One of the RAF Memorial Flight's Spitfires, along with a Hurricane, will be making a flypast during the GWSR's 'War in the Cotswolds' (Picture RAF memorial Flight/Wikipedia Commons)

 

12 April 2018

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ to bring waves of nostalgia

  • Fifth event bigger and better than ever: Sat 28th and Sun 29th April 2018

  • King George VI; Winston Churchill and ‘Monty’ to visit Broadway and Winchcombe

  • RAF Memorial Flight flypast – and a Spitfire at Toddington marking RAF centenary

  • Pack up your old kit bag for music, fun and camaraderie

 

With the RAF celebrating its centenary, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s (GWSR) ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ - 28th and 29th April 2018 – will be bigger and better than ever.

 

And with the recent opening of Broadway station, events will include addresses by King George VI, Winston Churchill and Field Marshall Montgomery to the citizens of the village as well as at Winchcombe.

 

This is the fifth ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds staged by the GWSR, when waves of nostalgia and fun are expected to sweep the railway in an atmosphere-filled weekend as the railway’s volunteers and re-enactors step back over 75 years to the 1940s.

 

And, marking the RAF’s 100th Anniversary, plenty of blue-grey uniforms can be expected while the heart-stirring music of Hurricane and Spitfire aircraft engines will draw eyes skyward as the RAF Memorial Flight* stage a fly-by. 

 

A full-size replica of a Spitfire will also be at Toddington station complete with original cockpit and Merlin engine which will be fired up from time to time during the weekend and visitors could have the rare opportunity to visit the cockpit.**  As well as music of the skies, there will plenty of music in the marquee at Toddington station too - you can listen or dance to the Big Band music of ‘Kalamazoo’ and authentic 1940s singer Lola Lamour.

 

John Rogers, one of the railway’s volunteers and a member of the event organising committee comments: “We’re planning another packed two days of entertainment that will allow visitors to soak up the wartime atmosphere in our lighthearted effort to cock a snook at the enemy and get a taste of what life was like back home during the war. 

 

“It was a time of restrictions on travel, having to keep your ID card handy at all times, rationing, shortages of food and luxuries and never showing a light at night.

 

“You would have been encouraged ‘to do your bit’ for King and Country and, if you weren't called up you were likely to join the Home Guard! And entertaining the children may have involved laughing at the antics of Laurel & Hardy - and youngsters from 8 to 80 will surely enjoy performances by the comedy duo at our stations.

 

“But many of our boys in blue and other uniforms didn’t return of course and there will be a short service at Toddington on Sunday to remember them. But everyone looked out for each other and buoyed themselves up with camaraderie and music. And there will be plenty of both during this very special weekend!”

 

Packed programme of fun

RAF attractions, apart from the Spitfire and Memorial Flight fly-past, include the acclaimed RAF plotting room demonstration, which is filled with tension and extremely realistic.  It will be in the brand new Tim Mitchell visitor centre at Winchcombe station.  In addition there will be plenty of military and period vehicles and hardware, while the narrow-gauge railway at Toddington will also be operating. 

 

Also at Winchcombe station it’s worth popping into the ’Tin Hat Club’ where you can slake your thirst with a pint of local craft beer, as well as visiting military encampments and chatting to re-enactors. 

 

A vintage bus service will operate frequently to and from Winchcombe village where, once again, village shops are entering into the spirit of the occasion.

 

At Broadway, a diesel railcar service will link with Toddington while a bus will take visitors to and from the village which, like Winchcombe, is preparing for the Royal visit from King George VI and his entorage. 

 

Gotherington station grounds will also be open courtesy of the private owners of the site. 

 

Says John Rogers: “There will be plenty of activity here too – and of course, it is a peaceful spot to while away an hour and enjoy refreshments – or exert yourself with a go on the pump trolley on the private siding.”

 

There will be period (and modern) refreshments at Toddington and Winchcombe, too.

 

“We have been overwhelmed by support from so many people for this event that we have had to close applications for re-enactor groups that will be entertaining visitors with cameos and music both on the trains and at the stations.

 

“And I would encourage everyone to dig out their glad rags or uniforms and join in the spirit of the occasion.

 

“Whilst not trivialising the seriousness of the Second World War it’s also an opportunity to let your hair down and celebrate the freedom we all enjoy today. It’s definitely time to pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile smile!”

 

ENDS / MORE

 

Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or ian.crowder@gwsr.com

 

Pictures of last years event can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pkug4zde6y8yv59/AAAUmYyXELQ6dy0ZDoea5bPya?dl=0

*RAF Memorial Flight flypast subject to availability and local weather, is expected to take place at Toddington at 1pm on Sunday

** Full information and ticket prices available at www.gwsr.com. Advance bookings are being taken for a session in the cockpit of the Spitfire at Toddington, visit www.bookwhen.com/spitfirecrewsouthwest and follow the links.

 

ABOUT ‘WAR IN THE COTSWOLDS’

This is the fifth ‘War in the Cotswolds’ which promises to be the biggest and best to date. An intensive steam train service will operate between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse with a separate diesel railcar service between Toddington and Broadway. There will be events taking place at all the railway’s stations but particularly Toddington (the railway’s HQ), Winchcombe and Gotherington. The Royal party will visit both Broadway and Winchcombe village centres where speeches will be delivered to the villagers. Please note, those wearing Nazi uniforms and / or bearing firearms (even replicas) will be turned away. Timings available on www.gwsr.com. Train times and ticket information also available on the website. All events subject to availability. 

 

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 

 

Picture shows John Rogers, one of the organisers of thge 2018 'War in the Cotswolds' event.  Follow the Dropbox file for many more images