The annual heritage Diesel Gala returns to The Watercress Line

July 4, 2023

Class 14 D9551 is among the fleet of the Diesel Gala. Credit: Richard Hargreaves. 

 Visitors to the Watercress Line can enjoy the sights and sounds of heritage and modern diesel traction at the popular Diesel Gala this month.

The event, from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th July, will include rides on visiting and home-fleet locomotives, with an intensive diesel train service operating over a steeply graded line.

It has just been announced that among the gala’s visiting fleet will be the Class 14 D9551, courtesy of the SVR Class 14 Company Ltd, based at the Severn Valley Railway. Built at Swindon between 1964 and 1965 as D95XXs, they were used for short goods trains working between stations and yards. With 650hp Paxman engines, they could operate at up to 40mph.

Also visiting the gala weekend will be the Class 33/0 D6515 (33012) “Lt. Jenny Lewis RN”, courtesy of the 71A Locomotive Group, based at the Swanage Railway. Six of the Watercress Line’s home-fleet locomotives will be operating, including Class 47 47579 “James Nightall GC” and Class 08 08288 “Phoenix”.

The gala weekend will also offer rides on the miniature railway; visits to the viewing galleries; a Goods Shed exhibition; and Society stands and displays.

The Beer Junction will be open at Ropley serving real ale, wine and soft drinks, and there will be refreshments available at the West Country Buffet and T-Junction.

Watercress Line Interim CEO Rebecca Dalley said: “We’re really looking forward to three days of heritage diesel action with some fabulous engines on show.

“It is a must for anybody interested in diesel traction and a chance to get up close and ride behind some of these locomotives. There’s plenty going on at the Diesel Gala, so please book ahead on the Watercress Line website.”

For more information and to book tickets, visit

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