The West Somerset Railway (WSR) Gala Planning Team is pleased to announce that two small gala events are being planned for September and October 2021 as Government Covid restrictions are hopefully further eased.
These will be the first enthusiast gala events held at the WSR in almost two years since the winter steam event in December 2019!
The first gala will be held on Friday 17th & Saturday 18th September which will be a true “Mixed Traffic” weekend complete with diesel-only haulage on the Friday, plus a mix of steam and diesel on the Saturday, and then a more normal steam-only service will operate on the Sunday.
Diesel locos planned to run for the September event are: Hymek Class 35 D7018 and Crompton Class 33’s D6566 and D6575, plus maybe one ‘guest’ diesel loco that is under discussion, but subject to budgetary constraints following the limitations enforced on the railway by the Coronavirus pandemic.
On the Saturday, the home-based WSR steam fleet of former GWR locos in Large Prairie No. 5199, Mogul No. 9351 and Manors No. 7822 “Foxcote Manor” and No. 7828 “Odney Manor” will join the diesels, and some of these locos will also haul the Sunday services.
All trains are expected to run between Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor & Dunster stations, plus maybe a couple of workings over the little used Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren section.
The short section between Dunster and Minehead will be unavailable, however, as engineering works continue on the renewal of the Seaward Way level crossing at Minehead, but a heritage bus link will be provided for passengers to travel on to Minehead if desired.
Then, a couple of weeks later, the WSR Plans its long awaited and ever popular ‘Autumn Steam Gala’ on three days between Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd October inclusive.
Once again, the home-based steam fleet of former GWR locos will be in action with Large Prairie No. 5199, Mogul No. 9351 and Manors No. 7822 “Foxcote Manor” and No.7828 “Odney Manor” will give a distinct British Railways Western Region branch line feel.
The Gala Planning Team also hopes to bring in a guest steam loco to join the line-up too, but this cannot be guaranteed at this stage, so would be visitors are advised to check the WSR websites and social media pages for updates.
As with the ‘Mixed Traction’ weekend, WSR steam trains for the October ‘Autumn Steam Gala’ are planned to run between Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor & Dunster stations, plus maybe a couple of workings over the little used Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren section.
The short section between Dunster and Minehead is also likely to still be unavailable then as engineering works continue on the renewal of the Seaward Way level crossing at Minehead, but a heritage bus link will be provided for passengers to travel on to Minehead if desired.
It is hoped that a breakfast meal will be available for advance bookings on the “Quantock Belle” dining train, attached to some trains during this weekend.
The WSR has repainted most of its coaching stock into a variety of liveries during the lockdown period, and it is planned to run a Maroon, Red/Cream and Choc/Cream sets for these galas in order to recreate some authentic scenes of BR Western Region secondary and branch lines.
Tickets are not yet available because the WSR awaits to hear what the next stages of easing Covid restrictions might be so that seating plans can be worked out. These will be released as soon as possible, but not before Monday 19 July.
Images licenced under a Creative Commons Licence © Sylvia Way and Peter Darke