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The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has confirmed the full line-up of locomotives for its ‘Somerset & Dorset Remembered’-themed Cotswold Festival of Steam, taking place between 3 and 5 June 2022.
It expects nine locomotives to be in steam, working an intensive timetable over the 14-mile line that will include double-heading, non-stop runs, demonstration freight trains and shunting at Winchcombe station.
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GWSR spokesman Ian Crowder commented: “This is shaping up to be an especially exciting and spectacular event after a two-year gap in our annual ‘Cotswold Festival of Steam’, thanks to the pandemic. The ‘Somerset & Dorset’ theme was planned for our 2020 Festival which, of course, had to be cancelled.
“Four of our five visiting engines were associated with the former Somerset & Dorset line, a challenging route over the Mendips between Bournemouth and Bath. This was a delightful and busy railway that provided direct (and the shortest) access to the South Coast from the Midlands via Somerset. It was heavily used by holiday traffic from the Midlands and North but fell victim to the infamous Beeching cuts of the 1960s. It is much missed – especially by those in the communities it once served.
“Our small organising team is hugely grateful to all of the owners for enabling their locomotives to visit the GWSR for this special event.”
Ian Crowder added that an additional feature will be the Bentley once owned by the late photographer, Ivo Peters. “During the latter years of the S&D many outstanding photographs of trains in the Mendips were taken by Ivo Peters. He often included his Bentley in the pictures he took. The car is now owned by Julian Birley BEM, and we are delighted that he is able to bring the car to the event.”
A range of other attractions include displays; model railway; preservation society stands; beer tent and refreshments; Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway; ‘behind the scenes’ visits to the Toddington locomotive works and Winchcombe Carriage & Wagon works; as well as opportunities for footplate rides (pre-booked) and freight train brake-van rides.
Visiting locomotives include:
- BR Standard 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince by courtesy of the North Norfolk Railway and Friends of Black Prince. This locomotive was once based at Bath Green Park and worked trains such as the celebrated ‘Pines Express’ over the Somerset & Dorset between Bournemouth and Bath. Thjis is a welcome return to the Cotswolds for the engine, which was owned by the late artist David Shepherd until 2016 and was for some years a resident on the GWSR
- Rebuilt SR West Country class 4-6-2 no. 34028 Eddystone by courtesy of Southern Locomotives Limited and the Swanage Railway. Eddystone was the first of the original Bulleid ‘air-smoothed’ Pacifics to be rebuilt, in 1958, to more conventional form after which it was based at Bournemouth, from where it worked regularly over the S&D.
- LMS-designed Ivatt class 2 2-6-2T no. 41312 by courtesy of the Mid-Hants Railway. There were allocations of these delightful tank locomotives at Bath Green Park and Templecombe, as well as Bournemouth (including 41312)
- Sentinel 4wvb no. 7109 Joyce by courtesy of Andy Chapman and the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust. A quirky design that bears little resemblance to a conventional steam locomotive, this 1927-built engine is powered by two 100hp twin-cylinder, double-acting transverse engines, supplied with steam from a vertical boiler. Two similar locomotives were bought by the S&D for shunting at Radstock and Joyce will be employed shunting throughout the event at Winchcombe station, providing plenty of opportunity for visitors to examine this unusual engine close-up.
- LMS-designed Ivatt class 2MT 2-6-0 no. 46521 by courtesy of Standard Locomotives Limited, the Charles Newton Trust and the Great Central Railway. This attractive locomotive happens to be on loan to the GWSR for the summer months and is thus taking part in the Festival, although the class had no association with the Somerset & Dorset Railway!
Resident locomotives in steam will be:
- Rebuilt SR Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 no. 35006 Peninsular & Oriental SN Co. The ‘Merchant Navy’ class were the premier express locomotives of 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 Foremarke Hall. The ubiquitous and highly successful mixed-traffic locomotives of the Great Western Railway and Western Region of British Railways were the ‘Hall’ class. The ‘Modified Hall’ was a late development of the class, that further improved their efficiency.
- ‘Manor’ 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 working the ‘Cambrian Coast Express’ over this challenging route.
- GWR 4200 class 2-8-0T no. 4270. The oldest locomotive working over the weekend, this locomotive was built in 1919. It spent all of its working life handling heavy coal traffic in South Wales.
All locomotives are subject to availability.
Advance tickets are on sale at www.gwsr.com/tickets_please.html and will also be available on the day. Footplate rides on resident locomotives will need to be booked in advance while brake van rides will be offered on a first-come, first served basis during the event.