Events & Experiences

Spring Steam Gala - Great Western Routes & Branches

Join the West Somerset Railway to enjoy Somerset Steam in Springtime. Where we enjoy visits from an array of locomotives from far and wide.

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Spring Steam Gala - Great Western Routes & Branches Don Bishop


Our Spring Steam Gala takes place between Thursday, March 22nd and Sunday, March 25th. It includes the weekend when the clocks go forward between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Rover tickets can be purchased by calling 01643 704996. Once again, there will be the special £2.00 Sunday ticket for young persons aged 5 to 17 travelling with an adult or senior on the 25th.
The theme is Great Western Routes and Branches. Between 1923 and 1948, the Great Western Railway had main line routes radiating out from London Paddington to Birkenhead on Merseyside, Aberystwyth and Fishguard on the west coast of Wales, and through the south west of England to Penzance. From those main lines, there was a variety of secondary and branch lines, ranging widely and wildly in their atmospheres. On one side there was the packed network of lines in the coal mining valleys of South Wales and on the other, rural lines such as the quartet which once radiated from Taunton to Barnstaple, Chard, Minehead and Yeovil. To add further to the mixture, there were suburban trains in the Thames Valley and the West Midlands. Whatever the surroundings, there was the distinctive sound of Great Western steam locomotives barking away from the stations with their trains, controlled by the distinctive lower quadrant signals. So why not come along and enjoy the nostalgia?
We intend to field a selection of appropriate ‘home-based’ and ‘visiting’ steam locomotives.

The timetable for the event can be found on our timetable page here

The working timetables with loco allocations can be purchased as part of the souvenire guide either in advance through our website, or on the day from any bookng office. 

09:00 Tickets available
09:00 Tickets available
09:00 Tickets available
09:00 Tickets available
Multiple Events are in this category

Prices for this event could vary from day to day, click the links above to see prices for your chosen date.

Visiting Locomotives

S160 “6046”. A cuckoo in the nest which will bring a distinctively American look and sound to the event. This heavy freight engine was built during the Second World War in the USA for use in Europe. Some members in the class worked in Britain and were seen and heard at Taunton but the majority went to Europe where some worked until steam ended across the continent.

BR(W) 57XX class 0-6-0T no. 7714. Courtesy of Severn Valley RailwayThis is a surviving member of the family of pannier tank locomotives, which at one stage numbered nearly 1000 locomotives. 7714 is from the 57xx class which could be found working branch line passenger and freight trains, main line “pick-up” goods trains and performing shunting duties all over the system. Young lovers of the “Thomas the Tank Engine” stories know the pannier tanks from the character of “Duck”. 7714 is normally based on the Severn Valley Railway.

BR(W) 6959 'Modified Hall' Class 4-6-0 no. 6990 'Witherslack Hall' Courtesy of Great Central Railway. Built at Swindon in 1948 “Witherslack Hall” was selected later in that year to take part in a series of Locomotive Exchanges where engines from the GWR, LMS, LNER and SR worked on different sections of the newly nationalised British Railways network. Withdrawn from mainline service in 1964 it was saved from the scrapyard and is now based at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough.

GWR 14XX class 0-4-2T no.1450 and Autotrailer no. 178 Courtesy of Severn Valley Railway. The 14xx tank engines were introduced in 1932 for work on the lesser used branch lines of the GWR such as Yatton-Clevedon or the Fowey branch. They often worked with autocoaches, special carriages fitted with cabs from which the locomotive could be driven. `1450 and 178 are owned by Mr Mike Little.

GWR 94xx class 0-6-0PT no. 9466 Courtesy of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. The 94xx were the largest of the pannier tanks and were built between 1947 and 1956. 9466 was constructed by Robert Stephenson & Co in 1952 and was withdrawn in 1964. It was saved from scrap by Mr Dennis Howells and is unusual for a tank engine in having worked mainline special trains. It is normally based at Quainton Road, near Aylesbury.

Home Fleet Locomotives

BR(W) 'Modified Hall' class 4-6-0 no. 6960 “Raveningham Hall”.  From the 1930’s to the 1960’s, “Hall” and “Modified Hall” locomotives could be seen on the main lines of the GWR and later, the Western Region of British Railways.  They handled express passenger trains, fast freights and just about everything that the railway’s business required them to do.
BR(W) 78XX 'Manor' class 4-6-0 no. 7822 “Foxcote Manor”. One of the guest locomotives for 2018 (normally based at the Llangollen Railway), which represents the smallest sized GWR “mixed traffic” 4-6-0’s.  The “Manors” were employed on similar duties to the “Halls”, but were intended to operate on more lightly laid lines, such as the Midland and South Western Junction, between Cheltenham and Andover, or the Cambrian routes in mid-Wales.

