This coming weekend May 28th-30th is the GWSR’s annual Cotswold Festival of Steam, This year with the theme “Swindon built” to celebrate 175 years since the GWR’s Swindon workshops opened. 8 locos will be in steam for the event operating an intensive service, including steam runs to Laverton over Stanway Viaduct (not usually possible any more as the run-round loop has been taken out for Broadway) and freight trains.
I’ve been holding off posting about this until now as it was only yesterday the final line up was confirmed, with 7903 Foremarke Hall confirmed as returning to traffic just in time. A popular and appropriate member of the home fleet, 7903 will be back for the first time since her withdrawal in 2013.
On to the guest lineup, first announced was 9F 92214 courtesy of the GCR. This is currently the youngest steam loco built at Swindon capable of being steamed, and appears in BR green, seen here on the WSR during their S&D gala in March.
The second guest is Ivatt Mogul 46521, also from the GCR. Whilst this is an LMS engine, 20 of these were built at Swindon just after nationalisation and 46521 is one of these, so fits the theme well. 46521 will appear fresh from a repaint into BR green.
The final guest for the gala is 7812 Erlestoke Manor. A GWR built Manor, 7812 comes from the SVR and has already been operating on the GWSR this week.
On to home locos, 7820 Dinmore Manor was one of the BR batch of Manors, still built at Swindon, appearing in BR black.
In contrast with 92214, 2807 is the oldest loco built at Swindon capable of being steamed, and nicely shows over 50 years of heavy freight engine development.
4270 is only a little younger than 2807, built in 1919, and is essentially a tank version of 2807.
Finally, despite not really fitting in with the theme, SR Merchant Navy 35006 P&O is likely to be a large attraction, with its first public passenger turns in over 50 years. The only tenuous link to Swindon is that a few parts were overhauled at Swindon during the early part of the restoration in the 1980s!
It’s not just locos though, there’s plenty going on around the railway. Gotherington station will be open with refreshments, and a rare chance to have a go on the pump car along the short stretch of track. At Winchcombe and Cheltenham there will be a chance to get up close to locos awaiting their next turn.
Winchcombe will also have a pasty van, beer tent and traction engines in the car park, and the carriage and wagon workshops will be open to see what we get up to in there, there’s quite a few interesting things in at the moment.
Toddington will have a large marquee full of trade and society stands, and entrance to the narrow gauge railway is included in the main ticket price. You can also purchase freight van rides here for a round trip seeing the line from a different perspective.
Unfortunately, due to a badly planned holiday, I’m unable to make it to our gala this year. However, to make up for it, I will be visiting the Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland Railway so expect reports of that soon.
I hope anyone who is going has a great time, it’s our biggest event of the year, please support it, and I look forward to watching the photos flood in elsewhere on the internet.