The thumbnails on this page below the text, all relate to the Honeybourne & Cheltenham line whilst it was part of the national network or after its abandonment on sections not then owned by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway plc.The Honeybourne and Cheltenham line was built during the first decade of the 20th Century which saw a vast programme of works to improve the infrastructure of the Great Western Railway. This decade also saw the new direct line from Paddington to Birmingham via High Wycombe brought into use as well as the direct link to the Severn Tunnel via Badminton and the new main line to West Country from Reading to Taunton via Westbury, both the latter avoiding congested original routes through Bristol.
Most of these routes proved to be long term improvements to the national railway network and survive into the 21st century, whilst the Honeybourne line only made sense in terms of competition between private company\’s and ultimately suffered the fate of being the second best alternative in national terms of a route between Birmingham & Cheltenham, with its complete removal after about 70 years of service.
The line was opened in stages southwards from Honeybourne, with Weston-sub-Edge and
Broadway stations opening to traffic on 1st August 1904, Willersey Halt around 2
months later, Toddington station on 1st December 1904, Winchcombe station on 1st
February 1905, Laverton Halt on 14th August 1905, Gretton Halt, Gotherington and
Bishops Cleeve stations on 1st June 1906, and Malvern Road station in Cheltenham just
south of the junction with the new line on 30th March 1908. A halt was opened at
Cheltenham High Street on 1st October 1908 but only lasted until 30th April 1917;
Cheltenham Race Course station opened on the 12th March 1912 and survived longest in
use receiving race specials right up to 1976 apart from the years 1969 & 1970; and
Hayles Abbey Halt was opened on 24th September 1928 at the time the museum was opened
on the abbey site.
Gotherington station was closed first on 13th June 1955, with all remaining stations & halts north of Malvern Road station closing when the local passenger service was withdrawn from the 7th March 1960. Freight facilities remained at Bishops Cleeve, Winchcombe, Toddington, & Broadway after the passenger services ceased but these were progressively withdrawn through the 1960s with Toddington being the last to close from 2nd January 1967.
The line remained in use for through freight traffic that could not be accommodated on the route through Lansdown, for diverted passenger trains when engineering needs made this necessary, and for the occasional race traffic to Cheltenham Race Course. On 25th August 1976 the 6.35am Toton to Severn Tunnel Junction freight suffered a derailment approaching Winchcombe goods shed that caused severe damage to the track. Although this was repaired British Rail decided to close the line to traffic and all tracks were eventually lifted during 1979/80.
We hereby acknowledge the assistance of Audie Baker and his book, "An Illustrated History of the Stratford on Avon to Cheltenham Railway" (out of print) published by Irwell Press in 1994, in providing much information for these pages.
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