Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

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Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway
The Honeybourne Line
GWR 2-8-0 28xx Class No 2807 and train Toddington.jpg
GWR 2-8-0 28xx Class No. 2807 and its train are seen at Toddington
Worcestershire England
TerminusCheltenham Racecourse and
Commercial operations
NameThe Honeybourne Line
Built byGreat Western Railway
Original gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Operated byGloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Plc
Length14 miles (23 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Preservation history
1981Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Plc formed and track re-laying began
1984First public service along relaid section of track between Toddington Station and (the site of) Hayles Abbey Halt
1987GWR Extended to Winchcombe
1990GWR Extended to (the site of) Gretton halt
1997Extended to Gotherington
2003Extended to Cheltenham Racecourse
2011GWR extends to (the site of) Laverton halt
2017Hayles Abbey Halt reopens
2018Extended to Broadway
HeadquartersToddington, Gloucestershire
Warwickshire Railway
Wilmcote National Rail
National Rail
Stratford-upon-Avon National Rail
Evesham Road Crossing Halt
Stratford Racecourse Platform
Chambers Crossing Halt
Long Marston
Broad Marston Halt
Pebworth Halt
Honeybourne National Rail
Willersley Halt
Laverton Halt
Stanway Viaduct
Hayles Abbey Halt
Greet Tunnel
693 yd
634 m
Gretton Halt
Bishops Cleeve
Cheltenham Racecourse Park and ride
Hunting Butts Tunnel
97 yd
89 m
Cheltenham High Street Halt
Cheltenham St James
Cheltenham Malvern Road
Cheltenham Spa (Lansdown) National Rail
Lansdown Junction

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWR, GWSR or Gloucs-Warks Steam Railway) is a volunteer-run heritage railway which runs along the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border of the Cotswolds, England.

The GWSR has restored and reopened around 14 miles (23 km) of track, operating between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. The most recent extension to Broadway (completed in 2018) involved the company raising £1.38 million. The 28 mile round trip on steam and heritage diesel trains follows part of the route of the former Great Western main line from Birmingham to Cheltenham.[2]

The GWSR has a long-term aim of extending a further 6 miles (9.7 km) from Broadway to the national rail network at Honeybourne (where one half of an island platform has since been partly rebuilt for future use).


The line was originally part of the Great Western Railway's CheltenhamStratford-upon-AvonBirmingham line, known as the Honeybourne Line, built in 1900–1906, and runs through the Cotswold towns of Winchcombe and Bishop's Cleeve.[3] The line was run down over the years and finally closed after a derailment damaged a stretch of track in 1976, with the double track being lifted from 1979.

The preservation group rehabilitated the line, starting steam train operations at Toddington in 1984 over 700 yards (640 m) of re-laid track. In 1987 the line was restored as far as Winchcombe where the station was reconstructed using the former Monmouth Troy station building. The railway continued to re-lay track west of Winchcombe, through the 693-yard (634 m) long Greet Tunnel, and past the villages of Gretton, Gotherington and Bishops Cleeve.[4] The line to Cheltenham Racecourse was re-opened by Princess Anne in 2003. The latest extension of the line, to Broadway, opened in March 2018.

The GWSR runs trains from March to the end of December,[5] with the line closing during January and February as well as November for line and locomotive maintenance. The GWSR runs regular train services every weekend plus most weekdays from Easter to the end of October, and some weekends are used to host special events including steam and diesel galas, Wartime in the Cotswolds, Easter Eggspress and Santa Specials.

The railway operates a wide variety of both steam and heritage diesel locomotives, as well as heritage DMUs. These have included the world-famous locomotive 4472 "Flying Scotsman" and equally famous 3440 "City of Truro", which in 1904 was the first engine to reach 100 mph. In 2016 the resident steam locomotives on the line were 7820 "Dinmore Manor", 28xx class 2807, 42xx class 4270, 7903 "Foremarke Hall" and 35006 "Peninsular & Oriental SN Co". To complement the running stock a collection of over 210 carriages and wagons of various origins has been compiled, many of which are still being restored.

