Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway Speed to the West

Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway Speed to the West

Saturday 23rd May 2015

The Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway in association with the Heritage Railway magazine produced one of the best, if not the best railway Gala I have had the pleasure to visit. Their ‘Speed to the West’ gala over the late May Bank Holiday was a spectacular triumph.

I recall as a child the excitement of boarding a train to go away on my summer holidays. THE GWR truly re-created this experience for me again, with memorable trains such as the ACE (Atlantic Coast Express) and the Cornishman. With around thirty movements packed into a day’s schedule it was a very ambitious timetable, but every train I travelled on, departed on time. If only we could say the same of to-days modern railway.

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The highlight of the day was the appearance of the two un-rebuilt West Country Pacifics and the GWR Modified Hall, all locomotives I remember from my youth. These three were well supported by four of the GWR home fleet. The GWR ran three passenger rakes and a goods train with a Toad and Queen Mary Brake van at each end, for an extra charge you could take a ride in either of these brakes.

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The visiting locomotives came from far and wide with one of the un-rebuilt West Country 4-6-2 Pacifics No.34007 Wadebridge coming from the Mid Hants and No.34092 City of Wells coming down from the Keighley & Worth Valley with the GWR Modified Hall class 4-6-0 No. 6960 Raveningham Hall visiting from the West Somerset Railway. The home fleet of locomotives were represented by a GWR Manor Class 4-6-0 No. 7820 Dinmore Manor, GWR 28xx class of Heavy Freight No. 2807, GWR 4575 class Prairie No.5542 and finally a GWR 42xx class 2-8-0 No. 4270 having not long returned back into traffic after a long overhaul.

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Taking it to the extreme ends of the preservation spectrum were a further two locomotives, one being a Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 No.35006 Peninsular & Oriental SN Co. which should be back in steam later this year after a thirty year restoration, and at the other end of the spectrum was a GWR 28xx class Heavy Freight No.2874 which is at the beginning of a long restoration journey.

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The GWR Carriage & Waggon works at Winchcombe was open to the public where the work of restoration of the rolling stock takes place. In the works were three MK 1 carriages all at varying stages of being restored, there was a Toad brake van and a box van in the paint shop. What was apparent was the amount of time and dedication the volunteers give and the professional Finnish they achieve.

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In the station yard at Toddington was a small gathering of working traction engines and the North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge railway was in operation

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All in all I had a fantastic day and must congratulate the GWR and Heritage Railway magazine on staging such a wonderful Gala. Most of all I would like to comment on the professionalism of the GWR members for their friendliness, knowledge and most of all their skill in restoring the whole railway scene.

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On the way home we called into Broadway to see how the rebuilding of the GWR’s New terminus is progressing. Both platform faces are complete, work is progressing on the restoration of the footbridge and nearing completion is the New replica Signal Box which was in the process of having the ridge tiles fitted. Even at this stage you can see what the site will look like, with a station sign and a signal almost completing the picture.

Well done to all who helped make my day a memorable occasion from all at www.letsgoloco.co.uk

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