PRESS RELEASE ISSUED 13 JULY 2021
The West Somerset Railway (WSR) Gala Planning Team is pleased to confirm that two small gala events are being planned for September and October 2021 as Government Covid restrictions are hopefully further eased later this month.
These will be the first enthusiast gala events held at the WSR in almost two years since the winter steam event in December 2019!
Mixed Traction Weekend
The first gala will be held on Friday 17th & Saturday 18th September which will be a true “Mixed Traction” weekend.
There will be mainly diesel haulage on the Friday plus one steam loco in service, then a mix of three diesels and two steam engines 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 all home based in Hymek Class 35 D7018 and Crompton Class 33’s D6566 and D6575.
On the Saturday, two of the home-based WSR steam fleet of former GWR locos in newly painted 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 steam 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.
All of the four home-based steam fleet of former GWR locos are expected to be in action with GWR liveried Large Prairie No. 5199, Mogul No. 9351 and Manors No. 7822 “Foxcote Manor” and No.7828 “Odney Manor”, plus one diesel — probably the Hymek — to give a reasonable gala service level and that will give a distinct British Railways Western Region branch line feel.
All of the above is subject to availability, budgetary pressures and Covid 19 restrictions of course, so would-be visitors are advised to check the WSR websites and social media pages for updates.
Autumn Steam Gala
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 are expected to 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.
But, if things do change on Seaward Way and it is open sooner, then the WSR will be making an announcement nearer the time alongside Somerset County Council as the highway authority.
A breakfast meal is planned to be available for advance bookings on the “Quantock Belle” dining train, which will be 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.
More information from: Don Bishop on 01278 784825 Mobile; 07912 669 666
Release prepared and issued for WSR Gala Planning Team by Dick Wood – 07711 552947