The GWsR opened its extension to Broadway, Worcestershire to the public on 30 March 2018.[6]

Currently (August 2020) the railway has reopened with a limited timetable after lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.[7]

Signalling of the Heritage GWSR[edit]

The route consists of single line sections with passing places at the major stations. All stations and loops are signalled using GWR Lower Quadrant Semaphore Signals.[8][9]

The signalling on the line is a mixture of Electric Key Token and One Train Staff working, depending on operational requirements. Current sections are:

  • Broadway–Toddington (One Train Staff) - will be Track-circuit block (TCB) when Broadway box opens
  • Toddington–Winchcombe (EKT)
  • Winchcombe-Gotherington (EKT)
  • Gotherington-Cheltenham Race Course (EKT)
  • Winchcombe–Cheltenham Race Course (EKT) (With Gotherington switched out)
  • Toddington–Cheltenham Race Course (One Train Staff - with Winchcombe and Gotherington switched out and Cheltenham Race Course behaving as a ground frame)

There are four signal boxes along the line, and a new-built platform mounted one at Broadway, with the frame parts all acquired and assembled:

  • Broadway – set to be operational by 2021
  • Toddington – operational
  • Winchcombe – operational
  • Gotherington – operational
  • Cheltenham Racecourse – operational


Map this section's coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML

Future development plans[edit]

South to Cheltenham[edit]

A 1910 Railway Clearing House map of railways in the vicinity of Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa
The bowstring bridge, built on the alignment of the former GWR trackbed into Cheltenham by developers in 2002 to allow continued bicycle access to Cheltenham Leisure Centre, when they constructed a supermarket on the site of the former Cheltenham Spa St. James station

Encouraged by support from Cheltenham Borough Council, who have given both the railway direct funds as well as placing protected status on the former lines trackbed south from Cheltenham Racecourse to Cheltenham Spa, the railway could at some point connect to Network Rail in the south.[10]

The Council have backed the long term scheme, as this would allow the railway to:

  • be reinstated as an access point for race goers from all across the UK to easily access meetings at Cheltenham Racecourse, and reduce resultant current traffic congestion[11]
  • build a new halt in the Wyman's Brook area of Cheltenham itself, to serve an adjacent Prince of Wales sports stadium
  • run tourist and excursion trains to access the railway and the town

Although the GWSR have extended track to (and through) Hunting Butts tunnel, a few hundred yards beyond Cheltenham racecourse station, it owns the trackbed as far as the Prince of Wales stadium at Wyman's Brook. It is likely that after completion of its extension to Broadway, laying track further into Cheltenham will happen to this point; a distance of about 1 mile. However, beyond here major and costly engineering works would be required to extend the trackbed further south.[12]

The primary impediments are a) a bowstring bridge over Honeybourne Way (located at 51°54′09″N 2°05′11″W / 51.90245°N 2.086434°W / 51.90245; -2.086434), built in 2002 to allow continued access by bicycle along the old track bed alignment to Cheltenham Leisure Centre when planning permission was given for the redevelopment of the former Cheltenham Spa St. James station site as a Waitrose supermarket;[13] the resulting bowstring bridge follows a section of former railway embankment, which was removed to provide road access to the new store;[14] and b) the reduced-height pedestrian specification bridge carrying the footpath/rail bed beneath the very busy St Georges Road, which would have to be replaced to allow trains to pass beneath the road. There is land space beside the bowstring bridge to allow a railway to be built beside it, but there is no way of avoiding the work necessary to get rail vehicles beneath St Georges Road.

Between Broadway and Honeybourne[edit]

GWSR (Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway) could buy the trackbed between Broadway and Honeybourne to protect it from future non GWSR developments. GWSR could take on Broadway to Honeybourne trackbed. The trackbed is 4.5 miles long and the bridges have not been removed or filled and with no plans to fill or remove then it is not going to cost to much to restore.[15]

North from Honeybourne[edit]

When the GWSR was first formed, it intended to purchase the entire line from Cheltenham Racecourse to Stratford Racecourse. However, when applying for the required Light Railway Order, the group was informed that they were unlikely to be granted the order for 25 miles when they had no experience of running a railway.[16] A reduced application for the 15 miles from Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway was successful and track has since been laid and operations begun.[17] Since this time, the section between Stratford and Stratford Racecourse has been utilised to improve road access around the town, especially the A4390, making reinstatement of rail to the main station at Stratford extremely difficult.[18]


In the early 2010s the GWSR was affected by two major landslips in embankments on the line, which severed the preserved line into separate sections; however, both slips have now been repaired, and the whole line has been fully reopened. A further landslip occurred in November 2019 just south of Gotherington station, but has now been repaired.

