Gloucester to Swindon and Branches - Part 1: Gloucester to Stroud
The broad gauge line from Swindon to Kemble (and on to Cirencester) opened in May 1841 but it was not until June 1845 that the Great Western Railway were able to complete the line then to Standish, from where it used Bristol & Gloucester Railway metals to reach Gloucester. Here, the Midland Railway terminus was shared to begin with, the GWR finally opening their own station on the line through the city to South Wales in September 1851. Gloucester’s status as a major railway centre had begun.
The GWR station became Gloucester Central under British Railways and the first section of this volume covers it in detail, the infrastructure and the varied traffic on view on a daily basis. We then take an extended tour of Horton Road shed and its facilities, showing many of the locomotives that resided here, along with others that were photographed when visiting, before exploring all three sides of the Gloucester triangle. After that we head south to Standish Junction, where the Western lines are illustrated (the Midland lines were shown in Vol. 4A) and then followed to Stonehouse and finally Stroud. The journey up the Golden Valley to Kemble (for the branches to Cirencester and Tetbury) and Swindon will follow in Volume 5B.
As usual, the period covered is mostly from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s, through the last years of steam on BR(WR), the early green diesel era and then the change to Rail Blue. There is plenty of locomotive variety here: ‘Castles’, ‘Halls’ and ‘Granges’, ‘9Fs’ and ‘8Fs’, ‘Prairies’ and pannier tanks, along with ‘Westerns’, ‘Hymeks’, ‘Peaks’ and ‘Teddy Bears’, but many will remember this route as much for the Gloucester to Chalford autos, usually – but not always – hauled by ‘14XX’ tanks, that served various long gone halts up the Stroud Valleys. All of this is illustrated here, in glorious colour as usual.
After ending our journey in this half volume at Stroud, we have an appendix with an unusual diversion to study a late 19th century proposal to build a branch line from Stroud to Painswick, courtesy of a rare colour plan drawn up by none other than engineer G.W. Keeling of the Severn & Wye Railway. There are then two follow ups to previous volumes, the first presenting a further excellent selection of views around Over Junction and along the Llanthony Docks Branch, which was also used to store redundant locomotives heading to the scrap yards of South Wales. The second takes us on a quick return visit to Eastgate and the Loop Line to Tuffley Junction, and includes photographs of the very last steam locomotive to call at Eastgate station. Anyone know what it was? Prepare to be surprised!
Hardback, 320 pages, colour photographs
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Updated: 29 December 2021