Watercress Line welcomes Castle to spring gala


Ride behind the historic 4079 Pendennis Castle at the Watercress Line’s Spring Steam Gala. Mark Drinkwater.

Visitors to the Watercress Line’s Spring Steam Gala will have the opportunity to get up close to a very special locomotive. 

Courtesy of Didcot Railway Centre, overhauled 4079 Pendennis Castle will be attending the gala, taking place from Saturday, April 29 to Monday, May 1. It is the first time a Castle has run on the Watercress Line since 2014 – and only the second railway it has visited since its restoration at Didcot.  

The gala event offers the chance to ride behind the impressive guest engine and home-fleet locomotives: the 53808 7F local goods train, courtesy of S&D Railway Trust; the S15 Class 506 ‘Fast Freight’ engine, courtesy of Urie Locomotive Society; and the 41312 Ivatt, which spent its entire working career on the Southern region. There will be an enhanced timetable of steam locomotives, allowing visitors to hope on and off any train to explore all the heritage stations along the 10-mile line. 

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At Ropley station, there will be behind-the-scenes tours of the workshops, steam crane demonstrations and the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a train driver. Society stands and displays will also be at Ropley. Stop off at Alresford station to visit the line’s fascinating museum in the Old Goods Shed, currently exhibiting artefacts from the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust. The Goods Shed exhibition, Delivering The Goods, will be open at Medstead & Four Marks Station. 

The Watercress Line’s interim CEO Rebecca Dalley said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming the wonderful 4079 Pendennis Castle as our guest locomotive. It will be a fantastic opportunity to travel behind this impressive engine and our glorious home-fleet engines along our famous route between Alresford and Alton. The gala really heralds the start of our packed season with plenty of events planned.”

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