• Eight locomotives in steam including three visitors

  • ‘Northern Soul’ theme reflects engines visiting from Scotland and Yorkshire!

  • Three centenarian locomotives running

  • Frequent trains between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway late bank holiday weekend


The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is laying on its annual festival of steam over the late May Bank Holiday when eight locomotives will be running over the 14-mile Cotswold line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.


The event has become one of the most popular in the railway’s calender and attracted nearly 6,000 visitors last year – the year the railway extended its operation to the delightful Cotswold village of Broadway.


Why ‘Northern Soul’?


In the 1960s as steam was coming to an end on British Railways, a Mod-inspired musical movement started up in the north of England, spreading to the Midlands and became known as ‘Northern Soul’. 


In a way it became a lament to the dying gasps of steam in the North and, while stretching the link a little, ‘Northern Soul’ reflects the two Northern engines joining the impressive line-up for the Cotswold Festival of Steam.


A particularly attractive visitor is a sole surviving Caledonian Railway tank locomotive, no. 419, loaned by courtesy of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, which is painted in an attractive ‘Perth Blue’ livery – bringing a bright splash of colour to the Cotswolds. The other ‘northerner’ is an LNER B1 class no. 1264, loaned by the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. This attractive design was developed during the second World War when there was a huge demand for new locomotives. 


Neither engine has ever visited the GWSR before and are likely to be very appealing features of a very busy weekend. 


Fit for a King


The third visitor is making a return visit to the GWSR – the Didcot Railway Centre’s splendid King class no. 6023 King Edward II.  It was arguably the star of the ‘Back to Broadway’ event last year. |It was the most powerful express passenger locomotive to run on the Great Western Railway and the most powerful of its type in the UK. It is finished in the blue livery adopted by British Railways in the early 1950s for express passenger locomotives


100 years and counting


The ‘Caley’ tank engine is one of three locomotives running that are a century or more old – but, built in 1907, it’s not the oldest! That credit goes to resident heavy freight engine no. 2807 which was turned out of Swindon works in 1905, and is the oldest operable Great Western locomotive surviving. The third? Well, wish GWR 2-8-0 tank locomotive no. 4270, also resident, a ‘happy birthday’ because it celebrates its centenary later this year.


Driver for a Tenner

Fancy a quick go at the regulator? Then pop along to Cheltenham Racecourse and between trains, the engine laying over may be available to offer a chance to drive it within station limits in exchange for a ten pound note, or at the very least visit the footplate for free. 


And for something completely different seek out the North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway at Toddington (far side of the station site) where at least two engines will be running – meaning 10 Festival locos in all!



You can refuel yourself at all of our stations – particularly the new cafe at Broadway, the excellent Flag & Whistle at Toddington and the Coffee Pot Cafe at Winchcombe. Here you will also find a real-ale beer tent and a griddle. Then pop along to Gotherington and work it off on the pump trolley on the private siding at Bryan and Savita’s lovely home at the former station and perhaps enjoy home made refreshments there.


Richard Johnson, volunteer chairman of the GWSR commented: “If you have even the slightest interest in steam engines and trains then this is the event for you. You’ll find eight engines running (subject to availability) offering fantastic variety.


“Not only are all of our own fleet of five engines operating but the three visitors – two from the North – will add interest and colour, given that two of the engines are painted blue! You wait a year, and eight come along at once!


“Tickets are available online at www.gwsr.com or on the day. There is plenty of free car parking at Cheltenham Racecourse which is perhaps the best place to start your day; and there is parking at Toddington and Broadway* too.


“Other attractions include the Carriage and Wagon department at Broadway which has opened its doors for the weekend. This is where our wonderful comfortable coaches, all more than 50 years old, are overhauled and maintained – as well as historic freight vehicles.


“Whether you are eight or 80 there is lots to see and do – it is a fantastic weekend packed with action – and certainly not to be missed!”


Full information about the event, the engines running, connecting free bus services into Cheltenham Network Rail station and to Broadway as well as all other attractions can be found at www.gwsr.com – look for events and Cotswold Festival of Steam 




*Parking at Broadway station is pay-and-display and costs £5 for a day, £3 of which is refunded when purchasing your train ticket.  The £3 refund does not apply to already-discounted online tickets bought in advance

Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or press.office@gwsr.com


These pics are in this Dropbox file: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/12dincm16vdni4f/AACIFagDsJb8eAPAQUPVO9s6a?dl=0 


Caley Blue - this beautiful tank engine is visiting from Scotland courtesy of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society

British Blue - the King class ‘King Edward II’ offers a right Royal feast for the eyes, visiting from Didcot Railway Centre

Black Beauty - Visiting from Yorkshire is attractive B1 class no. 1264 built for the London & North Eastern Railway