Friday, 31 May 2013

Improving the view from the carriage window

Dear all,
As you are probably aware, I am very interested in improving the view our customers get of our railway when they are riding in the trains.

I believe that our customers expect to see a nostalgic scene evoking the steam age and they certainly get this from our superb stations and well dressed and friendly staff. Where we need to improve is to enhance the view in the station yards and this can be done by sheeting down unrestored vehicles, by repainting those which need to be by the line side and positioning restored stock, mostly wagons, where they can be seen.

I expect everybody who has ridden the railway in the last month will have noticed that the very rusty coach at Winchcombe has been sheeted down and this was the subject of a blog posting last month.

The next job on the list is the steam loco department's mess coach and this was nearly finished in time for the Steam Gala. I hope you agree that the 'after' photo represents an improvement over the 'before'. 

I thought the freight train at the Steam Gala was the star of the show and I'm working to get the restored GWR wagons on the siding next to the steam loco department's mess coach thus evoking the spirit of a real GWR goods yard. I think they'll make a great sight as well as being potentially available for Fire and Drive activities.

As always your feedback is welcome particularly about any opportunities you have identified for improving the railway's presentation.

Kind regards,

Chris Bristow

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Just plain incredible

We now have assembled the financial results from the Steam Gala. They are sensational.

The Budget for ticket sales was £90,000. The actual was £95,000! 

I had been so nervous and at times despondent. I should have had more confidence in Paul Richardson and his amazing organising team. They did a brilliant job.

But everyone did and I think we all enjoyed it. I was so proud at  comments by the Chairman of North Norfolk who just could not  believe that 99% was done by volunteers.

It was all epitomised when I saw a member of the station staff at Toddington clearing up a terrible mess of you know what in the gents. Not his job, horrible to do but he just quietly got on with it.

This result, and its better than above because they underspent on budget as well, really puts our Railway back to good financial health.

Other nuggets - Programme sales £507, Brake Van Rides £2,240, OTC £8,852

My and the Board's thanks and appreciation go out to everyone

Malcolm T

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Everyone is pressing to know how the Gala did overall in ticket sales

We are working on it and will publish here asap

Meantime a new GWR record

The ticket sales on the Saturday were the largest ever GWR take in a day - an amazing £28,240


Following Crystal Palace

The following email was received today,
Dear Sir,

I just wanted to thank you and everyone else at GWSR for a sublime day out yesterday and not just for the wonderful footplate trip.

I am in the leisure business and so am well aware of the valuable interaction between customers and staff (volunteers). I have visited most of the ‘1st Division’ preservation railways over the past few years and can only state that the reception yesterday was of the highest quality and better than any other.

From your station master at Toddington to all the volunteers whether they be on car park, shop, station or train duties: hearty congratulations. All were courteous and helpful but above all pleasant and obviously wanting to make the passenger’s day out interesting and enjoyable. I have felt sometimes, that at other railways, staff are more interesting in talking to each other rather than interacting with customers!

The loco crew not only made me most welcome but were extremely knowledgeable about both the railway and its surroundings.

If I wasn’t working most weekends as well as being the best part of 100 miles away (plus my home, when I get there, is in Spain) I would be wanting to volunteer myself!

Please pass on my thanks to all concerned

Well done indeed.
Regards, John Bolsom

Monday, 27 May 2013

Cotswold Steam Festival - A Big Thank You

Dear All,

On behalf of myself, the GWR Trust board and all the members, may a say a big THANK YOU to all those volunteers that planned and worked tirelessly towards and throughout the Festival.   A special thanks must go to Paul Richardson and the organising committee for a job extremely well done.  

The response from visitors and volunteers alike was, "brilliant", when can we do it again?

What really made it so good for me was that after the last two and a bit years, when many of our volunteers were heads and shoulders down, wondering if we would ever get back to normal and really begin to enjoy our hobby again, would it ever end?  Well this weekend it did.  Following a wonderful Wartime in the Cotswolds event, we have bounced back in style and with a great deal of panache.  The improvement in morale was palpable, the whole feel of the railway was better than ever and there were smiles on the faces of everyone.   It was great to see and experience.

Despite a very poor weather day on Friday the great Sun God shone for us during the remainder of the weekend and a very good time was had by all.   Through the efforts of all involved,  the railway has put itself back on the must visit list and not just with enthusiasts but many many families and friends.

