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Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

   
Address : The Railway Station
Town/City : Toddington
County : Gloucestershire
Country : England
Post code : GL54 5DT
Phone : 01242 621405
Web Site :  www.gwsr.com

The railway offers a 29-mile round trip between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cotswolds. It is being rebuilt and run by qualified volunteers.

 

70013 Stanway2

The Route

Going north from our station at Toddington, once a major fruit distribution centre, you emerge from a cutting to cross the famous 15-arch Stanway Viaduct from which Stanway House can just be seen. The line soon enters another cutting which is spanned at one point by an aqueduct, before emerging at Laverton and then continues north to the newly rebuilt and re-opened station at Broadway.


Going south from Toddington the train passes the workshops where our fleet of steam and diesel locomotives are maintained and restored. The journey then takes you past the village of Didbrook and there is now the rebuilt Hayles Abbey Halt which serves the nearby Abbey (now preserved by English Heritage), Hayles Fruit Farm and Farmcote Herb & Chilli Farm. Good views of the Cotswolds can be seen from both sides of the train, before arriving at Winchcombe station, which is actually at Greet, about a mile from the town.


The station building here once stood at Monmouth Troy and was painstakingly dismantled, moved and rebuilt by volunteers. At Winchcombe there is now the new Exhibition Centre which will in regular use in 2018, The Coffee Pot, a 1950's themed café serves a lovely selection of food, the Discovery Coach shows the current and future plans for our railway and there is also the Model Railway coach. So do stop off and see for yourselves these developments and the 'feel' of a country station. It is also the headquarters of our carriage and wagon department. Shortly after leaving Winchcombe the train enters Greet tunnel which, at 693 yards, is the second longest on a preserved railway. Emerging on to an embankment offering splendid views over the Vale of Evesham to the distant Malverns, the train passes the village of Gretton and hamlets of Stanley Pontlarge and Far Stanley. Not far away is the famous Prescott Hill Climb, home of the Bugatti Owners' Club.


After a long straight through Dixton cutting the train reaches Gotherington. The original station (closed 1955) is now a private home, but the owner has a number of interesting railway artefacts in his grounds, including the award-winning 'Gotherington West' - an original 'pagoda' Great Western iron-built halt (no public access). If you are alighting at the new platform which, with its stone-built shelter, was built by volunteers, please move to one of the first two carriages.


Leaving Gotherington, you may get a glimpse of Tewkesbury Abbey in the distance with the distinctive Malvern Hills beyond. Now the train descends over the extension completed in 2003 to Bishop's Cleeve - mature Scots Pine trees mark where the station once stood (closed 1960). Here, the train runs over what is believed to be the only continuously-welded section of line on a heritage railway. Note the absence of the 'clickety-click' from the wheels - a benefit for local residents! A housing estate now occupies what was the station yard.


As the line approaches Cheltenham Racecourse, views of Cleeve Hill (the highest point of the Cotswolds) open up. Passing under Southam Lane, the racecourse comes into view before entering the station, which was opened by HRH The Princess Royal in April 2003. There is a new platform level building here with toilet facilities (including facilities for disabled visitors). The original and unique Swindon-built pre-fabricated station building, reached by a ramp, is perched high above the track at road level. The station once again fulfils its original purpose - bringing race-goers for important meetings such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

History
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway runs along a part of the former Great Western Railway's mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham, via Stratford-upon-Avon. The line commands wonderful views of the sleepy hamlets and villages, as the it runs though the beautiful Cotswold countryside.


The line was primarily built (1900-1906) to improve through services from Birmingham to Bristol and the West Country. It also carried fruit from the highly productive farming areas both in the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham.


"The Cornishman" express, complete with its chocolate and cream coaches, ran over this railway from 1952 until 1962 and formed the Wolverhampton to Penzance service via Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth. Our members' magazine is named after this service.


The line closed to local passenger traffic on 5th March 1960, the last train being the 10:25 pm Cheltenham St James to Broadway and 11:25 pm return. The line continued in use for goods services until an incident at Winchcombe on 25th August 1976 effectively closed the line.


Following early work by a Society primarily aimed at trying to keep the line open, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway was formed in 1981 with the aim of one day restoring this line from Stratford Race Course to Cheltenham Racecourse back to its former glory. Although originally double tracked throughout, by the time the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway purchased the track bed most of the buildings and all the track had gone. The only survivors at Toddington were the main station building, the acetylene hut, the signal box shell and the goods shed.


Winchcombe, the next stop down the line, was practically non-existent except for the goods shed and weigh-bridge. All platforms, station buildings and the signal box had disappeared completely.


Following purchase of the track bed from Broadway to Cheltenham Race Course, we established our operating base at Toddington and started re-construction. By 1984 work had advanced sufficiently to allow the first public train to operate over a ¼ mile of track, and on Sunday 22nd April, Nicholas Ridley MP, the Secretary of State for Transport cut the ribbon to mark the Official opening. Since then we have restored 10 miles of track from Toddington to Cheltenham Race Course as well as recreating Winchcombe. Our latest extension to Cheltenham Race Course station was opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 7 April 2003.


All this work has been completed by volunteers, using revenue generated from our operations and shareholder capital. We are a professional operating railway staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers. If you wish to join as a member of our supporting body you will be most welcome. Please refer to the membership section of this website.


The railway is owned by its shareholders, many of whom are also members of our supporting body. If you would like to be a part-owner of the railway please refer to the Share Appeal section of the website.


A selection of publications are available from our shop, including the All Colour Guide Book containing a selection of stunning photographs and further information on the GWR past and present.

 

The Future

We will be continuing to develop our line and facilities for both our visitors and our volunteers on a continuing basis so do come back and visit us regularly to see the exciting developments. For any enquiries please call: 01242 621905.

 7820 Dinmore Manor Chicken Curve 28th October 2018 John Whitehouse

 

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