I returned to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway (GWR) this morning as it was their Heritage Diesel Weekend. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I first traveled on this line on 15 August 2015. Make no mistake, I am not a diesel fanatic, if anything I prefer electric traction to diesel, but I am afraid heritage electric traction is rare because so few heritage lines are electrified. Diesel, whether you love it or hate it does have a place in heritage rail. It does not have the pulling power (gawkers as opposed to tractive effort), of steam though, but days like this tend to bring all manner of people out of the woodwork and into their anoraks.
We started out once again at…
Cheltenham Race Course Station. And our loco in charge was this very fine Class 37 no: 37215. I am quite fond of these Class 37’s as they are really quite handsome beasties and reasonably noisy.
This was the 10H10 train and she would be in charge all the way to Toddington and possibly Laverton too. I had decided to grab this early train so that I could get away early as I have been struggling with hip problems lately and am not really feeling too energetic. The weather was a dirty grey and it stayed that way the whole time. Then we were off, and our train made reasonable good time until we ground to a halt just outside Gotherington. Personally I would have preferred going into Gotherington as it is quite an eclectic station, although only long enough for the first 2 coaches. I had a feeling that we were waiting for something, and I was proven right when another train drawn by two diesels thundered past us heading for Cheltenham. I could not get any pics of it though, but was not too amused as that train was a double header!
We rumbled into life once again and soon entered Winchcombe where theoretically we would wait for the train heading to Cheltenham to arrive. But hadn’t it already gone past us? I stuck my head out of the door and within a few minutes I saw stirrings amongst the gricers waiting at the end of the platform, as well as the sound of a two tone hooter.
Although I was puzzled, they had 3 trains running between Winchcombe and Cheltenham. It was getting crowded. With a pee-parp we pulled away and wound our way out of Winchcombe with its lines of derelict coaches towards Toddington. My plans were not too complicated. I would bail at Toddington and take a look around before catching a train either to Laverton or back to Winchcombe. It really depended on the diesels that were running around.
Arriving at Toddington there were two diesels idling on the roads, and it was anybodies guess what would happen here.
This odd looking machine is D8137 and she is a diesel electric loco built in 1966. She does not win many prizes for looks though.
As you can see her other end is flat, and it is hard to decide which way looks better. She reminds me a lot of a stretched class 08 though, and sounds a lot like the diesels that I remember back in South Africa. I left the train at Toddington, there was no train from Laverton at Platform 2 so I decided to go look at the shops and the diesel workshop which was open for visits. There were two diesels in the workshop at the moment, the first being a very handsome Class 37 No: 37248
She has been undergoing refurbishment and is looking very handsome in British Rail green. The diesel behind her is a Brush Type 4 No: D1693. She is also known as a Class 47 (No: 47105).
I also got a look into her cab and this is the drivers position.
Outside the workshop was a whole yard of interesting goodies. But, the lighting was awful, and alas my shots of 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co’ – Rebuilt Merchant Navy class came out lousy, which is a real pity, as I had wanted to photograph her last time I was here and all I got then was her tender.
Close to her on another line was 2807, a 28xx heavy freight loco, built 1905.
and my two friends from my last trip.
It was time to stop drooling and get my rear end back to the platform to see what was happening. According to my timetable a train was due to arrive from Laverton followed shortly by one from Winchcombe.
A quick look down the line from the pedestrian bridge did not reveal any movements so I went down to the platform to await the arrival from Laverton. Technically this was the same train that I had just rode from Cheltenham.
I was right, and it was D8137 in front with 37215 on the rear end. There was also a gathering of gricers looking eagerly down the line towards Winchcomb. What was on its way?
I will be honest, I have no idea what loco this is. I shot video from this point, and the only pic I did get of her was this one:
Looking at my video she is D5081 (no;:24081) which makes her a class 24. She also sounded a lot like a washing machine I once had.
I crossed back to Platform 2 to see whether I could get decent pics of D5801, but she was effectively blocked by Class 37. However, there were stirrings afoot and I headed towards the back of the train on platform 2 to see what was attaching itself to the rear of the train that had just arrived.
I had a feeling I would see her again. But it was time to get onto my train back to Winchcombe on Platform 2.
The train to Laverton pulled out and I was left staring at Platform 1 and saw movement in the distance.
I debated whether to disembark and go have a look or not when the decision was taken from me and we started to move; that would save me a walk!
E6036 is an electro-diesel from 1962. And she can be used as a conventional diesel loco or use the 3rd rail pick-up in electric mode. These are really quite handy machines to have, although her electric capabilities are limited where she is now. At Winchcombe everybody was waiting for us to arrive.
And this was the double header train that had passed us earlier at Gotherington. The lead loco was looking resplendent in Freightliner livery and she is class 47376 (D1895), a Brush Type 4.
and her partner in grime was class 26043 (D5343).
This pair made a wonderful noise as they passed us all, and I am sorry that I had not caught this train at Cheltenham originally. At Winchcombe is the carriage works for GWR, and these were open for viewing. I am a sucker for old coaches and there were quite a lot of variations in these over the span of rail in the UK. I cannot however identify any of them, but that does not stop me looking.
There was one vehicle that was fascinating here and at first I thought it had a snow plough blade underneath it.
But it turns out that this is actually a ballast spreading blade, and it is controlled by a very nautical looking “bridge”.
This “helm” is really used to raise or lower the blade. There was also a coach having work done on its undersides, and I was reminded how professional this operation is. It may be staffed by volunteers but it is a very well run railway!
There are a lot of derelict coaches and old rolling stock here, and I suspect there is a plan somewhere as to what will happen to them all if/when funds and volunteers are available. Until then we can only dream.
There is even a heritage shunter at the carriage works, she is D2182, a diesel mechanical shunter built in 1962.
I had intended going into Winchcombe proper, but I really did not have the energy, and the next train would take me back to Cheltenham. In fact, while I was taking a look at the model train exhibition the class 117 diesel railcar arrived.
Which meant my ride home was on her way.
Yes, and it was the diesel I expected. 45149. Class 45/1 diesel electric from 1961. And she is as old as I am. I climbed on board and sort of settled down for the ride home. The Greet tunnel was not too far off and I was hoping to get some video going through it.
Past Gotherington, where the up train was waiting for us to pass.
And finally into Cheltenham Race Course station and all stop. We bailed out and headed to the front of the train to watch the diesel run to the back of the train.
And then I was heading up the hill back to town. It had been an eventful day. I had seen 15 loco’s today, and that is impressive. The problem with steam is that running 3 trains like this is difficult. Steamers need a drink and a fire cleaning and there are more diesels available than steamers. In a few years time these diesels will be the heritage because the steamers can only run for so long and sooner or later somebody is going to find a way to stop them running completely. Personally I just like the fact that these are old machines, and in their day they were amongst the top of the range. Today they are only found in a few places because nobody ever really considered preserving them when they lived out their useful lives. Today they are prized heritage items, and as such are worthy of a weekend of their own.
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