It is too early to say just how well we did financially but no doubt Malcolm Temple will have news on that in due course.
Maxine-Barton Hawkins now has two more Patrons for the Developement Foundation and will let us have the details soon.
The Trust enrolled 12 new members, 2 of whom wish to become volunteers, a gentleman whose membership lapsed in December 2010 has re-enrolled. "Great".

It is quite clear that the railway has had a very successful weekend on all fronts and that in no small measure is down to the enormous amount of hard work done by all involved.   Every one give themselves a well earned pat on the back, "You deserve it".

Best wishes

Henry Howard 


After having had a week walking over 100 miles on the Ridgeway, I was hoping for a lie in on Sunday. Then I found I was on early shift on OTC. Bad tempered I arrived at Toddington and my mood instantly changed. What a great gala! Congratulations to all the organisers. Tremendous feedback from visitors, and trains actually running on time - surely something unheard of at a gala! A great event.
Colin Fewell

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Gonna get good in a minute

The following email was received on Wednesday.
Dear Sirs,
I would just like to comment on my visit to you railway yesterday (21st May) I am a working member of the SVR and had not previously visited your Railway.

I must say how impressed I was with my visit and would like to mention the following points:

  • Free parking.
  • Exceptionally clean toilet facilities.
  • Immaculate stations.
  • Dedicated,friendly and knowledgable staff and with my Heritage Railway pass an exceptional day out and one which I will certainly repeat.
I think we can all learn from other organisations and I believe that there are some aspects of your organisation that we could use to good advantage on the SVR.

I wish you well with your future and pass on my good wishes to all the volunteers to let them know that their work and dedication is a credit to them.

Look forward to my return visit soon.

Very best wishes

Mike Woodyatt

Friday, 24 May 2013


Could it have been any colder and more unpleasant  at the Gala today?

My respect to  all who worked so well throughout

Visiting railways including SVR, North Norfolk, GWS and Mid Hants were seriously impressed


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Board Meeting

Last evening was the 447 (!) meeting of the Plc Board.

The main item of decision was final approval of the plans for Broadway Station. These now incorporate on platform toilet provision to allow for the concerns of some neighbours.

Alan Bielby will seek a meeting with Wychavon planners and will then finalise paper format etc and submit the formal planning application.

This does not include for the car parking provision where it has been decided that further concept work is required before a realistic application can be finalised.

It was also decided that in future the Operations Manager will manage and administer the operational staff medical examination programme.

An updated Safety Policy was approved together with minor amendments to the Safety Management System (SMS) documentation

Malcolm Temple

Courage of conviction

I am delighted to see more response to our messages.

Any comment is subject to moderation before it actually appears. Censorship will only apply in relation to abuse, bad language etc. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

However I think it is unreasonable for critical posts to be anonymous and these will in future be deleted


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Two Steam Locomotives to move to the GWR

I am pleased to announce that the GWR has signed steam locomotive 7820 'Dinmore Manor' on a 10 year operating agreement. This is the outcome of several months of positive negotiations with the owners, Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited. The loco is currently nearing the end of an overhaul and arrival at Toddington is planned for early September. The addition of 7820 to the resident steam fleet will strengthen the GWR's ability to turn out operational steam locomotives for our core services in the coming years.

The second locomotive, which will arrive in October, is 2874, also owned by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited. This loco is a restoration project. Further information on how volunteers can get involved with this project will be available in due course.

I am sure that that you will agree with me that this is a significant and very positive development for the GWR and one that we will all enjoy in the years to come. I look forward to welcoming the working members of Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited as new volunteers when their loco's arrive and to them integrating with our own steam loco department to strengthen our railway.

Richard Drewitt
T&RS Director

The following is the press release published today by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited:

