Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Cotswolds Tourism Award

I am pleased to announce we have received the bronze award for 2015 in the "Large Visitor Attractions of the Year" category. The overall winner was Slimbridge Wetland Centre, and Adam Henson's Cotswolds Farm Park came second. I will send out more details in a volunteer announcement. This is the second year running we have won an award from Cotswolds Tourism - in 2014 we were second in their "Tourism experience of the year" category. This is a great tribute to all the efforts everyone has put in during the year and a great start to the new season.
Colin Fewell

Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014 - Another great financial year at our railway!

Dear all,

With the Santa trains successfully completed and this year's running season drawing to a close this week, its a good time to give everybody who follows the GWSR an update on our progress this year.

I am pleased to tell you 2014 has been another terrific year!

2013 was always going to be a hard act to follow as it was the first full year of operations after the re-opening of the line and was a brilliant summer but, in fact, we will have maintained our momentum in 2014 and when we finally crunch the numbers at the end of January (31 January is our year end) I am forecasting we will have done equally well in terms of number of passengers, revenue and profit from operations.

Well done to all our volunteers who make it happen day in day out, year in year out!

As I always say, our success financially is down to two things of which we can be both pleased and proud;

Firstly, we are a volunteer run railway with, as you no doubt know, only 3 full time and two part time staff so our income is not used up, as in some other heritage railways, on large wage bills but in improving and developing our railway's infrastructure. I'll return to this in a minute.

Secondly, all our special events have proved yet again very popular and all made money starting with the Race trains in March, the Wartime weekend, the Thomas events, the Steam and Diesel galas, the Fish and Chips trains, Fire and Drive and Diesel Drive and culminating with the fantastic Santa season! Wow! I think in choosing one I'd like to talk briefly about the Santas. Thanks to the fantastic energy of Colin and Elspeth Fewell and all the team and the volunteers who worked the trains this season surpassed all records with 9350 passengers up from last year's record of 8650! I talked to many of our Santa passengers, both big and small, and its amazing how many are repeat customers. Why do they come back? Overwhelmingly the big ones say it's because we are so friendly and the little ones clearly think we give good presents!

Life's not all about making money, as the Steam Loco department proved by organizing a free Santa steaming for disadvantaged children (something we will definitely repeat next year), its about giving our passengers a great day out and providing an environment where we are pleased to come and volunteer.

Back to 2014 and, in addition to running all our trains, we moved our goal of getting to Broadway substantially forward this year. As I write, the bridges are all complete and the share appeal generated enough funds at £562,000 to cover their repair costs and give us the confidence to buy the rail to allow our P Way team to extend the railway another half mile to Little Buckland. Next year we are budgeting for substantial expenditure on Broadway station itself, on clearing the track bed completely from Laverton north and, if all goes to plan, on buying more rail to take us to Peasebrook Farm - one mile and within sight of Broadway station! None of that will  be to the detriment of the running line as we plan nearly £500,000 for repairs and maintenance on the existing railway.

I can't really finish about 2014 without making mention that the Heritage group, now fully affiliated with the GWRT, have had their first project to reinstate a halt at Hailes Abbey approved in principle. Image that - two new stations by 2018!

So that's about it, another great year!

Very best wishes for the New Year to all our Volunteers, members, shareholders and supporters from your finance team!

Bob, Chris, Dave and Richard

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Santa specials

Whilst it will take a little while to get the exact number of visitors this year to the Santa Specials, it would appear we have had over 9300 which is 700 up on last year's record number which itself was 1000 up on the previous year. We are now at the absolute maximum number we can deal with so don't expect any further increases! Can I thank everyone who helped achieve this magnificent result - it was a great effort by every department and every working volunteer on the railway.
For more photos, go to the Gloucestershire Echo website
Colin Fewell

Father Brown

Just been advised that the first episode featuring Winchcombe Station will be broadcast Monday 5th January at 14:15
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Those who have worked on santa specials this season may wish to have a look at Tripadvisor. All good advertising for us
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Santa specials

The santa specials have now started with a 16% increase in visitors last weekend over the same weekend in 2013. And it was still November!
 A great atmosphere - many thanks to everyone who took part. Two days down - only nine more to go!
Ian Crowder took a number of photographs which can be accessed as follows

We are still short of help on one or two days due to illness. If anyone can spare time please contact me
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tripadvisor ratings

