musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: heritage rail

Tewkesbury Railway Remnants

This post is really an expansion of the the original post I did called “Up and Down The Avon” which was supposed to deal with a trestle bridge and which has been expanded considerably since then. I have now decided to create a single post dealing with my findings. Some of the images from that original post will re-appear here as a result. 

The whole story behind the railway in Tewkesbury really center’s around the long closed Upton-upon-Severn line, and frankly I am not the expert in this endeavour. There is a wonderful website that explores Malvern’s Lost Railway much better than I can.   

This post will start out at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, the current station that serves the town although it is nowhere near the town. 

Early morning charter tour train

Ashchurch used to be a major junction at one point, with lines heading in 4 different directions. A period map shows the basics of what was a very complex junction. Unfortunately I cannot put a date to this map

Tewkesbury would be left of the Junction and the line to Cheltenham will go downwards and Worcester upwards.  All that is left is the line to the right that terminates at the MOD Depot although it used to head towards Evesham.

There is also a water tower still to be seen near the station, but that is it.

That is the approach to what is left at Ashchurch, the line on the right curves off to the MOD depot.  

The trackbed of the railway line heading to Tewkesbury is now a cycle path, and I use it regularly. There is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway

The cycle path with the small bridge heading towards Tewkesbury

The little footbridge on the cycle path from the road beneath. The steel girders are still in place as is the brickwork although the bridge is a jerry built effort.

The cyclepath looking towards the town.

Somewhere along this path the line would have split, one section to the right becoming the Upton-upon-Severn branch and the remaining line headed into town where it would terminate at what is now Station Street. This is now a parking lot and I believe part of the wall dates back to the original station.
Close to the split is what I believe was the former goods yard, its impossible to access because of the vegetation and for some strange reason is fenced off. It is a mass of foliage and this corner is the best image I have of it. Google Earth co-ordinates are:  51.995903°  -2.147396°
The line would continue a bit further bisecting the town and heading towards Healings Mill that straddles the Avon and Severn. 
There is an interesting plaque in town that ties into this line.
 From the station the line ran into Quay Street and onto the mill. 
Quay Street

Quay Street

The Avon is bridged by two bridges at the mill. 

Bridge over the Avon

Bridge over the Avon

This bridge was erected in 1822, and is really two bridges alongside each other. The slight arch of this bridge would have made rail traffic difficult, so a flat bridge spans the river next to this one and this flat bridge would have carried the rail traffic into the mill area.  

That ends this branch line and we now return to where the line splits at the cycle path.

Returning back to the cyclepath, the line takes to an embankment that is completely overgrown, although it is doubtful whether any lines are still on it. There is a small gap at “Gas Lane” but the bridge for it is gone. The embankment continues to where it ends in a buttress at Bredon Road.   

The image above I took from the embankment and you can see the trestle bridge over the marina in the distance. My neighbour says that originally there was no bridge up to the trestle, the embankment stretched all the way across to it and the road only came afterwards. However, I spotted an image in town that may scupper that theory. The road was always there and was spanned with a bridge. The embankment then continued onwards to where the trestle bridge is today, it then crossed the current marina, went over the viaduct to the tunnel then onwards. 
That is the bridge that spans the road, and the buildings on the left still exist. I doubt that the current trestle bridge over the marina is the original, although the butresses still exist. 

The line then continued onwards to a viaduct that still stands although it has been fenced off

