Mid Hants Gala: Barking over the Alps!


Gareth Evans reports on the Mid-Hants Railway’s three-day autumn steam gala, held between October 19-21.

The weather was undoubtedly kind during the Mid-Hants Railway’s autumn steam gala over the weekend of October 19-21.

Crowds were drawn to the trains – seat occupancy appeared to be high. Perhaps that was due to the attraction of visiting GWR locomotives in the heart of Southern territory, rubbing shoulders with the line’s residents, performing a plethora of interesting duties over the MHR’s well-known gradients.

For me, the ‘star combination’ was undoubtedly that of Nos. 5199 and 7822 Foxcote Manor double-heading. Their distinctive bark did not disappoint, especially over the 1-in-60 climb of the ‘Alps’ either side of Medstead and Four Marks station.

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Double-heading with Cheltenham, BR 2MT 2-6-2T No. 41312 heads for Ropley with an Alton-bound service as it passes near Bishops Sutton Road on the edge of Alresford on Saturday, October 20. MATT SOUTHALL

At around 650ft above sea level, the station is the highest in Southern England.

Both Western locomotives were making their debut on the MHR. ‘Large Prairie’ 2-6-2T No. 5199 travelled from its home at the Llangollen Railway, while Llangollen-based 4-6-0 No. 7822 has been on hire for this year at the West Somerset Railway and is to be overhauled at Tyseley in early January.

Another guest was BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80078, which returned to the Watercress Line, courtesy of Stewart Robinson, following a visit in July 2017 for the End of Southern Steam gala.

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The MHR’s home fleet also turned out in force – including BR 9F No. 92212, BR 4MT No. 76017, Ivatt 2MT No. 41312 and National Collection-owned Schools class 4-4-0 No. 925 Cheltenham.

Providing additional interest was the mixed freight train, comprising a milk tanker, a four-wheel box van, plus a Mk.1 and a Southern carriage.

A sight to be behold was 9F No. 92212 thundering along with the delightful demonstration freight. The varied rake of restored wagons is something the MHR should be truly proud of.

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