MORE than 3,000 railway enthusiasts from across the country are expected to flock to the Severn Valley Railway later this month for the annual Spring Steam Gala.
The event, which runs from Friday to Sunday, March 21-23, will see the Kidderminster-to-Bridgnorth heritage line return to its 20th century roots and embrace the classic and much loved Great Western branch line scene, offering visitors the chance to experience 'the good old days' of steam train travel.
An eclectic mix of authentic visiting locomotives has been confirmed to attend the Gala, with the heritage line welcoming five locomotives from around the country, including No. 7828 Odney Manor which makes the long journey from the West Somerset Railway at Minehead to join sister locomotive No. 7812 Erlestoke Manor for one weekend only. No. 7828 will be on its first trip away from the Minehead heritage line and will make its debut on the SVR following a recent overhaul.
The Great Western duo of No. 7812 and No. 7828 will, for many, rekindle memories of Summer Saturday Specials from the 1950s and 1960s, travelling to the Cambrian Coast from the Birmingham area behind 'Manors'.
Fellow Great Western locomotive No. 6435 is also making its debut appearance on the Worcestershire and Shropshire line from Cornwall's Bodmin and Wenford Railway. The 'Pannier Tank' locomotive will be authentically paired with an 'autocoach', perfectly recreating a scene from times gone by. The unique train provides an authentic glimpse into the history books of how Great Western branch-lines would have worked, with No. 6435 being one of the first engines of its type to visit the Severn Valley Railway in some years.
Completing a duet of visiting 'Pannier Tanks', No. 1638 appears from the Kent and East Sussex Railway, making one of its first appearances in its new British Railways black livery. The diminutive locomotive will bow out of service at the end of 2014, so its visit to the SVR will provide one of the last chances to see it in steam.
The event also marks a homecoming for the 'Pannier Tanks' which could regularly be found working off Kidderminster shed in the 1950s.
Returning to the popular heritage line for the whole of 2014, 'Autotank' No. 1450 will once again pair with an 'autocoach' for the gala.
Completing the line-up of visiting engines is the ever-popular No. 4936 Kinlet Hall.