Monday 2 April 2018

Easter Monday

A quick visit to Broadway to set up the booking hall clock with its pendulum, and a chat with people to see how things were going.

The station was busy, even platform tickets were being sold, perhaps as souvenirs? It's too early to say how the Easter weekend went, as tickets sales come from different stations and online, but the platforms were looking good.

All 4 benches were much in demand, with one seating 6! A fair number of people were carrying take away coffees, and one group was consuming a take away meal on the platform, a sign that the cafe will do good business. A couple from further up Station Road wanted to know when it was going to open, and no, they weren't travelling, they just lived there and wanted to drop in.

Outside Graham ran his Routemaster double decker from the station to the football ground car park, and into the village centre.

Graham's free shuttle double decker is just performing over the 4 Easter days, after which there will be a smaller capacity single decker with a modest fare.

But did people actually go into Broadway, that was the interesting question. The answer was yes! That's a relief.

Graham reports 120 miles run, and 1000 people transported up and down to the village and back. Once he even took a group to Toddington, as they had missed their train. How's that for service?

We learned that the Routemaster has a capacity of 77, and on one occasion it was full and had to turn people away. He usually drops people off in front of the station and then does the 3 point turn, as the temporary road surface is not well settled yet, and a full load of passengers weighs an extra 6 tons.

No parking signs have been put up along the station approach to leave the bus a clear run, especially with traffic potentially going the other way too.

Here he comes with another, almost full load. You can see faces at every window.

Cars were once again parked along the Evesham road right up to the top of the rise towards Pennylands bank, but how this will pan out during normal running days, and when the shuttle bus charges a fare, remains to be discovered. We are learning fast here.

Broadway gang members were on hand to fit armbands and manage the flows. Station staff were settling into their new roles, and getting used to the same two questions being asked all the time - when are we going to Honeybourne, and is there a cafe? The reply is the same - when we have the money. First we need to replenish our cash reserves again.

During the afternoon the clouds briefly cleared to reveal a warming blue sky, just as Foremarke Hall rumbled over the road bridge.

Moments later Foremarke Hall set off with its long 8 coach train. When the train pulls into the station, it seems to take forever until enough coaches have trundled by for the locomotive to stop at the far end of the platform. It feels like a big, mainline station.

The passing shot shows the train accelerating past the site of the goods shed.

And there it goes, heading south. You could hear it for at least a mile, with a distant whistle for the foot crossings at Buckland. In the foreground you can see one of the GWR style quarter mile posts recently planted along the extension. That's 5 miles from here to Honeybourne, where the counting starts.

Finally, a screen grab taken yesterday at 15.06, when the weather was a bit more clement. You can just make out the loco with the next train coming in. Just look at all those passengers!


  1. Great photos Jo. I especially like the one of Foremarke Hall going over the road bridge. That IS a good advert that the railway's 'back in town'.
    I see from the first picture that the wagons are back in residence on the head shunt.
    Regards, Paul.

  2. Great photos as always Jo. Just a small idea for the future, but as some of your excellent shots are coming from the point just beyond the road bridge - could it worth creating a small potential viewing point there? It probably would require steps up from the car park but could be an idea and could double up as an track access point for yourselves as well? I believe the Swanage Railway has a similar but much smaller effort just beyond the road bridge / opposite the loco shed at Swanage.


    1. I think it already is a track access point suitable for vehicles as well as people, but only those with lineside passes.

  3. after years of watching you rebuild the whole station on the blog it was fantastic to run into the station on a train and see everyone's hard work come to fruition , well done all the different departments that have done a brilliant job of recreating Broadway station Honeybourne here we come .

  4. Your going to need crowd barriers for the gala ! ... hopefully getting platform 2 operational to cope with the demand will be priority, along with the cafe...
    a year or 2 of that, then I can see the fence coming down for an extension to willersey ;) cool.
    Glad to see there’s going to be a bus to town.. I think that could turn out hugely popular, and even quite profitable... hopefully it’ll run all the time.

  5. Honeybourne or Cheltenham? One will potentially be very lucrative for the railway, the other maybe not so. Decisions, decisions.


    1. I could make a plausible case for Cheltenham. Having walked the cycle path on the old alignment, for the most part I could see a single track line/footpath arrangement similar to what Avon Valley have could easily be accomodated. The two areas I think that would cause the most problems would be the footbridge where the road cuts across to the supermarket and the underpass further along at St George's Road. Now I know that there have been several similar underpasses here in Swindon that have been filled in in recent years because they were cracking up and couldn't be repaired, so there may be a case for replacing the ones at St George's Road at some point in the future anyway. And if the council could be persuaded to replace it with a proper bridge again you'd be clear to the High Street. After that, potentially you could link up to NR at Cheltenham (although you'd probably need to twist NR's and probably a couple of other people's arm to get through the car park) - I recall seeing an article last year about proposed bay platforms in the same place so why not have a through platform as well for GWSR and railtour use? And then after that if you linked up at Honeybourne as well, perhaps you could then offer NR a deal to act as a occasional diversionary route and earn extra revenue that way.

    2. *If* we decide another extension and a mainline connection is desirable, I'm absolutely with you Lee. Another thing that isn't often considered is the length of line to operate once it's opened. The extra t miles to Honeybourne would require significantly more rolling stock to operate at a reasonable frequency, whereas Cheltenham less so.

    3. All academic, as the GWSR does not own the land north of the fence line at Broadway and it does not own the track bed south of Swindon Lane Bridge near Hunting Butts Tunnel. The time to do this was in 1976, it's virtually impossible now. Councils have more important things to spend money on. Toddington Ted.