Did trains really travel over this viaduct? it is in line with the Mythe tunnel entrance so it is entirely feasible, 
This image I took from the approach to the viaduct, and the Mythe tunnel is where the cars are parked, I do think there must have been some sort of embankment leading to the tunnel though, the distance is quite short and for a steam engine to climb from the tunnel to the viaduct in such a short space would have been difficult as the grade would have been quite steep.  The Mythe tunnel still exists although it is sealed. Unfortunately the door was not accessible as it was fenced off although I was able to zoom into it from the gate. 
I discovered the other end in December 2016 and it is bricked closed. The tunnel appears to be roughly 300 metres long. 
That concludes the physical remnants in the Tewkesbury area, however, in Toddington you will find the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway that used to be based in Tewkesbury. They have a number of relics from Tewkesbury that I will explore next time I am there. The 3 images of the signage were taken in their engine shed. 
That more or less concludes my relics for now. I still have exploring to do, but from a railway point of view there is not much left. Sadly a lot of the closing of this line was courtesy of the infamous “Beeching Axe” while some closures pre-dated it. Such is the way of small towns, railways and accountants.  Fortunately many closed lines provided the basis for successful heritage operations, although in the case of Tewkesbury it did not. 
An interesting snippet from the British History website has the following:  
“A branch railway from the main line at Ashchurch was built under an Act of 1837 and opened in 1840. Until 1844, when the branch was extended to the Quay, the carriages were drawn to and from Ashchurch not by steam-engines but by horses.  In the same period Tewkesbury was losing its former coach traffic, and in 1845 the diversion of the London Hereford mail to the route through Gloucester and Ledbury deprived Tewkesbury of its last four-horse coach.  In 1861 the Malvern & Tewkesbury Railway was built  from the Tewkesbury branch through the Mythe, passing by a short tunnel under the Mythe Tute. It crossed the Avon by a cast-iron bridge designed by William Moorsom.  The station on the new line became Tewkesbury’s passenger station, and the branch station became the goods depot. Passenger services were withdrawn from both lines in 1961; the permanent way across the Mythe was removed in 1964, and in the same year goods services between Tewkesbury and Ashchurch were withdrawn.”
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 27/12/2016, added pic of Ashchurch 13/01/2016, 21/02/2017 
Updated: 02/04/2018 — 10:24

Cotswold Festival of Steam

Yes indeed, I spent the day at the Cotswold Festival of Steam held on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (aka The Honeybourne Line). This will be the fourth time I have travelled on this heritage railway, and it is quite an experience.

This 3 day event was centered around “Swindon Built” steam engines that were primarily built for the Great Western Railway. Sadly, Swindon no longer makes steam engines, but it is the home of Steam, Museum of the Great Western Railroad which I visited in January 2015.

It was promising to be a great day because there were a number of visiting steamers, as well as the long awaited running of 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S.N. Co’ – Rebuilt Merchant Navy class. I had been after a decent pic of this machine since first saw her at Toddington last year and hopefully today would be my chance.  

My day started at Cheltenham Race Course Station where I waited for 9.45 train. Much to my surprise it was a double header, and both were beauts and running tender first. The outboard engine being one of the visitors, as was the inboard.

There were a lot of people at the station, and most were brandishing cameras and that determined look that says “getoutofmywayyouareblockingtheengine!” I sometimes get that look too. Our outboard loco uncoupled and charged past us to the attach herself to the now front of the train. She was 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92214 which is the youngest BR and Swindon built steam locomotive in working order, dating from 1959.

The inboard loco remained behind. And, she was a real beauty that I really wanted to get more pics of, she is an LMS Ivatt 2MT class 2-6-0 no. 46521 and was visiting from the Great Central Railway

There was a scramble for seats and then we were off.

The one thing I realised about the GWSR is that their rails are full of joints and there is that hearkening to the grand days of joined rails that used to permeate train travel when I was young. Clickety Clack Clickety Clack!

First stop was the siding just outside Gotherington where we waited for the next train to pass. Unfortunately every door was occupied so getting a pic was impossible. I do know that the lead loco on that train was 7820 Dinmore Manor, and I suspect the second loco was 7812 Erlestoke Manor. I was really biding my time for Winchcombe where I would hopefully manage a pic of the next train as she entered Winchcombe.

Much to my surprise the next train was a goods! with a crowded brakevan of photographers, the Loco was 2807 (running as 2808), a ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built in 1905. I will be honest, I have never seen so many linesiders in one day as I did today. It just goes to show that steam engines can still pull crowds, no matter how insignificant they are.  

Once the goods was past we were on our way once again, heading towards my final destination Toddington. The train continues to Laverton, but there is really nothing to see there, except for the Stanway Viaduct and you really need to be watching a train crossing it as opposed to being on the train doing the crossing. 

The train at platform 1 had Modified Hall class 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremarke Hall in charge.

Out of interest, the train I had just climbed off was on platform 2 which is on the right, with the next train to Cheltenham at Platform 1 on the left.  The loco at the far end of the train on platform 1 was the one I was looking out for. But alas she was just out of sight and I would only be able to see her when the train pulled out. When it finally did she remained behind until it was safely away before she backed down the line. Finally, my Merchant Navy has arrived!

Theoretically, if she continued on this line she could end up crossing to the other line to attach to the back of the train I had just vacated. 

I was wrong, she headed backwards and turned onto a line heading back into the depot and then hid behind a signal pole, hoping that I would not see her. 

