Monday, 4 July 2022

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s Diesel Gala

Back after a two year ‘Covid’ enforced absence is a much missed summer festival of heritage diesel traction. Over the three day event passengers will be transported back to a time when British Rail ran locomotive hauled trains the length and breadth of the country, from large powerful express locomotives on inter-city journeys, to smaller mixed traffic and freight types many of which were pressed into use during the summer months taking people from the towns to our seaside resorts.

All these sights and sounds will be re-created once more on the 14 mile route along the edge of the Cotswolds from Cheltenham Racecourse to the magnificently rebuilt Broadway station at this picturesque Cotswold village. Over the 3 days, the magnificently restored collection of vintage diesel locomotives will be clocking up over 1000 miles between them as they celebrate the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

This year, despite the ever increasing costs of transport the railway will mark the return of summer gala by welcoming for the first time one of the iconic class 55 ‘Deltic’ locomotives that were so synonymous with high speed running along the East Coast Main Line route from London to Edinburgh between 1961 and 1981. 

No.55019 ‘Royal Highland Fusilier’ will be breaking new ground for the class and will become the first ever Deltic locomotive to operate over the former Stratford upon Avon to Cheltenham main line, thanks to the its owners the Deltic Preservation Society. An historic occasion.

Up to 10 trains each day will run to Broadway, with even more running between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse giving a full 28 mile round trip on most services, which together with passing trains in the loops at Gotherington, Winchcombe and Toddington allows a 45 minute frequency service all day. There will be something for everyone - for families looking for a great day out as well as for the railway enthusiast. For the haulage enthusiast, the regular timetable allows a wide variety of 'moves' to be made throughout the day in pursuit of your favourite traction. Come and re-live the atmosphere of travelling by British Rail (remember them?) from 40 and 50 years ago. The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s live again!

The majority of the fleet of heritage diesel locomotives are now well over 50 years old so the event also pays tribute to the history of British electrical and mechanical engineering from the 1950s and 1960s - a time when Britain was still at the forefront of locomotive technology and exported railway locomotives all over the world. At Toddington, you will be able to visit the diesel maintenance shed and see up close one of the immaculately restored class 37 locomotives no.D6948 and 1959 built class 26 no.D5343 both of which are undergoing overhaul.

The best way to buy tickets for the event is in advance over the internet. Avoid any queues on the day and benefit from an on-line discounted price – one day adult tickets are available for just £27! Multi-day rover tickets offering substantial savings are also available if booked in advance. Alternatively just turn up and pay on the day (adult tickets £30). The railway is also offering multi-day rover tickets (if booked in advance).