The first locomotives to run on the line were 2-2-2 single drivers. It is known that “Lion” from Sharp Roberts was used on the opening day. 1840 saw the Sun class “Meteor” locomotive in use, but by 1841 trains that ran through to London were being hauled by members of the Firefly class, “Greyhound” being one of the engines in use.
Gooch’s 2-2-2 No. 69 and 76 built in 1870 were transferred to Gloucester in 1870. By the end of the decade Queen class 2-2-2 were sheded at Gloucester to work the through Milford Haven boat trains. In the late 1880’s 2-4-0 William Dean’s Barnhum class locomotives were to be seen on the line together with 2-4-0 2201 class and the famous Buffalo 0-6-0 saddle tanks.
All Collett class locomotives used the line except for the Kings which were restricted. It was not until after the introduction of High Speed 125 trains to the line that the fist King class, ‘George V’, ran on a special. Collett 0-4-2 tanks fitted for auto working were the mainstay of the Chalford autotrains after the demise of the railmotors while 0-6-0 saddle tanks and 2-6-2 prairie tanks were used on workmens’ trains and short pick up goods.
Sapperton bankers were 27XX class 0-6-0 tanks in the early 1900’s, replaced by 31XX 2-6-2 tanks by the middle of the decade, 2-6-2 tanks continuing to be the mainstay banking engines until the withdrawal of steam, 6137 prairie tank noted in use in 1960.
The most unusual sight witnessed on the line was London underground stock returning to Gloucester Carriage Works for overhaul. obviously not under their own power. Cheltenham Gold Cup saw many specials running from Paddington to the races, including the Royal train in the charge of two gleaming Old Oak Common Castles.
After the demise of steam, diesel hydraulics took over the London and Swindon trains, these eventually being replaced by diesel electrics. Later Class 101 diesel multiple units, the first used in the West of England, were in service between Swindon and Cheltenham. More recently these were replaced by Sprinters and the loco hauled trains were replaced by High Speed 125 units.
Dean Class 3232 piloted by 1076 class near Stroud in 1903