Sunday 10 February 2019

A visit to Birmingham

Saturday morning saw us assemble in the PWay mess coach for the ritual cup (s) of tea.

When the teapot eventually arrived, heavy and steaming, a queue quickly formed before Chris, who was 'mother'.

Doughnuts and a new pair of gloves are also essential this morning.

Then it was tools out and on to the trolley. Today's special: Fish! - plates....

Have you got BH ones? 95lbs? Deep skirted? Ought-ought? Big tub of grease? Dang, forgot that one.

Dave and Neil get on with the first of the fish plates, to be fitted on to the rails we laid in last week.

Further along the rest of today's large gang today concentrate on the southernmost panels, next to the last and missing one. Two more rails need to be laid in.

Right at the end is our great helmsman - Jason, leading the Argonauts. Aka Diana, today's old ferrule remover.

Hayden is on the TB2 and tightening up all the chairbolts over several lengths. When they are in place the next team springs into action:

Tim, Neal and yours truly on Panlock keys to get the rail nice and tight in the chairs. There's definitely a knack to this. Tim has the hammer knack here.

Towards the end of the morning the tightening down team had reached the final gap, where two rails remained to be laid.

It was decided that this was a good point to pause for lunch, and the team needed no persuasion. Like synchronised swimmers we all returned to the mess coach in unison.

In the afternoon the gap was closed and, in a rudimentary fashion, the track is now back in place, but not yet usable. Some simple supportive packing is now required, so that a ballast train can pass along it, ready for the tamper, which is due in a couple of weeks.

Saturday afternoon and evening.

A delegation of 4 went to the Heritage Railway Association awards evening, which was held in a major central Birmingham hotel and attended by all sorts or representatives of the heritage railways industry and its press. The HRA is our very own trade association.

You may have read that one of the awards within the 2019 HRA scheme is given by Steam Railway magazine. In a poll of their readers they were asked to vote for one of 10 nominees and just prior to the awards ceremony the magazine pronounced the GWSR the winner of their section, for the opening of the Broadway extension.

On the left you can see the rather splendid cut glass trophy!

The remaining HRA awards winners remained a closely guarded secret, with 4 or 5 finalists in each section. We went not knowing who would win, but keeping our fingers very tightly crossed.

Here is the GWSR delegation, sparing no expense and dutifully attending the prestigeous premises and consuming a splendid meal with wine. It's what volunteering is all about, isn't it...

From L to R is Ian Crowder, our public relations officer, your blogger unmasked for once, our chairman Richard Johnson and Tony Boucher, long time Broadway volunteer and now head of FoBS.

Other guests on our table included Nick Brodrick, Editor of Steam Railway, Steve Oates, CE of the HRA, and Jules Cox, Account Manager at Steam Railway (top L to R).

Your blogger was encircled by two staff members of Steam Railway and advice whispered into his ear by Ian was that 'nothing is ever off the record'. That rather limited the scope of the conversation, so we spoke blandly about station architecture.

Pete Waterman OBE was our guest speaker and kept us fascinated by nostalgic tales of days gone by. We ate, listened and laughed as the evening progressed, still completely in the dark about our chances about any award. We had entered ourselves in the HRA Annual Awards category for large groups, and there were 3 other nominees.

In turn through the second half of the evening the categories were reviewed, with a short slide show from each candidate, after which each winner was announced.

Our category was the very last one too. We waited and waited with our hearts in our throats. Finally the slide went up: The winner is....

 The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway ! We won the large groups award!

We were thrilled ! We marched up to the podium to see a short slide show of our work, including of Foremarke Hall in the newly opened station.

With great pride we mounted the podium for a handshake from Pete Waterman OBE, and to receive the award itself, a heavy brass plaque in the style of a Chas Roberts wagon plate.

Here is our award plaque, and it is rather beautifully made in cast brass.

The GWSR is honoured and proud to receive an award from the Heritage Railways Association. We have tried hard to make Broadway as realistic and beautiful as possible, and this has been recognised not only by our own trade association, but also the readers of Britain's largest circulation steam railway magazine.

We are indeed a heritage railway, 'a railway museum for the benefit of the public'.


  1. Very well done,the result was never in any doubt!.

  2. How brilliant, and so well deserved. We have all really enjoyed following all the great work over the years. Many congratulations.

  3. The award is Very Well Deserved.
    Congratulations and well done to everyone concerned.
    It was because of the Broadway Opening that I became a volunteer on the railway.

  4. A fitting tribute to a great team and a great railway.

  5. Wonderful news & so richly deserved.

  6. Excellent stuff, a very well deserved award.

  7. Well done indeed! Very well deserved.
    It is one thing to restore an old station, because you can see where everything is.
    It's quite another to revive one from, what was little more than plain track bed. It would do 'TimeTeam' proud!
    Regards and congratulations, Paul.

  8. Congratulations! A well-deserved win. You have done the heritage railway world proud!

  9. Very well done to all the volunteers at the line. True there could never be any doubt as to who the winner would be but the need to keep it quiet is needed to get the world guesing! All this thanks to the volunteers, the supporters and the shareholders. Also not forgetting those who also just puting money in the boxes. So well done to all for producing the best heritage line in the UK. (Well thats what we say anyways!)
    Paul & Marion

  10. Congratulations - it is very heartening to see all the efforts of you and all the other volunteers recognised in this way. And nice to see a "scrubbed up" version of you in front of the camera and out of the usual bright orange garb!

  11. Never has an award been so richly deserved. Given the task of re-creating a lost station, you have made something that has total authenticity and will look in years to come as if it has always been there. With your minimal use of professionals and your reliance on volunteer labour, both skilled and willing, when it is finished you can stand back and justly claim that 'we built it' and that it won the admiration of the entire heritage railway movement.

  12. And let's remember Alan Bielby who died very recently and who was instrumental in getting Broadway station planned and rebuilt. A shame he died before we gained the award.

  13. Congratulations and well done to all for such a well deserved award.

    Regards PaulK

  14. well said Ken and we lost John Crawford as well as Alan Bielby . Nice to see Pete Waterman doing the honours , we haven't seen him for a long time ,maybe he will open Footbridge , signalling and P2 next year .

    We must put ourselves up for more award categories , Isle of Wight had 3 go's this year . why was the TMB not put forward for reproduction of Ashburton goods shed ?

    Would have liked to have joined you if asked , living close to Brum , last year there were several from Ravenglass and Barrow Hill who won awards .

    A great result and well deserved for the 80 volunteers who built the station and extension on time . john M.

  15. Congratulations to all at GWSR. A magnificent team effort.

  16. I think we know who would have won 'Best Blog' if there was such a prize!

  17. What a fine award plaque, cast in brass, for the Broadway Station rebuild.

    Will it be exhibited on the wall in Broadway Ticket Office, or on the wall in the Café?

    It is a fitting tribute to everybody at GWSR. Well done.

  18. You have all done an excellent job. I'm from the U.S. and love reading about the progress of the railway. I do have a question. I remember hearing a UK heritage railway song about dieselization but I can't find it anywhere. It went something like, "it looks like a bus and it runs on rails and the fares are twice as high. I can't even open the window to get some fresh air to my nose." Any help would be appreciated. Thank you for the blogs and keep up the good work.