The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is working with Broadway Museum and Art Gallery to produce a temporary (5th November 2022 to May 2023) exhibition called ‘Journey through Steam’, tracing the history of the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham railway which passed through Broadway.
It explores the contribution the railway made to the local economy, with a particular focus on Broadway station which opened on 1st August 1904. The station was at that time a terminus reached from Honeybourne, the line being constructed southwards and opening throughout in 1906. Broadway and other intermediate stations on the line closed in 1960 and most were demolished in 1963. The line was shut completely in 1976 and the track removed in 1979/80.
Today the railway between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse is owned and operated by the GWSR, which started to rebuild the derelict line from 1981. The present magnificent Broadway station was built by GWSR volunteers and opened on Good Friday, 2018, sympathetic to the design of the original. A comprehensive timetable of steam and heritage diesel trains operates from March to the following New Year with a wide variety of special events.
The exhibition presents a compelling collection of historic artefacts including uniforms, tickets, locomotive nameplates, signalling and lineside equipment as well as storytelling and pictures.
Broadway Museum & Art Gallery, in association with the Ashmolean, is housed in the former 17th Century Angel Inn and offers art, history and a wonderful story to interest visitors tracing the history of the village and its surroundings. The region’s story illustrated by a range of fascinating finds including fossils, stories from its days as a wool village and the incredible period of the artists’ colony.
Catherine Johnson, the GWSR’s Marketing Manager said: “We’re delighted to be working so closely with the Museum to unfold our important part in the 20th century story of Broadway.
“Our railway has become a vital part of the wide range of attractions that bring visitors to Broadway and the surrounding area and it’s no exaggeration to say that the railway put Broadway firmly on the tourism map – a function that it performs again today.
“I’m also excited to be working with other attractions in Broadway as part of an informal marketing group to help bring more visitors here. There is so much to do locally - apart from the railway, the beautiful Cotswold village and Broadway Museum & Art Gallery, there’s Broadway Tower, the Gordon Russell Design Museum, Snowshill Manor and Garden (National Trust) and so much more.”
Anona van Lawick, Director of the Broadway Museum added: “We’re thrilled to be able to collaborate with the GWSR to curate this exhibition to show how the arrival of the railway changed Broadway’s history. The artefacts and images that this exhibition showcases really brings the story to life.
“The line didn’t just enable local people to easily visit places such as Cheltenham, Evesham, Worcester, Oxford; but was a lifeline for local traders and businesses as well.”
The arrival of the railway had a twofold impact: not just hugely improving mobility and business for local people but ceasing the previously thriving coaching industry in the village of Broadway. We’re very excited to be sharing this important story.”
Broadway village is a pleasant 20-minute walk from Broadway GWSR railway station. The Museum & Art Gallery can be found on the right towards the end of the High Street, opposite the Horse & Hound pub at 65 High Street. The museum is open Saturday to Thursday 10am to 4.30pm (last entry 4pm).