FROM TODDINGTON TO CHELTENHAM
Gloucestershire-Warwickshire Railway runs along a part of the former Great Western Railway’s mainline from Birmingham to Cheltenham, via Stratford-upon-Avon. The railway now offers a 20-mile round trip between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cotswolds.
The line was originally constructed between 1900-1906, when final section to Cheltenham opened to the connection with the line to the original Cheltenham station at Cheltenham Malvern Road. In 1912 Cheltenham Race Course station opened and for the first time visitors to the Gold Cup could be brought to the racecourse by special trains.
From 1952 to 1962 the Wolverhampton-Penzance express called ‘The Cornishman’ was running on this track. The line was heavily used throughout the 1950’s, carrying holiday makers to the West Country. Throughout the 1960s many of the stations along the route were closed and by the 1970s the line was used only as a diversionary route, with much of the infrastructure, including stations, demolished. In 1976 the last Gold Cup train brought visitors to the racecourse and the line officially closed on 1st November.
Since then Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Society was seeking to preserve the line and in the 1980s it brought part of the track. The gradual restoration of the track allowed first steam train to arrive in Hayles Abbey in 1986 and Winchcombe in 1987.
In 1998 works started to lay the track up to Cheltenham Racecourse station and 20th February 2001 shunting locomotive ‘King George’ became the first steam locomotive to travel to the Racecourse for over 30 years. In 2003 race trains were run for the Gold Cup, allowing race goers once again travel ‘by rail to the races’. HRH The Princess Royal opened Cheltenham Racecourse station on 7th April 2003.
A small museum run by the Restoration & Archiving Trust in Toddington Station holds a display of memorabilia and early scenes of the railway. The Flag & Whistle Tea Rooms are situated in Toddington Station as well and a range of light snacks and soups and hot and cold drinks is sold.