Save 85B for reborn Carriage and Wagon Company, Museum and Steam Centre

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Please help save Gloucester Horton Road Motive Power Depot (MPD) better known during the British Railways era as 85B from being demolished and being redeveloped into housing. 

History of 85B

The first mention of Gloucester Horton Road (then Asylum Lane) was the Cheltenham and Gloucester Railway or Tramway, a certain Daniel Trinder, engineer to the Cheltenham and Gloucester Tramway unwittingly decided where that bottleneck of traffic should be. The tramway crossed Horton Road in the approximate location of the level crossing, the tramway opened to traffic in 1810/11. The tramway was acquired by 2 railway companies jointly in c.1836 these being the Cheltenham and Great Western Union (CGWU) and the Birmingham and Gloucester (B&G).

Under this joint venture they applied for permission to build a steam locomotive shed there, this never seemed to materialise unfortunately and both companies merged into the Midland Railway in 1844, the whole site at Horton Road was then subsequently sold the Great Western Railway who by this time had established a Broad Gauge station adjacent to the site, from my research this is stated to be a temporary platform with the Midland Railway, interestingly the Midland Railway built their depot over the opposite site of Horton Road at Barnwood (now currently Allstone Sand and Gravel).

It is interesting to note that during this period the Midland Railway was Narrow Gauge (today's Standard Gauge of 4'8½") and the Great Western Railway at this period was Broad Gauge (7'¼") and during the year 1844, Gloucester became the first City in the UK to have the Break of Gauge/Change of Gauge. Goods traffic began through Gloucester in September 1844 and at once the Break of Gauge made itself felt, particularly as most through traffic was for the Birmingham line. All such traffic had to be tran-shipped here and the ensuing chaos, some being deliberately organised by the narrow gauge (Now Standard Gauge) faction, set such arrangement in a very bad light. Following this a report of the Gauge commission, The Illustrated London News wrote on 6th June 1846: 'No public question at first sight ever seemed too inept for pictorial illustration s that of the railway gauges, being nothing more than parallel lines essentially still, mechanical and monotonous; yet no-one has yielded better pictures than those which we publish today. It is another proof that the commonest everyday incidents present good subjects for pictures if we will but seek them... As universal Chroniclers, we could not give the question the go-by, uninviting as it appeared; and so we dispatched our artist to Gloucester where the strongest evidence on this subject is said to be made palpable every day and hour... At Gloucester, two different railways unite... The first has a width of 4ft. 8 1/2in. between the rails; the last 7ft. 1/4in. The gauge... is broken or interrupted; hence the term we now hear so much of... Gentle reader, you have now a theory of what the Break of Gauge is. if you chance to travel yourself between Birmingham or Cheltenham and Bristol you seriously feel it. The gauge being thus broken, your journey is brought to a dead halt. With all your baggage and rattletraps whatever they may be in number and size, you are obliged to shift from one carriage to another...... You will hear the Railway Policeman bawling into the deaf passenger's ear that he must dismount; you will see the anxious mamma hasten her family in its transit from carriage to carriage dreading the penalty of being late'.

You may be wondering what this has to do with Gloucester Horton Road Motive Power Depot? Well, from 1844 the Broad Gauge track of the Great Western Railway entered the location of Horton Road depot from a point just before the level crossing. 

It was not however, until 1854 when the Great Western Railway completed the sheds and depot on the Horton Road site and added a line to the docks soon after. By 1888 the GWR Broad Gauge tracks were replaced with Standard Gauge. Things went well and it was a busy depot, even under nationalisation in 1948, Horton Road had over 100 steam locomotives allocated there and was given the shed code 85B. It closed to steam in January 1966 and the onset of the dieselisation period, meant a fuel point was added and the work bays converted. It ceased to be a maintenance depot in December 1990/January 1991 but remained a booking on point and stabling point for traction for a further 2 years with the staff moving to South Wales and locomotive repairs spread out around the country.

The site was and still is used for storage of track machines and for a short time as a stabling point for a small railway distribution company which also went under, most of the site has been derelict since 1993 and odd bits empty for years, arsonists and general fly tippers ruined the place in this period but as its up for sale then who knows what is around the corner. According to various sources including former workers and employees from Horton Road, every bit of electrical wire has been stripped from the place and for some reason even the oak floor-boards have been stolen in certain rooms.

In 2000, a Company called Cotswold Rail which was an English spot-hire Company of shunting and mainline locomotives and rolling stock leased the Horton Road depot for their purposes of hiring out locomotives and rolling stock. They leased the land at Horton Road which had been derelict since 1992 from the year 2006 until 2010 when the Company entered into voluntary administration and how now since dissolved.

Sadly, in 2015 a fire was started on the Gloucester Horton Road Motive Power Depot, this fire was treated as suspicious and sadly the image above this one of the Victorian building dating back to the Broad Gauge period is the building here on fire.