After a drink of water, The Red Dragon headed backwards down the line too but pulled off onto the other side and proceeded to move forwards to attach herself to the end of the train on platform 1. 

She is a stunning machine, and I only noticed when I got home that she was a 2-10-0. Now that is impressive. I think I have a new favourite. Interestingly enough she is sister to 92220 “Evening Star”  which had the distinction of being the last steam locomotive to be built by British Railways.

And just as I was about to dash off for a bathroom break.. along came 46521 with her train, now can I go for a bathroom break?

There was not much on the go at Toddington, a traction engine and steam roller occupied some space and that was about all.

There were however, stirrings afoot and my Merchant Navy Class was on the move so it was back I went and I finally got my pic!

She attached herself to the rear of the train that had just arrived at Platform… 1? or was it 2?

It is hard to say with all this steam about. 

I heard tootings from the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway and I headed in that direction for a look. Much to my joy there had two of their steamers out and about  

This beauty is called “Tourska” and she was built by Chrzanow in 1957 and is works number 3512. The other loco on the go was “Chaka’s Kraal No6” and she is a Hunslet and was built in Leeds in 1940, She spent most of her life in the sugar estates in Natal before being returned to the UK in 1981.  

I was tempted to go for a ride, but I had other things to do first, so would consider returning a bit later. It was time to see what was going where back at the station as I needed to make some plans.

My plans did not include a ride on that! The diesel is 11230, a Drewry industrial shunter.  In all likelihood I would grab the train that was now on its way back from Laverton and head down to Winchcombe. There was movement in the distance too, and that needed investigating.

 As I suspected, it was the goods train, and somewhere along the way she had had a loco change and was now under the control of 7812 Erlestoke Manor. 

and shortly thereafter, the train from Laverton started to appear around the bend.

46521 was still at the head of the train but now she detached from the train and settled down to have a drink and a smoke with the loco next door.

I boarded the train and off we went, heading for Winchcombe. I intended to bail there and go look at the carriage works again, and see what was waiting at the station for us to arrive.

That was 2808 waiting there, and her safeties were feathering all the time, she was ready to blast out of there. 

I was now trainless and headed out of the station towards where the carriage works were, but there was sign pointing towards the town that and I changed direction and headed off to Winchcombe town instead. I was hungry and frankly the queue outside ye pie shoppe was way too long for me. Besides, I really wanted to explore the town, so off I went, 1 mile? nah, that’s easy. 

To read about that portion of my day you can head off to the relevant blogpost about the town

I really thought that I was facing a 30 minute wait for the next train, assuming it wasn’t the goods train! However, on my walk to the station I could hear steam whistles and things were happening. As I got to the station a train arrived and it was heading to Cheltenham. The loco passed me as I got there and I saw it was 46521! The loco on the other platform was my Merchant Navy, but there was no time to grab a pic as the train that had just arrived was late, so she was not going to hang around…

We trundled back to Cheltenham, I was still hungry and footsore and just a tad bushed. The walk to and around Winchcombe had been a long one, and I really needed to start getting home.

Pausing at Gotherington.

I had to admit, it was nice country out here.

Then we arrived and all bailed out for the usual last minute loco photography.

The problem was, what loco would take the train out of Cheltenham? 7812 was sitting on the unused line waiting to shunt to the head of the train, and our current loco would probably take her place.

I walked up the long hill to the road and played chicken with a few cars who tried to run me down. I was very curious about where the line went to after Cheltenham Race Course. According to a book I bought at Toddington, the line enters the Hunting Butts Tunnel and then along a brick viaduct through the centre of Cheltenham and would have joined up with the main line between Bristol and Birmingham. The current station in Cheltenham is called Cheltenham Spa and it is far from the city centre. The former Honeybourne Line had 3 stations after Cheltenham Race Course.

I zoomed into the distance and could just see the roof top of the tunnel in the distance, but what was this loco in the foreground?

I returned to the station to photograph 46521 which should have the whole station to herself, seeing as the train had left. 

As I got to the ramp leading down to the station the loco that I had just seen started to move and it turned out to be 7820 Dinmore Manor. I had wondered where she had gotten to.

It turns out that she was doing “driver experiences” and went back and forth along the platform 3 times while I watched. 

And then it was time to go.

I stopped to photograph the vintage bus that wasn’t going anywhere.

But I was going somewhere, and that was home. It had been a long day and I was finished. I still had 2 buses to catch as well as a long walk home from Tewkesbury Town, and I was hungry too, but, It had been a good day out. I had seen some new loco’s and seen some old friends too. And, I had taken lots of pics and seen a cemetery and church too; and that made it all worth while.

