Wings and Wheels Society.

G.W.S.R. Cotswold Festival of Steam 13-5-2023.

This year's theme was a local one, Cheltenham & Gloucester steam days. No less than five guest locos were involved including Pendennis Castle and BR standards 78019 & 75014 reflecting types seen at Gloucester, and the inspired addition of SR U class 31806 which had actually worked into Cheltenham in steam days over the M&SWJR Tiddy Dyke route. The final guest L&YR 0-4-0 Pug 11243 wasn't of course associated with Gloucester but was a good substitute for the sadly lost 0-4-0 Deely Dock Tanks which famously shuffled along the High Orchard Branch. Engineering work and the inevitable strikes meant getting to the Gala would be difficult, so I was glad of the GWSR's habit of using visiting locos on normal services on the weeks either side of the event. However, my only opportunity to ride behind the Standard 4 and the Pug (unassisted to boot) was on the Saturday, so there was no escape from going to a Gala on the bus for the first time. This involved two changes and took double the time. Despite the gloomy morning and the train strike attendance was good, with, unusually for a Gala, plenty of families in attendance. An imaginative timetable weaved in two freights and some limited stop double-headed expresses. This did result in some occasionally gaps in the service. The first at Toddington allowed a visit to the Shed and the opportunity to view various sizes of traction engines chugging round the car park timetable, before the inevitable visit to the Pheasant Inn for a few pints of Doddington Gold. On returning to the Gala U Boat 31806 arrived and brought the sun with it, well they used to say Summer Comes First on the Southern. After a spin with a very smoky BR standard 2-6-0 78019 to Cheltenham, I took a second break at Winchcombe where the burger & beer tent was doing good business. My plan here had been to get a little & large shot of Bullied Pacific P&O Line passing the Pug on its passenger turn but the timetable had slipped a bit so I settled for another pint of Goffs instead! Then it was all board the 3 coach “local” to Toddington behind the LYR Pug. Given the rarity of travelling a Pug unassisted and the gap since the previous northbound train, you won't be surprised to learn this was the most overcrowded train I've been on for years. Fellow W&W member Fred Winter endured the squash but we were treated to a cracking run. This was interrupted by a sharp stop due a problem with a brake hose near Hailes Abbey but this was an excuse for a spritely restart in the glorious late afternoon sunshine. Although there was plenty more on offer, I had to quit to commence my epic bus journey home which was enlivened by a double decker full of Cheltenham's campest Eurovision fans heading for the clubs of Gloucester. I eventually got home in time to catch, you guessed it, Eurovision on the telly. My thanks to all the volunteers from GWSR and the loco groups for putting on such an imaginative event.

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to N Clarke.