Saturday, 21 March 2015

A Saturday Out: Gloucester & Warwicks...

Hi all. Today was a Saturday excursion out into the Cotswolds. Destination?: The Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway. We have visited this wonderful Great Western steam railway a number of times now but, with the prospect of the sheds being open today due to a volunteer recruitment weekend, we thought we'd take a trip out. I picked up John & 'Eddie the Late' from Coventry at about 10am and after an easy run along the A46, we made Toddington by about 11am. First stop?: Tea. The Flag & Whistle on the station car park was a hive of activity and we enjoyed a cuppa' and a bacon bap. Next stop: the Steam Shed. As most of the GWSR fleet is currently out on hire as its still low season, the only engine in the shed was GWR 2-8-0 No2807. A green Heavy Freight 2-8-0? A real home from home! This earlier 28xx example of 1905 is 34 years older than 3803 and includes some subtle differences such as compensated springing and a slightly different cab. Other than that, its essentially the same thing. A pretty machine this one...
Moving around the corner from the steam shed we headed into the diesel shed. An equally impressive building this was: the GWSR have some really nice sheds! The diesel presence at Toddington is striking and it was quite refreshing to see even the diesel locomotives in such good condition. The fleet really is cared for here, as seen by this very nice example of a Class 37...
Sitting outside and only a few panels away from the shining bulk of 2807, we found another 28'. This example is No2874 and is quite literally three shades of buggered. Withdrawn in 1963 and sent to Barry, it was rescued in 1987. It is still a prime example of a Barry Wreck, having never been restored. Happily, work has just commenced on 2874 so she will be steaming one day in the future. Interestingly, 2874 is one of the few remaining Western engines that features inside steam pipes. 2807 has the typical outside variant, as does the later 3803, but 2874 retains the inside feature...
Having admired the two 28s and the impressive (dare I say it?!) collection of diesel locos, we meandered around the station for a bit before returning to the Flag & Whistle. John described it as, "grabbin' some snap". Eddie the Late was up to his old tricks again in the shot below. Regular readers will know of his lust for the epic and hideous 'Three Course Challenges'. As he couldn't piece together a full meal today, he had to settle for the equally fattening 'Three Cake Challenge'...
John, not content with having the cake and eating it, also ordered a sizeable luncheon. When it arrived the presentation was impressive, though the countless dressings were soon scattered all over the floor in a 3ft radius of the table!...
Refuelled after tea & cake, we waded out of the cafĂ© through the dropped grated cheese to reach the platforms. 7820 "Dinmore Manor" had just arrived from Cheltenham Racecourse and was about to take water at the tower...
Freshly watered, the Manor steamed away to move back into the occupied platform to recouple to her stock for a later departure. In the car park, Toddington's up and coming steam star was on display. 35006 is a rebuilt Bullied Merchant Navy Class Pacific, built in 1941 for the Southern Railway. A big engine at 151 tons, 35006's name is equally as big: "Peninsular & Oriental S.N.Co". Withdrawn in 1964 and sent to Barry, 35006 was rescued in 1983 and the restoration process soon began. The pacific is now coming towards the end of its total rebuild and I believe is expected to be in service by the end of this year. These Merchant Navy's are quite a beast...
Having admired the bulk of 35006, there was time for a last shot of 7820 waiting patiently to drop down onto her train...
All in all a very pleasant little visit to the wonderful GWSR. This railway has really come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and is set to go from strength to strength, with the extension to Broadway already in more than full swing. Now? Off to Evesham!...

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