I thought you might be interested in this. TripAdvisor provides the percentage of ratings that are either Excellent or Very good from the range of Excellent, Very good, Average, Poor or Terrible. We are clearly doing quite a lot right at GWR. As at 13th November 2014, the Heritage Railways  have the following percentages of Excellent or Very good ratings:
Colin Fewell

  • West Somerset Railway 97%
  • Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway 96%
  • Talyllyn Railway 96%
  • Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company 95%
  • North Norfolk Railway 95%
  • Swanage Railway 95%
  • Kent & East Sussex Railway 94%
  • Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways 94%
  • Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway 94%
  • South Devon Railway 94%
  • Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway 93%
  • East Lancashire Railway 93%
  • Keighley and Worth Valley Railway 93%
  • Severn Valley Railway 92%
  • Swindon & Cricklade Railway 92%
  • Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 92%
  • Great Central Railway 91%
  • Llangollen Railway 91%
  • Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre 90%
  • North Yorkshire Moors Railway 90%
  • Bluebell Railway 88%
  • Avon Valley Railway 87%
  • Epping Ongar Railway 87%
  • The Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line 87%
  • Strathspey Steam Railway 87%
  • Nene Valley Railway 85%
  • Mid-Norfolk Railway 83%
  • Churnet Valley Railway 82%
  • Dean Forest Railway 82%
  • Isle of Wight Steam Railway 82%
  • Lakeside & Haverthwaite Steam Railway 81%
  • East Somerset Railway  66%
  • The Battlefield Line 65%
  • Midland Railway – Butterley 57%

Monday, 10 November 2014

Nativity 3 - filmed partly at the railway

Some of you may remember that last Christmas Toddington Station and Foremarke Hall were stars in a large screen film "Nativity 3" starring Martin Clunes.  The trailer for this film, which will be released in a week or two, is now on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OyV2xSakI0 . Hopefully we are on the film for longer than the few seconds in this trailer!! You need to go 1 minute 30 seconds in!
Colin Fewell

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

2015 printed timetable

350,000 copies of next year's timetable have now been printed and a number of boxes of them are in the store room at Toddington. More will be delivered as we need them.  It is a little early to start distributing, but please from the beginning of December will every volunteer call by and collect some to distribute to local shops, takeaways, clubs, libraries, medical centres etc. They can be collected from the admin office. Many thanks.
Colin Fewell

Steam and scream

Over 630 people visited the railway last Thursday for our special Steam and Scream day making it the busiest midweek day the railway has ever had. A number of volunteers entered into the spirit of the day making themselves even more frightening than usual! Many thanks to Mike Parsons and his colleagues for such a well organised event.
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Doctor Who

If you haven't already seen it, go to BBC i player and watch Doctor Who extra -  Flatline. 7 minutes in and we see a "disused railway line" as they call it. Good pictures of Winchcombe Station
Colin Fewell

Bridges to Broadway Share Issue

Sorry for the delay in giving an update - I have been waiting to see how this last month has contributed. However I am very pleased to tell you that we have passed the £500k mark on the share issue and, with supporting donations, are comfortably past this target. This is just as well as followers of the Bridges blog will have read about additional corrosion - on bridges 1 and 2 and particularly at Bridge 4 which is of different design to the others and as a result showed some totally unexpected corrosion at the critical end positions.

We are still waiting for the final summation of the costs so please take advantage of  the last few days of the very attractive and tax efficient share offer as all share income not spent on the bridges will immediately go towards the purchase of rail to allow the start of track laying north from Laverton. The single biggest cost item is the rail and we are pursuing acquisition now with a view to starting work in the spring once the winter closed season track repairs are completed.

Alan Bielby

Monday, 8 September 2014

Appointment of Bill Britton as Head of Department

I am pleased to report that the GWSR Board has approved the appointment of Bill Britton as Head of Department in charge of the rebuilding of Broadway Station. Bill has headed the team rebuilding the platforms and with work in progress on the signal box and due to start next year on the station buildings, he has agreed to also take on the responsibility for the planning application and construction management for the required car park and access road upgrade.

Congratulations to Bill and we ask everyone to support him in his widened role of looking after all aspects of the rebuilding of Broadway Station. His blog site is widely read and has been an excellent record of progress.

Alan Bielby

Completion of Broadway Bridge Restoration and Road Reopened

I am pleased to report that the road under the GWR railway bridge at Broadway was reopened this morning after 3 months of closure for bridge restoration. The reopening is two days ahead of programme and this is all the more impressive because removal of the rusted steelwork revealed additional steel replacement work that had to be included in the work. Congratulations go to Messrs Laws for the timely completion of a complicated package of work and to John Balderstone for working hard to ensure the high level of input from the GWR to enable this to happen. We must also thank the residents of Broadway for their patience while the road was closed.

