GWR’s Mixed Traction fleet on track for annual October ‘Showcase’ event

Alex Farran
September 12, 2023

• Mixed Traction extravaganza for GWR Autumn Showcase, 28-29 October 2023 • Sights and sounds of heritage traction over 14 miles in the Cotswolds • Home locomotive fleet to operate intensive two-day timetable over weekend

The final weekend in October heralds the return of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s annual Autumn Showcase Gala which takes place over the weekend of the 28th & 29th October 2023 – the last hurrah of the railway’s main operating season. The event will see the popular Cotswold heritage line at its very best.

The two-day spectacular offers visitors and enthusiasts young and old the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and smells of classic heritage steam and diesel traction from the heyday of British Railways, whilst travelling through the idyllic Cotswold countryside – featuring the railway’s iconic structures of Stanway Viaduct, Greet Tunnel and stopping at picturesque period stations.

Subject to locomotive availability, the following home traction will be in service operating trains:

Manor Class No. 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’

Modified Hall Class No. 7903 ‘Foremarke Hall’

Rebuilt Merchant Navy Class No. 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co.’

Class 20 Diesel No. 20137

Class 24 Diesel No. 5081

Class 37 Diesel No’s 37215 & D6948

Class 47 Diesel No’s 47105 & 47376 ‘Freightliner 1995’

Class 117 No. L425

Tom Willson, GWSR Gala Committee Chair. commented: “We are excited to put on the Autumn Showcase for you. A final hurrah for the end of the normal operating season, and a chance for the volunteers to showcase the railway, doing what it does best!”

“The team have been working hard to organise this event in conjunction with the loco owning groups. Who knows, there may even be a surprise loco out on the line...”

The showcase event will see opportunities for brake van rides on the demonstration freight train (tickets from Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse stations on the day); visits behind the scenes at the Winchcombe Carriage & Wagon Department, preservation society stands in the David Page shed at Toddington, and the opportunity to view the ongoing locomotive projects.

This provides a rare chance to see three GW 2-8-0s that are being restored or overhauled: 3850 whose overhaul has included casting of new cylinders and new frame extensions; 1905-built 2807 which, when returned to traffic this year will resume the mantle of being the oldest-working Great Western-built locomotive; and 2874 which is being restored from ex-Barry scrapyard condition.

Toddington narrow gauge railway will be operating and the GWRT Office will be open for visitors to come and talk about Membership, Volunteering, and the Stanway Viaduct appeal. Other attractions open include the GWSR’s Discovery coach and model railway coach at Winchcombe.

A range of refreshment opportunities will be available at all main stations, free car parking (except at Broadway); non-stop runs and double-heading with trains working to an intensive timetable all add up to the promise of an action-packed weekend.  In addition, steam loco cab visits and footplate rides are offered (the latter is only bookable in advance). A free bus link will connect the GWSR’s Cheltenham Racecourse station with Cheltenham Spa national network station on the Saturday.

Tickets for the Autumn Showcase are available to purchase online at www.gwsr.com. Discounts are available for tickets purchased online, with one-day adult tickets from £28. Multi-day rover tickets offering substantial savings are also available, but must be booked in advance. Tickets can also be purchased on the day, with adult tickets at £30.

With an intensive timetable on offer fully utilising the railway, steam and diesel haulage, goods trains, brake van rides, footplate trips, behind-the-scenes access and on Sunday, running after dark, this is an event not to be missed and one which offers something for all of the family!