© DRW 2017-2017. Created 28/05/2016 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:16

Return to the GWR

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 travelled 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 one 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.
gwr_diesel 095
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 Winchombe 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 Winchcome 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.

Video footage may be seen at my YouTube Channel

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 10/10/2015, images migrated 02/05/2016   

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:35

Traveling with the GWR (1)

While gravehunting recently in Prestbury Cemetery in Cheltenham,  I kept on hearing a steam whistle, and I had read that there was a heritage rail operation in the area called the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, it was time to investigate, and I duly headed in that direction on the 15th of August.
The railway runs from Cheltenham Race Course Station, to Gotherington, Winchcombe and then to Toddington stations where the loco shed and end point is. Actually that is not quite true as there is a halt further on called Laverton, which is really a signpost and not a station.  Like most heritage rail operations I have encountered in the UK I was amazed at the professionalism of the operation. They are staffed by volunteers and run like well oiled machines, just like their fleet of steam and diesel engines. 
I joined the train at Cheltenham Race Course Station for the run through to Toddington.
The loco in charge was a GWR 4200 Class, number 4270, and she dates from 1919 and she is one of 5 surviving sisters that were rescued from the famous Woodham Brothers Scrapyard in Barry. 
Her rake of coaches were a mixed bag of Carmine and Cream corridor and compartment coaches typically found in the UK. 
gwr 135
The train also had a buffet car and a compo van as well as a first class compartment coach. They are very comfortable coaches, totally unlike anything we had in South Africa. Oddly enough though, many of the internal fittings were the same as that found in South Africa, and the chances are the fittings all originated from the same place. 
Once our loco had had a drink she ran to the end of the line and then through the points onto the opposite line, ran past the train, back though the points and onto the back of the train (which was now the front of the train), she would run bunker first to Toddington. 
And then we were off. The line to Toddington has some challenging climbs until it comes to the Greet Tunnel which is almost the highest point of the line. The first station is Gotherington and I happened to be leaning out of the window as we came into it, and it looks like a fascinating place to visit as a destination. Technically from here you can just see Tewkesbury (although I expect binoculars would be needed).
The one things that amazes me is how children instinctively know how to emulate a team engine whistle, and I know that from the other heritage rail trips that I have taken.
The next “highlight” of the trip is the Greet Tunnel which is 693 yards long and it is the 2nd longest tunnel on a British heritage railway. I did try some photography in it using the camera flash, but my experiments were not really a success.
Next stop was Winchcombe and we stopped here to wait for the other train to arrive. The line is single rail between stations with passing blocks at the stattons. On this particular day there were 3 trains running on the system. 
And here comes the other train…
And with her out the way we could now proceed to Toddington. 
Our train is the one of the right, and the one on the left is the Railcar which runs between Laverton and Winchcombe. I had planned to look around Toddington and then grab the railcar to Laverton, and then reboard the train and travel back to Cheltenham with the next train depending on how much there was to see at Toddington. The loco shed is here and that was what I was really after. GWR also operates heritage diesels, and while these do not have the attraction of a steamer, some are really interesting machines in their own right.
45149 (D135) - Class 45/1 Diesel Electric Locomotive.

45149 (D135) – Class 45/1 Diesel Electric Locomotive.

Class 49 'electro-diesel 6036

Class 49 ‘electro-diesel 6036

26043 (D5343) Class 26, Diesel Electric Locomotive

26043 (D5343) Class 26, Diesel Electric Locomotive

Yorkshire Engine Company 372

Yorkshire Engine Company 372

Of course there were steamers too, but they were all in the wrong position to photograph, the closest I could see were:

2807 - '28xx' class heavy freight locomotive, built 1905

2807 – ’28xx’ class heavy freight locomotive, built 1905

35006 'Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co' - Rebuilt Merchant Navy class

35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co’ – Rebuilt Merchant Navy class

I would have really liked to have seen that Merchant Navy Class in action, but there was just now way to even get a decent pic of her.

I had decided to catch the railcar to Laverton and time was catching up with me so I headed across to the platform where she was was now due after a short jaunt to Winchcombe.

This particular example is 117 and it comprises cars W51405 (DMS), W59510 (TCL), W51363 (DMBS), although on this occasion there were only two cars coupled, of which both had a drivers end. They are powered by 2 x Leyland 680 150hp driving through 4-speed epicyclic gearboxes on each power car. It is an odd vehicle though, not quite a train, not quite a bus, although I was impressed by the smooth ride that it gave.