Some additional drainage work remains on the adjacent embankments and once this is completed work will start on the Childswickham bridge. This will commence in about two weeks time.

Alan Bielby

Friday, 5 September 2014

GWSR PLC Financial Position at the half year, 31 July 2014

Dear All,

I was pleased to be able to report to the Board on Friday 29th August that the operations of the railway in the 6 months to 31 July 2014 have been very good financially, both in terms of operating profit and cash flow.
The good cash results were despite having to absorb the cost of a number of unbudgeted items which included remedial work on the slips at Dixton Cutting and Defford Straight and the purchase of a second Ford Transit.
In addition, I am pleased to advise you that cash inflow into the Bridges to Broadway share issue has been good although we are not quite there yet - with two months of the offer to go if you have been holding off buying shares now's the time!
I think everybody is well aware of the excellent work being done by George Law and Co. on the bridges supervised by John Balderstone, and the fantastic progress being made at Broadway by Bill Britton's team.
Looking ahead to next year, 2015 will be a very important year for us in our drive to reach Broadway in both civil engineering and tracking laying northwards from Laverton and continued development of the station site.
Accordingly, with the Board's approval, I have asked all heads of department to look carefully at all second half expenditure to ensure our cash resources by the year end are as large as possible in order to be able to fully support next year's investment in our railway.
These are good times on our railway!
If anybody has any questions for me please email finance.director@gwsr.com
Best wishes,
Chris Bristow

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Father Brown

They were filming yesterday evening at Winchcombe, and Mark Williams (Father Brown) said he had seen the episode they filmed with us a couple of months ago and thinks we will be very impressed by the coverage of the railway. Apparently they used a drone overhead. Don't know when it will be shown though - they are filming 15 episodes and expect to finish filming late October.
(Incidentally I am told that the tunnel is featured briefly in the Dr Who trailer currently on television)
Colin Fewell


Thought everyone would like to see the following. We get a few of these and it is nice to get praise and not brickbats.
Colin Fewell

Name: Andrea Thomas

We spent the day travelling on the GWR on Sunday 17th August and had the most wonderful day. Your volunteers are so friendly and helpful and nothing was too much trouble for them. Please pass on thanks from my family for making our time with you truly memorable!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Plc Board Awayday meeting

The Board of the Plc met on Saturday last for their annual Awayday. We had a full day's meeting from 9.30am until 5.00pm with hardly time to draw breath.

There were a large number of important issues discussed, but the one uppermost in most minds at the moment will be the progress we are making in getting to Broadway.

As a start, it was unanimously agreed that Lee Allibone who was elected a director at the last A.G.M should be appointed as Engineering Director, which gives specific responsibilities for Permanent Way and S&T.

Further to that it was proposed, and agreed by Lee that he would accept overall responsibility for co-ordinating the delivery of the extension of our railway from Laverton to Broadway. To start with, he was tasked with preparing an inital list of requirements for extending the track from the current railhead at Laverton to  Little Buckland.

As was explained to us all, building the extension has to be progressed in a logical way:

1 We have to fence and secure our boundaries. This will come at significant cost, and estimates are being prepared.

2. Clearance of the trackbed has to be undertaken. To achieve that we have to arrange for ecological surveys to be undertaken, to ensure that we comply with all legal obligations regarding the management of wildlife

3. Drainage clearance and improvement works have then to be completed.

4. The trackbed then needs to be graded, levelled and bottom ballasted so that a secure base is prepared

5. After all that, track laying can begin.

The intention is that the extension will be constructed in stages, as funds and manpower allow. We have access to sufficient necessary sleepers, but have to purchase rail.

Funding will of course be crucial to our success, and plans are being developed to try and ensure that adequate funding will be available within the timescale that we all want.

To bring all volunteers fully up to date, it is intended that a volunteers meeting will be held; probably on Saturday 1st November (subject to booking arrangements). At that meeting, the Board will explain what is proposed, and all being well we shall also have a presentation upon what is intended at Broadway Station. Full details of the proposed meeting will be published shortly.

I hope that this gives you a sufficient flavour of all the work that is currently on-going. Coupled with all the work now being undertaken on the bridges, we are getting closer to realising the dream of completing the extension to Broadway within a realistic timescale.

