Sadly we have to confirm that owing to the new lower weight restrictions now applied to the WSR for the foreseeable future we will be unable to host a Class 50 loco for the diesel gala. Also the home based Class 47 will be unable to run on the line for the time being. We hope that both locos will be on display at the WSR at the gala as the class 50 is still likely to be used for the rail transfer moves to the WSR.
We appreciate that this news will come as a disappointment for many people, as it is for the gala organising team, however we can also offer some good news.....
It is also planned that the loco will run on some other dates, but these are yet to be finalised.
The Growler Group who are custodians of the loco at the GWSR said;
This will be a unique opportunity to ride behind D6948 and experience the sight and sounds of an English Electric class 37 working hard as it climbs the gradients of this scenic west country route to the coast. Class 37s have a particular niche in WSR history, as they were the staple motive power for the heavy stone trains which operated from Westbury to Minehead in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The route also has special significance for D6948, and for some her owners and Group members too, as the coastal section from Watchet to Minehead will bring the loco within sight of her ‘traditional’ home in South Wales once again – being a Cardiff Canton engine for the majority of her working life.
Due to the substantial recent increases in road transport cost for locomotives of this size, this is likely to be the last time one of the Group’s locomotives will be able to visit another railway away from our Toddington base. The visit has only been possible on this occasion through private sponsorship of part of the transport cost, so we would encourage everyone to make the most of the opportunity. The Group would also like to thank the WSR and the DEPG for the invitation and are pleased to be able to help support the WSR in such an important year in its recovery.
We are continuing to work on several other locos for the gala and we are awaiting final approval on some of these with the new weight limits. We still hope to have 12 locos working at the gala so plenty to see and enjoy, plus don't forget the beer and cider festival.
As a further update we are pleased to be able to confirm that agreement has been reached with South Devon Diesel Traction for class 25 D7535 (25185) to visit the WSR for the June 20th - 23rd Diesel gala, becoming the latest addition to our planned line up. The sound of the little Sulzer working on the lines steep gradients will be a welcome one and remind of us of the once home based sister loco D7523.
The loco is normally based at the South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh having moved there from its former home on the nearby Dartmouth Steam Railway in 2018. The WSR Galas Planning Team would like to extend their thanks to the SDR team for agreeing to the visit.
Along with recently announced Class 37 D6948 and home based Class 33's D6566 and D6575 and Hymeks D7017 & D7018 and class 14 D9526 the loco list is growing despite disappointments of the class 46 and 50 not being able to attend. There are still a few more loco options that I'm working on to complete the picture and I'm hopeful of being able to confirm these quite soon.
Our thanks to Nathan Williamson for the use of his image of D7535.