Three days of Spring Steam Gala action at The Watercress Line

April 19, 2024

Highlights of The Watercress Line’s spectacular Spring Steam Gala will be three very special guest engines. 

The popular event, from 26 to 28 April, will feature LMS Jubilee Class ‘Leander’ no. 45690, ‘Lambton’ Tank no. 29 and ‘Battle of Britain’ Class ‘Manston’ no. 34070, operating along the heritage railway’s 10-mile line, as well as the home-fleet locomotives, each day. 

‘Leander’ will be making her first appearance at a preserved line in Hampshire since restoration, with kind permission of the Beet family and operators West Coast Railways. She will soon be removed from the service for an overhaul, so don’t miss the opportunity to see this engine up close. 

‘Lambton’ Tank no. 29, will be running courtesy of the Lambton Trust and North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Built in 1904 for Lambton Collieries, No. 29 is one of the longest-working steam locomotives in the UK, with 65 years in service. 

‘Manston’ will be operating, courtesy of Swanage Railway and Southern Locomotives Ltd. Built in Brighton in 1947, the light pacifics were designed by O.V.S. Bulleid to work over the restricted secondary routes of the Southern Railway.  

The home-fleet locomotives will include S15 Class 506, a fast freight engine, courtesy of Urie Locomotive Society; 41312 ‘Ivatt’ from the Southern region; and 1788 ‘Kilmersdon’, who worked at Kilmersdon Colliery. 

There will be driver experiences with Kilmersdon each day, available to book. These will give visitors an exciting ‘taster’ of how a steam locomotive works. 

The Watercress Line’s CEO Rebecca Dalley said: “We are delighted to have these three special guest engines at our Spring Steam Gala.  

“It promises to be a memorable event – in addition to riding behind some wonderful locomotives along the beautiful South Downs National Park, visitors can explore railway exhibits and enjoy guided tours for a real insight into maintaining and running locomotives at The Watercress Line.  

“Make sure you visit the impressive restoration projects, enjoy free guided tours of the Engineering Works at Ropley and don’t miss exciting Queen Mary brake van rides on the Goods Train. There’s also rides on the delightful miniature railway, and a model railway on display in the Carriage Shed.” 

Visit society stands and displays at Ropley station and the gift shop at Alresford. Refreshments will be available at the West Country Buffet at Alresford station and Ropley’s T-Junction.  

Find out more and book tickets at: https://watercressline.co.uk/spring-steam-gala/  

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