Richard Johnson LLB
Company Secretary

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Questionnaires on the train

You will know we give everyone a questionnaire on the train. Interesting ones yesterday! Against the question "What did you like most about your trip?" the comment was - sitting next to my uncle. Against "What did you like least?" was - sitting opposite my nan. Against "what could we do better" was - have more sexy staff. And a Japanese couple wrote that they expected the trains to run much faster!
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Bridges to Broadway Share Issue Status at 30 July 2014

Dear All,

I expect most of you will have seen the exciting pictures on the blog of the work taking place on our bridges!

We are now at the end of the second month of a work programme which should take our contractors, George Law Ltd., about 6 months. John Balderstone is managing the project for us so don't forget to complement him on the good work he's doing when you see him.

Our Bridges to Broadway Share Issue has gone very well but we are not quite there yet. As of today we are at £458,000, only £42,000 short of our target of £500,000. To all those who have already subscribed may I offer a big THANK YOU!

We have only 90 days to go before the offer closes on 31st October so if you are considering investing now is the time!

You may have heard me say this before, but many of my friends and neighbours who are not natural railway enthusiasts, have been happy to subscribe for shares because they believe in the preservation of this country's heritage and the living museum we are creating. I would, therefore, suggest that if you give the Bridges to Broadway document to your friends and neighbours you will be pleasantly surprised by the positive nature of their response. If nothing else the document, which is available from the information office at Toddington or from me, is a nice souvenir.

Before I close, I should just make it clear that the railway has sufficient funds to cover any shortfall in receipts from the share issue, so there is no question of the work not being completed but, as I'm sure you understand, if we have to divert funds to the bridges project then other planned expenditure on our railway will have to wait.

With your help we can get to the £500,000 target!

Kind regards,



Sunday, 27 July 2014

Diesel gala

A quick note to say that a large number of people came up to me on Friday and Saturday congratulating the railway on the organisation and smooth running of this gala. Time and time again, seasoned visitors to diesel galas stressed  the professionalism of everyone, comparing us favourably with a few other such galas around the country.
Colin Fewell

Tuesday August 5th

Please note that wreaths will be placed on the steam and diesel locomotives on Tuesday August 5th in recognition of the centenary of the start of World War 1. Thanks to Tony Bowles for this.
Colin Fewell

Monday, 7 July 2014

Delight at HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall joining railway

The Chairman and the Directors of the GWRT are pleased to pass on to you a copy of  a recent press release regarding two very well known new member of our railway.
Delight at HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall joining railway
HRH The Prince of Wales’ interest in historic railways is widely known and, because of this, His Royal Highness and The Duchess of Cornwall have accepted honorary life membership of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway  (GWSR) – the heritage railway closest to their Highgrove, Gloucestershire home.
His Royal Highness is an occasional visitor to heritage railways and has also enjoyed travelling by the Royal Train on the national network with a steam locomotive in charge.  His membership of the railway perpetuates a strong link between the Royal Family and steam, given that over generations many locomotives have been named after Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses, a practice that continues to this day.*
Henry Howard, chairman of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust, of which supporters of the railway become members and volunteers; commented: “I’m delighted that His Royal Highness and The Duchess of Cornwall have accepted our invitation to become honorary life members of our fast-expanding railway. 
“His sister, HRH The Princess Royal, has visited the line both privately and in an official capacity, when she opened Cheltenham Racecourse station in 2003. 
“We have exciting events on the horizon, not least of which will be the opening of Broadway station and completing a new carriage overhaul facility at Winchcombe.
“Their Royal Highnesses have yet to visit the railway and of course we would be delighted to welcome them and demonstrate why we are attracting up to 90,000 passengers each year.”
The volunteer-run GWSR is one of the leading tourist attractions in the region, operating steam and heritage diesel train services over the at-present 12-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Laverton.  The railway’s appeal to attract £500,000 share investment under the government’s Enterprise Initiative Scheme, to be used to repair five bridges between Laverton, the present northern extent of the line and Broadway, two miles distant, has attracted over £430,000.
Alan Bielby, chairman of Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Plc added: “This means we are on track to re-open the line as far as Broadway in about three years.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and a powerful demonstration of what volunteer effort can do.  We’re preserving an important part of Britain’s railway and transport heritage as underlined by several awards.  
Members of the Royal Family are no strangers to the former main line that ran between Stratford upon Avon and Cheltenham.  The station at Cheltenham Racecourse, completed in 1912 specifically to serve the Prestbury Park racecourse which hosts the famous National Hunt Festival, has been visited most years by members of the Royal Family and that interest in National Hunt racing continues. 
Adds Mr Bielby: “The Royal Train frequently brought members of the Royal Family to the races and occasionally, it was berthed in sidings at Bishops Cleeve overnight during race week.
“We’re really delighted that the Royal connection with our historic railway has been cemented in this way and will continue into the future.”
Henry Howard
Chairman GWRT


Friday, 27 June 2014

Director Election results - GWRT

At the Trust AGM held on Thursday 27th June 2014 the election for three directors took place.

