Published 19th February 2013
The Mid Hants and West Somerset Railways offer March steam feasts - which can be reached using the national rail network.
Locomotives owned by the National Railway Museum present the star attractions for the Mid-Hants Railway’s March 1-3 Spring Gala.
A central theme for the event is 4-4-0 wheel arrangements, featuring LSWR T9 ‘Greyhound’ No. 30120 from the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, No. 3717 City of Truro from York and MHR resident SR ‘Schools’ No. 925 Cheltenham, all of which are NRM-owned.
Not 4-4-0s, but NRM-owned, ‘King Arthur’ No. 777 Sir Lamiel will be visiting from the Great Central Railway with Mid-Hants based No. 850 Lord Nelson rounding off the national collection’s locos expected to be tackling the MHR’s stiff gradients.
Aside from the NRM-owned fleet, the MHR’s own ‘West Country’ No. 34007 Wadebridge and ‘Black Five’ No. 45379 will bring the anticipated roster up to seven. It should be a great show.
The West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala should present around 10 engines in steam. Engines rather than locos? It seems the best way to include the Great Western Society’s GWR Steam Railmotor No. 93 among the list of visiting motive power!
Other top guests are the NRM’s No. 777 Sir Lamiel from its Great Central Railway base, Greg Wilson’s S160 2-8-0 No. 6046 (newly restored and from the Churnet Valley Railway) and Locomotive 5542 Ltd’s Prairie No. 5542 which, following fitting of suitable equipment at the South Devon Railway, will run at the WSR with two auto trailers. The gala is also expected to feature the return to WSR metals of rebuilt ‘West Country’ No. 34046 Braunton, which was restored to steam at Williton but latterly been at Bury receiving various works, including final preparations for its planned main line preservation-era debut.
Written by Cliff Thomas contributing authour
S160 No. 6046 is making its first visit to the WSR, although its stablemate, Greg Wilson’s S160 No. 5197, has run on the Minehead branch.
The Steam Railmotor is making its first preservation era appearance on the line, but this will be a historic return to this part of Somerset, if not the WSR itself. In its original form (prior to conversion to a coach and latterly restoration to original configuration) No. 93 spent periods allocated to sheds at Taunton and Yatton. From Yatton it worked on the Clevedon branch but its duties from Taunton are unclear.
The WSR-based fleet is likely to comprise No. 6960 Raveningham Hall, No. 7828 Norton Manor (nee Odney Manor), Large Prairie No. 4160, GWR 2-8-0 No. 3850 and Mogul No. 9351.
A WSR regular not specifically listed to appear is S&DJR 7F No. 88.
Following the WSR’s December 29-30 Winter Steam Festival No. 88 was sent to LNWR Heritage Ltd in Crewe for attention to the boiler. Whether it runs in the spring event at its home line depends on when this work is completed.
The gala is almost an 8-day event with the ‘gap’ between the weekend dates (March 16-17 and 23-24) largely ‘filled in’ with March 18-19 services undertaken by the Railmotor and auto-train (pre-booking required) and a branch line set behind No. 4160, while March 20 will see a four-train service operated by visiting steam locos.
Other than the Steam Railmotor and auto-train, this should be another all ‘smokebox first’ gala utilising the Norton Fitzwarren triangle and Minehead turntable to turn locos between turns.
There will be all the usual WSR spring event attractions, plus a steam ‘Driver for a Tenner’ opportunity at Minehead on March 21-22.