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Article posted on Wednesday, 29th August 2018
After our time at Evesham, we decided that a visit to The Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) would make a nice end to a pleasant day so, as Toddington was only a stone's throw away, we crossed the border from Worcestershire back into Gloucestershire.

Toddington is quite a sprawling complex and of course is full size (4ft 8½ inches). My other half informs me that this gauge was utilised by Stephenson because it is the width of two Roman horses' rears placed side by side, this made me raise my eyebrows, however he went on to explain that the distance between cart wheels was roughly the same as a pair of horse's flanks when almost touching.

This then made for a standard distance wheel rut in the old Roman roads which other cart makers adopted as a standard distance for their vehicle's wheels, for ease of travel. Stevenson then adopted this distance for his modern steam engines as opposed to Brunel, who chose, what we now call, broad gauge (7ft¼ inch). Brunel's system offered greater stability and greater passenger comfort, having wider lower coaches, but it was more expensive to build as more land was required for the track.

As we pulled onto the car park at Toddington a full-size heavy freight locomotive 28XX 2-8-0 Number 2807 was just about to depart towards Cheltenham Racecourse. We arrived in time to watch it majestically steam out of the station hissing and blowing out a cloud of steam, carriages thundering along behind in a wonderful example of engineering, leaving the distinctive odour of coal, steam and engine oil in the air. After this spectacular show, we wandered over to the other side of the car park to look at the narrow-gauge railway. Unfortunately, it was closed but was due to run again on Sunday.

There is a little museum situated in a railway carriage at the side of the main track, it is packed with all things train and some things that are not. Among the many more interesting artefacts they have is a fine example of a 1930's (or may be older) gas cooker, I was very excited by this because when I married my first husband in the 80's I used to cook on one exactly the same in his parents farm house (I know I am showing my age now but it is funny what makes you nostalgic, in my case it appears to be an old cooker that was difficult to light and hell to cook on). The museum is well worth a look even if trains are not your cup of tea.

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Toddington

We had an ice cream in the café and watched two diesel trains come into and then depart the station for Cheltenham or Broadway. Hubby had a mooch around a lovely book stall. I am always nervous when he finds a book shop as our book cases are already groaning under the weight of too many manuals, books and technical drawings.

Finally we purchased tickets to Cheltenham Racecourse and boarded a train being pulled by the "FOREMARKE HALL" (7903) locomotive. Originally this was a mixed traffic steam engine. It is a wonderful example of a 4-6-0 Great Western Railway Class 5 locomotive. We glided out of Toddington station towards Cheltenham, passing a vast array of rolling stock in the sidings, including a gun powder truck used in and around the tin mines in Cornwall.

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"FOREMARKE HALL"

There were also many disused Diesel engines parked up looking rather dejected and tired. We rattled along past farm land. Just before Hayles Abbey Halt someone had planted a couple of rows of sunflowers at the edge of the field, they were now fading but still looked majestic through the light drizzle.

We continued through lovely scenery to Winchcombe, and then on through the second longest tunnel on a British heritage railway at Greet (all 693 yards of it) to arrive at Gotherington a pretty station now privately owned.

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Gotherington

Chugging on up the line we passed the back gardens of many homes both new and old into Cheltenham Racecourse Station. Here we had the privilege of watching the train top up with water and chug to the other end of the carriages for the return trip. Many folk alighted here to return to cars as for them it was the end of the line.

We remained on board and had a very peaceful and most enjoyable return trip, noting scenery and items that we had missed on the outward journey. The trip ended back at Toddington, although of course the service continues up the line to the spanking brand-new station in Broadway, opened on Good Friday (30th March) this year. We had another very enjoyable day as we visited Broadway Station during the weekend of its official opening.

As we alighted from the "FOREMARKE HALL" train, the great western heavy goods locomotive 28XX, pulled into the station again. I rushed over to the opposite platform and managed to take some photos. The driver very kindly took a shot or two of the cab for me as well. We drove home with some very happy memories. 

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Happy memories.