Three directors retired in accordance with Article 30 and, being eligible, offered themselves for re-election; Henry Howard, Glyn Cornish and Richard Summers and in accordance with article 32 (2) Garry Owen being eligible also offered himself for election. The election of three directors took place during the AGM with the counting of votes taking place after the meeting had closed.

The final results were announced by the adjudicator, Tony Archer, Ormerod Rutter limited;

Glyn Cornish               258

Henry Howard             151

Garry Owen                149

Richard Summers        254

Therefore Glyn Cornish, Richard Summers and Henry Howard were re-elected to the GWRT board.

Thank you to all who took part, helped or put themselves forward for election. 

Maxine Barton-Hawkins, GWRT Company Secretary

GWSR Plc AGM on Thursday 26th June

My thanks go to everyone who attended. The highlight of the meeting was the appointments to the Plc Board with 8 people standing for the 5 vacant posts. With numbers of shares held being an important factor in the voting, a full poll was conducted combining the proxy votes received in advance and the votes of those attending (who had not previously submitted their proxies). The counting process took some time but was completed by 9.30pm.

For those who could not stay that long and for all others who were not able to attend, the results are - in descending order:

Darren Fairley - 455,144
Richard Johnson - 437,120
Lee Alibone - 426,345
Chris Sparks - 380,699
Colin Fewell - 338,028

Alan Miller - 233,900
Bill Britton - 179,101
Bernard Dudfield - 104,745

My congratulations to the five successful candidates (three re-elections and two new members) and I welcome Richard Johnson and Lee Alibone as new members of the Board.

I also thank the three unsuccessful candidates for being prepared to offer themselves as potential Board members.

We have a lot planned for the coming year so all the Board members will be kept very busy. Please keep us informed of anything that you think may affect either the current operations or our potential future planning - we can only be as useful as your support allows!

Alan Bielby

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

More filming

Last Monday and once again a BBC film crew at Winchcombe this time filming an episode from "Father Brown" with the main action  taking place in the tunnel. Not sure when this will be shown on TV
Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


A BBC production team was at Winchcombe yesterday filming an episode of Dr Who with the DMU, and with the Tardis hidden in the tunnel. The car park was completely full of location vans, make up studios etc. I don't know when the programme will be shown.
Colin Fewell

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Steam gala

A great success - congratulations and thanks to everyone who helped in any way.
Provisional figures are 3641 visitors who paid on entry plus about 300 who bought on line. This puts us about on budget - an excellent result when you consider the weather and the Toddington field condition!
Colin Fewell

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Tripadvisor - Certificate of excellence

We have just received the following.
Colin Fewell

2014 Winner
Celebrate Your Certificate of Excellence!
TripAdvisor is delighted to award Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway with a 2014 Certificate of Excellence.
This prestigious award recognises businesses that consistently earn top ratings from TripAdvisor travellers. Showcase it to guests and staff with pride!
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
Promote Your Award
Your Certificate of Excellence should arrive within the next 6 weeks* – but you can start promoting your accomplishment today!
Visit the Management Centre to get a free Certificate of Excellence badge for your website and to access additional tools to spotlight your achievement!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Free classic bus service into Cheltenham from the racecourse station on May 31st

On Saturday 31st May, there will be a VINTAGE BUS RUNNING DAY in Cheltenham, as part of the retirement celebrations for Ian Manning, the MD for Stagecoach West who is retiring.

There is going to be a fleet of 20 classic buses running on local routes around Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury.

