Gloucestshire and Warwickshire Steam Railway ‘on track’ for Easter Broadway return

First train stands in the new Broadway Station // Credit Jo Roesen
First train stands in the new Broadway Station // Credit Jo Roesen

The Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway and its volunteers are working flat out to make sure things are ready for the first public trains to stop at Broadway station for nearly 60 years on Good Friday (30th March) 2018.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester will signal the re-opening of the station by unveiling a plaque to recognise the achievement of volunteers who have tirelessly built the extension.

The reopening special will be headed by steam locomotive No. 7903 ‘Foremarke Hall’, GWSRs flagship locomotive, and will depart Cheltenham Racecourse at 9:40 – more than 14 miles to the south.

The station building is substantially complete, using heritage bricks and also has a riveted, rather than being welded – this is to the original 1903 design.

What did the officials say?

The railway’s volunteer chairman, Richard Johnson, says: “This puts Broadway firmly on the railway map once again! British Railways withdrew local train services and closed the original station in March 1960 with the buildings and platforms demolished in 1963.

“Although the line itself, once a vital link between the West Midlands and Wales and the West Country, remained open for through freight and passenger trains, the whole line was closed in 1976 and, by the end of 1979, the track and remaining infrastructure had gone.

“The reopening of the line on 30th March is recognition of the vision of the early preservation pioneers, who took occupation of a derelict Toddington station in 1981 and started progressively to rebuild our delightful railway through the Cotswolds. It’s also a huge triumph for the railway’s 950 or so volunteers who operate and grow what has become one of the UK’s top heritage railways.”

Lord Richard Faulkner, who is a Patron of the railway, President of the Heritage Railway Association and a parliamentary champion of the economic contribution that heritage railways make to the UK tourist economy, commented “I’m hugely looking forward to the privilege of flagging the first train out of Broadway station, 58 years to the month since the last one departed. It underlines what can be achieved by the astonishing determination of well-coordinated and visionary volunteer effort. This is a railway that has come a long way in every sense since the first moves to preserve it back in 1979.

“It is not only run to the highest professional standards but has overcome hurdles** that would be beyond the economic capability of commercial organisations. These volunteers have rebuilt a former main line that back in the early 1980s, many thoughts was an impossible dream.”

Richard Johnson adds: “We are expecting huge interest in the opening of Broadway station; a vision that has been a long time coming. However, the facilities are not yet finished – although the booking office and toilets will be complete and functioning. What is also very exciting for the railway is that Wychavon District Council has recognised the tremendous tourist potential that the station brings that they are to build a 99-space car park across the road from the station. But this won’t be completed until later this year so until then, there is no car parking at the station itself but there is pay and display car parking within walking distance, in the village.

“As part of the celebrations from Good Friday to Easter Monday, a classic London Routemaster bus will operate a complimentary service between Broadway station and the Broadway centre every 20 minutes or so.”