Blue ‘King’ and apple green ‘B12’ STAR IN SEVERN VALLEY GALA
Preparations were ‘hectic’, but big names and authentic pairings defy the unseasonal weather in SVR’s first main event of the year.
ABR blue ‘King’ on GWR stock, and an Apple green ‘B12’ on teaks, were the colourful highlights of the Severn Valley Railway’s Spring Steam Gala on March 16-18. Arriving at the SVR by road on February 22, the Great Western Society’s No. 6023 King Edward II was visiting the line for loaded test runs, following modifications to its cut-down single chimney and blastpipe to overcome steaming problems. It provided the first opportunity to pair No. 6023 with a full-length train of GWR-liveried Collett and Hawksworth stock – a typical combination representing the 1949-52 period, when BR express passenger blue was applied to the ‘Kings’ but many carriages remained in Big Four-era livery. The second authentic pairing of the event, that of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society’s ‘B12’ No. 8572 with the SVR’s Gresley teak set, was a 20-year first – the North Norfolk Railway-based 4-6-0 having last visited the ‘Valley’ for the autumn gala of 1998. However, a second LNER 4-6-0 – Thompson ‘B1’ No. 1264 – did not make its planned appearance, newly repainted in LNER black, because its winter maintenance was not completed in time. A lastminute replacement was found in Somerset & Dorset ‘7F’ 2-8-0 No. 53808, which was diverted to the SVR during its road movement home to the West Somerset Railway, following its appearance at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway gala (see separate story). The attendance of the third LNER-design engine on the guest list – Peppercorn ‘A1’ No. 60163 Tornado – also looked to be in jeopardy at the eleventh hour, when it was trapped at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway by a skip lorry striking a bridge near Castleton Moor and closing the Esk Valley line (see separate story). A low-loader movement was arranged instead, delivering the ‘Pacific’ to Bridgnorth just the day before the gala. “The week before was a bit hectic,” summed up Lewis Maddox, the railway’s events coordinator, who paid tribute to the “amazing effort that our volunteers and staff put in to ensure that the gala could run with one of the best line-ups we’ve had.” Amidst all the celebrity main line visitors was a veteran industrial – 1874-built Haydock Foundry 0-6-0WT Bellerophon, working local trains between Bewdley and Kidderminster. Recalling the SVR’s own history was former Shrewsbury BR ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T No. 80072, in one of its last appearances there before returning to its Llangollen Railway base. With such a cast of big locomotives, the SVR fielded only three tank engines from the home fleet – ‘14XX’ 0-4-2T No. 1450 and pannier tanks Nos. 1501 and 7714, in double-headed combinations. Despite its ‘Spring’ moniker, the gala felt more like winter, with flurries of snow on the Saturday turning into heavier falls by the Sunday. Said Mr Maddox: “Friday and Saturday went without a hitch, but the snow caused delays on the Sunday, although every train did run. Frozen points at Kidderminster delayed the early morning empty stock movements from the sidings into the platforms, and station pilot No. 1501 was having brake issues. “We haven’t got passenger numbers yet, but the snow won’t have helped – hopefully they will be respectable.” Further steamings for the ‘King’ are planned for April and May (see panel) while Bellerophon will be in service during the ‘Open House Weekend’ of April 7/8. ●● North Yorkshire Moors Railwaybased ‘Q6’ 0-8-0 No. 63395 is confirmed for the SVR’s Autumn Steam Gala of September 20-23, celebrating its centenary along with resident GWR ‘28XX’ 2-8-0 No. 2857. Stanier ‘Princess Coronation’ No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland is also booked.
veteran Haydock Foundry 0‑6‑0Wt Bellerophon approaches Foley park tunnel with a local train from Bewdley to Kidderminster on March 16.