News from Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited  

Some exciting developments regarding the future of two of our locomotives.
We are pleased to be able to tell you what has been  planned once our flagship locomotive “Dinmore Manor” returns to steam this summer .   We can announce that we plan to be at the West Somerset Railway’s 2013 Autumn Gala, running for a strictly limited number of days around the event.  The date of this year’s WSR Gala is 3rd/6th October and the engine should fit in beautifully with the autumn colours and the Cambrian theme.
The Hire Team from DMLL has been talking to a number of heritage railways with the aim of securing the best combination of long term security and maximising income whist trying to present the option of attractive, varied running turns for “Dinmore Manor”.
We are delighted to announce that we have now reached an agreement with the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) to operate on their line running north from Cheltenham through Toddington towards Broadway once ‘Dinmore Manor’ returns to steam.
The agreement offers many potential benefits for both organisations, because we shall have the opportunity to run in territory that is new to ‘Dinmore Manor’, near to the tourist ‘hotspots’ of England’s Cotswolds and Stratford Upon Avon -as well as being able to operate 7820 elsewhere during the ‘closed season’ and for agreed periods during the main GWR operating season. It is through this spirit of flexibility that we shall be able to operate at the WSR’s Autumn Gala and at other times if we are requested.
What makes the next 2 years even more interesting is that we plan to commemorate 7820’s journey from a scrapyard wreck to restored glory by taking ‘Dinmore Manor’ back to the railway that first secured the locomotive by bringing it out of Barry in 1980. Next year (2014), the Gwili plan to complete the extension of their operating line south from Bronwydd Arms towards Carmarthen and we have agreed in principle that ‘Dinmore Manor’ can return to the ‘Cambrian Coast’ line to join their celebrations. We anticipate that this will provide mutually beneficial publicity and welcome income for both organisations.
Our updated 12-month programme now includes:
·         Assembling the chassis for early June
·         Refitting the boiler to 7820 in July
·         Dinmore Manor appearing as a static exhibit the Tyseley ‘Open Day’ on 22nd June
·         7820 entering service on the GWR – probably now in September
·         Appearance at the WSR Autumn Gala in October
·         Visit to Gwilli Railway in early 2014
Longer Term Plans
We have always stated that we will develop plans to deliver the company strategy that was part of the ‘New Horizons’ Plan. Our 2 other locomotives which are in unrestored condition and waiting for the overhaul of ‘Dinmore Manor’ to be completed will each need long and expensive restoration programmes to return them to operation. During the overhaul of 7820, we have been limited by both the absence of covered accommodation and the number of volunteers, so we have sought out ways to broaden our support and provide a base better suited to the work that will be required.  We are, therefore, delighted to report that we have concluded a second, independent agreement with the GWR to support the restoration of 2874 at their Toddington base.
2874 Restoration
Although plans for this locomotive cannot yet be fully developed, we believe that the agreement to move this locomotive to Toddington will be mutually beneficial for both the GWR and ourselves.  The GWR have a young team of enthusiastic volunteers who are both experienced in restoration and very keen to be involved with another. We happen to have just what they need.
This means that work can start on 2874 later this year at Toddington. The facilities there ensure that the work can be carried out under cover when required, so not to be weather dependent, and includes the use of their extensive machine shop, which will bring with it a significant cost saving as restoration progresses.  Initially the work will involve the stripping down of the components of the engine and cataloguing all the work required to make each piece ready for reassembly in the future. 2874 is the preferred choice for our third engine because of its original build. No other 28xx with inside steam pipes is likely to steam in the future.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

New Patrons

We have recently received the very welcome news that Lord Dear and Timothy West CBE have consented to become Patrons of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Development Foundation Campaign joining Lord Faulkner, Sir Martin Harris and Lord Wemyss.
Lord Dear is a retired police officer, He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in 1979, the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1981 and was knighted in 1997. The broadcaster Sir Robin Day described Lord Dear as “the best known and most respected police office of his generation”.
He takes an active and regular part in the business of the House of Lords, speaking from the cross benches on home affairs, criminal justice, and rural affairs. Lord Dear is a life-long and committed steam enthusiast who on accepting the invitation to be a Patron of the Development Campaign said “I am delighted to lend my support to this campaign as Patron; railways have been an interest of mine for many years. The remarkable achievements of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway are testament to the dedication and commitment of the hundreds of volunteers and supporters who have worked so tirelessly and given so much of their time and skills for more than 30 years and I am keen to help the GWR turn its ambitious development plans into reality”.

Timothy West CBE - Timothy West, the renowned actor and director from stage and screen, a self-confessed steam enthusiast said  "I am delighted to become a Patron of the GWR Development Foundation Campaign; I have known and loved the railway for many years and visit as often as I can. I am enormously impressed with the wonderful experience that the railway offers its visitors, members and volunteers. I look forward to as many people as possible when I attend functions in support of this wonderful Railway.

Book signing at the Steam Gala

Lord Faulkner and Chris Austin will be at Toddington on the Saturday of the Gala signing copies of their new book “Holding the Line”.

