The Severn Valley Railway is opening its 2019 events season with a celebration of British branchlines as its popular Spring Steam Gala prepares to take over the tracks on March 15th – 17th.
The hugely popular event for steam enthusiasts of all ages is this year paying tribute to the heyday of British branchlines, with a range of Great Western Railway tank engines taking centre-stage.
A cast of ten locomotives will be in action, including four very special visiting engines which will join a selection of the SVR’s homefleet to run a busy timetable of services along the line throughout the three-day event.
Heading across the border from its home on the Llangollen Railway to join the star line-up is GWR Pannier Tank No. 6430, which was based at Pontypool and Newport from 1940 until 1954, where it worked autotrains in the South Wales Valleys.
Also starring is GWR Large Prairie No. 4144, which was a familiar sight hauling passenger services deep in South Wales for many years. It was withdrawn from service in 1965, but was rescued from Woodham Brothers scrapyard and has since been restored to full working order.
Heavy coal trains were the staple diet for fellow Gala visitor GWR 5600 No. 5619, which was based at Barry during its working life. Purchased from the Woodham Brothers scrapyard in 1973 by the Telford Horsehay Steam Trust, the engine was returned to steam in 1981 and has visited many preserved Railways across the UK since.
Last but by no means least is visiting engine LNWR ‘Coal Tank’ No. 1054. Built way back in 1888, No. 1054 is the oldest visiting engine at this year’s Gala. Fitted with a snowplough at Abergavenny, No. 1054 made its name by working the last passenger train over the Merthyr & Abergavenny Railway on January 5th 1958.
The visitors will be joined by six of the SVR’s resident locomotives, including BR Standard 4 No. 75069, which hauled its first passenger service in 24 years during half-term, following the most extensive restoration project in the SVR’s history.
Gala visitors can enjoy an extensive steam train service throughout the event, including goods trains and autotrains. For those looking for an extra-special experience, the Spring Steam Gala Sunday lunch Train on March 17th, offers the chance to wine, dine and relax on-board one of the SVR’s lovingly-restored carriages. Places are limited and must be booked in advance.
Nikki Davies, the SVR’s marketing and communications manager, said: “We’re thoroughly looking forward to launching our 2019 events season with this fantastic celebration of steam.
“We’ll be welcoming a great quartet of visiting engines, including No. 1054 – one of the oldest locomotives to be featured at any of our Galas, which will work perfectly alongside our own, much-loved locomotives and we are sure they will be extremely popular with visitors.”