The GWR is based in the area known as the Cotswolds, and is not far from the town of Cheltenham and city of Gloucester. It is approximately 45 miles from Birmingham, 50 miles from Bristol, and 15 miles from the picturesque town of Stow-on-the-Wold.
Toddington, the GWR’s headquarters is marked on the map.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway runs along a part of the former Great Western Railway’s mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham, via Stratford-upon-Avon. The line commands wonderful views of the sleepy hamlets and villages, as the it runs though the beautiful Cotswold countryside.
The line was primarily built (1900-1906) to improve through services from Birmingham to Bristol and the West Country. It also carried fruit from the highly productive farming areas both in the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham.
“The Cornishman” express, complete with its chocolate and cream coaches, ran over this railway from 1952 until 1962 and formed the Wolverhampton to Penzance service via Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth. Our members’ magazine is named after this service.
The line closed to local passenger traffic on 5th March 1960, the last train being the (8731 Saturday Only) 10:25 pm Cheltenham St James to Broadway and 11:25 pm return. The line continued in use for goods services until an incident at Winchcombe on 25th August 1976 effectively closed the line.
Following early work by a Society primarily aimed at trying to keep the line open, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway was formed in 1981 with the aim of one day restoring this line from Stratford Race Course to Cheltenham Racecourse back to its former glory. Although originally double tracked throughout, by the time the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway purchased the track bed most of the buildings and all the track had gone. The only survivors at Toddington were the main station building, the acetylene hut, the signal box shell and the goods shed.
Winchcombe, the next stop down the line, was practically non-existent except for the goods shed and weigh-bridge. All platforms, station buildings and the signal box had disappeared completely.
Following purchase of the track bed from Broadway to Cheltenham Race Course, we established our operating base at Toddington and started re-construction. By 1984 work had advanced sufficiently to allow the first public train to operate over a ¼ mile of track, and on Sunday 22nd April, Nicholas Ridley MP, the Secretary of State for Transport cut the ribbon to mark the Official opening. Since then we have restored 10 miles of track from Toddington to Cheltenham Race Course as well as recreating Winchcombe. Our latest extension to Cheltenham Race Course station was opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 7 April 2003.