Wednesday, 29 April 2015

GWR, GWR and GWR [2]

Considering Cheltenham Complications
This Railway Clearing House map shows Great Western tracks in yellow and Midland in green.Of these, only the former Midland line exists carrying, amongst others Crosscountry trains from the south west to Birmingham.

Thus it was in  1840  that the station we now know as "Cheltenham Spa" was opened without the Spa. It later had Lansdown added.
Queen Victoria visited briefly in 1849, hence the formality of the above engraving. The station building was grand and porticoed as befitted such an engineering magnificence.
The history of the line is complex involving predecessors to the Midland Railway and the Great Western; but the GWR arrived in its own right via Swindon and Gloucester in  1847  but veered right just before the "Midland" station and terminated at a station which became Cheltenham St James. The 1847 structure did not last and in 1894 a replacement was opened facing on to St James Square.
The road frontage is now a block of offices ...
... and much of the platform area is a Waitrose supermarket. We now have two stations, three is you count both the GWR termini! St James closed in  1966 .

In  1864   the Midland Railway opened a second station called Tewkesbury Road Bridge which was located, surprisingly where Tewkesbury Road crossed the line on a bridge, now a busy dual carriageway. 
For reasons unknown they rapidly changed its name to Cheltenham High Steet. Which is odd, because the station was not on the High Street! Station site top left; High Street bottom right.
Cheltenham High Street closed in  1910 .

In  1881  the line from Ansdoversford (etc) arrived from the east. An additional station was added at Leckhampton, later with Cheltenham added to its name. Apparently that was because some through trains from Birmingham via that roundabout route continued west without calling at either Lansdown or St James (see map at the top of this post) and Leckhampton offered such services a Cheltenham calling point.
Again,little remains apart from two bridge parapets without a bridge on Leckhampton Road. The line closed in  1962 .

It was late, in railway terms, when the Honeybourne line arrived in  1906 . This presented the managemnt of the GWR (Great Western, not yet Gloucestershire and Warwickshire) with an operational problem. To serve Cheltenham St James, trains would have to reverse ...
... so Malvern Road station was opened at the same time ( 1906 ). 
The trackbed here is a footpath and cycleway and th shape f the junction which led to St James can still be seen ...
... almost buried under a road bridge. Again closure of the station came in  1966  but the Honeybourne line itself lasted until  1977 .

Phew, we're nearly there. Thanks for sticking with it!

In  1908  a new halt was added where the line crossed High Street! And, tes, you've guessed, it was called Cheltenham High Street but with Halt added. It was just south of the over bridge that crossed yer actualy High Street and not Tewkesbury Road.
It closed in  1917 .

Lastly, number 7 (or 8) is Cheltenham Racecourse, surprisingly omitted  from Colonel Cobb's atlas, is now the southern terminus of the heritage GWR.

The station itself was opened in  1912  specifically to serve the new racecourse at Prestbury Park, home of the famous Gold Cup meeting. The platforms were extended at some stage to accommodate trains of up to 14 carriages. The station was only opened on race days and so facilities were rudimentary, but it continued to serve racegoers travelling 'by rail to the races' (as contemporary advertising put it) until the March  1976  Cheltenham Festival.

Today's facilites are much improved compared with the good old days!
So now we can try to get between Cheltenham Spa (one-time Lansdown) station to enjoy the Glouucestershire and not-yet-Warwickshire Railway.
Guide to travelling from Shoreham-by-Sea
to Watford Junction by No 3 Son

Today I tried the zone 6 extension ticket option to Watford, as buying a first class  single to Victoria in the morning limits my options.

I guessed I should buy the Shoreham to Zones 1 to 6 travel card with network rail card to return only from Victoria... £18 for a single return from Victoria to Shoreham or £15.80  for a Shorham to Victoria plus zones 1 to 6 travel card, off peak... its completely  stupid... £8 to extend return to Watford Junction, so I've probably saved around £20 I think.

Now I have to work out if I can buy a Zone extension in advance on a Southern Rail ticket machine... online.

How anyone is meant to make sense of this I've no idea...

In case you wondered, No 3 son has a contract for one day a week doing clever stuff with confusers in Watford, Herts. He lives at Shoreham Beach.

Tomorrow: Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA and Professor Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS on how to work a National Rail ticket machine in driving rain, at night, wearing gloves ...

... and carrying an open umbrella.
 Next bus blog : Thursday 30th April 


  1. Although technically, during its existence, in an adjoining Urban District you should also include Charlton Kings station. Charlton Kings has long effectively been part of Cheltenham (except from the viewpoint of some residents) and was incorporated into the borough in 1974.

    It is my understanding that the inclusion of Cheltenham South to the name of Leckhampton came about not because of trains to Birmingham but those from Newcastle to Swansea, which ran via Banbury. Getting railways through or around the Cotswolds was always a complicated business.

  2. Thanks. I did wonder about Charlton Kings! That males 8 (or 9). Thanks D also for clarifying the train details. Put my error down to pure ignorance.

  3. Mercifully, Southern ticket machines do sell boundary extension tickets - there's even a video!

  4. Should no. 1 son change at East Croydon for the Southern service to Watford Junction? There's a cheaper non-London fare i.e. routed via Kensington Olympia. Off peak first class day return £39.10 (anytime £72.80) standard equivalents £26.10 and £48.50.