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.”