The West Somerset Railway has announced the arrival of another visiting locomotive for the Gala Weekend (which is this weekend from Thursday 5th May to Sunday 8th May). Although this engine has been here before, it is particularly special. It is No 2857, which is a Great Western 2-8-0 tender engine built in 1918 for hauling heavy goods trains throughout the Great Western network. So it is now 104 years old. It now mostly spends its time on the Severn Valley Railway, and its visit to Somerset is also special because it is the last visit away from the Severn Valley before it goes into a period of overhaul and refurbishment.
The visit has been arranged at very short notice, thanks to considerable support from the 2857 Society who own the locomotive. Arranging the visit of a locomotive like this is no easy task and it will travel down to Somerset by road early in the week. The loco was invited because, sadly, locomotive 9466 which was due to run during the gala, has been found to need some urgent maintenance which cannot be completed before the gala. 9466 will however be in operation later in the season.
2857 will be hauling passenger trains from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard and back throughout the gala. It will also work at least one Goods Train during the event.
2857 ended its working life on the main line working out of Neath in South Wales and was mainly employed on hauling coal trains to London. On each trip it might take over fifty loaded wagons full of coal for the London domestic market. It won’t have quite such a tough time in West Somerset but the gradients on the railway will require it to work hard. It promises to be an exciting sight.
Tickets for the Gala are available on the West Somerset Railway website www.west-somersetrailway.co.uk and will also be available on the day at station booking offices, and on the trains. The Gala timetable is also available on the website. Press Enquires: Kerry Noble, General Manager Phone: 07719 046975 Photo credit Don Bishop