THE Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is set to become the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Diesel Railway with the return of a popular festival.

The annual Heritage Diesel Festival is taking place this weekend, July 27 and 29, and features a spectacular range of locomotives in action, taking in the newly-opened extension to the delightful village of Broadway.

Topping the bill of locomotives operating over the 14-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, will be two visiting locomotives that represented the peak of diesel development on the Western Region of British Railways - ‘warship’ class diesel-hydraulic no. D832 Onslaught and ‘Hymek’ diesel-hydraulic no. D7017.

The ‘Warships’ were among the diesel classes that took over from steam on express services out of Paddington to the West Country and Wales while the ‘Hymeks’ were particularly associated with the North Cotswold line and also worked over route that now partly forms the present-day GWSR.

Peter Smith, one of the event’s organisers, said: “You don't have to be a diesel aficionado to appreciate these giants from a past age when diesel took over from steam half a century ago.

"That's when makers such as English Electric, Sulzer, Brush, Metropolitan Vickers and others, as well as British Railways' works, produced a wide range of locomotive classes each stamped with their makers' individuality,providing variety and interest.

“Over the weekend the railway will be operating no fewer than nine main line locomotives as well as a diesel multiple-unit, following an intensive timetable over the full length of the 14-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse, Gotherington, Winchcombe, Toddington and Broadway.

Overall the trains will clock up more than 1,000 over the three days.

“It’s going to be quite a weekend that celebrates what is now a long-gone age when a wide variety of powerful and impressive diesel locomotives ruled the rails.”

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