The West Somerset Railway (WSR) is one of my two favourite heritage lines, the other being the Swanage Railway. Usually both railways put on a spring steam gala and this year was no different, what was different this year is that both galas were on the same weekend! Tragedy!!! Even the most ardent railway buff can’t be in two places at the same time! lots of exclamation marks here which go to show how deeply this clash was felt by your author.
Having spoken to both railways via social media it seems that the clash was unavoidable for this year due to operational considerations, but please try not to do this again next year. So with the clash acknowledged I did consider splitting the weekend between the two railways but in the end decided this would be too rushed and disappointing and so finally decided on the WSR, the final deciding factor being the visiting locos.
Every gala I attend at the WSR seems to have a particular ‘crowd puller’, last year it was the train double-headed by two LMS Class 4F locomotives, this year it was a World War 2 military train with a US Army Transportation Corps S160 Class in charge. Other visitors included two Pannier Tank locomotives and the absolutely delightful 14xx Class with Autotrailer.
The full list of locomotives appear below in the order presented in the gala brochure:
- Great Western Railway 6959 Class 4-6-0 r/n 6960 “Raveningham Hall”
- Great Western Railway 6959 Class 4-6-0 r/n 6990 “Witherslack Hall” (visitor)
- United States Army transportation Corps S160 Class 2-8-0 r/n 6046 (visitor)
- Great Western Railway 57xx Class 0-6-0PT r/n 7714 (visitor)
- Great Western Railway 94xx Class 0-6-0PT r/n 9466 (visitor)
- British Railway (Western Region) 78xx Class 4-6-0 r/n 7822 “Foxcote Manor”
- Great Western Railway 14xx Class 0-4-2t r/n 1450 (visitor)
- Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway 7F Class 2-8-0 r/n 53808
- Peckett 0-4-0ST r/n 1788 “Kilmersdon”
- Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST r/n 1219 “Caledonia Works”
*r/n = running number
The locations are listed in no particular order other than that in which they occur to me. For locations that are on stations, I will simply state the station and describe the particular view point. For locations that are on publicly accessible land (strictly no trespassing on private land!) between stations I will include an OS map reference. For those visiting the line I would recommend Ordnance Survey map 181.
- Location 1 – Minehead station platform.
- Location 2 – Crowcombe Heathfield station car park.
- Location 3 – Bishops Lydeard station platform.
- Location 4 – Watchet station platform.
- Location 5 – outside Watchet Station ST 435072.
- Location 6 – public footpath from Watchet to Doniford halt ST 432083
- Location 7 – Williton station footbridge.
- Location 8 – Washford station platform.
- Location 9 – public crossing in field outside Minehead station SS 462978.
- Location 10 – Crowcombe Heathfield station platform.
The captions are simple being either the locomotive name or running number where there is no name, together with a location reference.
The Military Train
The World War 2 military train was timetabled as the ‘goods’ and ran out of Minehead at 08:20 each day. It left for the return journey from Bishops Lydeard at 12:50, arriving back at Minehead for 14:15. this gave everyone a great opportunity to see and photograph this unusual formation
Usually the timetable varies between the Thursday / Friday of the gala and the Saturday / Sunday, however this time the timetable was the same for all 4 days. Please excuse my scribbling on the image.
While visiting a heritage railway I always try to get some snaps of the folk operating the railway, after all railways are really all about people. Usually these snaps go no futher than my own computer but this time I thought I might share a few, with some creative / humorous captions. If you spot yourself among my snaps, please accept my thanks and compliments for being a subject.
As always I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 days at the WSR. I perhaps got a trifle lazy and didn’t work quite as hard as I could have done to get the most out of the gala, one example being that I managed to miss riding in the Hawksworth Observation Saloon.
Highlights for me were the S160 Class, the 14xx Class with Autocoach and the two Panniers Tanks.
I’m looking forward to the Autumn Gala (27th to 30th September) which has a theme of Cross Country Rail Routes and am already speculating as to what the guest locomotive(s) might be.