Wednesday, 27 February 2013

CRC Moving Forward

Some pictures taken by Bob Stark today at Cheltenham

The first two show excavation work for the Platform 2 foundations which we must get complete before first train on 9th March

Then there's the preventative works just outside the station - new drainage and rabbit mesh. The fencing will then be replaced.

Malcolm Temple

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sunday March 3rd

The Everyman Theatre Cheltenham and the Play House Birmingham are working together to put on a short play for primary school children about a railway journey from Birmingham to Gloucester in 1852. The play is called "All aboard" and is being presented at a number of railway and other locations in the region - including the Severn Valley Railway, and it will be at the GWR next Sunday morning. The original plan was to perform the play from platform 2 at Toddington Station with the audience on platform 1, but with the appalling weather, it will now be performed in the Flag and Whistle. The play starts at 10:30 and with a break for refreshments will conclude at midday. This means that early visitors who require drinks, will either stand at the back or use the staff entrance. We expect that a number of families will stay on for the rest of the day and have lunch at the railway and travel on the train. We also plan to use this as an opportunity to talk about schools visiting the railway in the future. At present it looks as if we will have about 60+ children. If there are volunteers around on Sunday morning, help would be appreciated resetting the tables after the play is over. 
Colin Fewell

Creating a comprehensive range of GWSR Publications

I wanted to let you know that we are developing a really exciting range of quality and affordable publications this year which should meet the interests and pockets of our travelling public.
A group of us, Austen Shapcott, David Bowie, Howard Parker and I are creating a Souvenir Brochure which  we intend to have ready for sale by the end of July. This will be a 24 page glossy portrait format document slightly bigger than A5. We are getting terrific support from the well known railway photographers we are lucky enough to have on our line. At £3 this should be a 'must have' for every visiting group.
To complement this document we already have a Childrens' I-Spy book which retails at £2 and later this season Colin Fewell will be releasing for sale a Railway Walks Book featuring about 15 walks around the railway (don't forget that a national footpath, the Cotswold Way, runs along much of the route of our line). I expect Colin to price this at £3 and it should encourage walkers to use the railway.
More exciting news is that at the Easter Bank Holiday weekend Silverlink Publications will make available a 'Recollections of the GWR' by Malcolm Rainieri in their Recollections series. This series already includes a 'Recollections of Gotherington'. Many of you will know Malcolm from his photographs and his new book, which will retail at around £7, will be aimed at those who want to know more about our railway and its history than the Souvenir brochure provides.
To round out the publication offerings, Colin is also planning  a booklet entitled  'Histories and Mysteries' about all the interesting places along the line, and I am planning a new GWR Stock Book planned to be available by the autumn  with hopefully an interesting approach to its format!
So, I hope you agree that lots is go on on the publication front to bring us to the highest standard of Heritage Railways. If you see publication opportunities which are not covered by the above or you would like to get involved in developing these documents then we would be delighted to hear from you. Please email me at
Chris Bristow

Monday, 25 February 2013

Improving the view... and creating space too!

Some of you may have noticed that a number of larger vehicles (mainly coaches but a few loco’s and wagons too) have left the railway over the last few of years. In particular, the disposal of surplus coaching stock has gathered pace in the last 12 months. The clearout of unwanted vehicles started in the summer of 2005, during my first year as Traction & Rolling Stock Director. An assessment was made of the medium-long term needs of the railway in terms of coaching stock and the status of all private restoration projects was also reviewed at Board level. For disposal, the larger vehicles have been looked at first as they would deliver the greatest space saving. Since then, 24 coaches have left the railway and a further 5 have been sold and are now waiting to depart. 4 long-term resident diesel locomotives have departed and another is due to leave shortly. A handful of wagons have also gone. There will be a further push on disposal of surplus vehicles this year.

The carriage departures were mainly onward sales to other heritage railways although as many were privately owned, it was of course the decision of the owners as to what they did with their vehicles.

Many of the vehicles that have left were very dilapidated and were frankly an eyesore when viewed from the passenger trains. I hope that this season, the view from the window will be much improved. I know that the Carriage & Wagon department are pressing ahead with more refurbishments of coaches and wagons, many of which will be in use during the steam gala in May. C&W's efforts will further enhance what visitors will see when they visit the GWR.

Two coaches that have sold recently are Hawksworth’s W333 and W2232. These have been bought by the Great Western Society and will shortly be moving to Didcot. It is good to know that their future will be assured and in good hands. As you can see from the photo below, W333 was looking rather shabby and so its departure will be an improvement on how the GWR's sidings look to our visitors.