In particular, there will also be a FREE bus service from Racecourse Station to the town centre.
Details are at 

Colin Fewell

Saturday, 3 May 2014


Have a look at the comments about our railway. We are now rated by Tripadvisor number 2 in Cheltenham (number 1 is a cinema!!) and number 10 in the Cotswolds
Colin Fewell

Wartime weekend

Numbers were down as expected this weekend - did you see the mud in the field at Toddington? Visitor numbers were about 1560 including pre purchased tickets which was about 20% down on 2013. Even having said that, the event was a tremendous success with loads of congratulatory e mails and cards (see Tripadvisor) and we still made a handsome amount for the railway. So thanks to everyone who braved the conditions - it was worth it!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Bridges to Broadway Contract Award


The Board have authorised the award of the contract for all five bridge to George Law. We are still short of the target funds but we are almost at the £400k mark and funds are still coming in. We did not want to wait any longer as the contractor will need summer weather to efficiently carry out foundation works. Also the award of the contract for all five bridges allows him the optimum flexibility in his work and hence the lowest cost to us. If you have been holding back to see how the fund raising progresses, now is the time to dip your hand in your pocket and make a share purchase as we do still need those funds to cover the work.

The contractor hopes to finish the job in around 6 months -depending on weather and available road outages - so we need your early support to top up the funds - do so soon while the tax benefits are available - they expire in September!

We want to express our thanks to John Balderstone for producing a very comprehensive tender specification which has allowed tenders for this highest value GWSR contract ever to be viewed with confidence and minor issues easily resolved. He has already obtained permissions for some of the road closures so work will start very quickly.

Alan Bielby

Wartime event

Many thanks to everyone who trudged through the mud this weekend to make this event such a success. Numbers of visitors were down but frankly with the appalling weather this was to be expected. Lots of positive comments from people - we are clearly setting a high standard for this kind of event.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 25 April 2014

Easter visitor numbers

Good Friday 588, Easter Saturday 676, Easter Sunday 560, Easter Monday Easter Eggspress 687. This makes a total of 2511 which compares with 2375 in 2013 and 2236 in 2009.
Colin Fewell

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter weekend on the trains

I haven't got the final number of visitors yet but it looks as though we stand a chance of exceeding last year's record number. The Easter Eggspress went well today and thanks are due to all who took part.
Colin Fewell

Friday, 11 April 2014

GWSR plc Board resignation

Andrew Goodman, one of our longest standing supporters and Board members, has decided that his pressure of work is such that he can no longer devote as much time to the railway as he would like so has reluctantly resigned from the Board. He was very much involved in bringing the A4s from North America last year and now will be taking them back as well as undertaking other overseas activities. These require him to be away for at least three months again this year. It is no exaggeration to say that without Andrew’s great support the railway would not have developed to the extent that we all currently enjoy and we are sorry that he will not be able to spend so much time here. We wish him well in his new ventures.
Alan Bielby

Sunday, 6 April 2014


A good start to the year’s train services. Looking at the figures we have so far seen over 2000 visitors as against 1692 in 2013 (a 25% increase). And remember, last year we ran the DMU service over the February half term which accounted for 533 out of the 1692.  Compared with 2009 however we are slightly down.
And group bookings are also up by approximately the same percentage.
 As we all know, the weather plays an enormous part in all of this - particularly at this time of year so this isn’t a reliable guide as to how things will pan out for the rest of the year. But it looks encouraging!
Colin Fewell

Friday, 4 April 2014

Bridges to Broadway Share Appeal

As we approach the half-way point in the Bridges to Broadway Share Appeal it is great to be able to report that the figure standing at £384,000 just another £116,000 to go.

The Railway has received six tenders for the bridge repairs which it will be assessing in the next few weeks. It is hoped that the contract can be let in early May so as to take advantage of the summer weather (assuming that we get some!) to start work – particularly the necessary foundation repairs. If we can raise the money in good time then we can allow the contractor the maximum flexibility in his operations. This will ensure the maximum efficiency in view of the different types of work required on the various bridges and the need to negotiate road closures.  So If you have been thinking of buying some shares to support this work but have not got round to it yet, now is the time to make your move and support this major step towards reaching Broadway. If you need a copy of the share brochure or have any questions, do contact Maxine Hawkins on 01242 621905 and she will be happy to assist.

EIS3 Forms

The first two tranches of EIS3 forms have been sent out to shareholders, so all who purchased share before 31st December 2013 and ticked the relevant box, should have received their EIS3 forms. Those who have purchased shares between 1st January and 28th February should receive their EIS3 form in the next two weeks; those who have purchased shares since the end of February will receive their EIS3 form in due course. If you have ant questions regarding EIS please call Maxine Hawkins.

