Watercress Line Spring Gala

Posted by Chris Graham on 26th July 2021

We report on the events that delighted visitors and steam railway enthusiasts alike at the Watercress Line Spring Gala.

Watercress Line Spring Gala

There was a decidedly Great Western atmosphere at Alresford, with visitors from South Devon and Bodmin railways making appearances at the Watercress Line Spring Gala. (Pic: James Hamilton)

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.

Some of the assets of the displaced S&D Trust from Washford have been given a new home at the Mid-Hants Railway, such as Peckett Saddle Tank No.1788 Kilmersdon of 1929. (Pic: James Hamilton)

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.

Watercress Line Spring Gala

There was no shortage of action at Ropley on April 30th, as visitor No. 4612 raises steam while, in the background, the driver of a passenger train receives his token from the signalman. (Pic: James Hamilton)

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