The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited (1860-1986)

The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company was originally founded on 30 January 1860 by a group of local merchants and railway enthusiasts who set up the Company under the Name Gloucester Wagon Company initially to manufacture railway wagons for collieries and local private owners. These merchants were sure Gloucester was a place for such a business, close to the South West, South Wales and the Midlands, Gloucester was central.. The Company manufactured the first all iron wagon in the 1860's, in 1880's the Company underwent a change in name this time to the name we know today 'Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited' and was the forerunners for a large number of different products including the first Electric Taxi for London in the late 1800's/early 1900's, Carriages for the  Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway (daddy-long legs on wheels), and much more, they also patented a large number of products including the Gloucester Bogie which is still being manufactured today although in China out of aluminium, during the 1960's the last carriages and wagons rolled out of the works on Bristol Road as the Company started to specialise in Bogies and engineering, the company underwent many name changes again including 'Gloucester Engineering Company', and was acquired my many different companies in its later history including Wingets Ltd., Babcocks, and many more. 

The Company closed down in 1986 after parts of the Company was sold of to various different companies. The Company was still registered at Companies House until 2014 when it went defunct. 

Sadly, only 2 buildings survive today one building being the former carriage erecting shops located on Bristol Road (now JDR Karting) which was where the Company's workshops were which covered a total of some 30 acres of land. The other building the former carriage and wheel works showrooms located just off London Road (now Roberts Limbrick Architects), this building was also the former Royal Mail Sorting Offices. Today, these are the only 2 buildings which survive and remind us of the Company and its days-gone-by.

The newly reborn Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited and Museum 

The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Museum was formed in March 2016 by a group of local railway preservationists with a passion and love for local railways, railway history, between them they have a combined period of at least 30 years in Heritage Railways, The newly reborn/reformed Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited (founders and Directors are the same for both groups) was founded and incorporated on 11 October 2017.

In 2016-17, members of the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Museum & Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited have spoken and had a collection of meetings with a member of Network Rail who currently own the site to see if they can preserve and/or purchase the site for the Museum and Company and to give them a home in the City of Gloucester and the meetings have not been successful at the current moment in time as the required funds for the purchase of the entire site is £7,000,000.00 (7 million) for the purchase of the remains of Gloucester Horton Road Motive Power Depot as well as the funds there are plans for housing to go on the site although no planning permission has been sent into the Council and no permission has been granted for housing on this site.

Network Rail were happy for us to purchase the site, should be we able to raise the required funds, this is also pending planning permission and the other formalities required and needed but they have now changed their minds and it is only up for residential development and during a telephone call and email correspondence the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Museum were told that Network Rail do not want members of the public next to or near a running railway line.

The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited and Museum as mentioned above have plans for a Carriage and Wagon Works for the manufacture, sale, repair, restoration, hire, etc of new build carriage and wagons, new build heritage carriage and wagon projects and much more, they will offer apprenticeships in traditional engineering skills and many other skills which are slowly dying out and will provide new jobs. 

The Museum aspect will become a subsidiary of the Company and will house artefacts, objects and other items including rolling stock manufactured by the original Company between 1860-1986, the Museum have currently had to put various aspects on hold due to having no premises, the Museum has at least 3-4 items of rolling stock waiting to come to the Museum for restoration, short-term and long-term display, etc. 

Steam Centre

The Company and Museum also have plans to work with heritage mainline tour operators to offer them a servicing facility/point offering Coal, Water, Oil, Diesel, etc. turntable and storage facilities, they aim to provide the service on as many occasions as physically possible, they are also looking to provide a safe viewing area for railway enthusiasts on special events such as mainline heritage steam tours, etc. 

The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company and Museum are aiming to provide all the above mentioned which in turn will provide jobs, apprenticeships, volunteer opportunities, tourist attraction and much much more. 


Therefore, please help the Company and Museum by signing this petition to try and save 85B from being demolished and turned into housing. 

This petition has been set up to try and raise enough signatures to allow ourselves to be heard, at the moment we are not being seen by various groups and after talking to various people they think the site is suitable and perfect for our purpose and our purpose could benefit the site better and could also bring in regular income rather than a one off income which homes and housing brings in. 

The Company and Museum if not successful with the purchase/acquisition of the entire site are happy to work with the City Council and all other parties to maximise the potential of the land by having the Carriage and Wagon Works, Museum and Steam Centre along with Housing combining all possibilities and plans could/work better than just Housing. Splitting the land in essence in half would provide the best outcomes in our view. 

The Company and Museum have been working on plans, for their section of the site which will be released in the near future, their plans are to utilise what is left on the site, repair and restore what remains and develop the site using original images to try and recreate a bygone Gloucester in essence using reclaimed products such as bricks, etc.

Thank you all who are in support of this petition and project and to all those who have signed and/or contributed in some way.