Wartime returns to the Cotswolds on the GWR

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* Wartime theme for special weekend on Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway – 27-28 April 2013
* You can take part: ‘GWR Needs You’!

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway is running its first-ever ‘War in the Cotswolds’ event on the railway, 27-28 April 2013.

It’s a time for visitors to carry their identity cards, ration books and dress up in 1940s style for this special event.

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At a time when there is growing interest in British military and civilian life during the 1940s, the railway, which operates heritage train services over the 12-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse, Toddington and Laverton, is planning what it describes as a ‘light-hearted wartime weekend’.

Organiser David Miles points out that oft-repeated TV shows such as ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Blackadder’ and ‘’Allo ’Allo’, are eternally popular while dramas like ‘Land Girls’ (which was partly filmed on the Honeybourne Line) and factual programmes such as ‘Wartime Farm’ attract large audiences.

“They awaken a nostalgia for a time when everyone pulled together for their country,” he points out.

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“Rationing, making ends meet with very little, evacuation of youngsters by train to the country and huddling round radio sets listening to Winston Churchill as they wondered whether their loved ones would come home again must have been heartbreaking for countless families.

“But at the same time, it brought out the finest British spirit of co-operation and for many they were also the best of days.”

Britain’s railways played an enormous part in keeping the country mobile during the war years, including the strategically-important line between Stratford and Cheltenham, over part of which the present-day Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway runs.

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Popularly known in the War years as the Honeybourne Line, it provided connections to all parts of the country and was heavily used for freight, troop movements and moving produce from the Vale of Evesham.

“We want to capture something of the days when everyone pulled together for their country and the railways played such a vital role in the war effort. It’s a chance for everyone to play a part and live the experience.”

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The weekend will offer a host of activities planned including period music and melodies, Forces personnel on duty or on leave; the fire auxiliary sevice and period civilian and military vehicles. And provided that there are sufficient provisions, and air-raids permitting, catering will have a distinct 1940s feel – and taste – too.

Visitors will be invited to come along in 1940s attire and if they have an appropriate classic vehicle, to bring that along too.

“We’re keen to hear from anyone who has anything to offer – whether local church groups, schools or service clubs, as well as those who might want to run a stall selling 1940s memorabilia.

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Discount tickets are already available in advance on the railway’s website. The railway would also like to hear of readers’ recollections of the railway during the war years.

Full details and who to contact are on the railway’s webstie at www.gwsr.com or email wartime@gwsr.com

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