BR Mk1 SK 25020 has also departed for a new home at the Aln Valley Railway where it will be restored to operate, probably as their first service vehicle. This is quite fitting really as 25020 was the first service coach on the GWR, operating services out of Toddington in 1984. As the picture below shows, it needs some attention...

And here 25020 is being unloaded at her new home...

And here she is in the shed at the Aln Valley Railway. They have promised to send a photo when she is out-shopped.

I understand that the decision to dispose of the pre-nationalisation coaching stock at the GWR is not agreeable to everyone. The facts are that despite the enthusiasm, the GWR simply doesn't have the resources (either physical or financial) to refurbish, maintain and then store (undercover) wooden framed/bodied vehicles. The maintenance and ongoing refurbishment of our fleet of 34 Mk1 service coaches is a huge task in itself and is essential to the continuing commercial success of the GWR as an operational heritage railway. This must therefore be our priority.

I hope that you have found this interesting. I will publish further updates as things develop and I will try not to steal the thunder of the well established C&W Blog which can be found at:

Richard Drewitt
T&RS Director

Saturday, 23 February 2013

GWR Heritage Policy

The Board is very much aware of the various opinions on what should be kept, used, displayed, the correct colour schemes etc and so we have been working on a Heritage Policy for the railway which lays down the principles to assist in decisions in these aspects. A draft document is now available for circulation and comment.

It does not seek to change our philosophy, rather to record it in a considered manner. It looks at the period we are trying to present namely 1904 - 1976, being the years in which the railway operated. It looks at our operational stock in this context and our non-operational stock used for departmental purposes, displays or of special interest. It requires our stations to each reflect a uniform colour scheme appropriate to the period selected for the station and avoid as far as possible fittings and fixtures which are out of period. It reinforces our use of volunteers except where special needs are identified and authorised, as well as recognising the option of contracting or franchising where special services dictate.

The document runs to one and a half pages and is available if you email me on

Alan Bielby

Friday, 22 February 2013

And the Box

This is how Fred Lea sees the Broadway Signal Box

Malcolm Temple

Just a Reminder

        I always have a look at this when things are going wrong. Oh yes, we can

        Malcolm Temple   

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Future?

This is an artist's impression by our own Fred Lea. It was commissioned by BAG to support the eventual planning application. It seeks to recreate the image of the original station except the platform 1 building is longer to accommodate a cafe and shop. The original signal box was not of course on platform 2 but south of the Evesham Road bridge on the down side

Malcolm Temple (with encouragement from Bill Britton)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Update on Wartime in the Cotswolds weekend

A lot of work underway to make this new event a success. I say "new" but am told we ran such an event in 1994 - Bernard showed me some photos.
So far, we have over 200 re-enactors, some from the 101st US Airborne Division, the Fighting 4th and a local Home Guard group. We also have two morris dancing groups, a jive and bebop group, and two local bands that will recreate the music of the 1940's. We also have a number of military vehicles. And sandbags!!! About 1000 planned for. Much more to follow!

2013 season kicks off

DMU's started running on 9th February and because different counties have different half term weeks, we have had to run midweek for two successive weeks. These differences persist all year (including the main Easter holiday) which makes scheduling difficult. Numbers of passengers have been satisfactory and will probably exceed budget by the end of the month, which is pretty good when we consider the poor weather last week. It is not easy to compare numbers with last year when we offered a "kids go free" concession to try and kickstart the season. At the time, this brought in an enormous number of children but noticeably a smaller proportion of adults. I will give the figures at the end of February.

A point to note is that when we run midweek, we always run at least on Tuesdays, as we have been advised that this is the ideal day for tour operators to come to us.

Colin Fewell  

Broadway Update

I was asked whats happening in relation to extension to Broadway.

The BAG have adopted the challenge of rebuilding of the station - this includes the two platforms, the signal box, a toilet  block and car parking. Steaming to Broadway  tells you of the tremendous job they are doing..

What I can add is that principles of the project are managed  by a PLC Board Group which BAG Chairman Bill Britton attends together with anyone from his team he considers can add value. It recently considered detailed designs for the buildings in preparation for the submission of a planning application. These are back with the BAG designers and when updated will be considered by the Board. We should get an application in by the summer.

Elsewhere the the Properies Directorate has been updating estimates of the costs to put the remaining bridges between Laverton and Broadway in good order. John Balderstone has worked with consulting enginners Halcrow and a survey has been made of the four structures in Wychavon District. We now have updated costs as:

     Station Road Broadway                                     215,000

     Childswickham Road                                           86,000

     Pry Lane                                                               18,000

     Peasebrook Farm                                                  46,000

     Total                                                                    365,000

The final bridge (which is in Gloucestershire) is Little Buckland. We are working on a cost update here but it is very likely this will bring the total for bridge works to at least  £500,000.