The trip to Laverton is a a short one, and the highlight is travelling over the Stanway Viaduct, which is 50 feet above the valley floor and comprises of 15 arches. You cannot really get a sense of these things when you are going over them, but you can bet that from ground level the viaduct is a pretty impressive piece of engineering.


The end of the line is Laverton. It is really just a signpost and not much else. However, there are future plans to extend the railway till it meets with the main line at Broadway, and then this operation will explode with traffic. It is 2 miles from here, so near, yet so far.
Our driver changed ends and we headed back to Toddington. Once we arrived I bailed out and went looking around again, realistically I wanted to catch a train back about 14H00, and it was do-able assuming I planned it right. The train was already in Toddington, but would not leave here until the other train had turned around at Cheltenham. It left me about 45 minutes to kill.

There was a particularly interesting exhibition in a restored bag van that had some fascinating arteacts in it, as well as a small shop with similar items.

Realistically Toddington is an eclectic place, with the emphasis on the past. They even have a narrow gauge railway at the station, but sadly this was not in use on the day when I was there.

Time was creeping, and I reboarded the railcar for Winchcomb as there were a lot of interesting pieces of rolling stock that I wanted to look at.

Unfortunately Winchcomb was a bit of a disappointment as the coaches were not accessible. It was a pity though as there were a lot of very interesting coaches to see.

I stuck my nose into nooks and crannies, passing time till my train arrived, or should I say, till both trains arrive. The one train cannot pass a section while there other is possibly in that section. It is the safe way to do things.


And then I heard a steam whistle.

It was not some imitation done by a child, but the sound of the train from Cheltenham. She would have to be alongside the platform and could only proceed until the Cheltenham bound train arrived. With minutes of her arriving my train hove along the bend and it was time for me to head off home.

That is the thing about trains, some arrive, and some depart, and some pass each other along the way.

My loco for the ride home was the 1928 built 2-6-2T – known as a ‘small prairie’ tank engine, and was used on light branch lines.  Her coaches were a crimson rake and they were just as nice inside.


As I left the station and headed for the bus stop I could hear the loco blowing her whistle, and I knew that I had heard that sound a few weeks ago, and that is what drew me to here in the first place.

It had been an awesome day, and I had seen so much interesting stuff and travelled on or behind three heritage railway vehicles. The GWR operation is fantastic, my only real gripe is that I did not get to see more of the loco shed, but otherwise, it was worth the time and effort. I returned to the GWR for the heritage diesel weekend, and you can read about it here.

Video of the some of the loco movements are on my youtube channel

© DRW  2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:30

Don’t mention the war!

Yesterday I spent the morning in Leicester, and decided to visit the cemetery closest to where I was. It happened to be a small cemetery called Belgrave cemetery, and my lift dropped me off close to the cemetery. On the approach to my destination I saw a sign for the Great Central Railway PLC and decided to have a look before continuing on my way. 
However, my plans for the cemetery took a nosedive when I saw that the railway was having a “Wartime Weekend”. I also caught a German Leutnant having his morning cup of coffee and cleaning his rifle. The French Tricolour was waving in the breeze. I could almost hear the theme music from ‘allo ‘allo playing in my head in the background. The station was reasonably deserted and the signage said that the first train would be arriving at 10H45. 
And that I was not standing in Leicester North Station but at…
I bid the German an Auf Wiedersehen and decided that I would be back at 10H30 and that he must not invade or start building fortification until I got back.  
In my absence the forces had gathered, busloads of children and their teachers, soldiers from the past and even more World War 2 era clad people were all awaiting the train. The soldiers were members of a re-enactment group that were going to partake in the Wartime Weekend.  
The platform side was crowded, there were at least 4 separate groups of school children all eagerly waiting for the train (as was I), and I spent quite a bit of time discussing uniforms and insignia with the soldiers and those involved with the re-enactment. According to the French station master the train was not too far off.
I moved to the opposite platform to wait for the train which soon appeared from under the bridge. 

As usual the crew did not have a lot of time to admire the scenery, they had to uncouple the loco and run her back to the end of the train, although she would then have to run tender first for the rest of her journey. The station is an endpoint and there is no turning triangle.

The loco is a LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 5305 and was built in 1936, being withdrawn from service in 1968.

