Tuesday, 28 April 2015

GWR, GWR and GWR [1]

But Which One?
Despite disappearing from 1947 onwards (fbb was 2!) most people are familiar with this one:-
Sometimes known as God's Wonderful Railway, the original (and best?) Great Western Railway had a fame and a cachet that was second to none. Less familiar is this one:-
When First Great Western started upgrading their first class coaches, this appeared on the headrests. It was part of a campaign to build on the growing business of business travel for the top-end of the market.
video
Now we know that this ...
... is the new brand to be worn on the IEP trains on order for the main lines out of Paddington.

The Intercity Express Programme is an initiative of the Department for Transport (DafT) to procure new trains to replace the InterCity 125 fleet on the East Coast Main Line and Great Western Main Line, . There are to be two variants: the Class 800, which are electric/diesel-electric hybrids, and the Class 801, which are electric only.

Not only that but First are painting the trains GREEN!
Surely chocolate and cream would be better?

Perhaps less familiar to a general blog readership is this logo:-
It stands, not for Great Western Railway, but for the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway. The name was cleverly chosen by the keen prservationists for obvious reasons, although the line doesn't actually cross the border into Warwickshire ...
... yet; but will soon make it into another "W", namely Worcestershire.

Two things have provoked his series of blogs. The Thorncombe Railway Activites Club (TRAC - another clever logo) is planning an excursion there later this year. New member fbb may well go, having never visited the line. Secondly, and serendipitously, our hard-working Northampton correspondent has recent paid a visit and provided fbb with some possible blog ideas.

So, by way of background, let us place this bit of heritage railway into historical and geographical context.

The line was originally part of the Great Western Railway's Cheltenham–Stratford-upon-Avon–Birmingham line, known as the Honeybourne Line, built in 1900–1906, and runs through the Cotswold towns of Winchcombe and Bishop's Cleeve. 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 (1930 top, 2010 below) ...

... in 1984 over 700 yards 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 long Greet Tunnel ...

... and past the villages of Gretton, Gotherington and Bishops Cleeve. This culminated in the reopening of the line to Cheltenham Racecourse in 2003, by Princess Anne.
So the line today starts from Cheltenham Racecourse station (historically only opened on race days) ...
... and continues north to Gotherington passing the site of the former Bisjops Cleeve station. It then turns east ...
... via Grettton (another station of old), through Greet Tunnel and into Winchcombe. A return to a northbound trajectory ...
... takes the line through the company HQ at Toddington. There was another intermediate halt serving Hailes Abbey but called Hayles Abbey Halt.

Currenty the line continues north to the site of Laverton Halt, but there is now no station there. The next target is Broadway ...
... where arrival is likely in three years time. Aspirations are high in the long term. The plans include extension from Broadway to National Rail at Honeybourne and even southbound to Cheltenham Spa. Big ideas indeed.

CHELTENHAM
Racecourse station top right,
Cheltenham Spa bottom left.

So all we now need to do is to catch a train to Cheltenham Spa station and find our way to the Racecourse. It looks easy enough, but before we check on the route we do need to review the multiplicity of station dots in the Cheltenham area.

Tomorrow, then, we sort out the seven (eight?) railway stations that served this distinguished Gloucestershire town. 

Let's hope that fbb can get it right!

 Next rail blog : Wednesday 29th April 

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