The authors – both men with long backgrounds in the rail industry - show that in Beeching, Marples found a man who as Chairman of the British Railways Board would draw the conclusion that a widespread closure programme was necessary. Drawing upon a wide range of documents, including cabinet papers, Holding the Line is an explosive account of how close the railway industry came to being eviscerated and how the dangers of 'closure by stealth' still exist in the contemporary age. This book will appeal to lovers of politics as much as railways, with its numerous extracts from Hansard and study of the lobbying tactics employed by British Rail that ultimately saved them.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

You like it!

We have today reached the landmark of 40, 000 hits on this Blog


Looking forward at last

With full line operation resumed I now inter alia have the pleasure of co-ordinating planning for Broadway.

Whilst its obvious we need money to get there (as in the Development Foundation's work and the upcoming new Share Offer which is on target) we also need to plan to operate over a much longer line and with a new station. This wont just happen, it needs a great deal of work,

The first two areas of attention have to be locomotive and carriage capacity since its longer running and more trains.

I met with Richard Drewitt today to discuss both.

On the locomotive side we have done some successful  bidding/negotiating with the result that I can advise you to watch out for an announcement by Richard  D on this Blog  of a major new locomotive arrival together with an exciting new renovation project. This will increase our resident operational stock and ensure the conveyor of completed renovations continues. Very satisfying for us all I think..

On carriages Colin Fewell and Neil Carr have been examining the commercial/operational needs once we have that fourth station. Its about three rakes and a reserve. Richard ran me through the details which can only achieved  by selective further purchase(s) and full refurbishment of most of our on site stock. Its quite a challenge and so important.

The next steps must be to meet with the C & W management group and then the C &W team to explain plans and needs with a view to getting their input to the planning and consequent support. Part of this is likely to require further investment in equipment etc.

Then we need to turn to a people plan. The Board has an away day in August and this is first on the agenda,


Friday, 17 May 2013

Cheltenham College meets 925 Cheltenham

It was a great privilege and with much pleasure that yesterday 16th May I was able to represent our railway at the Race Course station when we hosted a visit by pupils and staff from Cheltenham College.

The purpose of the visit was to correct an omission from 79 years ago, when it was not possible due to inter company rivalry for Schools Class No 925 Cheltenham to visit the town to formally dedicated when it was first entering service with the Southern Railway.   Fortunately 925 (one of only three Schools Class locos to be saved for preservation) is visiting us as part of our Rail Festival at the end of this month.

Our Publicity Officer (Ian Crowder) had the idea that something akin to the original dedication ceremonies of the early 1930's may be possible.   So it turned out to be.   It was a very sunny morning when everyone met at Cheltenham.   Our visitors included the Headmaster of the College, a dozen or so teachers and some  80 plus pupils.   After the inevitable speeches of welcome and response from the Headmaster, most of the pupils were able to Cab the loco (many thanks to the crew) and eventually we set off for a trip to Winchcombe & return.  

Thanks to OTC for providing drinks and biccies for everyone and also to other volunteers for coming along to help.

Our guests had a good time and I am sure that over the years to come, we can cement our relationship with the college, and who knows, maybe some members and volunteers in the future.   I understand that a write up was in the Gloucester Echo last evening along with photos.   Our own Jack Boskett also took photos which will no doubt in time make there way into the Cornishman and and the heritage railway press.

A very good day for the railway and thoroughly enjoyed by all.


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Winchcombe Railway Museum

Some will be aware that the Development Foundation (the joint Plc/GWRT body) has been examining the practicality and financial profile of this museum being relocated to the Railway with Winchcombe the favoured location.

I must report that following an evaluation that had regard to land availability, our internal skills, volunteer capacity, visitor potential and financial viability, the Foundation and GWRT Board have reluctantly concluded that a relocation is not possible/viable.

The Museum owners were so advised this am.

This is an important museum and we hope a relocation can be achieved that offers maximum access to all rail enthusiasts.



Jo Roesen who is doing some great research on Broadway Station (see Steaming to Broadway link) has found two pieces that add a little more to understanding the background to our line. He senses they date from circa 1900:


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Send me a pic

There is always a very positive reaction to pics I put on this Blog.

I would welcome any you do that you feel might be of interest - can be about what you do, problems, a happening or just plain interesting

Send em in please


Past perfection

Talking with a group the other day about future projects and finance several couldn't understand why we are spending so much on drains and culverts.

The following by Andy Protherough from our team dealing with the challenge says far more than I ever could:


Friday, 10 May 2013

A reminder of the vision

I spent all day at the Railway on Wednesday.

The morning was quietly moving about seeing what was happening.

Some of my memo photos:

Too many window rattles



In the pm I met with Robert Goundry and Chris Bristow to finalise the Share Offer Document for the new issue we are planning.