Once the loco had moved I headed back to the platform to try get a closer look at her from the far end of the platform, but the military were everywhere!
And not only Allied troops, but the French Resistance was there too.

As I stood watching this I realised that a very similar scene may have played itself out in wartime Britain as children were evacuated from their homes, although back then the children would not be wearing hi-vis vests, pink backpacks and with cellphones clutched in their hands. It was really a poignant scene to witness, made all the more so when a group in the train started singing songs that were famous during the war.

The engine had coupled back onto the train and then pulled the guards van from the consist and shunted it back onto the spare platform line.

The platform was steadily getting less crowded, although the police and military were still in evidence.

I returned to the end of the train where the loco was moving back into her position for departure. And a shiney beastie she is too.

I turned to look down the platform, and it was empty except for a solitary railwayman plodding along, they were ready to go. A final clanking and rumbling from the steam engine, a blast on her whistle and she slowly started to steam away, leaving me almost on my own.

Curse this war! how much longer must it go on?

I had a quick look at the guards van that had been left behind; it is interesting how much different these are to the coaches we had back in South Africa.

And then it was time for me to go, we still had a long day ahead, and I had a long walk ahead of me too, but what an excellent morning it had been. A special mention must go to the people who participated and who were there in all their finery, they really did a great job and were all participating in what I hope is the sort of day those children on the train never forget.


© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:46

Steaming with the Chasewater Railway

On this slightly gloomy morning I headed down to Chasewater Railway which runs around Chasewater Country Park. It is really the remnants of the historic Cannock Chase Collier Line, and operates out of Brownhills West Station.
The station is almost a destination in itself, with a cafe, shop, museum, model railway, narrow gauge railway, and the normal gauged trains that run on the almost 4 miles of track almost around the Chasewater Reservoir.
There are 4 stations on the line: Brownhills West, Norton Lakeside, Chasetown (Church Street) and  Chasewater Heights. On this particular day they did 6 trips, each taking roughly 45 minutes. The locomotive in use was the diminutive Andrew Barclay 0-4-0st “Colin McAndrew” Works No. 1223 of 1911.
There were two coaches in the consist, one being a mixed slam door sub and the other a compo/guards/corridor first class saloon.  The former is in the image below.
This was my first experience of older BR passenger stock, and I was pleasantly surprised. The coaches were spacious and reasonably well appointed without the heavy leather and wood look of the old slam door subs in South Africa. However, I do not know whether this was what they looked like in BR service originally.
Compo/corridor coach

Compo/corridor coach

1st Class compartment

1st Class compartment

Presumably 3rd class?

I had decided to do the first trip to Chasetown Heaths as they supposedly had a G Gauge railway in the station, and then return to Brownhills for some snooping. I would then reboard at 1.30 and go all the way to the end of the line and head off home from there. 
Our diminutive loco was dwarfed by the coaches behind her, she looked way too small for such a load, but these small locos have big hearts as they were built for industrial use and were very good with large loads. 
The station had a number of  lines around it, filled with the old, tired and derelict, and projects for the future. Diesels were very well represented, as were a number of old industrial wagons. I suspect the railway operates on the “preserve what can be preserved and hope that one day we can tackle the rest when we have funds/volunteers/skills/spares”. It is a dilemma faced by most heritage rail and preservation societies.
And then we were off….
And we were off slowly! This loco was not in a hurry at all, but then considering that there was no real rush I can understand the leisurely pace. The track is also not a very long one, so completing it in 45 minutes was probably very do-able. I could probably walk the same track in the same time, but at this moment it was good to hear a steamer in front of the train once again.
The trip to Chasetown Heaths was short and I  bailed out to grab some pics and to see the G Gauge railway.
Unfortunately the G Gauge was not happening, so I spent some time idling around while I waited for the train to return. I was very interested to see whether they had turned the loco around, considering her size I would be surprised if they didn’t. 
Lo and behold they had shunted the loco to the back of the train (which was now the front), and she was running cab first, which made the drivers life so much easier as all the smoke was blowing over the coaches and not over the loco. 

Now that I was back at Brownhills West I could take a look around the museum and the rolling stock in the yard and sheds. There are no mainline locos stabled here, it is mostly an industrial engine operation, and it is very professional and smart too.

I then scoped out the museum, but as I did not grow up in the UK a lot of the heritage here was outside of my experience and knowledge. I then had a look at some of the other equipment on the lines into the sheds and next to the station, and there were a lot of very interesting items. 

