Express & Star

Severn Valley Railway's first Winter Steam Gala hailed a runaway success

A brand new event at the Severn Valley Railway last weekend has been declared a "winner" by organisers, after it attracted a higher than expected number of visitors.

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Loco 2968 approaching Hampton Loade (picture Anthony Carwithen)

The Winter Steam Gala on January 6-7 saw more than 2,500 passengers, and generated twice the hoped-for revenue, SVR has said.

SVR managing director, Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster, said he was "overwhelmed" by the response to the gala.

He said: "Yet again, we've shown that the SVR is second-to-none when it comes to enthusiast events.

"We'd never done an event of this sort at this time of year before, but our instincts were that it would be a winner, and we were absolutely spot on!

“I was genuinely overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of visitors and volunteers who thanked me personally for putting this event on, in what is traditionally a quiet period for enthusiasts.

"We definitely got the formula correct - nothing too complicated - and people supported it in their thousands.”

He added that the weekend saw bright weather and a packed timetable, including local services stopping at Eardington.

'Taw Valley' 21C127 in wartime black joined Pannier tank 7714, which thanks to some remedial work was able to appear at the gala as planned.

Meanwhile 7812 'Erlestoke Manor' and recently overhauled Stanier Mogul 2968 both made their gala debuts.

The planned guest locomotive No 2253 'Omaha' suffered a failure in the final week of December, due to a leaky boiler plug, and despite valiant efforts, SVR said repairs could not be completed in time for the gala.

Fortunately, BR Class 4 75069 was prepped to appear on Sunday and so stepped up to cover for 'Omaha' on the Saturday.

The weekend also saw the final trip of 43106 'The Flying Pig', hauling a special train on Sunday. Departing Kidderminster at 5.30pm, this marked the end of another successful decade of service for the popular SVR-based locomotive as its 10-year boiler ticket came to an end.

The railway will be closed for the next few weeks, but passenger services resume for the half-term holiday on February 10/11, February 13-15 and February.

The next steam enthusiast event at the SVR is the Spring Steam Gala on April 18-21 , for which two visiting locomotives have already been named – Lambton No29 and No 72 "Fenchurch" – with a third guest announcement promised soon.