The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway will be celebrating all things diesel with its first Heritage Diesel Weekend, Friday to Sunday, 26th to 28 July and two freshly-overhauled locomotives are expected to be making their debut appearances in preservation following long and complex overhauls at Toddington.
It’s not so widely known that the railway, which operates over 12.5 miles of the former Cheltenham to Stratford route (The Honeybourne Line) between Cheltenham Racecourse and Laverton, is home to one of the UK’s finest heritage diesel fleets in the UK.
The two debut locomotives are a Class 45 (or ‘Peak’ class), a type long associated with the former Honeybourne line, and a class 26 which was once widely found in Scotland. Both have undergone successful trial runs over the past few days.
And the weekend will see an intensive timetable of trains hauled by diesel locomotives from the late 1950s and 1960s – a period of transition when Britain’s railways were being modernised following the end of steam; but before the era of widespread electrification and high speed trains.
In all, seven locomotives will be operating, along with a classic diesel multiple-unit. Many of the locomotives operating would have been types that worked over the line before it was closed by British Railway in 1979.
Peter Smith, a member of the event organising team said: “This is shaping up to be one of our best-ever diesel events and it has been a long time coming, given the problems with landslips that the railway has suffered over the past three years.
“We’re really pushing the boundaries with the Heritage Diesel Weekend. Not only are we running more home fleet locomotives than ever but there’s a chance for visitors to take a look inside our new diesel depot at Toddington.
“There will stalls and model railways, as well as visits to the cab of one of our main line diesels.
“What’s more, at Cheltenham Racecourse, you can even be ‘a driver for a fiver’ within the station area!”
Mr Smith added: “Diesels hold a very special appeal for many people. Locomotives of the types we run on the GWR are now largely consigned to history. Most of those based at Toddington would have long since been ‘recycled’ at the hands of the scrap man if various dedicated owning groups had not rescued them.
“We owe such preservationists a huge debt of gratitude – they are maintaining a vital part of Britain’s railway heritage that is every bit as important and vibrant as steam.”
Full information is available on the railway’s website at www.gwsr.com
Family ticket discounts available.
Note, all locomotives subject to availability.
For news, information and train times visit www.gwsr.com