Prestigious award for heritage railway and museum
By David Wood | 16th February 2023
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) and the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery have won a prestigious award.
The 'Heritage Railway Interpretation Award' is sponsored by Morton's Media, publishers of Heritage Railway magazine and is announced in the magazine today (Thursday).
The award is for the 'Journey through Steam' exhibition currently running within the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery. Originally intended to run from November 2022 until May 2023, it has, because of its popularity, been extended until November 2023.
The award will be presented at the glittering Heritage Railway Association Awards ceremony in Birmingham on March 11.
'Journey through Steam' tells the story of the building of the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham Railway and Broadway station, explaining the economic impact on the area served by the railway's stations and goods facilities.
It was opened throughout by the Great Western Railway in 1906. As road transport improved, the stations including Broadway, closed in 1960 and the line and closed completely in 1976, the GWSR beginning the long task of rebuilding what was popularly known as the 'Honeybourne Line' line in 1981.
The winner of this prestigious award is decided by the editor of Heritage Railway, Robin Jones, who said: "I was so impressed by the exhibition and the way it interprets the vital contribution the railway made to the community.
"Using explanations and photographs as well as historic artefacts such as uniforms, signalling equipment, locomotive name and number plates, historic train tickets, and much more no-one could be in any doubt about why the railway and the coming of Broadway station, had such an impact on local people and businesses."
Mr Jones says that a trip on the railway and a visit to Broadway station, which was rebuilt by GWSR volunteers and re-opened in 2018, should be combined with a visit to the 'Journey by Steam' exhibition.
He added: "Anyone visiting will gain an immediate appreciation of how the railway worked and what it was like to work on and use it. It brings the railway into the village for everyone to enjoy."
Mr Jones added that how the exhibition was put together by the railway's volunteers as well as the museum's staff and volunteers in just six weeks was equally impressive with many people lending rare and historic artefacts.
"This was a very enlightened move by Anona van Lawick, the museum's energetic and enthusiastic director. The railway and the museum have worked so well together and, in my view, this is an example that other heritage railways in the UK would do well to follow."
Anona van Lawick, the museum's director, added: "I'm so thrilled that we, the museum and the railway, have won this award and it has been such a joy to curate and host this exhibition and seeing the results of the team's hard work reflected so positively in our visitors' comments and smiles as they leave.
"It fits with the museum's ethos perfectly: telling the story of historic Broadway, how the village developed from the earliest settlements, its growth and prosperity built on the wool trade, through growth and decline of the coaching era to the present day.
"The railway played such a vital part in the economy of the village: its arrival meant that a trip to Cheltenham, for example, could be completed in just a few hours and not a full day. Distant markets such as in Birmingham and London were opened up for fresh produce from local farms. We are so pleased to be able to work with the railway to get this story over."
Richard Johnson, the railway's voluntary chairman, said: "I'm so thrilled for the team that put this imaginative exhibition together. It's so important that we expand our story beyond simply taking a train ride.
"When the GWSR was formed in 1981, British Railways had lifted all the track and demolished most of the buildings.
"Through tireless volunteer effort we have steadily rebuilt the railway to become one of the leading tourist attractions in the Cotswolds and depend on volunteer effort to run and maintain the railway today.
"This exhibition really does tell the story in an interesting and interactive way. I would particularly like to express my appreciation to Rose Mabbett and Mike Dodd, our archivists and our marketing manager Catherine Johnson; Anona van Lawick at the museum and. of course, all our volunteers for their imagination and enthusiasm in making this initiative such a success."
The GWSR has, in addition, been shortlisted for three other awards: 'Young Volunteer' for the work done on the railway by Alex Caulfield; Environmental Innovation for landscape management of the wildlife corridor which is the railway's 15-mile route between Cheltenham and Broadway and Marketing Communications. The winners of these awards will be revealed at the awards ceremony on 11th March.
A talk on 'The Great Train Robbery' will be hosted at the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery at 7pm on Thursday 20 April. Presented by local railway historian Ian Boskett, entry is £5 per ticket (also available via webinar). Contact Broadway Museum & Art Gallery for tickets: 01386 859047.
Copyright 2023 Moose Partnership Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content is strictly forbidden without prior permission.