Donnington Brewery takes to the rails with the GWSR

  • Exclusive limited-edition Donnington Brewery private-owner railway wagon models

  • Available only from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway 


Picture: John Arkell (l) and David Holmes (r) at Toddington station.  High resolution images here 


Historic Donnington Brewery can now boast its own railway wagons.


The vehicles, a tank wagon and a box van, are however not full-size – they are beautiful models in 4mm/1ft scale ('00' gauge) and are a joint venture with the nearby Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.


They were launched by John Arkell, of Donnington Brewery, a member of the Arkell family which has run the brewery since 1865; and David Holmes, the GWSR's volunteer Retail Manager.


The wagons, finished in grey, feature the brewery's distinctive logo. The limited-edition models, of which there are just 189 of the van and 172 of the tank wagon, were manufactured for the GWSR by Wrexham-based Dapol, to a detailed specification with stunning detail. 


Both pristine and 'weathered' versions of the vehicles are on offer.


John Arkell saw 'his' wagons for the first time during a visit to the railway’s Toddington station.


“They are absolutely fantastic, the detail on them is incredible!” said John. 


“I can just imagine them in a goods train, delivering Donnington's Cotswold beers throughout the nation.”


The GWSR offers a wide range of 'private owner' wagons representing local companies, many of which used such vehicles – particularly coal merchants whose wagons would bring coal from the mines to their local distribution sidings.


David Holmes adds: “Railways and real ale seem to be natural partners and Donnington is perhaps an obvious choice to add to our range of Dapol private-owner vehicles.


“The wagons reflect an age when long-distance road transport was not an option. Railways offered fast and efficient goods distribution to local communities, and many organisations had their own wagons to distribute anything from beer, milk and fish to bricks, stone, coal and oil.


“That way they avoided additional charges to use the railway companies' own vehicles – and they acted as mobile advertising bill boards.”


For railway modellers, private owner wagons make for colourful and interesting freight trains.


“Donnington may not, in reality, have operated railway wagons. But they could have done – and these are likely to find their way on to many model layouts.”


The wagons are available exclusively from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway's Toddington Station shop (GL54 5DT) or online from The cost of the box van is £19.95 (weathered) and £18.95 (clean); and the six-wheel tanker £26.95 (weathered) and £24.95 (clean).  


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Media contacts: 

GWSR - Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or 

Donnington Ales – John Arkell, Partner, Donnington Brewery  01451 830 603


About Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR): One of the UK's leading heritage railways, almost entirely run by volunteers.  Its 13.5-mile route runs from Cheltenham Racecourse, through Gotherington, Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey (opening during the year), Toddington and Little Buckland.  It operates steam and heritage diesel train services on what was once the 'Honeybourne Line' which was opened by the Great Western Railway from Stratford upon Avon to Cheltenham in 1906.  Local passenger trains and stations closed in 1960 and the line closed completely in 1976 with track lifted by British Railways in 1979, before plans to restore the line had got under way.  The present-day movement to rebuild the line effectively began in 1981 when the formative Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway occupied the derelict Toddington station yard. 


About Donnington Brewery: Thomas Arkell bought a 13th-century watermill in the idyllic Cotswold countryside near Stow-on-the-Wold in 1827 and Richard Arkell began brewing here in 1865.  Today the mill wheel is still used to drive pumps and machinery to brew the company’s distinctive ales the same way 150 years later.  Donnington offers its beers, food, accommodation and Cotswold hospitality from its 17 tied houses as well as a number of free trade outlets.  Bottled Donnington beers can also be purchased from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s shop. 


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Picture below: John Arkell (l) and David Holmes (r) at Toddington station.  High resolution images here