‘Great achievement’ as Llangollen steps in to help Minehead gala

THE Llangollen Railway and its workshops came up trumps when a guest locomotive was pulled out of the West Somerset Railway’s September 27-30 ‘Cross Country Trains in the Days of Steam’ autumn steam gala with only a few days to go until the event.

With just five days to go, the Swanage Railway announced that it could no longer spare BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T for the gala. LSWR T9 4-4-0 No. 30120 had failed, leaving the Purbeck line short of engines. That left the West Somerset’s gala planning team scrambling around for a replacement in order to maintain the planned intensive timetable.

Somerset & Dorset 7F No. 53808 and Camelot at Watersmeet on September 29. DON BISHOP

Planning team chairman Don Bishop was on holiday on the Isle of Man when he heard the bad news, but was helpless to do anything until he returned home to Somerset two days later.

Greg Wilson’s visiting USATC S160 No. 6046 from the Churnet Valley Railway had already been withdrawn from the gala over reliability issues, with a diesel allocated to some of its duties.

Don said: “When presented with just three days to agree the hire of an alternative loco and get it transported to the WSR, I felt my task was a difficult if not near impossible one. I looked through my list and decided to call our friends at the Llangollen Railway to see if No. 80072 could be made available at such notice as a like-for-like replacement.

“I found that the loco was under repair in Llangollen shed and I was told that as things stood it was unlikely to be available. I explained the situation we were in and asked if there was any way they could help.

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