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 have restored and reopened around 14 miles (23 km) of track, operating between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. The company had raised £1.38 million to extend northwards to Broadway, and completed the project in 2017-18 (see below).

In the foreseeable future, the GWSR will eventually begin working on plans to extend a further 6 miles (9.7 km) to Honeybourne, (where one half of an island platform has since been partly rebuilt for future usage).


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.[2] 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.[3] 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,[4] 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, Day out with Thomas events 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.

Signalling of the Heritage GWSR

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.[5][6]

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 2019
  • Toddington – operational
  • Winchcombe – operational
  • Gotherington – operational
  • Cheltenham Racecourse – operational

Future development plans

North to Broadway

The GWsR opened its extension to Broadway in Worcestershire to the public on 30th March 2018.

South to Cheltenham

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.[citation needed]

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[7]
  • 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 metres 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.

The primary impediment is a bowstring bridge (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 in 2002.[8] The resulting bowstring bridge follows a section of former railway embankment, which was removed to provide road access to the new store.[9]

North from Honeybourne

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.[citation needed] A reduced application for the 15 miles from Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway was submitted.[clarification needed]


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.

2010 (Gotherington)

In April 2010 the GWSR suffered a landslip of an embankment near Gotherington.[10] 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)

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 is 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.

Steam locomotives


Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 2807 GWR 2-8-0 2800 Class Fully operational, built in 1905 with boiler ticket expiry due in 2020. Historically significant as the oldest locomotive to have ever been rescued from Barry Scrapyard. GWR Green, Great Western Lettering GWR 2807 steam loco.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

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. Currently at Crewe for repair. GWR Green, GWR Lettering 4270 GWSR.JPG

Undergoing restoration, repairs or overhaul

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 2874 GWR 2-8-0 2800 Class Major restoration has begun. Built in 1918 Left Swindon in November and 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 BR Standard Class 4 76077 at Barry.jpg

Stored or static

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. http://www.gwsr.com/userfiles/images/Profile_Locos/john_ws.jpg

Diesel locomotives and DMUs


Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. D2182 BR 0-6-0 Class 03 Operational BR green with late crest Class 03 D2182 at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.jpg
No. 11230 Drewry 0-6-0 Class 04 Operational BR black with early crest Hugh llewelyn 11230 (5573368453).jpg
No. D8137 BR Bo-Bo Class 20 Operational BR green with full yellow front end Hugh llewelyn D8137 & 47 105 (5567935399).jpg
No. 24081 BR Bo-Bo Class 24 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends 24081 departing Cheltenham Racecourse.JPG
No. D5343 BR Bo-Bo Class 26 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends D5343 at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.jpg
No. 37215 BR Co-Co Class 37 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends 37215 gwr.JPG
No. D6948 BR Co-Co Class 37 Operational Original BR green Hugh llewelyn 37 248 (5567920241).jpg
No. 45149 BR 1 Co-Co 1 Class 45 Operational BR blue with full yellow ends 45149 at Toddington station.JPG
No. 47376 "Freightliner 1995" BR Co-Co Class 47 Operational Freightliner grey 47376 at Toddington.JPG
No. 73129 "City of Winchester" BR Bo-Bo Class 73 Operational BR blue with yellow warning panels 73129 City of Winchester old oak common depot.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

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 47105 BR Co-Co Class 47 Undergoing overhaul BR blue with full yellow ends Hugh llewelyn 47 105 (5568526842).jpg
No. 20035 BR Bo-Bo Class 20 Component recovery Orange and white livery of the CFD (Compagnie de Chemins de Fer Départementaux')
No. W55003 BR Class 122 Undergoing restoration 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

Operational coaches are shown in bold.

Origin Type Number Notes Photograph
BR Mk 1 RBR, 1672, 1675 and 8805 (ex-army)
BR Mk 1 RMB, 1808 and 1876
BR Mk 1 RU, 1965 and 1972
BR Mk 1 FO, 3132
BR Mk 1 SO, 4787, 4790, 4798 and 4806
BR Mk 1 TSO, 3960, 4440, 4763, 4772, 4869, 4986, 5023, and 5042
BR Mk 1 BSOT, 9000
BR Mk 1 FK, 13326, 13329, 13337
BR Mk 1 CK, 16195, 16221
BR Mk 1 BCK, 21275
BR Mk 1 SK, 24949, 25341, 25451, 25501, 25618, 25646 and 25743
BR Mk 1 BSK, 34701, 34929, and 35308
BR Mk 1 Autotrailer, 975076
BR Mk 1 POT, 80432, 80434, 80411 and 80435
BR Mk 1 BG, 80926, 81039, 81049, 92199, and 92418
BR Mk 1 TPO, 92384
BR CCT, 94486, and 94557
BR GUV, 94051

See also


  1. ^ Railway Magazine December 1957 p. 859
  2. ^ Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith. Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham. Middleton Press. ISBN 978-1901706253. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ "Broadway Railway Station GWSR Broadway Toddington ". Steaming to Broadway. 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  6. ^ Bill (2014-01-21). "Steaming to Broadway!: The Broadway Signal Box". Steaming to Broadway. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  7. ^ Johnston, Howard (1–14 May 2013). "Regional News". RAIL. No. 721. p. 24. 
  8. ^ Scott Wilson Group. "Waitrose Development, Cheltenham". Archived from the original on 21 September 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Development Control Sub-Committee (1997-07-08). "Redevelopment of the St.James site, Cheltenham". Gloucestershire County Council. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  10. ^ "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. 

External links

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