A HERITAGE railway line in the Cotswolds which has just completed a £1 million repair project has won a major award.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR), which runs heritage train services between Cheltenham Racecourse, Winchcombe, Toddington and Laverton, has won the Peter Manisty Award for ‘outstanding contribution to railway preservation’ in the Heritage Railway Association awards 2012.
Judges awarded the gong for the GWR’s ‘grim determination’ in dealing with its double landslip disaster when two locations along the track were demolished in separate incidents, and making improvements to the line’s original construction.
Malcolm Temple, chairman of the GWR, said: “This couldn’t have been a better Christmas present for the railway after such a struggle to overcome the serious embankment collapse problems we have gone through.
“Not only have we managed to raise over £1 million to pay for restoration of the collapsed embankments at Gotherington and then just north of Winchcombe station, but the works have been completed to the highest possible standards, on time and under budget.”
A special train full of volunteers, donors and invited guests was the first to run over the restored full length of the line between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse in October after the two embankment collapses at Gotherington and the ‘Chicken Curve’ at Winchcombe.
Volunteers received an overwhelming response to the £1 million emergency appeal launched by pop music mogul and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman in 2010 to fund the repair work.
“If it wasn’t for their grim determination recognised in the award, not just in keeping the railway going but in singlemindedly concentrating on raising £1 million needed, I’m pretty sure the railway wouldn’t be here today,” said Mr Temple.
“It has been achieved against all the odds and the award recognises that.
“I feel very proud right now to be chairman of this wonderful volunteer-run organisation.”
The railway now offers a 24- mile round journey and is still operated by volunteers.
Other works planned during 2013 include replacement of the missing platform at Cheltenham Racecourse, construction of a new carriage restoration and painting facility at Winchcombe and improvements to the David Page locomotive works at Toddington.
• The GWR has also been ‘highly commended’ for its presentation of Winchcombe Station in the Modern Railways magazine Restoration Award.