Historic locomotives will take to the rails once more.

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway will be operating seven classic diesel locomotives on its 14-mile railway this weekend as the Diesel Gala returns.

Travelling from Cheltenham Racecourse to the rebuilt Broadway station, visitors will be treated to three days of historic journeys.

Peter Smith, the diesel gala organiser for the GWSR, said: “While many people come to the GWSR to enjoy our fine steam locomotives, there is fast-growing interest in the historic diesel traction that took over from steam from the late 1950s. 

“At the GWSR’s Toddington workshops one of the UK’s finest fleets of heritage diesels is restored and maintained. 

“This is an opportunity to celebrate the economic contribution locomotives like these made to the country between the days of steam and the modern services that we are familiar with today.

“These are types that worked the length and breadth of the UK handling prestigious inter-city express services, moving Britain’s freight, and everything in between.”

Six of the locomotives taking part will be from GWSR’s own heritage diesel fleet, along with a visiting class 55 ‘Deltic’.

No. 55019 Royal Highland Fusilier will break ground as the first-ever Deltic to work over the former Stratford to Cheltenham main line.

It will also be the first time the GWSR summer Diesel Gala has been able to take place since 2019, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Smith added: “There will be something for everyone - for families looking for a great day out as well as for the railway enthusiast. It’s an opportunity to re-live the atmosphere of travelling by British Rail (remember them?) from 50 and 60 years ago and witness many locomotive types that have long disappeared from the main line. The 1960s, 70s and 80s live again!”

Each day, up to 10 trains will run to Broadway, with even more travelling between Toddington and Cheltenham meaning there will be a full 28-mile roundtrip on most services.

More information on the gala, which runs from July 29 to 31, can be found on the event pages of the railway’s website, www.gwsr.com

Locomotives operating:

  • Visiting Class 55 no. 55019 Royal Highland Fusilier (built 1961)
  • Class 20 no. 20137 (built 1966)
  • Class 24 no. 5081 (built 1960 – same year that the last steam loco was built for British Railways)
  • Class 37 no. 37215 (built 1963)
  • Class 45 no. 45149 (built 1961)
  • Class 47 no. 47105 (built 1963)
  • Class 47 no. 47376 Freightliner 1995 (built 1965)