Cotswold Festival of Steam - bank holiday weekend 27-29 May
- EIGHT steam locomotives working over Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway including three visitors
- Return of the ‘Coffee Pot’ local train
- American invasion: USA Transportation Corps wartime locomotive in the Cotswolds
- First visit to the line of a Standard class 4
No fewer than EIGHT locomotives - including three visitors from other heritage railways - will be steaming across the Cotswolds countryside as the Cotswold Festival of Steam celebrates ‘Workhorses of Steam’ over the late May Bank Holiday.
Not only that, there will plenty for visitors to enjoy at the railway’s stations as well as a wide range of trains, including a goods train with opportunities to travel in the guard’s van.
The show aims to celebrate the steam engines that until the 1960s kept Britain’s economy going by shifting millions of tons of freight as well as passengers, day in day out, on the national railway network. They ranged from small tank engines that ran local passenger train services or shunted goods yards to mighty express locomotives handling the heaviest trains at speeds up to 100mph.
Ian Crowder, a volunteer on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and a member of the event organising team commented: “With the recent visit of ‘Flying Scotsman’ to Gloucestershire, the railway is expecting a wave of visitors looking for a more accessible ‘fix of steam’.
“Interest in steam traction has never been greater. Steam disappeared off the national network half a century ago but it is still very much alive today. And where else can you find eight steam engines, all working together?
“There will also be steam on the North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway at Toddington over the weekend with up to three 2ft gauge engines running, as well as traction engines - something steamy for every taste!”
Visiting locomotives include:
- Return of the Coffee Pot! Until 1960 the local train service between Cheltenham St. James station (where the Waitrose supermarket is today) and Honeybourne was worked by 1400 class tank locomotives which propelled one or two coaches to Honeybourne and pulled them back, stopping at all stations. The driver worked the engine from a driving cab in the coach at the front of the train when the engine was pushing. Engine no. 1450 will, with its ‘auto-coach’ be running over the line once again, bringing memories back of the service that disappeared in 1960. Appearing courtesy of the Severn Valley Railway.
- American S160 class freight locomotive no. 6046. This was a design built in their thousands during the Second World War, for the US Army Transportation Corps. They were shipped to Europe to help with the war effort and to help the damaged railways get back on their feet. 800 were shipped to Britain and operated for a time in the UK before being sent into Europe following the D-Day invasion of France in 1955. Its distinctive chime whistle is bound to make a big impression! Appearing courtesy of the Churnet Valley Railway
- Standard class 4 no. 76017 is a type built by British Railways in the 1950s after nationalisation. Easy to operate and reliable, these engines worked throughout the country handling goods as well as passenger trains and could be regarded as the real ‘workhorses of steam’ because of their all-round capability. Appearing courtesy of the Mid-Hants Railway
In addition, the railway's five ‘home fleet’ locomotives will be running including the ‘Merchant Navy’ class pacific ‘Peninsular & Oriental SN Co’. This may not have a name as snappy as ‘Flying Scotsman’ but it is larger and more powerful and capable of handling heavy express trains at 100mph. It used to work the heaviest trains on the Southern Region (including goods trains) until the 1960s and re-entered service again last year on the Gloucestershire line. This engine and its sisters were named after the shipping lines that served the railway’s ports on the south coast. The other locomotives are all of Great Western origin including ‘Foremarke Hall’ and ‘Dinmore Manor’; a large tank engine built in 1919 and the oldest working Great Western locomotive in working order, a heavy-freight design built in 1905.
The event also offers the chance to:
- Ride in the guards van of a goods train (for a small supplementary fare) between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse and return
- Visit behind the scenes at the railway’s Carriage and Wagon works at Winchcombe
- A 14-coach special train on Saturday evening hauled by the visiting American engine in one direction and the ‘Merchant Navy’ in the other over the full 12-mile length of the line
- Enjoy model railways and the ‘Discovery Coach’ tracing the history of the line
- Get up close and personal with steam locomotives and traction engines
- Browse the stands of locomotive preservation groups and local traders
- And lots more for youngsters and grown-ups
The railway also hopes to have opened a further mile of track northwards on the extension that is being built to Broadway. Adds Ian Crowder: “We hope that this will be the first opportunity for visitors to travel a little bit further on our railway, hopefully as far as Little Buckland as the track extends ever closer to Broadway. Thanks to the success of our recent share offer, which raised £1.33m towards the cost of the extension and finishing the construction of Broadway Station, we are on target to open the line to Broadway in March 2018!
Tickets cost £25 for adults; £22 for seniors, £7 for children and £59 for a family ticket of two adults and up to three children. Tickets give unlimited travel and access to all attractions during the day. Look out for local press adverts offering discount vouchers!
Car parking at Cheltenham Racecourse is free, right next to the railway’s Racecourse terminus. A bus service will connect between Cheltenham Spa and Cheltenham Racecourse stations, via Royal Well station in the town centre.
Full information is on www.gwsr.com including a downloadable train timetable
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or email@example.com
Newly-overhauled Standard class 4 2-6-0 no. 76017 - the British Railways 'workhorse of steam' climbs Medstead Bank on its home Mid-Hants Railway. The Cotswold Festival of Steam is the first visit of the class to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (picture: Matt Allen)
Return of the 'Coffee Pot': 14xx class auto-tank no. 1450 on the Severn Valley Railway, sandwiched between two auto-trailers. The train driver is in the leading cab of the coach. The maroon coach is W238, which used to be used on local services over the Cheltenham-Honeybourne line, with a similar locomotive, until the stations closed in 1960. Local people called the service the 'Coffee Pot' (picture: Malcolm Ranieri)