Express & Star

Newly built steam engine still hoped to star at Severn Valley gala this month

A newly built steam train is still set to be the star of the show at a heritage railway's steam gala later this month.

Severn Valley Steam Railway at Bridgnorth. The Spring Steam Gala takes place on the 18th-21st April 2024. Pictured from left to right, Alistair Stuart (Booking Office Manager) and John Kitchen (Guard and head of travelling ticket inspectors) Picture by Phil Blagg Photography. PB038-2024

6880 Betton Grange will be making its public debut at Severn Valley Railway's Spring Steam Gala from April 18-21.

The construction of Betton Grange has been completed Tyseley Locomotive Works (TLW) in Birmingham. It's having the final touches made to its livery before making its first ever gala appearance, but has so far not left Tyseley or had any test runs.

The in-service debut of Betton Grange has been anticipated for more than a quarter of a century, after the construction project started in 1998.

Severn Valley Steam Railway at Bridgnorth. Pictured from left, Abi Hulls, Henry Hulls and Justin Hulls. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography. PB038-2024

Dubbed the ‘81st Grange’, it is the sole representative of the Grange class – all the original 80 locomotives were withdrawn for scrap by British Railways by the end of 1965 and none made it into preservation.

The SVR expects the locomotive to be a big crowd-puller at its four-day event, as managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster explained earlier in the spring: “We are extremely pleased to be hosting the gala debut of such an important engine.

"It really is incredible to think that this will be the first time a Grange class will have been seen in service for 59 years, and we know it’s going to be a big draw.

"We’re very grateful to the 6880 Betton Grange Society for allowing the Severn Valley Railway to host their loco’s first gala appearance.”

Subject to examination and agreement between TLW and the SVR on testing and commissioning of the loco, Betton Grange will join fellow guests Terrier No 72 Fenchurch and Lambton Tank No 29, as well as members of the SVR’s home fleet, including the Stanier Mogul 13268, appearing for the first time in its new LMS lined black livery and bearing its new number, and the SVR’s flagship locomotive, 4930 Hagley Hall.

Mr Dunster added: “Having the brand-new Betton Grange and the 152-year-old Fenchurch in our line-up means we’re covering a huge span of years with the rolling stock at our spring event.

"And, this is going to be the first opportunity to see a Grange on a GWR line since the mid-1960s; with the SVR-based 4930 Hagley Hall and 7812 Erlestoke Manor, we’ll have a complete line-up of medium-sized, named GWR classes.

“It looks like, once again, we’ve got a cracker of a gala to deliver, and we’re very much hoping to build on the success we had last year.”

The SVR reports strong ticket sales for its Spring Steam Gala. More information and ticket prices at