Heritage railway’s rescue appeal passes £230,000

  • 'Extraordinary response' says Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust

  • Work on embankment slip resumes as restrictions are eased

  • Railway considers re-opening when lockdown eases further

  • Remaining special events cancelled for 2020


Winchcombe, Gloucestershire 13 May 2020 - updated 15 May 2020: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has almost reached its goal of raising £250,000 in its appeal, launched in March, to help pay the cost of repairing a landslip that threatened to close the popular Cotswolds heritage railway.


The appeal, organised by the charitable Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust (GWRT) has now passed £230,000 (including Gift Aid), which means that the first big invoice for the works being carried out, nearly £190,000, can be paid.  This is added to a substantial contribution the Trust had already made. 

Work restarted on the embankment slip on 12 May as government lockdown restrictions eased (Pic: Jonathan Taylor)


Success of the landslip appeal to date means the first large bills for the repair work can be paid (Pic: Jonathan Taylor)


The Santa Specials have been cancelled given uncertainty about further easing of restrictions and continuing self-distancing measures (Pic: Ian Crowder)

However, thanks to the Coronavirus lock-down, work on the embankment had to stop, although contractors have this week moved back in as restrictions have eased.


Glyn Cornish, chairman of the Trust, said: “The response to our appeal has been extraordinary and we have nearly met our goal – so if anyone has been thinking about donating then now is the time to do it!


“The landslip happened over the winter and had been progressively worsening to the extent that the railway had to call in contractors to stabilise the affected 115-year-old earthworks, half a mile south of Gotherington station.  But the Coronavirus lock-down meant that the railway stopped train services and cancelled special events so had no income to pay for the repairs.


“Words just aren’t adequate to say how much we appreciate the really overwhelming response to our appeal – hundreds of donations have been made from just a few pounds to four-figure sums and at a time when many families are facing their own difficulties,” said Mr Cornish.


“Every penny is helping: not only to ensure that the embankment repair costs can be met, but to secure the railway’s future too.”


Details of the appeal can be found on the railway’s website.


Mr Cornish said that he had been humbled by kind messages from many people making donations, from all walks of life and not just railway members or shareholders – the youngest from a lad aged three, his parents saying he is a ‘massive train fan’.  Other comments include:

  • ‘We would normally be taking our first ride about now – so here’s the money anyway!’
  • ‘I am lost in admiration of all you have achieved in recent years and the volunteers that make it happen deserve as much support as we can give; yet another minor miracle.’
  • ‘So sorry that the railway is troubled again.’
  • ‘Together we shall overcome…..’
  • ‘Thanks for all the pleasure we have had over the years.’
  • ‘Here’s the petrol money I would have spent travelling to GWSR.’
  • ‘We often stay at Dumbleton Hall and a visit to GWSR is always high on our list.’


Railway reopening options unclear

During the Coronavirus lockdown the railway has not been operating and thus has no revenue and it is unclear when services over the popular volunteer-run steam and diesel heritage line can resume. 


In thanking supporters of the railway for their encouragement, Glyn Cornish added: “Although restrictions are easing on the national network, it is still too early to say when we can think about running train services between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway again.


“As a result, the railway’s Board has sadly concluded that it has no choice but to cancel all remaining special events this year – including the popular Santa Specials.  I know this will disappoint hundreds of families but we just don’t know when we will be able to start operating again.  And, given that many of our volunteers are in the ‘at risk’ age category, we may find that there are too few volunteers to operate a full service, never mind run events.”


The GWSR will provide more news on its website as restrictions are eased.


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Media contact: press.office@gwsr.com or 07775 566555