The Watercress Line’s Spring Steam Gala 2016 was especially fitting for its location. The theme being Guildford shed (70C,) a location not too far from the railway. The railway was host to two visitors – the familiar and beautiful T9 class 30120 and the Bluebell Railway’s Maunsell Q class 30541 on it’s first outing away from the Sussex line since first being returned to working order in preservation. The last time a Q class was seen on what is now the Mid-Hants Railway was in the 1960’s.The visiting steam locomotives were not the only stars of the three day long event. It was the final gala appearance for the foreseeable future of the oldest surviving Bulleid light pacific, West Country class 34007 Wadebridge. As can be seen from the picture above, Wadebridge was running with white embellishments to mark the occasion. 34007’s 10 year boiler ticket expires in March, so the gala was a good opportunity for people to say their goodbye’s to this “spam can.” Happily however, the gala also was an occasion for some hello’s too. Freshly overhauled Ivatt 2MT tank 41312 was rostered to pull its first public laden trains.
Not only was the Ivatt tank engine making its debut, so was freshly restored Bulleid brake coach 4211, pictured behind the 2MT locomotive above.
Judging from the vast majority of comments made over the weekend, it’s fair to say that most people enjoyed themselves and overall it was a success.
I was fortunate enough to be working on the railway over the three day event, marshalling the car park in Alresford until lunchtime and then on the Canadian Pacific stand in the afternoon. This had the advantage of being “forced” to catch the train from Alresford to Ropley and return, thus seeing some of the steam action. The cold weather also had the benefit of being the perfect excuse to have bacon and/or breakfast baps from the West Country buffet in Alresford. Something I heartily recommend!
I’ll leave you with a gallery of the remainder of my pictures from the gala.
Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to see Simon’s blog posts:
Thanks for reading!