GWR Tourism Day at Toddington, Gloucestershire

Dinmore Manor locomotive at Toddington Station, Gloucestershire

Dinmore Manor locomotive at Toddington Station, Gloucestershire - Credit: Archant

While on work experience with Cotswold Life, Amy Woolridge of Cleeve School enjoyed a day out at Toddington as part of Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Tourism Day

Amy Woolridge on board Dinmore Manor at Toddington

Amy Woolridge on board Dinmore Manor at Toddington - Credit: Archant

This morning, on March 23, I attended a GWR Tourism Day at Toddington Railway Station and to my surprise; there was a particularly large turnout, with people arriving from guest houses and bed and breakfast businesses in the Cotswolds, guests from a wide variety of local newspapers and magazines and a couple of people from a local tourist information.

The volunteer-run steam railway has had a brilliant year, culminating in them winning a ‘Cotswold Tourism Award’, in conjunction with our magazine for the second year running. The railway also won the ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’, in conjunction with Slimbridge and Adam Henson’s farm park. The day involved a complimentary round trip over the full length of the line, through the glorious and aesthetically pleasing views of the Cotswolds, running past Toddington to Cheltenham Racecourse, via Winchcombe.

This train ran on top of an embankment for the majority of the journey as well as through a long tunnel under a small part of the Cotswolds and across the 15-arch Stanway viaduct, making it not only one of the longest heritage lines in the country, but also one of the most scenic. As part of my visit, I had the opportunity to not only travel on a steam train, but also have the chance to travel in a diesel rail car from Toddington to Laverton station at the end of the line, with one of the best parts being that I was able to have an almost 360-degree view of outside of the train. In addition, we were able to have an in-depth tour around parts of the railway that are usually hidden from view.

When it came to lunchtime, after the main ride along the railway line, the ‘Flag and Whistle’ tea room offered us lunch and a place to sit and rest our legs for a while, also giving us the chance to interact with others whom we might not have had the chance to talk to before. Furthermore, the cafe was open from 10am, upon arrival, offering complimentary tea and biscuits which was available to us throughout the day. Fortunately, this was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with friends or fellow colleagues, as well as being able to have the chance to make new contacts. We were also given the chance of entering a prize draw in the tea room after being welcomed in, therefore allowing us to maybe win either a footplate ride for part of the journey, or two bottles of Toddington’s special own label wine.

Overall, the staff onsite for the day were very amiable and were easy to approach, along with providing us with lots of valuable information, specifically, the history of the railway, upcoming plans for the future and how I could contribute towards making these plans possible.

This tourism event was set up in hope to raise awareness and in turn, money for the railway as the main objective is to expand the line into Broadway station in the near future, hopefully 2018. Broadway has been the much-anticipated target for the extension in the railway line, connecting with one of the region’s main tourist centres. As planning permission has now been granted for the re-build, it is only funding that is now needed to provide a station building; £2 million is yet to be raised to enable this to happen.

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In the meantime, the station is planning on hosting many very exciting days out for the family, for example: ‘A Day Out With Thomas’, (June 20 & 21, and Sept 19 & 20 – nominated as the best themed), ‘Escape The Blitz By Steam Train’ (April 25 & 26), ‘The Cheltenham Fryer – Fish And Chip Specials’ (running spring to autumn), and ‘Santa Specials’ around the Christmas period each year, as well as many more.