9th February 2021 · “The Honeybourne Line”

Presenter: Bernie Holland

Continuing with the success of our Zoom meetings, tonight 60 members tuned in to watch Bernie Holland talk to us about “The Honeybourne Line” part of which became the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway formed in 1980.The track / track bed was purchased in 1980 from BR for £25,000. Bernie’s talk went to much earlier times on the line, with many photographs from his friend Bill Potter, the line was in the hands of GWR from 1903 to 1948, the BR Western Region from 1948 to 1976 when the line closed. During this early period, we saw many photographs of the stations along the route, including Cheltenham Race Course, Winchcombe, Bishop Cleeve plus all of the others, also shots of the loco’s that used & worked the line, I counted 20 different classes of steam loco & 14 various diesel classes. Restoration work started in 1980 just after purchase but progress was slow as BR had lifted majority of the track in the four years of closure, the first to work on the line after purchase was one coach train hauled by ex-Cadbury, Bournville No.1. Over the years work progressed slowly, as money needed to be raised and the work force was all volunteers. By 1999 the line had reached Gothrington from it start point at Toddington, pushing further ahead to Cheltenham Race Course by 2005. Once open the GWSR has had several notorious locomotives visiting including Flying Scotsman, Bullied West Country “Swanage”, LMS mogul 46521, and 5972 Oulton Hall (now known as Hogwarts Express. Future extensions hoped for, will be Cheltenham Race Course to Broadway with another later project extending the line again to Honeybourne. A fascinating although busy programme produced a great evening’s entertainment.