175 Years of Steam

Anglotopia Article

I went to the 175th Anniversary of the GWR last weekend at the GWR (I’ll explain the difference later) in Toddington, Warwickshire, in the Heart of England and I thought, you know what, there probably isn’t much that is more British and steeped in history, heritage and culture, that has had such an impact on the world, than the railway! So I decided I would tell you about my day out.

Stationery Steam Engine

Steam power is very British and very nostalgic; and a visit to the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway, was a fabulous nostalgia inducing event.

For just one entry price we were given access to numerous stalls and stands, a variety of engines and wagons to look at in states of repair, regeneration, refurbishment (or if I were being unkind a kind of ‘delayed decay’) until the owners can find the funds to complete the restoration returning these metal monsters to rolling along the rails once more.

But the best bit for me and I think for everyone there, was the opportunity to ride on a steam train, but not just one steam train, an entire timetable of steam trains, running back and forth along the Honeybourne Line, about every half an hour; was all included in the price.

GWR 175th Anniversary

There were loads of people there and the sun was shining, which always makes a day out that little bit more special; the trains were running from Down Distant, through Toddington, Winchcombe and the final stop at Gotherington. Although at Gotherington you could also get on a ‘Brake Van’ powered by a small steam locomotive to West Gotherington Halt about a hundred yards away – which is the private line, in the private garden of the owner of Old Gotherington Station, which was quite a treat actually – the Garden at Gotherington Station was a lovely place.

Close up of Locomotive Plate

The funny thing is, if you had asked me a few days before, I would have said that I have no interest in going to a steam train event, I know little about them, and don’t really want to know. But I had a fantastic day, there was loads to see and do and the sheer childish excitement I got from riding on a steam train, is hard to explain. It is a deep memory (false or not, seeing as I am not old enough to remember steam trains running in real life) that is etched in the British psyche; the “chuff, chuff, chuff” of the steam being forcibly blown out of the stack (listen to me using all the right terminology), the lovely way that the pollution (because let’s be honest it is exhaust) hangs in the air leaving a little cloud marking the trains journey through the gorgeous Cotswold countryside, the regular “clackety, clack” of the wheels running over the joins in the rails – it was simply mesmerising.

Cotswold Countryside 'steaming' past

I’m not going to go into any technical detail about the engines, the steam railway network, the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway or the Great Western Railway other than to say it is 175 years this month since the Great Western Railway was created as a company and for more information, visit the following web site that has some fantastic information for novice and expert alike.

Gloucstershire & Warwickshire Railway

Delayed Decay

Hope you enjoyed this, I certainly did; I felt like a young Fred Dibnah : )

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About X-Wide P

Award winning advocate for art, heritage & culture; fine artist, museum & gallery manager and mild mannered front man of Relevant Elephant, finest purveyors of rock-steady hip-hop mambo
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