S&DJR 7F Class 2-8-0 53808. 

Other Attractions Over the Gala

Special £2 fare for young persons aged 5 to 17 on Sunday 25th (must be accompanied by an adult or senior citizen)

Barclay 0-4-0ST 1219 shunting at Minehead Station.

USATC S160 class no. 6046 hauling a 'military train', typical of the sort that was operating around Taunton and on the Minehead branch in the run up to D-Day. The locomotive will also work afternoon passenger trains for those who wish to travel behind the engine.

Display of Military Vehicles at Minehead station to complement the military train. 

1931 Sentinel steam bus 'Elizabeth' operating shuttles on Saturday and Sunday between Minehead, Dunster Village (set down only) and Dunster Station (supplementary fares apply) - courtesy of Crosville Motor Services, this is the only steam bus in Europe still in revenue earning service. 

A chance to take in wider views of Somerset in early Spring by travelling in the Hawksworth Inspection Saloon on trains indicated by an H on the timetable section. Supplementary fare of £5 applies.

Other attractions will include the Great Western exhibits cared for by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust at their Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor Museums. The largest, to be found at Bishops Lydeard, includes a superbly restored sleeping car which once took passengers from Paddington to Fishguard for onward ferry journeys to the Republic of Ireland.  We should also mention the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust’s museum at Washford - not strictly GWR, but is always a rewarding visit. Plus a chance to enjoy an on –site burger.
Buffet cars will be available on most trains, with refreshments available at most stations (excluding Doniford). The "Quantock Belle" dining car set will operate several services each day, offering cooked breakfasts and other options. For more details see below.

There will be access to the workshops at Minehead and Williton stations on the Saturday and Sunday for a look behind the scenes and a chance to see locomotives under overhaul inc. “Mogul” 9351,  6024 “King Edward I” and 7828 “Odney Manor” at Minehead and GWR 4561 and 6695 at Williton.

Quantock Brewery will be open to visitors adjacent to Bishops Lydeard Station and will have a real ale bar on the platform at Minehead station.

The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group will welcome visitors to their Depot and Heritage Centre at Williton on all four days.

Cafes at Bishops Lydeard, Williton, and Minehead stations plus a pasty van at Minehead station.  Home-made refreshments at Crowcombe Heathfield and Stogumber stations. Light refreshments are available at other stations except Doniford.

The Bishops Lydeard Station Model Railway will be in operation in the Gauge Museum on all four days. Taunton Model Railway Group clubhouse at Bishops Lydeard station will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Model railway equipment can be purchased at Bishops Lydeard and Minehead station shops. Second-hand model railway equipment is also and railwayana sold at Dunster station.


Quantock Belle Dining during the Spring Steam Gala

The Quantock Belle will be serving a Full English Breakfast and lunches on all four days of the Spring Steam Gala. 

For the first time ever the Quantock Belle Breakfast will be able to be booked in advance for the first train only. All other dining services will be on a first come first served basis. 

On all 4 days the Quantock Belle will be running on the below services: 

09.05 Bishops Lydeard to Minehead (pre-booked only Breakfast's to book your ticket click here)

10.55 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard (Breakfast)

13.45 Bishops Lydeard to Minehead (Lunch)

15. 40 Minehead to Bishops Lydeard (Cream Teas)

Breakfast Menu: 

£10.00 per person: 

Orange or Grapefruit Juice

Fried Egg, Lean Back Bacon, Pork Sausage, Hash Browns, Baked Beans, Tomato

Toast and  home-made Spanish Orange Marmalade

Tea or coffee with complimentary refill 

Bury Black Pudding (optional extra – no additional charge)

Table service of beer, lager, cider, wine and soft drinks is available from your steward on request.

(if you have a food allergy and need more details about any of our ingredients please ask your server.) 

Meteor Our First Class open seating coach Meteor will also be accessible for non-dining travel. A small supplement will be charged for this. 


STEAK AND ALE PIE      £6.50

Somerset beef, local ale and a crisp pastry top served with mashed potato and garden peas.


Giant Yorkshire Pudding filled with sausage, mash, peas and gravey


Served with mash potato and peas.


TEA or COFFEE, with complimentary refill      £1.75