The overhauled guest loco 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’ will be attending the gala, taking place from Saturday 29 April to Monday 1 May, courtesy of Didcot Railway Centre. It is the first time a ‘castle’ has run on the Watercress Line since 2014, and only the second railway she has visited since her restoration at Didcot Railway Centre.
Built in 1924 for Great Western Railway, ‘Pendennis Castle’ was designed for hauling express passenger services. It is one of the most celebrated locomotives and has a fascinating history. Find out more click here.
The gala event offers the chance to ride behind the impressive guest engine and home-fleet locomotives – the 53808 7F local goods train, courtesy of S&D Railway Trust; the S15 Class 506 ‘Fast Freight’ engine, courtesy of Urie Locomotive Society, and the 41312 Ivatt, which spent its entire working career on the Southern region.
There will be an enhanced timetable of steam locomotives, allowing visitors to hope on and off any train to explore all the heritage stations along the 10-mile line, learn about the Watercress Line’s restoration projects and enjoy Queen Mary brake van rides on the Goods Train.
At Ropley station, there will be behind-the-scenes tours of the workshops, steam crane demonstrations and the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a train driver with ‘Kilmersdon’. Society stands and displays will also be at Ropley.
Stop off at Alresford station to visit the Watercress Line’s fascinating museum in the Old Goods Shed, currently exhibiting artefacts from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, and call in to browse the gift shop for souvenirs.
The Goods Shed exhibition ‘Delivering the Goods’ will be open at Medstead & Four Marks Station.
A tempting selection of hot and cold refreshments will be available from the West Country Buffet at Alresford station, Ropley’s T-Junction and at Alton Kiosk.
The Watercress Line’s interim CEO Rebecca Dalley said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming the wonderful 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’ as our guest locomotive at this year’s three day gala weekend. It will be a fantastic opportunity to travel behind this impressive engine and our glorious home-fleet engines along our famous route between Alresford and Alton.
“The Spring Steam Gala really heralds the start of our packed season with plenty of events planned. Don’t miss out, book your tickets online as soon as possible and we look forward to welcoming you for a great day out.”
Find out more about the Watercress Line’s upcoming events and book online at watercressline.co.uk/special-days/