line between the West Midlands, Cheltenham and Bristol. The line was closed in 1976 following the derailment of a freight train at Winchcombe in 1976 and the track and infrastructure removed by the end of 1979. The GWSR took up residence in the derelict station yard at Toddington in 1981 and ran its first train over a short stretch of track at Toddington, in 1984. By 2003 the railway had reached Cheltenham Racecourse. It has now reached Broadway providing a round trip of over 28 miles, making it one of the top five heritage railways, in terms of length, in the UK. Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers for the second year running, its all-time record. https://www.gwsr.com
ABOUT BROADWAY STATION
Broadway station was constructed by the Great Western Railway and opened initially as a terminus for trains from the north, in August 1904, until the line was completed towards the south. The station site was bisected by the Evesham Road which is crossed by a steel bridge that has been subject to considerable repair following bridge strikes by over-height lorries. The Caravan Club now occupies the site of the former goods yard on the south side of the road. The station closed to passengers on 7 March 1960. With the present GWSR’s ambition to reach Broadway, the Broadway Area Group of volunteers was formed and began work in 2009 clearing the station site, finding the foundations of the original buildings and platforms. The platforms (longer than the originals) were built largely using recovered railway bricks and other materials from several locations. The design of the new building closely follows that of the original, using similar new bricks including decorative brickwork, for example along the eaves and window surrounds. The new building is longer than the original, in order to accommodate toilets and other facilities expected by modern visitors. The roof and platform canopy is supported by a steel framework built at the railway’s steam locomotive department at Toddington, using traditional riveting. The footbridge came from Henly-in-Arden and the signalbox on Platform 2 is a brand new replica of the one that once stood at Shirley. The station’s original signalbox was on the south side of the road. The new structure will eventually be open for visitors to view. The entire construction has been completed by volunteers. In January, Wychavon District Council announced its support for the railway by agreeing to fund the £560,000 cost of constructing a new 99-vehicle car park at the foot of the railway’s embankment between Evesham Road and Childswickham Road. This is expected to open some time during or after August 2018 – meanwile, there is no car parking at Broadway station. http://broadwaystationgroup.blogspot.co.uk