Full steam ahead for a busy bank holiday weekend

King Edward II will offer a right Royal feast for the eyes, making a return visit from Didcot Railway Centre. (Photo submitted)

THE Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railways’ annual Cotswold Festival of Steam will feature eight engines over the May Bank Holiday.

This year’s theme is Northern Soul – reflecting two of the three visiting engines from the North – one from Scotland and one from Yorkshire.

The event has become one of the most popular in the railway’s calendar and attracted nearly 6,000 visitors last year – the year the railway extended its operation to the Cotswold village of Broadway.

A particularly attractive visitor is a sole surviving Caledonian Railway tank locomotive, no. 419, loaned by courtesy of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, which is painted in an attractive ‘Perth Blue’ livery – bringing a bright splash of colour to the Cotswolds.

The other ‘northerner’ is an LNER B1 class no. 1264, loaned by the Thompson B1 Locomotive Trust on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. This attractive design was developed during the Second World War when there was a huge demand for new locomotives.

Neither engine has ever visited the GWSR before and are likely to be very appealing features of a very busy weekend.

The third visitor is making a return visit to the GWSR – the Didcot Railway Centre’s King class no. 6023 King Edward II. It was the most powerful express passenger locomotive to run on the Great Western Railway and the most powerful of its type in the UK. It is finished in the blue livery adopted by British Railways in the early 1950s for express passenger locomotives

The ‘Caley’ tank engine is one of three locomotives running that are a century or more old – but, built in 1907, it’s not the oldest. That credit goes to resident heavy freight engine no. 2807 which was turned out of Swindon works in 1905, and is the oldest operable Great Western locomotive surviving.

Cotswold Festival of Steam runs from 25th to 27th May.