The bus in front – is a train?

  • GWSR railway helps out local bus firm Marchants

  • Marchants offer ‘bus-back’ adverts to GWSR for free


Winchcombe 22 December 2020:  Drivers around Cheltenham and the Cotswolds are being confronted by a steam train if they are following one of Marchants buses.


That’s because the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has helped out Marchants, the 70-year-old Cheltenham-based family coach and holiday travel firm, as the Covid crisis set in.  The railway offered storage space for some of the firm’s 40 vehicles – and  in exchange, it offered some free ‘bus back’ advertising in exchange.


The dramatic ads, which are on five buses in daily use, show one of the railway’s trains forging through the Cotswold countryside in a photograph taken by volunteer John Lewis and will be in place for the next 12 months.


Explains Craig Robb, Marchants Transport Manager:  “Earlier this year, at a time when the Covid crisis started to really bite, we had to take several of our vehicles off the road as business dried up.  At the same time, the rent for our Cheltenham depot was doubled to a figure that we simply couldn’t afford.


“We needed to move out quickly but the GWSR – with whom we have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship – stepped in and offered secure space on the former garden centre site at their Toddington station.


“It was a really kind gesture which has made a big difference to our business.  For the coach travel industry, two lockdowns and the continuing crisis has led many firms to go under but the GWSR is helping us through.  Providing some free advertising space is the least we can do!”


Richard Johnson, the volunteer chairman of GWSR Plc said: “We have a close relationship with Marchants and they have certainly helped us out on occasion.  It’s a highly respected local company that we’re proud to be associated with.  As the Coronavirus pandemic has stopped us from developing the garden centre site we were delighted to be able to help them in their hour of need.”


Bryony Exton, the railway’s voluntary advertising manager continued: “This was a really kind offer.  One of our volunteers provided a perfect image for the adverts and we were generously provided with the artwork and vinyl advertisements free-of-charge too.


“I hope that the advertisements, which are on five of Marchants vehicles (four double-deckers and one coach) will remind local people that we are here and looking forward to welcoming them back to the railway when life returns to normal.”


The striking advertisements can be seen now on the familiar bright red Marchants vehicles on school and public services in and around Cheltenham and Winchcombe.




Media contacts:


Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or

Bryony Exton, advertising manager,

Marchants Coaches:

Craig Robb, 07825 398 143 or



Marchants is a family owned and operated passenger transport business based in Cheltenham since 1948.  Over the years it has grown from providing local coach services and school buses, to offering a wide range of day trip and holiday packages in the UK and mainland Europe.  It has over 40 vehicles ranging in size from 8 to 83 seats, from mini-buses to double-deckers. 



The award-winning Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway operates over 14 miles through the Cotswolds between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.  Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the railway has, since 15th August operated round trips only from Toddington station, bookable in advance.  Turn-up-and-go tickets have been available subject to space being available.  Services reflect current Government guidelines Location of Toddington Station is off the B4077 Stow Road close to the roundabout with the B4632 Winchcombe-Broadway road at GL54 5DT  or  What3Words trials.composers.turntable

Santa Experience trains are fully booked.  Post-Christmas trains (round trips from Toddington) operate daily from Sunday 27th December 2020 – Sunday 3rd January 2021