The Great Central goes Southern

By Brian Sharpe

The Great Central Railway’s winter steam gala at the end of January is always popular and the three-day spectacular generally heralds the start of the new gala season.

SR U class 2-6-0 No. 31806 and Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34053 Sir Keith Park depart from Loughborough. Picture taken with prior arrangement and permission of the duty traffic manager and crews. DUNCAN LANGTREE

The 2016 event was no exception and it is reported that it was the most popular event since new-build A1 Pacific No. 60163 Tornado made its passenger-hauling debut on the railway in 2008.

Resident LMS 8F 2-8-0 No. 48624 heads a goods train away from Loughborough. ROBERT FALCONER

The Saturday was exceptionally busy and even the wet weather on Sunday did not seem to discourage visitors.

Carrying a United States Line boat train headboard, SR Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34053 Sir Keith Park departs from Loughborough Central on January 30. ALAN WEAVER

Star attractions for this year’s event were the well-travelled Southern pair of U class 2-6-0 No. 31806 from Swanage and Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34053 Sir Keith Park from the Severn Valley, which appeared alongside six of the resident fleet in an intensive service of passenger, freight and TPO trains.

Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34053 Sir Keith Park passes the Mountsorrel branch junction at Swithland as SR King Arthur 4-6-0 No. 777 Sir Lamiel passes with a northbound train. SIMON WEBB

Every train was operated by its rostered locomotive, with only minor delays which were quickly recovered.

U class 2-6-0 No. 31806 approaches Kinchley Lane and meets Battle of Britain Pacific No. 34053 Sir Keith Park heading for Loughborough. PAUL BIGGS

The temporary speed restriction was lifted off bridge 350 at Swithland… in fact the only problem reported was that the railway ran out of beer!

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Read more News and Features in Issue 240 of HR – on sale April 6!
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