One of the next verification tasks (when funding is to hand) is to test bore the remaining embankments (not least adjacent in  the  Station area) to make certain we dont lay track over another Chicken Curve problem.

For info on how we hope to raise funds click the Development Foundation button on the web page. You might wish to make a regular contribution as is suggested . I give £100 a month which over five years (with Gift Aid) will be worth £7,500. Another 13 contributors would make it  £100,000.

Last word,  The Properties Director and I are in discussions with SUSTRANS over the trackbed from Broadway to Honeybourne/ Nothing significant to report.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

CRC Platform 2

Work has started on Platform 2 at Cheltenham with the foundation contractor making his first approach yesterday (Monday 18th) to clearing his way into the work site. The target length of the platform is 200m (including the ramp at the northern end). This will provide sufficient platform length to accommodate 8 coaches plus a loco. The northern end will match the end position and ramp length of Platform 1 and its southern end will be close to the current 'Engine Stop Here' sign. Coincidently this is where the old platform 2 ended - you can still see the position of the ramp end. However we do not propose a ramp at the southern end of the new platform as it would serve no useful purpose and would force us to shorten the available platform length - instead there will be simple steps for the loco crew access.
Alan Bielby

I regret to advise that, while the access clearance work was proceeding well, access to the area where we agreed that the spoil could be dumped is too heavily waterlogged and the ground was being damaged alongside the trackbed. We have therefore had to suspend the works and will review the programme of work after the racecourse Exhibition in March. Of course we will be running trains then so there will constraints on the contractor's work.

After a serious review of the options - very few as we have obvious concerns on using the runround loop while there is an open trench alongside it - we have taken the plunge and modified the foundation contract to require the spoil to be trucked off site. This is an expensive option and was only 'on the table' because of the currently available supporting grant for Platform 2 from Cheltenham Council. We are now back on track to have the foundation finished before the runround loop is required.
Alan Bielby

Monday, 18 February 2013

New Signals at Winchcombe

Some of you may have noticed the new bracket signal that has appeared near the crossing behind the C&W barn.  Previously there was a main line signal (W35) which allowed passenger train access into platform 1 and a single disc signal below it (W31/32) which allowed shunt access into either platform.  Now we have a shiny new bracket signal which has two main signals (W35 and W29) which allow passenger train access into platforms 1 and 2 respectively.  Under the new bracket is a new double disc (W31 and W32) which allows shunt access in to platforms 1 and 2 respectively.  This new set up allows us greater operational flexibility and gives locomotive crews a better indication of where the signals are sending them.  Previously we did allow limited passenger movements into platform 2, under a special instruction; the new signals now give us proper signalling for the move.

For those of you with a new 2013 operational rule book you will note that these new signals are already in the sectional appendix for the line (there's confidence in the S&T department for you).  Those non-operational volunteers and members amongst you may be interested to know that with the bracket signal the left signal obviously reads for the left route and the right signal for the right but the taller post (or doll) on the bracket indicates the higher speed route (in this case straight ahead rather than diverted by the points).  The disc signals are stacked one above the other and in this case the convention is that the signals read top-left hand route and bottom-right hand route.

Neil Carr, Ops Manager.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Welcome to the Blog which is designed to tell more about whats happening on the GWR Heritage Railway.

I'm Malcolm Temple, the Chairman and Finance Director but it is intended that from time to time all other Directors will contribute and also the Operations Manager and the Development Manager who leads on fund raising and image development. If you read this and the various Department Blogs (see links) you'll know as much as is possible about whats going happening on the Railway and where ever we can,  why its happening.

We toyed with what to call this Blog I said if it were about the Chairman's role, it should be called damned if I do;damned if I dont. Everyone else wanted the same  and so Board Room Blog is the compromise!

So whats new? Well on 9th February I attended the annual dinner of the Heritage Railway Association at the Union Jack Club near Waterloo Station. I was there to receive our latest award which is best summarised as being for "grim determination" - the Peter Manisty special award for contribution to railway heritage. Turns out to be a splendid 18 inch diameter plaque in solid brass. We are planning initially to put it in the Waiting Room at Todd but shortly plan a GWSR museum (after 30 years one is needed) where it will have a place of honour.

It was a pleasant occassion and I made some good networking contacts. Only down aspect was that on the way home my train was aborted (a strange term) at Oxford due to late engineering works. That led to 45 minutes on a rain invaded platform clutching the award and my suitcase before a taxi was supplied to take me to Moreton in Marsh. Last word for my fan club - I paid all costs including the dinner myself.