2010 (Gotherington)[edit]

In April 2010 the GWSR suffered a landslip of an embankment near Gotherington.[19] Train services continued despite the Gotherington landslip, but over a reduced route. The landslip forced the closure of the line south of Gotherington, including Cheltenham Racecourse Station, which was effectively cut off. The railway continued to operate services from Toddington to Gotherington, with a locomotive at both ends of the train ("top and tailed"), as it was not possible to run the locomotive around the train at Gotherington at the time (there is now a run round loop just south of Gotherington). The railway launched a £1m appeal, both to fund the rebuilding of the embankment, and also to undertake preventative maintenance to ensure that similar problems do not happen at other points along the line. It was deemed unlikely that the line south of Gotherington would reopen before July 2011, but donations ensured that the work could be carried out promptly, and it was reopened on 22 April 2011.

2011 (Chicken Curve)[edit]

In January 2011 the railway was damaged by another landslip just east of Winchcombe station at Chicken Curve. The landslip severed the railway in two; it was very similar to the one at Gotherington, but closer to the middle of the route. It was estimated that the cost of the repair work would be £850,000; funds for the repair were successfully raised. During the repair period a DMU service was run from Toddington up to the extension at Laverton; since the earlier Gotherington slip had been repaired, steam trains ran from Winchcombe to Cheltenham Racecourse, the steam locomotive maintenance facilities temporarily being transferred to Winchcombe. The Chicken Curve landslip was repaired over the summer of 2012, and the GWSR was once again operational as a single unified line from Cheltenham Racecourse to the site of Laverton Halt, a total of 12 route miles in length at that time.

2019 (Gotherington)[edit]

Following extended heavy rain, one side of the embankment south of Gotherington station slipped. This was first discovered in November 2019, and worsened to the extent that no trains could run in January 2020. Following remedial works, the line reopened on 7 March 2020, in time for the regular Cheltenham race trains to run. Work is still ongoing to finish off the site. The total cost of repairs is expected to be £500,000; an emergency appeal has been issued to raise £250,000 towards this cost due to the closure of the line following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.[20]

Steam locomotives[edit]


Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 4270 GWR 2-8-0T 4200 Class Restoration from Barry Scrapyard condition completed 2014. Built in 1919. Boiler ticket expires in 2024. GWR Green, GWR Lettering 4270 GWSR.JPG
No. 7820 "Dinmore Manor" GWR 4-6-0 7800 "Manor" Class Returned to service in 2013 following its 10-year overhaul. The loco ran with the tender of "Dukedog" Class No. 9017 Earl of Berkeley until October 2015, when it was changed for 2884 Class No. 3850's tender after the loco came out of service for overhaul. It now runs with Collett 3500 gallon tender. Lined out in time for the 2018 operating season. Built in 1950. Boiler ticket expires in 2023. BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Paignton - 7820 in carriage siding.JPG
No. 7903 "Foremarke Hall" GWR 4-6-0 6959 "Modified Hall" Class Overhaul completed in mid-2016. Built in 1949. Boiler ticket expires in 2026. BR Green, Late Emblem 7903 Foremarke Hall at Toddington, GWSR.jpg
No. 35006 "Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co." SR 4-6-2 "Merchant Navy" Class Returned to service in mid-2016 following the completion of a 30-year restoration from scrapyard condition. Built in 1941. Boiler ticket expires in 2025. BR Green, Late Emblem 35006 Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. P&O.JPG

Away from the GWR[edit]

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image


Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image

Undergoing restoration, repairs, overhaul, or construction[edit]

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 2807 GWR 2-8-0 2800 Class Built in 1905. Historically significant as the oldest locomotive rescued from Barry Scrapyard. Boiler ticket expired at the end of 2019 and is undergoing its ten-yearly overhaul. GWR Green, Great Western Lettering GWR 2807 steam loco.jpg
No. 2874 GWR 2-8-0 2800 Class Major restoration has begun. Completed at Swindon in November 1918. Will be the only inside steam-pipe version operating when restored. Owned by 2874 Trust N/A 2874 at Toddington Yard during the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam.JPG
No. 3850 GWR 2-8-0 2884 Class Withdrawn from traffic on 28 September 2015 and now undergoing overhaul. Owned by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd. BR Unlined Black, Early Emblem 3850 at Toddington, May 2014.jpg
No. 76077 BR 2-6-0 Class 4MT Undergoing major restoration. Built in 1956. Frames and wheels now off-site. BR Black with late crest

Stored or static[edit]

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
John Industrial Peckett & Sons limited, Bristol. W6 class 0-4-0ST. Works Number 1976. The loco is presently undergoing cosmetic restoration in order to become a static exhibit at Toddington.

