The West Somerset Railway’s (WSR) annual Diesel Gala event between June 20th and 22nd will be notable for the return to traffic of a diesel locomotive which last worked 24 years ago.
“Hymek” D7018 was at the head of an evening “Quantock Belle” dining car train returning from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard on the WSR in 1995 when it suffered a catastrophic, major engine failure at Williton - the train eventually reached Bishops Lydeard late behind a diesel shunting locomotive!
An assessment of the damage by its owners, the Williton-based Diesel and Electric Preservation Group (D&EPG), showed that the repairs would be a major job, but it’s doubtful that the volunteers realised how long it would be since they also maintained the other locos in their fleet, constructed a new depot building, and opened a heritage centre in that time! The Depot and Heritage Centre will be open for visitors during the Gala.
D7018 is one of four survivors of a class of 101 diesel-hydraulic locos dubbed ‘Hymeks’ built for the Western Region of British Railways. Another survivor is D7017, which is also owned by the DEPG, and it will also be at work during the Gala event and they will be joined by seven other vintage diesels for the three-day event, with five “guests” from other railways. There will be one steam train in each direction on Thursday 20th and fuller details can be seen at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk (or call 01643 704996).
In addition to the hourly service of trains over the 20 miles of line through the Quantock Hills and along the Bristol Channel Coast, the Somerset Branch of CAMRA are hosting a Real Ale and Cider Festival at Washford station and. with car parking in the village being very limited, travel to and from the Festival by West Somerset train is advisable.
It will open at midday on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20th to 22nd and will begin now fewer than 25 cask conditioned ales and six ciders on sale.