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Gloucestershire Business News

Full steam ahead for railway's biggest festival

Organisation of the Cotswold Festival of Steam on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (Cheltenham Racecourse - Broadway) is almost complete.

The event takes place from Friday, June 3, to Sunday, June 5, over the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and is the GWSR's celebratory event.

The timetable is set, the first of the five visiting locomotives has arrived and the event is shaping up to be a wonderful homage to the former and lamented Somerset & Dorset Railway which once ran over the Mendips between Bournemouth and Bath. This event was originally planned for 2020 but was abandoned because of lockdown.

Two of the locomotives visiting worked over this wonderful railway, which was a victim of the infamous Beeching cuts, closing in March 1966. But well-known express trains such as the 'Pines Express' (Manchester-Bournemouth) will be recreated over the weekend.

The Cotswold Festival of Steam is the railway's biggest annual attraction and takes place after an absence of three years, thanks to the Covid pandemic.

In all, nine locomotives will be in steam and working over the beautiful Cotswold heritage line. Perhaps the most noteworthy will be 9F 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince: this is a welcome return to the GWSR for the first time in 10 years. It was bought in 1968 direct from British Railways by the late wildlife artist David Shepherd, who frequently visited the GWSR over the ten years it was based at Toddington. The locomotive is now owned by the North Norfolk Railway. No. 92203 was for a time in British Railways ownership, based at Bath to work trains over the Somerset & Dorset.

Other features over the weekend include opportunities to ride on the demonstration goods train brake van; visits 'behind the scenes' at the locomotive workshops at Toddington and Carriage & Wagon works at Toddington; non-stop trains over the full length of the line; shunting at Winchcombe station using a quirky 'Sentinel' steam locomotive (a type that once worked the sidings and coal mine lines at Radstock); and a beer tent and refreshments.

The privately-owned Gotherington station will be open with a chance to try the 'pump trolley' on the private siding here; displays, model railways and much more.

Of interest to many enthusiasts is the visit of Julian Birley with his Bentley Mk 6 car - which was once owned by the well-known railway photographer Ivo Peters who took many hundreds of pictures of trains on the Somerset & Dorset route.

An event not to be missed with enjoyment for all the family! Tickets are available online or on the day at the railway's booking offices at Cheltenham Racecourse, Winchcombe, Toddington and Broadway. 

Full information at https://www.gwsr.com/enthusiasts/major_events.html 

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