2-8-0s No. 53808 and 53809, now both liveried in BR black, was the highlight of the West Somerset Railway’s immensely-successful spring gala, which marked the 50th anniversary of the closure of the legendary line across the Mendip Hills. However, it might not be the last time that we see the pair working together in the country, as Robin Jones and Brian Sharpe report.

BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80072, in the guise of ex S&D No. 80043, powers past Whiskey Trail crossing with the 9.50am Bishops Lydeard to Minehead train. ANDREW SOUTHWELL
A total of 6627 passengers travelled on the West Somerset Railway during the line’s landmark spring gala to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway system.

As we closed for press, the railway was holding talks with the owning group of guest S&D 7F 2-8-0 No. 53809 for it to remain at the railway for at least the next few months.

Its contract for the visit expired at the end of March. Long based at the Midland Railway – Butterley, it will continue to run alongside sister No. 53808 as part of the home fleet.

The pair are the only two S&D locomotives to survive, and for the first time since the legendary trans-Mendip line closed on March 6, 1966, the two S&D engines were based in Somerset.

Read more in issue 214 of HR

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