    4. The restoration of the line through Cheltenham has been on and off the agenda umpteen times over the years. I recall, back in the 1980s a 'Pre-feasibility' study was undertaken to see if the line could be incorporated into a 'Cotswold Metro' - a tram network covering the Cheltenham and Gloucester area, using both street running and railway alignments, similar to the trams in Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham.

      The conclusion was that it was perfectly possible, and not even particularly expensive at the time - but it was still too costly to take the idea further.

      In the 1990s there was a 'Feasibility Study' (it took ten years to go from 'Pre-Feasibility' to 'Feasibility'!) into the same basic idea, which came to the same basic conclusion - although by now everything had got a lot more expensive, so nothing was done.

      Then in 2013 some major proposals were made to redevelop Cheltenham Spa station with new bay platforms for terminating trains that currently stable in the siding north of the station. These platforms were not on the Honeybourne line alignment, but more or less on the alignment of the old bay that used to exist up to the early 1960s for trains off the Andoversford line.

      There was some talk at the time about the possibility of reinstating the Honeybourne line north to meet the GWSR, to provide a direct route to CRC for race trains. This would have relieved congestion at Cheltenham Spa station, which is absolutely chaotic on race days as everyone transfers from trains to buses. It would also have given the GWSR a main line connection at little or no cost, of course!

      Unfortunately the plans were abandoned for the usual reason: nobody was prepared to put up the money.

      There was an 'economy' proposal, which would have linked CRC with Cheltenham Spa station using 'ultra light rail' (Parry People Movers or similar) which could presumably get over the Waitrose bridge, but I think this was never a realistic option. You could never handle race day crowds with a few light railcars - it's got to be proper trains.

      Here's a video which shows how that proposal would have looked (this version of the plan does not show any extensions of the line towards CRC):

      The latest stage of the saga is to extend the existing platforms at Cheltenham Spa (but not build any new ones) and add an upper deck to the car park. This work is happening now. It doesn't really solve the big issues, and the station will still be a bit cramped and awkward to use (and still utter chaos on race days). But the improvements do have the advantage of being relatively cheap.

      Here are the plans:

      It's ironic that the reason there was never a junction station at Lansdown was because the GWR and Midland Railway couldn't agree. In a way, that's the whole history of the station in a nutshell: the obvious good ideas never get done.

      However, there's always the next ten years. Perhaps somebody will do a 'Post-feasibility' study!

    5. Oh - thinking about the work going on at Cheltenham Spa station made me remember this. There's some GWR 'Spear Top' fencing at Cheltenham Spa alongside Platform 1 (and I think some on Platform 2). If this fencing is due to be replaced as part of the current work, it might be possible to salvage it.

      It's odd that GWR fencing should be found at a Midland Railway station, but as far as I know it was recycled from St James and/or Malvern Road, when those stations closed.

      Cheltenham Spa also had a fine selection of GWR seats, again recycled from other stations. All three variants: the monogram, roundel, and BR(W) versions. They all vanished in the 1980s. But the fencing is still there....

  6. Jo, thank you again for your excellent photos and you really know how to set the scene.

    5 miles to Honeybourne, well that’s only:

    440 track panels
    880 60’ lengths of new FB rail
    12,320 concrete sleepers
    24,640 pads
    49,280 pandol clips
    2 switches for a run round loop
    1 timber frame platform and 1 pagoda shelter for Willersey Halt
    To name just a few wants.

    1. Don't forget another handful of bridges in dreadful condition and however many thousand soil nails for the embankments and the millions of £ aasosicsted with it.

    2. In fact the trackbed is pretty flat, there are no slipping embankments nor cuttings. The issue is the bridges.

  7. I was on the first train in on Friday behind 7820. The whole day was a triumph for the railway - everything you provided was first-class, although I wish I could say the same for the Almighty.

    I needed exercise, so along with a lot of others I walked up to the village, had some excellent fish and chips and ambled back in a deluge. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable day, one of those 'I was there' moments not easily forgotten.

  8. It has been worth the wait, I used to live in the second semi past the Station Garage and regularly walked my dog along the track bed imagining the sights,sounds and smells of the steam loco`s passing through and wishing for the day that our loco No. 2807 would be doing it. Unfortunately, I moved back to Lancashire and could not get down during March to see it arrive at Broadway on Friday the 30th. Your photo`s and updates have been a very adequate and excellent substitute. Thank you to everyone and keep up the good work.

  9. Is there a timetable for the bus connections

    1. As far as I know, at the moment it's an MPV which just goes up and down as often as it can.
      I expect everyone is testing things to see how they go, what the demand is , what people do in practice.
      The village is perfectly walkable, it takes about 10 mins and most people seem to do this.

  10. One thing I queried many moons ago, when Bill B was still doing the Broadway blog, which was about arranging a through footpath to join Springfield Lane to the centre of the village. The route is much more scenic than the rather modern urban ribbon development that is Station Road.

    Has anyone else suggested this. The path could follow the top of the eastern cutting.

    1. Springfield Lane is rapidly losing the charm it used to have with “executive” houses springing up in any available gap/in place of demolished older houses. A real shame.

    2. Perhaps, but no traffic to speak of. I would rather walk to the village that way than use Station Road. Also the bridleway goes in the opposite direction in open countryside, a nice stroll for visitors.

  11. IanJ

    I suggested access to Springfield Lane as an alternative to Station Road a couple of years ago at an AGM but it fell on death ears. Unofficially it would also give foot access to the trackbed to Willersey which is clearly walked by locals. The path would only need to be open when the station is staffed so maintaining security of the site.