Don’t miss special guest locomotives at The Watercress Line’s Spring Steam Gala

The Watercress Line’s spectacular Spring Steam Gala returns, with two very special guest engines set to thrill visitors, from 26 to 28 April.
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The three-day event is a chance to explore the heritage railway’s 10-mile line, travelling behind home-fleet and guest locomotives, with an extensive operating service running each day.

LMS Jubilee Class ‘Leander’ no. 45690 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 was built in Crewe in 1936 and was mainly used on ‘second division’ express passenger services. She will soon be removed from the service for an overhaul – so don’t miss the opportunity to see this engine up close.

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‘Battle of Britain’ Class ‘Manston’ no. 34070, will also be operating at the Spring Steam Gala, 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. ‘Manston’ was named to honour the RAF airfield near Ramsgate, Kent, which was involved in the 1940 air battle.

LMS Jubilee Class ‘Leander’ no. 45690LMS Jubilee Class ‘Leander’ no. 45690
LMS Jubilee Class ‘Leander’ no. 45690

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, near Radstock.

The Watercress Line’s CEO Rebecca Dalley said: “We are thrilled to welcome two special guest engines to this year’s Spring Steam Gala. It promises to be a bumper occasion – in addition to riding behind some wonderful locomotives along the beautiful South Downs National Park, visitors can explore railway exhibits and enjoy guided tours, which will give them a real insight into what it takes to maintain and run locomotives at The Watercress Line.

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

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“Tickets are now on sale, so get on board for a memorable day out at The Watercress Line this Spring.”

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

Find out more and book tickets, including the free guided tours, at https://watercressline.co.uk/spring-steam-gala/