Presenter: Bernie Holland
We welcomed Bernie Holland from Watford for our January meeting to present “The Honeybourne Line”. Using a collection of images from photographs, slides and digital photography, Bernie told the story of the line from Honeybourne Jct. on the Oxford to Worcester line to Cheltenham Lansdown Jct., where it met the Midland Railway. The story covered the early days from the Act of Parliament in 1899 right through to preservation days up to 2018. Almost every class of Great Western steam locomotive could be seen working freight and passenger services over the route. It was an important corridor for summer holiday services from the north east to the resorts in Devon and Cornwall. Bernie’s school, next door to St James Station in the centre of Cheltenham, provided him with a great education in railway studies (classroom overlooked the turntable!). Bringing the story up to date Bernie covered the days following closure in 1976, the formation of the preservation group in 1980 to restore the railway, to its position today as one of the premier heritage railways in the country. Interestingly the timeline shows that the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway have operated the Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway section almost as long as it was in Great Western Railway hands.