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'Royal' visitors steam in for Severn Valley Railway season finale gala

By Charlotte Callear | Wyre Forest entertainment | Published:

Severn Valley Railway will be rounding off the season in style by welcoming some 'royal' visitors at this year’s Autumn Steam Gala.

The railway’s flagship gala returns with its famed all-night running, intensive timetable and array of visiting locomotives, which this year features some very regal headliners from September 20 to 23.

The four historic trains are LMS Princess Coronation No. 6233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland, No. 46100 ‘Royal Scot’, No. 70000 ‘Britannia’ and the LNER Q6 No.63395.

Lewis Maddox, the SVR’s events co-ordinator said: “Our 2018 season finale gala is set to a real crowd-pleaser and we are extremely privileged to have two ‘royal’ visitors heading our way this year – they really should be a breath-taking sight as they pass along the line, especially the Duchess of Sutherland in its bright red livery with gold detailing.

“We have got lots to see and do for all ages, with plenty of locomotives to-ing and fro-ing along the line, the chance to experience a journey with a difference along the SVR after the sun goes down and a wealth to explore at The Engine House.”

Sutherland C

The LMS Princess Coronation No. 6233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ was built at Crewe in 1938, and was among the most powerful passenger steam locomotives working on the British railway network during the 1930s.

It worked express passenger train services for the London Midland & Scottish Railway before becoming part of the British Railways nationalised fleet in 1948. After being withdrawn for scrap in 1964, it was displayed at a Butlins holiday camp in Scotland, then loaned to Bressingham Steam Museum.

Following a restoration by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust, the train is now a regular sight on the UK mainline, hauling special passenger trains, and became a real railway preservation icon, by hauling the Royal Train twice – once as part of Her Majesty The Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in Wales in June 2002 and then again in 2005 over the famous Settle-Carlisle line with HRH The Prince of Wales on board.

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A second Royal locomotive will be among the starring line-up. No. 46100 ‘Royal Scot’ was built in 1927, and was the flagship locomotive of the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company, operating the fastest services on the West Coast from London to Manchester and Glasgow.

Chosen to appear on behalf of Britain at the 1933 Century of Progress exhibition in Chicago - it was shipped, along with a full rake of carriages, to the USA, where it not only appeared at the exhibition, but also toured the USA and Canada, even crossing the Rocky Mountains.

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It made its debut visit to the Severn Valley Railway in 2015, when it starred at the Railway’s Golden Jubilee Autumn Steam Gala – hauling its first passenger trains following an extensive overhaul, and is set to be extremely popular with visitors this time around.

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Another engine which starred at the SVR’s Golden Jubilee Gala, and the latest addition to the visiting line-up is No. 70000 ‘Britannia’ – once a resident on the SVR itself.

The Brit returned to steam at the SVR after being withdrawn from British Railways in 1966 after only 15 years of service, and was based on line until 1981. The locomotive never made it to Kidderminster Station during that time, as the line had not been extended until 1984.

Famed as the first locomotive to be built by British Railways in 1951, No. 70000 will be one of the youngest engines in steam at the Gala.

Britannia

At the other end of the age spectrum, and this year celebrating its 100th birthday is LNER Q6 No.63395, visiting thanks to the North York Moors Railway. It will join SVR resident locomotive No. 2857, which will also be in operation during the event.

Fellow SVR home fleet engines No.7802 Bradley Manor and ‘Flying Pig’ No. 43106 will this year be hauling the much- anticipated overnight services on Friday and Saturday night, and No. 1450 will be running autotrains.

An early morning, walk-on breakfast train will run from Bridgnorth and Kidderminster on Saturday and Sunday and the Severn Valley Limited Dining Train will offer passengers an indulgent experience on Sunday which is available through pre-booking only.

A busy timetable will be in operation throughout the event and the Paddock Railway at Hampton Loade and Coalyard Miniature Railway at Kidderminster will be running if full-size steam engines are not enough. Visitors can also head to The Engine House at Highley to see two new residents which are Small Prairie No. 4566 and Pannier Tank No.5764.

For more information and bookings see svr.co.uk or call 01562 757900.

Charlotte Callear

By Charlotte Callear
@CCallear_Star

Reporter based at the Express & Star's Wolverhampton head office

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