Spring Diesel Gala – 12th to 14th of March
01 January 2004
The first major event of the season on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR), which operates between Toddington, Winchcombe and Cheltenham Racecourse Stations, is a special celebration of the diesel locomotive restorers’ skills. The line’s Diesel Gala takes place between Friday 12th and Sunday 14th March 2004.
Whilst the GWR is well known for its steam services, the line is also host to a magnificent fleet of beautifully restored diesel locomotives.
With the increasingly widespread introduction of ‘multiple units’, electric trains and high speed trains on the national network, a diesel locomotive hauling a train of passenger carriages has become a rare sight indeed. However, the distinctive sight and sound of the post-steam era on Britain’s railways will be recalled during this gala.
Visitors will be able to enjoy an intensive train service over the three days, with no less than seven locomotives expected to be in use, clocking up several hundred miles between them over the 20-mile round trip on the GWR’s line. Appearing in British Rail green livery, ‘Rail Blue’ livery, and the more recent ‘Freightliner’ livery they represent types that once regularly worked over the GWR’s route before the line was closed in 1976. All are now resident at Toddington and, subject to availability, the locomotives running will be as follows:
Class 14 No. D9539, Class 20 No. D8137, Class 24 No. 24081, Class 37 No’s 37215 & 37324, and Class 47 No’s 47105 & 47376
A spokesperson from the GWR’s Diesel Department says, “Restoring a main line diesel locomotive demands enormous technical skill and at Toddington, we have a group of extremely dedicated volunteers who have restored these locomotives from scrap yard condition. Some people might turn their noses up at diesels but they represent a vital era in the evolution of Britain’s railways. The types of locomotive we will be running during the gala took over from steam during the late 1960’s and were the mainstay of services throughout the country over the following 30 years. We can, therefore, promise visitors an unusual and special experience.”
The railway would also like to point out that one of the line’s diesel locomotives, Brush type 4 no 47 105, has a boiler to provide heating for the coaches. Steam engines, of course, had a ready supply of steam to keep the carriages warm. With the advent of diesels, steam heating boilers were installed for just this purpose, but today, there are no steam-heated carriages in regular main line service.
Trains will be running from approximately 10.20 from Toddington Station and 11.10 from Cheltenham Racecourse Station. Catering will be available in the ‘Flag and Whistle’ Tea Rooms at Toddington, whilst refreshments will also be available from buffet cars on the trains. Additionally, it is hoped that yard tours will be available so visitors can view other locomotive restoration projects such as Peak Class locomotive No. 45149 and Class 26 No. 26043. An all-day rover ticket costs just £9.00 for adults, which entitles travellers to change trains as they wish on the day of purchase.
Toddington station is 100 metres from the junction of the B4632 and B4077 roads and 6 miles from junction 9 of the M5, whilst Cheltenham Racecourse Station can be accessed from the main entrance to the Racecourse.
More details are available by phoning Toddington Railway Station (01242 621405).
Come along and support one of the most ‘Pro-Diesel’ Heritage lines in the UK.