Thursday, 13 March 2008

Railway's spring steam gala beats inclement weather

DESPITE some less than inspiring weather at times the first weekend of the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala was a success with lots of happy faces enjoying travelling behind a fleet of the giants of the steam age.
The railway had hired in no less than seven ‘guest’ machines for the gala and these joined forces with six engines that are normally resident on the line to make up a happy ‘baker’s dozen’ for visitors to see, ride behind and photograph.
Among the stars of the show for many were London and North Western Railway ‘Super D’ number 49395, a heavy freight locomotive whose restoration was largely funded by Pete Waterman and ‘Black 5’ 45110 which was one of the engines that was in service on the last day of British Railways steam on August 11th 1968.
Other attractions along the 20 mile line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead were book signings, museum openings and art exhibitions.
As is often the case with WSR galas, many local accommodation providers reported ‘full houses’ as visitors flocked from all parts of the country to take part in one is traditionally one of the first major events in the steam enthusiast calendar.
WSR general manager Paul Conibeare was pleased with the first weekend.
He said: “We were sorry that the weather did not allow us to show Somerset in spring at its very best but pleased with the number of people who turned-out to enjoy themselves and to give our 2008 season a very good start.
“The gala will resume on Thursday, March 13, and continues to Sunday 16th, after which we will have a one-day break until the Easter programme starts on March 18.”

  • Our photographs show (TOP) three ex-Great Western Railway Prairie tanks numbers 5542, 5553 and 4160, and (MIDDLE) visiting London Midland Scottish Railway Engine 45110 from the Severn Valley Railway waiting to leave Minehead. Photos submitted.

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