Thursday, 27 March 2014


I see Gwyneth Paltrow has said her divorce is "conscious uncoupling". Did she take this from any of our training programmes?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tourism Day

We had our annual tourism day yesterday. Record attendance from 120 b&b, caravan site, and cottage accommodation owners. Everyone said how much the enjoyed the visit and the comment "highly professional" was made several times about our railway. We were also on BBC Midlands Today at 6:30 - have a look on iplayer if you missed it. ITV also filmed a long piece for their West Country regional news programme. Many thanks to all who took part.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New Resource Planning Group

A new Resource Planning Group has been formed under the direction of Richard Drewitt, Resource Planning Director for the GWSR Plc.
The group has eight members. The purpose of the group is to lead on planning across the whole railway with the following specific functions:

  • To maintain a dynamic 5-year plan which will focus initially on the extension of the railway to Broadway.
  • To make reasoned strategic development proposals for Board approval based on researched and costed plans developed in consultation with all departments.
  • To recommend development priorities to support the agreed strategic objectives.
Each member of the group has been assigned to specific departments with regards to liaison and consultation on planning matters.

Richard Drewitt      C&W, BAG, Heritage Group
Steve Price            Steam & Diesel
Roger Bigg            Buildings & Services, Friends Groups & Commercial/Marketing
Bob Mackintosh    Finance, Operations (Timetabling)
Virginia Hawkins    Stations, OTC & Trackside Maintenance
Keith Newman       Guards & TTI's, Fire Dept.
Iain Gould              S&T and Signalmen
Adrian Kenny         P/Way, Bridges & Structures

The first task of the group will be to focus on current issues and provide planning support to ensure sustainability of current operations. Following this, the main task will be to prepare for Broadway by looking at the detailed needs of all departments against the business development criteria.

Planning group members will be making contact with department managers within the next two weeks to start the process of consultation and information gathering for the planning process. The group will be consulting with all departments to gather as many views as possible, from as many volunteers as possible, in order to form a detailed plan with all angles considered. To assist this process department members are requested to channel their suggestions for planning matters through their department head or manager.

The purpose of the planning group is not to make decisions on what projects should take place or to run any specific projects. The group will advise and make recommendations to the Board who will decide on strategy and development priorities. One of the functions of the group will be helping departments to identify and find ways of accessing the resources they need to both continue current levels of operations and to be able to support the increased demands on services when the Broadway extension is open. The group will also facilitate the coordination of resource allocation between departments in order to achieve the best outcome for the railway as a whole.

We all look forward to receiving input from your departments and to a close working relationship in the coming months and years.

Richard Drewitt

Friday, 14 March 2014

First weekend

Those of you at the railway will have noticed how full the trains were last weekend. I don't have the exact figures but it looks as if we were about 40% up on the same weekend last year. Of course the weather payed an important part. Thanks should go to Lynne who really had a baptism of fire in the Flag and Whistle but everything seemed to go well. On the train we sold all the weekend's bacon baps by just after midday on the Saturday. All in all, a good start to the season.
Colin Fewell


8 trains this year to the races for the first time. And most of them completely full. Thanks to the volunteers for helping all week. It looks like we broke all records!
It was a  great atmosphere throughout, but why is it the younger the racegoers are, the more drunk they seem to get! And why is it the young drunk is much more aggressive than the older drunk?  Had a number of "discussions" with certain of them this week. Typical of which was a serious request to turn the air conditioning on as he was "hot". Unfortunately I assumed he was joking and laughed. Not a good idea! He'd "paid so much money he expected comfort on the train" etc. In the end I quietened him down by saying the air conditioning started to work once the train moved. I then opened a window and all was peace thereafter! Also, as usual a request from a passenger to wake him  when he reached Bath!
All good fun though with numerous stories to tell over the coming year.
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 6 March 2014


To try and spread the word, Ian Butler has taken on the twitter account for the GWR and tells me that  over 50,000 twitter followers received details of last week's competition from us. When you consider the circulation of the Echo is around 20,000 this shows the power of twitter.
We would like to get more information about the railway out to far more people so all members and volunteers are asked to follow @GWSR (have a look at the bottom right of the home page on our website) and then retweet or favourite our tweets to others.
Also I would like train staff /OTC staff and station staff to encourage visitors to tweet their experiences with us. (Only good experiences of course!!). There is a massive and growing opportunity here to advertise our railway.
Colin Fewell

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bridges to Broadway Share Appeal

Just four months into our appeal the total raised so far is almost £300,000 leaving just £200,000 to go. We are very anxious to place the contract in May so as to take advantage of the summer weather (assuming that we get some!) to start work – particularly the necessary foundation repairs. If we can raise the money in good time then we can allow the contractor the maximum flexibility in his operations. This will ensure the maximum efficiency in view of the different types of work required on the various bridges and the need to negotiate road closures.