Diesel locomotives and DMUs[edit]


Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
372 "Des" 0-6-0 Yorkshire Engine Company Operational Blue with wasp stripes No 372 Yorkshire Engine Co? in Toddington yard.jpg
No. D2182 BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 Operational BR green with late crest Class 03 D2182 at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.jpg
No. 11230 Drewry 0-6-0DM Class 04 Operational BR black with early crest Hugh llewelyn 11230 (5573368453).jpg
No. 5081 BR Bo-Bo Class 24 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends Class 24 5081 (24081) Toddington 26-07-15 (20142742781).jpg
No. 37215 BR Co-Co Class 37 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends 37215 gwr.JPG
No. 45149 BR 1 Co-Co 1 Class 45 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends 45149 Winchcombe CS.jpg
No. 47105 BR Co-Co Class 47 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends Hugh llewelyn 47 105 (5568526842).jpg
No. 47376 "Freightliner 1995" BR Co-Co Class 47 Operational Freightliner grey 47376 at Toddington.JPG
Nos. W51360, W59510, W51363 BR Class 117 Operational BR lined green with yellow warning panels; W51360 in BR blue 3 Car DMU & 45145 Toddington.jpg

Non operational[edit]

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. D2280 BR 0-6-0DM Class 04 Undergoing restoration N/A
No. D8137 BR Bo-Bo Class 20 Undergoing bogie overhaul BR green with full yellow ends D8137 with van.jpg
No. 20228 BR Bo-Bo Class 20 Undergoing restoration BR blue with full yellow ends Class20-CFD.jpg
No. D5343 BR Bo-Bo Class 26 Undergoing overhaul BR blue with full yellow ends D5343 at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.jpg
No. D6948 BR Co-Co Class 37 Undergoing overhaul Original BR green D6948 Winchcombe.jpg
No. W55003 BR Class 122 Undergoing overhaul New livery is yet to be chosen (was BR lined green with yellow warning panels) W55003 at Toddington.jpg
No. W51405 BR Class 117 DMS Undergoing refurbishment BR green with yellow end panel
No. W51372 BR Class 117 DMBS Awaiting restoration BR blue
No. SC52029 BR Class 107 DMCL Undergoing restoration New livery will be BR Blue with full yellow end

Coaching stock[edit]

Operational coaches are shown in bold.

Origin Type Number Livery Notes Image
BR Mk 1 RBr, W1672 Chocolate / Cream Rake 1 RBr 1672.jpg
BR Mk 1 RBr, W1675 Chocolate / Cream Stored pending overhaul. Some refurbishment has been done. BR Mk.I RBR No.W1675 (6762491235).jpg

