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


  1. Whilst it's pity that BR Mk 1 25020 has left the GWSR given its historic place in the Railway's history, its good to see that it has gone to a good home where it will help to resurrect another railway. I'm very disappointed to see the 2 Hawksworths go because they seem so suitable for the 1940s and 1950s scene that the GWSR can create and they mix in well with BR Mk 1s (if historical photos are anything to go by)but since my lottery numbers haven't come up there's not a lot I can do! It is of course good to know that they have gone to the GWS at Didcot where they will no doubt join the other Hawksworths at that Eldorado of the GWR. It must be difficult to have to make decisions regarding what to keep and what not do, especially as rolling stock is "finite" at least for large items (Victorian 4 wheelers are now being largely completely rebuilt as new)but that's the way it is. I'm always amazed at what the GWSR's C&W Department can achieve with what seem like basket cases and I'm sure they'll continue to look after what we retain.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.