If you have been thinking of buying some shares to support this work but have not got round to it yet, now is the time to make your move and support this major step towards reaching Broadway. If you need a copy of the share brochure or have any questions, do contact Maxine Hawkins on 01242 621905 and she will be happy to assist.

Thank you

Alan Bielby

Chairman, GWSR Plc

Sunday, 2 February 2014


At the end of last year we decided to seek a new franchise for the Flag &Whistle café at Toddington. It has been run successfully by Val Hoskin for 7 years but we wanted to increase the number of opening days and also make changes in the menus and method of operation. We therefore wrote a new set of requirements and invited tenders for a new agreement. The final choice was Lynne Tiddy, a newcomer to the railway but with great plans for the future. She will take over the F&W with effect from February 1st 2014 to prepare for opening in March. Look out for more information on what will be on offer nearer the opening date.

In order to support the additional operating requirements, we have upgraded the kitchen area so as to facilitate more efficient preparation and serving. This upgrade, along with the recently upgraded furniture in the customer area will make a big improvement in what can be offered to our visitors. We thank Val for all her hard work over the years and wish Lynne a successful future.

Alan Bielby

Monday, 20 January 2014

Half-bridge replacement work – Bridge 31 – J J Farms, Far Stanley – January 2014

Work to replace the badly corroded half of this
bridge, which carries the running line, commenced on Monday 13th January 2014. The first photo shows the scaffolding and traffic signs in place on Saturday 1th January 2014, before starting any work.
By late Monday morning both lattice parapets, the deck plates to the cess and in the 4 foot had all gone.

Slings have been attached to the first main beam ready for it to be lifted out.

The photo bottom left shows the first beam just lifted off the padstones. The second photo shows it being lowered clear of the walls

The next operation was to cut through the deck
plate in the 6ft, leaving it ready to be attached to
the new steelwork. The photo shows the plate
being disc cut.

A temporary support beam had to be inserted
beneath the 6ft plate to stop it distorting and to
keep it at the right level to fit on the new steel
when it is installed, as shown in the photo below.
A similar temporary beam has been installed above
the north edge to support the cut edge of the cess plate,
where the supporting parapet steel had been removed.

The next photo shows a view of the
bridge with the entire deck removed.
The work took 2½ days.

Note the existing brick pilasters
have remained undamaged despite
their close proximity to the
steelwork being removed.

The reason for this work are basically
because the steelwork was badly
corroded,as the following photos show.

This is the bottom edge of the Parapet
steelwork, after removal. How it
stayed in place is a mystery!

This photo (right) shows bottom flange
corrosion of one of the main beams
where a length of app. 350mm has "disappeared", together with
notch where corrosion has eaten
away a 100mm high section of the
main load bearing stiffener at the
point which provides the main load
carrying support to the bridge.
Note also that the end stiffener has
also suffered severe corrosion.

Further bottom flange corrosion and
rot to another of the main vertical load
bearing stiffeners.

John Balderstone

Friday, 17 January 2014

Another repeat of Father Brown

Just a brief note in case you didn't see the first series - it is back next week on BBC

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Groups on the train and refreshment requirements

A number of meetings in the past week to review our visitor numbers and in particular to look at our group business. We had 100 more groups this year than 2 years ago which was our last record year. With over 360 groups, this works out at 2 groups for every day we are running, but of course it never works out like that! The leaning is towards groups visiting us midweek. Looking to 2014, we have already had over 100 enquiries so it looks like another bumper year. That is great news from an income point of view, but as many of these groups wish to include refreshments such as cream teas as part of their visit, we are struggling to find enough volunteers to serve them. But we don't want to turn good business away. When you realise that a full coach brings 53 visitors and each will pay about £18 to include refreshments, the income is considerable. Do you know of anyone who could help serving buffets on the trains? It's just a few hours in the middle of the day and is great fun. Please let Richard Summers or me know and please don't ignore this request - it's income like this that is paying for many of our other hobbies on the railway. Colin Fewell

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Escape to the country

The TV programme that features a short segment about the GWR will be broadcast Wednesday January 15th at 15:45 on BBC1. I think we get 3 minutes on the programme - it took them all day to film late last summer! Colin Fewell