In today’s exciting train news, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has announced its full range of locomotives for its Somerset & Dorset Remembered Cotswold Festival of Steam from June 3-5. Nine locomotives are on track to be “on steam” for the event, working an intensive schedule on the 14-mile line that will include non-stop double-heading runs, demonstration freight trains and shunting at the Winchcombe station.
GWSR spokesperson Ian Crowder said: “This is shaping up to be a particularly exciting and spectacular event after a two-year hiatus to our ‘Cotswold Festival of Steam’, thanks to the pandemic. The Somerset & Dorset theme was scheduled for our 2020 Festival which, of course, had to be cancelled.
Four of the festival’s five tour engines were associated with the old Somerset & Dorset line, a rough but busy route on the Mendips between Bournemouth and Bath which offered direct access to the south coast from the Midlands via Somerset. It was heavily used by holiday traffic, but fell victim to the infamous Beeching Cuts of the 1960s.
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“He is greatly missed, especially by members of the communities he once served. Our small team of organizers are extremely grateful to all owners for allowing their locomotives to visit GWSR for this special event,” said Mr. .Crowder.
A range of other event attractions include exhibits; model railway; the stands of the preservation society; Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway; ‘behind the scenes’ tours of Toddington Locomotive Works and Winchcombe Carriage & Wagon Works; as well as opportunities for pre-booked footrest rides and freight train van rides.
Visiting locomotives include:
- Standard BR 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince courtesy of North Norfolk Railway and Friends of Black Prince. This locomotive was formerly based at Bath Green Park and ran trains such as the famous ‘Pines Express’ on Somerset and Dorset between Bournemouth and Bath. It’s a welcome return to the Cotswolds for the engine, which for some years was a resident of the GWSR;
- Rebuilt SR West Country class 4-6-2 no. 34028 Eddystone courtesy of Southern Locomotives Limited and Swanage Railway. It ran regularly on the Somerset & Dorset line;
- Ivatt class 2 2-6-2T no. 41312 Courtesy of Mid-Hants Railroad. There were assignments of these tank locomotives to Bath Green Park and Templecombe;
- Sentinel 4wvb no. 7109 Joyce courtesy of Andy Chapman and the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust. Described as an “original design” bearing little resemblance to a conventional steam locomotive, this engine built in 1927 is powered by two 100 hp double-acting twin-cylinder transverse engines, supplied with steam by a vertical boiler. Two similar locomotives have been purchased by Somerset and Dorset for the shunting – which this one will do at Winchcombe station throughout the festival;
- Ivatt class 2MT 2-6-0 no. 46521 courtesy of Standard Locomotives Limited, Charles Newton Trust and Great Central Railway. On loan to the GWSR during the summer months, so available for festival – although this class has no association with the Somerset & Dorset Railway.
The resident steam locomotives will be:
- Rebuilt Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2 SR no. 35006. The ‘Merchant Navy’ class were the first express locomotives in the southern region handling the heaviest expresses between London Waterloo and Bournemouth and Weymouth; and the West Country;
- Modified ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremark Room. This class was a mainstay of the Great Western Railway and the Western Region of British Railways;
- ‘Mansion’ class 4-6-0 no. 7820 Dinmore Manor. A ‘go-anywhere’ design of mixed-traffic locomotive, the ‘Manors’ were particularly associated with the Cambrian Coast line from Shrewsbury to the Welsh coast, particularly on the ‘Cambrian Coast Express’ route;
- GWR 4200 class 2-8-0T no. 4270. The oldest working weekend locomotive, this locomotive was built in 1919. It has spent its entire working life handling heavy coal traffic in South Wales.
More information about the event can be found on the GWSR website here.