I am very happy to report that the Watercress Line’s Great Spring Gala truly lived up to its name and then some! Not only was it Great, but it was fantastic!The line-up (click here for more) was incredible; made up of three visitors and four members of the home fleet. Four of these locomotive were members of the national collection, three were sole surviving members of their respective classes. Wow!
My day started in Ropley on Saturday morning in a cloud of steam. Four locomotives were being prepared for the day along platform 2, a forth sat on platform 1 and the remaining two in the loco yard. The atmosphere in this steam enthusiast’s Aladdin’s Cave was fantastic!
I was lucky to spend much of the day with my good friend, Simon from Brookes Castle, who arrived on the first service from Alresford behind unrebuilt Bulleid West Country class pacific 34007 Wadebridge (below).
As is usual with gala’s, there were a variety of double-headers and the odd freight service to add extra variety to the day.
During the course of the day, I took 553 photographs! Many of these pictures are not fit for publication, as my tired old camera (with broken autofocus mechanism) is seriously beginning to show signs that it’s shutter may open and close for the last time very soon. It’s exposure system made some unusual mistakes and it occasionally crashes (though fortunately it didn’t on the day). Time for a new camera, methinks! Despite that, there is still plenty to publish over the next few days – indeed there is almost too much to publish – not just from the gala either! More reports on the Solent Model Railway Group’s exhibition are to be published, we have a new guest blog post coming up and there will be a new addition of “the view from Locoyard” coming up in the next UK Heritage Hub publication. This will features a new location yet to be published here on Locoyard.com, with a special topic and a chance for your input. These are busy, exciting times! Watch this space!!!