One thing included is the Mission Statement agreed I believe to accompany the original Offer Document back in the 1980s. It reads:

The Company aims to reopen and operate as much as possible of the former Great Western Railway between Cheltenham and Stratford upon Avon. The resultant Heritage Railway will be run on commercial principles to provide publicly accessible transport, an educational attraction for its visitors and a relevant pastime for its volunteer workforce.

That's what the Board and I  are working to deliver.


No financial showers in April

This morning I am working on the April management accounts to measure how we did in the month.

Each month I spend about half a day pouring over the summary of income and expenditure produced by our Sage accounting system to see how were are performing against Budget and what our cash position is. The latter is so important since expenditure does not occur in a sequence that matches income and we have to finance VAT costs until reimbursed by HMRC.

The immediate figure which I felt I must share is Ticket Sales for the month. Including the Wartime Weekend these were £88,629 against a Budget of £74,000.

With all other income sources - Footplate Experience, Fish & Chips, OTC, Shop and Charters - I think we can be very satisfied that we have built a firm foundation for the 2013 season.

Malcolm T

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The facts are a little different

I'm told there is a lot of gossip and criticism by some of me and the Board in relation to the Flag & Whistle. I don't normally want to discuss commercial matters on a blog but sense there is a need for some to have the facts and stop fantasising.

The Board has given notice to the present franchise holder of termination of the franchise at 31 January next.

The present arrangement is based from an agreement in 2006 so it is way overdue for reassessment. From the Railway's perspective it is  not a comfortable arrangement  in financial terms. The fee the Plc receives is based on turnover such that if it is £70,000 in a year it gets £7,000 and upwards at 10%.

However, the deal makes the Plc responsible for all but operating costs ie the Plc pays for heating, lighting, cooking energy, repair and maintenance, decoration. Council tax, building insurance and renewal of equipment. This frankly means that the Railway makes nothing from the operation of the Flag - indeed it loses money every day it operates. The Board has a duty to react to such situations.

The Board (and I dont take such decisions alone) plans to hold a competitive tender exercise working to a modern specification which will also look at operational style, quality and  flexibility to see if we can create a better arrangement. What is wrong with that?

This is nothing personal with the present franchise holder and she has been assured that she is welcome to tender.

To kill the final piece of silliness, the decision was first discussed by the Board 18 months ago and was confirmed at its meeting on 23rd April. This was before the Wartime Weekend and had nothing to do with queues thereat

Some need to appreciate that Directors and Chairmen sometimes have to take hard and difficult decisions.  Walk a mile in my shoes.

Malcolm Temple

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Help for School visits

Apologies for using the Boardroom blog for this but unfortunately Steve George is currently indisposed and won't be able to send out all volunteer e mails for a short while.
If any of you have seen the recent School visits, you will know what is involved. Claudette Oddy is getting an ever increasing number of such requests for visits and doesn't want to turn any of them down but she does need more assistance - perhaps from one or more of the ex teachers who are volunteers in other departments of the railway. If you have time, could you please contact her at It is a great experience but it does need sveral volunteers on each occasion.
Colin Fewell

Steam celebration gala

The first loco is due to arrive later this week so the event is starting to kick off. Our colleagues in the steam department are working hard to make this a great success - some starting to have sleepless nights -  but still need more support in crossing and car park duties over the weekend. This worked exceptionally well at the Wartime weekend so please let Paul Richardson know if you are free to help.
Colin Fewell

This past weekend

Figures look good and to my relief, the red timetable seems to be working well. Great to see so many visitors staying longer and taking the DMU as well as the steam. Many comments about great value. And with three trains running, larger numbers of people mean the trains aren't too crowded. Just a couple of comments from people saying the timetable was complicated
Colin Fewell

Monday, 6 May 2013

Last word

I was teased out of sight last week after advising of my Wembley visit on Sunday

For the record,  Newport County Won 2- 0 and we return to the Football League

Most of my activity last week involved matters of tenancy and conflict which I must treat as confidential

We have received many letters of praise re the Wartime Weekend for which ticket sales were just over £32,000 against what was described as an adventurous budget of £27,500


Thursday, 2 May 2013

TV coverage

Not bad advertising for the GWR on Rory Bremner's programme this afternoon. If you aren't able to see this programme then I am getting a DVD from ITV in a few days time. A good 10 minutes though, so hopefully visitors will flock to us this weekend.
Colin Fewell