We report on the events that delighted visitors and steam railway enthusiasts alike at the Watercress Line Spring Gala.
The Mid-Hants Railway ‘Watercress Line’ Spring Steam Gala took place between Friday April 30th and Monday, May 3rd.
The event featured two visiting GWR tank engines; Prairie tank Class 55xx (No. 5526) built at Swindon in 1928, which is on loan from the South Devon Railway, and Pannier tank 5700 Class (No. 4612) built at Swindon in 1942, on loan from the Bodmin & Wenford Railway.
Pannier was used on a shuttle service – a mixed passenger and goods train – between Alresford and Ropley, for four journeys each day, while Prairie made three round trips of the entire, 10-mile line each day.
Visitors were also able to enjoy shunting displays put on by LMS Ivatt Class 2 (No. 41312), in the loco yard at Ropley, as well as interesting static displays. The latter included the recently-arrived Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust Peckett Saddle Tank Kilmersdon (No.1788). This engine was built in 1929, but wasn’t in steam at this event.
The remaining passenger trains were hauled by resident locomotives SR ‘Schools’ Class, Cheltenham (No. 30925), LSWR S15 Class, No. 506 and BR Standard Class 4, No. 76017.
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