2019 saw the theme for the West Somerset Railway Autumn Gala as “The Country Railway Remembered” and what a great theme it was. The gala brought together no less than 4 pannier tank locomotives, not something that I can ever recall seeing before. All the panniers put me in mind of the 1970s TV series Flockton Flyer which was made on the line and featured pannier tank locomotive 6412, present at the gala. The series has a naive kind of charm and I admit to still finding it entertaining, even today.
Add to pannier tanks a British Railways Class 35 Hymek and a supporting cast of 4 more steam locomotives and it was always going to be an impressive event.
Weather wise I’ve always been lucky at the West Somerset, locals talk of a ‘micro climate’ caused mainly by the Quantock Hills that tend to make precipitation fall before reaching the coast and the railway. This year did suffer from the occasional shower, sometimes heavy, but nothing that disrupted my photography too much and actually gave me a chance to record a few trains in the wet.
- Great Western Railway 57xx Class 0-6-0PT r/n 4612
- Great Western railway 57xx Class 0-6-0PT r/n 7714
- Great Western Railway 57xx Class 0-6-0PT r/n 7752
- Great Western Railway 64xx Class 0-6-0PT r/n 6412
- Great Western railway designed 2-6-0 Small Mogul r/n 9351
- Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway 2-8-0 7F r/n 53808
- British Railways 78xx Class 4-6-0 “Foxcote Manor” r/n 7822
- British Railways 78xx Class 4-6-0 “Odney Manor” r/n 7828
- British Railways Class 35 Diesel Hymek r/n D7018
The West Somerset Railway features so many great photographic locations, many of them easily accessible. Those listed below are some of my favourites but even with 3 days at the gala there was still not enough time to visit all of the places I would have liked. Two particular locations I would recommend, not featured here, are Stogumber station and the high embankments West of Watchet Station and North of the line. My West Somerset Railway 2017 Spring Gala report features Stogomber station for those with an particular interest in this location.
- Location 1 – public crossing in field outside Minehead Station SS 977464
- Location 2 – Minehead Station platform
- Location 3 – public footpath outside Minehead Station near signal box
- Location 4 – Williton Station footbridge
- Location 5 -Williton Station Diesel and Electric Preservation yard
- Location 6 – Crowcombe Heathfield Station platform
- Location 7 – Crowcombe Heathfield Station car park
- Location 8 – Bishops Lydeard Station platform
- Location 9 – Wiliton Station platform.
As usual captions are minimal giving just a location number and the name / running number (r/n) and class of the locomotive.
The Hymek – B.R. Class 35 Diesel r/n D7018
I heard a few adverse comments at the event with regard to including a diesel locomotive at what is a primarily a steam gala, personally I thought it was an excellent addition of a classic locomotive. I admit to having a bias harking back to my days as a child when I always wanted the Tri-ang – Hornby Hymek model, so for me it was great to see and hear.
Trains in the Rain
So occasionally the rain did come down quite hard, but being suitably equipped with my rain mac and wide brimmed hat I was able to carry on snapping. I do rather think that the rain coming down in front of the locos does make for an interesting photo.
In recent time I’ve found myself taking rather more video clips, I think because watching a video clip brings back the event rather better than a bunch of still shots. Certainly my video is pretty amateurish, particularly as I’m only using a Sony Handycam, held free hand so there is lots of room for improvement. Regardless I think I am getting a little better and there’s nothing like getting the whistle toot before the loco moves off, as in my first video. I hope you find them entertaining and will excuse the ‘bumpy bits’.
We start off with GWR 64xx Class 0-6-0PT 6412 shunting the goods train at Minehead Station.
Still at Minehead we see S&DJR 2-8-0 7F r/n 53808, in charge of the same goods train leaving for the Bishops Lydeard.
Finally we stop at Wiliton to watch British Railways Class 35 Diesel Hymek r/n D7018 leaving for Minehead.
Rather shamefaced I have to admit that the West Somerset Railway Autumn Gala is the only railway event that I have attended in 2019. There are a number of reasons for this, but they mostly all boil down to being busy with my many other interests and having hard choices to make about where to spend my time. For 2020 I plan to do rather better with my railway visits.
I’ll end with another video demonstrating one of the interests that diverted me, the building of a large 00 / 4mm model railway in my converted garage. A train double-headed by pannier tanks seems most appropriate……