FRIENDS VISIT GLOUCESTER WARWICKSHIRE RAILWAY
The party travelled from London Paddington courtesy of the GWR (not to be confused with the GSWR!). A coach connection from Honeybourne delivered the group to Toddington, where we were met by the handbell and sonorous voice of the Cheltenham Spa Town Cryer, Ken Brightwell, himself a GSWR volunteer.
We were quickly ushered to our reserved seats on the 11.10 train to Cheltenham Racecourse, hauled by ex-GWR Manor class 4-6-0 7820 Dinmore Manor. Coffee, tea and biscuits were served whilst Ken recounted the story of the line; its re-opening as a heritage railway; and the history and folklore of the surrounding Cotswold countryside.
The train reversed at Cheltenham Racecourse station, now the south-westerly terminus of the GSWR line. We now had an hour’s run over the full 14 length of the railway past Winchcombe and Toddington and on over the new extension to Broadway. Trains returned here after 58 years of absence at the end of March 2018, just in time for Easter. .
Return to Toddington saw presentations made to Ken Brightwell and to Station Master Graham Radband. Then the group divided into two: one to observe the locomotive sheds and yard with Ken; and the other to enjoy a three- course lunch in the Flag & Whistle restaurant.
The groups then swapped round so that no-one missed out. There was a little free time to explore the station facilities, including a number of “retail outlets”. Then it was back on the coach, this time for a journey to Cheltenham Spa station and the GWR train home.