It was almost time for me to leave. The train had arrived and the loco was up at the water tank having a drink and stocking up with coal for her next trip. It was almost 13H30, and I was finished for the day. All that was needed was a last trip to the Church Street Station. 

The end of our coach had a glass window where you could see the loco in front, and it was monopolised by a woman and a baby, but I did get one shot from it, and you can see the cab and the driver and fireman. 

I almost forgot to get off at the station, and once I did I saw the passing loop that they used to run the loco to the back of the train, there was no need for a triangle or a turntable. 

And as I crossed the bridge to get home I could see the two brown coaches, the small green loco hidden from view, but ready to take her locad back to the starting point. There were two more trips to go, and by the time I got home she would be getting ready once again,  and I could not help but think that the loco reminded me a lot of Ivor the Engine.


I returned to the Chasewater Railway on the Easter Weekend and they were using two loco’s. The Friday was being handled by a class 08 Diesel Shunter D3429, and the Saturday by a Hunslett saddle tank loco 3783 “Holly Bank No3”. I also returned on Sunday to see the Peckett in action, and look for my lost camera batteries. In all it was a very successful outing.

Class 08-D3429 (Built in Crewe 1958)

Class 08-D3429 (Built in Crewe 1958)

Hunslett Saddle tank 0-6-0ST "Holly Bank 3"

Hunslett Saddle tank 0-6-0ST “Holly Bank 3”

Peckett & Sons 2012 “Teddy”.

On Saturday 15 May, I went to get better images of the Class 08 diesel and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were two trains running on that day, and one was waiting at Chasetown Church Street for the passenger train to arrive with the Class 08 in charge. This train consisted of 3 brakevans, and the loco in charge was a saddle tank Bagnall 2842 of 1946.

Bagnall 2842 of 1946

Bagnall 2842 of 1946

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 22/03/2015, updated 15/05/2015, images migrated 28/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:11

SIA Evaluation: Sanrasm North Site

On 10 September 2010 I was unofficially included in the team that went to Sanrasm to evaluate the collection and make recommendations. These are the images taken at North Site. The biggest obstacle that was faced was that North Site was no longer connected to South Site or to the line to Magaliesburg that divided the two sites. Moving anything would involve a crane, and there weren’t really funds to do this. Some very difficult decisions had to be made though, and I am glad that logic finally overcame pig headedness. In my opinion North Site had the real gems, but the conditions of the equipment realistically made them only fit for scrap. The coaches were rotten, the locos rusted away, and the chopped up Garrett collection still angered everybody.

These are probably amongst the last images taken of these two sites before they started being rationalised.

Class 1 No.1277

Fireless locos

The “shed”

Henschel tank loco

Derelict steam rollers

Class 13, ex H2 Tank

O&K 0-4-0 Well-Tank

Torpedo tender

Steam roller

1/2/3 class balcony 6086

Engineers caboose

Scrap line

Engineers caboose

2nd Class E-16 8868

0-10-0 Henschel Diesel 18489

Hopper wagon

Breakdown crane

4 Wheeler

abandoned water tank

S class tender

Fireless loco

Drakensburg SB Van

Underground loco

Bag van

Avonside 0-4-0 side-tank 1624

Class S -367

DRW ©  2009-2019. Retrospectively created 12/06/2017

Updated: 09/04/2019 — 05:54

SIA Evaluation: Sanrasm South Site

On 10 September 2010 I was unofficially included in the team that went to Sanrasm to evaluate the collection and make recommendations. I will not go into the backdoor politics that had to happen to even get to this point, and neither will I name any names. The biggest obstacle that was faced was that North Site was no longer connected to South Site or to the line to Magaliesburg that divided the two sites. Moving anything would involve a crane, and there weren’t really funds to do this. Some very difficult decisions had to be made though, and I am glad that logic finally overcame pig headedness.

These are probably amongst the last images taken of these two sites before they started being rationalised.

NGG 13 Garratt No.58.

Berliner side-tank 8786

NBL Side tank

161 Phantom Pass

Class 14R-1909

Aveling & Porter steam roller.

