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Gloucester to Swindon and Branches Part 1

Gloucester to Swindon and Branches Part 1
Gloucester to Stroud

Neil Parkhouse

320 pages. 275x215mm. Printed on gloss art paper, casebound with printed board covers.

ISBN13 : 9781911038917


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!

Gloucester to Swindon and Branches Part 1 - Sample Images

sample book illustration
Another more unusual working is seen here, about to start away from Downfield Crossing Halt on Friday 16th June 1961, with an unknown '14XX' propelling trailer No. W169W whilst also hauling a 'Fruit D' and two fitted box vans almost certainly again filled with parcels. The time table suggests that the wagons had most likely been attached at Stroud. The long shadows caused by the lowering sun indicate that this is an evening service and the date is close to the longest day of the year, so we are probably looking at a time around 7.00-7.30pm. Two minutes were normally allowed in the time table for the call at Stroud but the 7.00pm return from Chalford stopped there at 7.131/2pm and stayed for 41/2 minutes, departing at 7.19pm; the extra 21/2 minutes are likely therefore to have been for the parcels vans to be attached or collected possibly from the goods loop on the Down side. No. W169W was a 59ft 6ins steel-panelled open trailer, built in January 1929 to Lot No. 1349. Its time in service was coming to a close when seen here, withdrawal taking place five months later in November 1961. John Strange/NPC
sample book illustration
As mentioned in the Introduction, your author is building an N gauge model railway which will be a reasonably accurate portrayal of Grange Court Junction but will also include a 'light' version of Horton Road. One of the locomotives that will run on this layout is a Bachmann Farish 'Castle' converted to run as No. 7003 Elmley Castle, a late GWR build entering service on 13th June 1946 and seen here looking smart in its BR lined green livery coming off the turntable circa 1961. The engine was allocated to Horton Road shed from 16th June 1960 up until its withdrawal on 10th August 1964, apart from a few weeks at Bristol St. Philip's Marsh between 13th April and 22nd June 1964. My parents moved us from North Devon to Worcestershire in the late summer of 1958, to a farm at Netherton, a mile from the village of Elmley Castle where I subsequently attended the primary school from 1960 to 1965. Etched brass plates were thus ordered so I could replicate this engine in miniature. The picture is another gem from the camera of a lovely man who we sadly lost in 2020. Roy Denison