You wait 58 years … at last the train arrives
Modified hall class 4-6-0 no. 7903 'Foremarke Hall' on 9 March, stands at Broadway station 58 years and two days since the last one left on 7 March 1960 (Picture: Jack Boskett)
10 March 2018
Test steam train arrives at Broadway station
First train to depart from the station since March 1960
Railway on target to open Broadway station on Good Friday
The first steam train to stop at Broadway station in almost exactly 58 years arrived without pomp or ceremony on Friday 9 March, but it was carrying no passengers. The last train left the station on March 7th 1960.
The brand new station - built by volunteers of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) to a similar design as the 1903 original - opens to the public on Good Friday, 30 March, when Lord Richard Faulkner of Worcester*, President of the Heritage Railway Association and a patron of the railway, will flag off the first public train.
With the newly laid track only finished days before, 1949-built locomotive no. 7903 ‘Foremarke Hall’ arrived from Toddington with an eight-coach gauging train to ensure that no adjustments are needed before the first public services operate.
This is the engine that will proudly take the first public service out of Broadway station at 09.40 on Good Friday, 30th March.
Most of the stations on the former Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham line were closed by British Railways in 1960 and the railway closed completely in 1976, with track and infrastructure removed by 1979.
Richard Johnson, chairman of the GWSR explains: “The railway’s volunteers have gradually been rebuilding the railway from scratch since 1981, when we took occupation of Toddington stationj.
“In 1984 we ran our first train over a few hundred yards of track at Toddington and have gradually extended since then, painstakingly replacing track, building stations, signalboxes and other inrfrastructure, repairing bridges, embankments and drainage systems as well as restoring carriages and locomotives.
“The line reached Cheltenham Racecourse to the south in 2003. Now with the opening of Broadway station to the north, following a highly successful share offer that raised over £1.3m to finish the work, our line is nearly 15 miles long.
“This places firmly among the UK’s premier heritage railways.”
Lord Richard Faulkner added: “I’m hugely looking forward to the privilege of flagging the first train out of Broadway station, 58 since the last one departed.
“It underlines what can be achieved by the astonishing determination of well-coordinated and visionary volunteer effort. This is a railway that has come a long way in every sense, since the first moves to preserve it back in 1979.
“These volunteers have rebuilt a former main line that back in the early 1980s, many thought was an impossible dream.”
The railway re-opened for the 2018 season on Saturday 10 March, operating services between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse until Broadway station opens on 30 March.
The railway will be running chartered race train specials for Classic Hospitality during the Cheltenham Festival. Cheltenham Racecourse station was opened in 1912 specifically to serve race meetings. The last race specials used the station in 1976, just before the line closed completely.
Timetable and fare information at www.gwsr.com.
Ends / more
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or email@example.com
IMAGES ARE AVAILABLE HERE:
Images of first steam train to visit Broadway station, 9 March 2018:
Please acknowledge photographer: Jack Boskett
Final stages of Broadway Station construction and historic images:
Please acknowledge photographers if named in files otherwise please acknowledge GWSR
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Opening arrangements (not for publication): Bone-fide representatives of the media are welcome to attend the opening celebration of the station and travel on the first train. PROSPECTIVE MEDIA GUESTS MUST CONTACT IAN CROWDER, 07775 566 555 OR firstname.lastname@example.org in advance. There is no car parking at Broadway station (a new car park will open late 2018). Media may park at Toddington and travel to Broadway by train at 09.00. It may be possible for media to be present for the volunteer and shareholder specials ahead of the opening, contact Ian Crowder for details.
* The Lord Faulkner of Worcester is a Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords; sits on a number of Lords committees and is President of the Heritage Railway Association as well as having other railway interests. He is vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary rail heritage group and treasurer of the all-party parliamentary railways group; and a Patron of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR). http://www.lordfaulkner.net
ABOUT THE GWSR
The GWSR is a heritage railway operating trains hauled by steam and heritage diesel locomotives and multiple-units, over part of the former Great Western Railway route between Stratford upon Avon and Cheltenham. It opened throughout in 1906 with several stations on its route via Honeybourne, Broadway and Toddington. Most of the intermediate stations closed in March 1960. The last scheduled (non-stop) passenger services over the line ceased in 1968 after which it was used by freight and occasional passenger trains diverted from the surviving former Midland line between the West Midlands, Cheltenham and Bristol. The line was closed in 1976 following the derailment of a freight train at Winchcombe in 1976 and the track and infrastructure removed by the end of 1979. The GWSR took up residence in the derelict station yard at Toddington in 1981 and ran its first train over a short stretch of track at Toddington, in 1984. By 2003 the railway had reached Cheltenham Racecourse. It has now reached Broadway providing a round trip of over 28 miles, making it one of the top five heritage railways, in terms of length, in the UK. Last year the railway carried over 100,000 passengers for the second year running, its all-time record. https://www.gwsr.com
ABOUT BROADWAY STATION
Broadway station was constructed by the Great Western Railway and opened initially as a terminus for trains from the north, in August 1904, until the line was completed towards the south. The station site was bisected by the Evesham Road which is crossed by a steel bridge that has been subject to considerable repair following bridge strikes by over-height lorries. The Caravan Club now occupies the site of the former goods yard on the south side of the road. The station closed to passengers on 7 March 1960. With the present GWSR’s ambition to reach Broadway, the Broadway Area Group of volunteers was formed and began work in 2009 clearing the station site, finding the foundations of the original buildings and platforms. The platforms (longer than the originals) were built largely using recovered railway bricks and other materials from several locations. The design of the new building closely follows that of the original, using similar new bricks including decorative brickwork, for example along the eaves and window surrounds. The new building is longer than the original, in order to accommodate toilets and other facilities expected by modern visitors. The roof and platform canopy is supported by a steel framework built at the railway’s steam locomotive department at Toddington, using traditional riveting. The footbridge came from Henly-in-Arden and the signalbox on Platform 2 is a brand new replica of the one that once stood at Shirley. The station’s original signalbox was on the south side of the road. The new structure will eventually be open for visitors to view. The entire construction has been completed by volunteers. In January, Wychavon District Council announced its support for the railway by agreeing to fund the £560,000 cost of constructing a new 99-vehicle car park at the foot of the railway’s embankment between Evesham Road and Childswickham Road. This is expected to open some time during or after August 2018 – meanwile, there is no car parking at Broadway station. http://broadwaystationgroup.blogspot.co.uk (There are two very nice videos of the first train arriving and departing from Broadway Station here)