Fowler or Foden steam roller

Slam door sub

GDA Garratt No.2259


L-14 Driving trailer

GF Garratt No.2404

4-10-2 NBL side-tank 23722

Class 1 No.1252

Shashi interior

Class 1 No.1253

GF Garratt No.2404

Slam door sub

Class 14R-1909

NBL Side tank

Class 19D-2644 Wardale

NBL Side tank “Jenny”

Hunslet Tank No.790

Kitson Tank No.2269

Class 6 No.473

Class 1 No.1252

Slam door sub

Class 14R No.1705

Class 14R “Joyce”

Class 3BR No.1483

Class 16CR No.816

Class 6A No.454

Class G side-tank 206

Class G side-tank 206

Class 15CB

GMAM No.4125

2-10-2 industrial Tank 61553

Class 15CB

GMAM No.4125

DRW ©  2009-2019. Retrospectively created 12/06/2019

Updated: 09/04/2019 — 05:53

Inside Sanrasm North Site

North Site was fascinating. There were a lot of really interesting bits and pieces there, as well as a large collection of unanswered questions. Most of the very old coaches were very dangerous, woodwork was rotten, steelwork corroded, and not to mention the ever present danger of huge thorn bushes, bees and possibly snakes. There were also 3 baggage vans that were locked and we never did find out what was inside of them. Knowing Sanrasm it was either historic, or just junk. The workshops were fascinating too, but they had been left to rot away, and the closed loco shed housed two historically important locos. Most of the material here had been donated or bought for a song, but once acquired, it had been left to rot. We know who to blame, but realistically blame can also be apportioned to the members of the group who never questioned what was going on. Most volunteers had long left, and this place was going nowhere really fast. Once again this page is graphic intensive, so it may be slow.

Re-used Balcony coach

2nd Class E-16 Coach 8868

Engineers caboose

Derelict balcony 1/2/3class 6086

Derelict steam rollers

0-4-0 Ruston Diesel Shunter

2-4-0 Tank ‘La Moye’

abandoned water tank

Garratt graveyard

Garratt graveyard

Garratt graveyard

Grafton Steam crane

Class S -367

0-10-0 Henschel Diesel 18489

Fireless loco

Drakensburg SB van 2295

Fireless locos and scrap

NGG 11 Garratt No.53

DZ wagons

Torpedo tender

O&K 0-4-0 Well-Tank

Underground loco

Engineers caboose

Private saloon

Davenport diesel shunter

Class 13 1336

Derelict balcony 1/2/3class 6086

4-8-2 Avonside side-tank

Derelict crane

Hawthorn Diesel Shunter.3867

Derelict foot bridge

Crane boom



Wheel drop pit

Derelict compartment

Bag van

Engineers caboose stove

fireless loco

Class S -367

Abandoned boiler

Class 1 No.1277

© DRW 2009-2018. Retrospectively created 12/06/2019

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 10:05

Inside Sanrasm South Site

I was lucky to be able to get inside Sanrasm when one of my friends managed to get himself a job cleaning up the place. That entailed cutting grass, trimming trees and vegetation, clearing up years of accumulated rubbish. It also meant navigating egos and placating the resident empire builder. Through him I was able to access the rolling stock and other heritage items inside both sides of the track, and what I saw was shocking, but also fascinating.

Historically there were many important locos and coaches, and some were the only representatives of their class. Most had been vandalised beyond repair, and some were rotten when they got there, but a lot had happened during the tenure of the that one person. A lot of the rot was easy to sort out, it just required a bit of work. Work that was seemingly beyond them. But, enough said, lets get on with the show. These page are very graphic intensive so may take awhile to load. Datewise my files date from 01/05/2009 through to 02/08/2009 when he gave up. 

Class 16DA No.844

Berliner side-tank 8786

Class 14R ‘Joyce

Slam door sub

Slam door sub

Slam door sub

GDA Garratt No.2259

L-14 Driving trailer

GM Garratt No.2301

Class 1 No.1253

Class 1 No.1252

Aveling & Porter steam roller

Former JHB Tram

Class 12A Industrial

Class 6A-473

Kitchen Car 282

Class 6A-473

GMAM Garratt No.4089


Slam door sub

2nd Class coach 2123

4-10-2 NBL.23722

NGG 13 Garratt No.58.

Class 14R-1909

4-8-2 NBL.25916 “Jenny”

Wardale 19D – 2644

Engineers Caboose

GMAM Garratt No.4089

Class 14R No.1705

NBL side-tank

Class 15F No.3051

Class 15F No.3051

Drivers seat

2nd Class Coach 2123

Kitson Tank No.2269 “Kitty”

Hunslet Tank No.790

161 Phantom Pass

Shashi 229

Shashi 229

Shashi 229

Slam door sub interior

Class 6A No.454

Class 6A No.454

© DRW 2009-2018. Retrospectively created 12/06/2016

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 10:05
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