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This years West Somerset Railway Spring Steam Gala is being held on Friday to Sunday 17-19 March and Thursday to Sunday 23-26 March with the 17th. being a "Preview Day". This year's theme is "Celebrating the Somerset & Dorset", marking the 40th anniversary of the closure of the much missed line.
Last minute replacement 9F 2-10-0 92203 Black Prince climbing up into Crowcombe Heathfield, problems with the planned loco meant this one came in at the last minute to ensure this class was represented.
The weather was unfortunately very cold, the consolation was that the exhaust was very visible.
All the West Somerset's stations were renamed after similar ones on the Somerset & Dorset for the event, Crowcombe Heathfield becoming Midsomer Norton.
Visiting BR Std 4 2-6-0 76069 was running as 76009, an S&D loco, for the event and is seen running into "Midsomer Norton" with a "Bournemouth West" (Minehead) to "Templecombe" (Bishops Lydeard) train.
S&D 2-8-0 53809 running into "Midsomer Norton" with the next up train, bet the crew were glad of the storm sheet as it tried to snow a couple of times during the morning.
The crossing down train was hauled by LMS 4F 0-6-0 44422 and Caprotti gear fitted BR 5 4-6-0 73129, one of the various typical S&D pairings over the Gala.
Down the hill to "Templecombe" (Bishops Lydeard) and resident S&D 7F is seen coming past the stock 53809 had brought in ready to come onto the back and return it to "Bournemouth West".
In a recreation of the manoeuvres of S&D trains at Templecombe 88 reversed out of the platform - with 53809 still on the back as a pilot.
53809 worked the next Down train, this time leaving normally!
Then 45407 (running as 45440, an S&D loco) ran in to "Templecombe" with a set of stock from the sidings.
45440 leaving for "Bournemouth West".
34067 Tangmere, a Bulleid "Battle of Britain" Class light pacific, then arrived from the mainline with a through excursion from London to Minehead - she sounded good bringing 13 coaches and a "dead" Class 47 diesel up the grade.
Tangmere moved up to the water tower to replenish her tanks after her early arrival.
76009 (76079) then came on the front of 34067 to pilot her to Minehead.
The pair then moved into platform 1 to await departure for "Bournemouth West".
The multi-coloured tail of the excursion with Fragonset's 47, 47703 Hermes being detached, the diesel had taken the stock into Victoria and was then dragged on the back all the way to Lydeard ready to take the train back to London later in the day.
After the excursion had gone 92203 came across to the water tower ready to work back down the line.
The 47 stabled in the "QB" bay, Fragonset's livery is black as is 9F Black Prince's which was passing through one of the platform roads.
I then travelled to Crowcombe Heathfield/Midsomer Norton behind the 9F which is seen here waiting to cross.
Back down the hill to Bishops Lydeard (or should that be Templecombe?) and Caprotti fitted Std 5MT 73129 was having the S&D headcode set up ready to leave for "Bournemouth West".
53809 and 44422 leaving Evercreech Junction (Williton) for "Templecombe" with an early up train.
Another view of 53809 as she went over the points at the end of the loop. Having extra stock on the line, the SRPS charter set, meant longer trains - better for seating capacity but a problem at some of the loops with the double headers!
Restoration of ex GWR sleeping car 9038 is now complete and it was moved out on display in the yard at Williton, the team have done a magnificent job on it, pity the line is a bit short for sleeping car services!
Also on display were the line's GW steam locos which weren't required during the S&D Gala, first is mogul 9351 which was in steam as the standby loco followed by small prairie 5553 and pannier 6412.
Also on display was autotrailer 169 which is at the stage of restoration where it is being dismantled prior to being reassembled with new timbers as required and so looks to be getting worse rather than better.
The Evercreech Junction running in board doesn't seem that out of place at a Bristol & Exeter Railway station!
76079 (running as 76009) and 73129 approaching Williton with a train to "Bournemouth West".
The pair after arriving at "Bournemouth West", swapping round so that the 2-6-0 was leading again on their next trip together.
Branksome shed must have had problems to have turned out 92203 tender first for the "Pines"... 80136 (running as 80138) and 92203 at "Bournemouth West" with an up train for "Templecombe".
A line up of "odds and ends" in Minehead's Bay Siding 2, 7820 Dinmore Manor which as awaiting overhaul, Class 33 33057, Class 47 47703 Hermes, spare stock from the charter set and, in the distance, D7523.
44422 and 53809 arriving at "Bournemouth West" alongside Fragonset's 47703.
Isabel and Kilmersdon shunting at Midford (Washford), headquarters of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust.
Watchet became Wincanton for the Gala, 34067 Tangmere is seen arriving there with a down train.
You too can be part of the action - new volunteers are always welcome, you can find out more on Volunteers, there's a big perk in exchange for your efforts - free travel!
Click here to go to the West Somerset Railway's site
Click here to go to the West Somerset Railway Association's site
Click here to go to the unofficial West Somerset Railway site
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This site was last updated 15-07-2012
Photos not otherwise credited are ©2001-2006 S G J Huddy. Other photos are included with permission of the copyright holders.