Wiltshire's only standard gauge heritage railway is prepared to welcome visitors again post-lockdown for its 60th anniversary.
September 10, marks 60 years since the last train ran on the old Midland and South Western Junction Railway (M&SWJR), in which the Swindon and Cricklade Railway now resides. S&CR will be celebrating this anniversary with a celebration gala on September 10, 11 and 12, featuring Steam and Diesel Locomotives – and a guest appearance from a Swindon Built locomotive.
The S&CR will start offering round-trip passenger journeys of approximately four and a half miles. Trains run between Hayes Knoll and Taw Valley Halt, accessible from Mouldon Hill Country Park.
A S&CR spokesperson said: “It has been a lot of hard work to get where we are today as the site was empty and everything you see on site was painstaking built from scratch!”
Alongside this event S&CR also have three other big events taking place over the summer months! August 7 and 8 saw the return of the family friendly “Vintage Weekend” – featuring classic cars, motorcycles, busses, lorries, traction engines, trade stands, food stalls and beer tents.
August’s bank holiday weekend is the 'Real Ale and Cider weekend' featuring 15 beers and 10 ciders on tap accompanied by live music.
September 25 and 26 will host the “Military Weekend” – A weekend that celebrates the area’s military roots and all the men and women who currently serve in the UK as well as celebrating the military from across the globe. Displays of military vehicles and paraphernalia from yesteryear will feature.
Aside from the events, there is a lot of work going into the extension of the line towards Cricklade. At present the current rail head terminates just before South Meadow Lane. A boost to the extension’s progress was helped along by the Hills Group Ltd, who sponsored a culvert repair that was holding up the project. This was facilitated by Community First, Wiltshire.
The original brick culvert had survived for over 130 years, but with the ravages of time and the ingress of tree roots, the supporting wall was severely cracked and leaning. The brick arch itself was also failing underneath. It has been replaced with a suitable alternative and now the push to Cricklade can recommence. S&CR are hoping to be able to show this progress during the anniversary event, with trains running up to the length of the current line.
All this work came at a cost of several thousands of pounds and S&CR would welcome any donations towards the cost of the extension work and any further sponsorship from local companies across Swindon and Wiltshire. It would also welcome additional help from volunteers to run its trains and to help build the extension.
More information can be found at swindon-cricklade-railway.org or find S&CR on Facebook or Instagram.