BR Mk.I RBR No.W1675 (6837212899).jpg

BR Mk 1 RMB, W1808 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I RMB No.E1808 (6762034303).jpg
BR Mk 1 RMB, M1876 Maroon Rake 2 BR Mk.I RMB No.E1876 (6762336519).jpg
BR Mk 1 RU, 1965 Olive Green Ex Army. Long Term Storage
BR Mk 1 FO, W3132 Chocolate / Cream Rake 1 (named 'Mary' in honour of a long serving volunteer) FO 3132.jpg
BR Mk 1 TSO M3960 BR Blue / Grey Stored pending overhaul
BR Mk 1 TSO M4614 Maroon Rake 2 (Modified for wheelchair use) TSO 4614.jpg
BR Mk 1 TSO W4763 Chocolate / Cream Rake 1 TSO 4763.jpg
BR Mk 1 TSO W4772 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I TSO No.W4772 (6762035347).jpg
BR Mk 1 SO, M4787 Maroon Rake 2 BR Mk.I SO No.W4787 (6762033725).jpg
BR Mk 1 SO W4790, Chocolate / Cream Rake 1 (Modified for wheelchair use) SO 4790.jpg
BR Mk 1 SO W4798, Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 SO 4798.jpg
BR Mk 1 SO M4806 Blue / Grey S & T Store SO 4806.jpg
BR Mk 1 TSO M4867 Maroon Stored pending overhaul
BR Mk 1 TSO, IC4869 Inter City Stored pending overhaul
BR Mk 1 TSO, W4986 Chocolate / Cream Rake 1
BR Mk 1 TSO, M5023 Maroon Rake 2
BR Mk 1 TSO, W5042 Chocolate / Cream Rake 1
BR Mk 1 BSOT, W9000 Chocolate / Cream Rake 1
BR Mk 1 FK, M13326 Maroon Rake 2 BR Mk.I FK No.M13326 (6762032709).jpg
BR Mk 1 FK, W13329 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I FK No.E13329 (6837209357).jpg
BR Mk 1 FK, W13337 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I FK No.W13337 "Gillian" (6762035567).jpg
BR Mk 1 CK, M16195 Maroon Rake 2
BR Mk 1 CK, SC16221 Blue / Grey Under overhaul
BR Mk 1 BCK, W21092 Chocolate / Cream Spare
BR Mk 1 SK, W24006 Red Oxide Stored pending overhaul. Oldest extant Mk.1
BR Mk 1 SK, E24804 Carmine / Cream Spare (On loan from North Yorkshire Moors Railway)
BR Mk 1 SK, W24949 Chocolate / Cream Spare
BR Mk 1 SK, W25341 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I SK No.E25341 (6762033517).jpg
BR Mk 1 SK, M25451 Maroon Rake 2
BR Mk 1 SK, E25488 Carmine / Cream Rake 1 (On loan from North Yorkshire Moors Railway)
BR Mk 1 SK, M25501 Maroon Stored pending overhaul
BR Mk 1 SK, M25618 Maroon Santa Coach
BR Mk 1 SK, W25646 Chocolate / Cream Loco Mess
BR Mk 1 SK, W25743 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I SK No.M25743 (6762032501).jpg
BR Mk 1 BSK, 34701 Grey / Black Ex IE Steam Heat Van
BR Mk 1 BSK E34929 Carmine / Cream Under overhaul (Modified for wheelchair use) BR Mk.I BSK No.E34929 (6762033895).jpg
BR Mk 1 BSK M35308 Maroon Rake 2 BR Mk.I BSK No.M35308 (6762336119).jpg
BR Mk 1 POT, 80435
BR Mk 1 BG W80893 Chocolate / Cream Discovery Coach at Winchcombe
BR Mk 1 BG S80926 BR Rail Blue and Pearl Grey BR Mk.I BG No.S80926 (6837213685).jpg
BR Mk 1 BG W81039 Chocolate / Cream Rake 3 BR Mk.I BG No.E81039 (6762034893).jpg
BR Mk 1 BG M81049 Maroon P-Way Mess Coach
BR Mk 1 BG 81512
BR CCT, 94486, and 94557
BR GUV, 94051

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Railway Magazine December 1957 p. 859
  2. ^ "Heritage Railway | Gloucestershire Railway | Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Archived from the original on 7 March 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith. Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham. Middleton Press. ISBN 978-1901706253.
  4. ^ "GWR - Gloucestershire's mainline heritage railway - Chronology". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway plc. 2010. Archived from the original on 2 August 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  5. ^ "GWR - Gloucestershire's mainline heritage railway - 2018 Timetable". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway plc. 2018. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Opening to Broadway - 30 March to 2 April 2018". Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Railway Reopened; Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Archived from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Broadway Railway Station | GWSR | Broadway | Toddington |". Steaming to Broadway. 19 March 2013. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  9. ^ Bill (21 January 2014). "Steaming to Broadway!: The Broadway Signal Box". Steaming to Broadway. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Cheltenham Local Plan Consultation". Railfuture. Archived from the original on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  11. ^ Johnston, Howard (1–14 May 2013). "Regional News". RAIL. No. 721. p. 24.
  12. ^ "Then and now: Looking towards Hunting Butts". GWSR. Archived from the original on 19 July 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  13. ^ Scott Wilson Group. "Waitrose Development, Cheltenham". Archived from the original on 21 September 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  14. ^ Development Control Sub-Committee (8 July 1997). "Redevelopment of the St.James site, Cheltenham". Gloucestershire County Council. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  15. ^ could take on the Broadway to Honeybourne trackbed.
  16. ^ "The end and the beginning". GWSR. Archived from the original on 19 July 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  17. ^ "The end and the beginning". GWSR. Archived from the original on 19 July 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Stratford on Avon District Council Stratford to Honeybourne Railway Reinstatement - Business Case Study Final Report" (PDF). Stratford Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  19. ^ "GWR - Gloucestershire's mainline heritage railway - Honeybourne Line train services continue despite Gotherington landslip". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway plc. 23 April 2010. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  20. ^ "Emergency Embankment Appeal | Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Archived from the original on 30 March 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°59′21″N 1°55′41″W / 51.98910°N 1.92813°W / 51.98910; -1.92813