Rails & Ales - August Bank Holiday 2011

This August bank holiday weekend will see the South Devon Railway hold our annual Rails & Ales gala, which this year has been extended to four days due to its popularity.

The event, which is popular with both railway enthusiasts and fans of real ale, features a mix of classic rail travel, including the use of both steam and heritage diesel locomotives, and a Real Ale Festival serving a variety of traditional ales and ciders.

The frequent service of passenger trains will be mostly steam hauled, and the guest appearance of former London Midland Scottish Railway 3F “Jinty” No. 47406 from the Great Central Railway, together with home based locomotives Nos. 3205 and 5786, the event will have something of a Somerset and Dorset Railway small engines theme.

47406 is making what is probably its furthest journey south to date, it normally having worked in the North West during its pre-preservation days. After many years languishing in the famous Barry scrapyard, the locomotive was returned to steam in early 2010 and, although 47406 is not known to have worked on the popular and much lamented Somerset & Dorset line that ran for 72 miles between Bath and Bournemouth and finally closed on 7th March 1966, several of its sister engines were based at Bath where, amongst other duties, they were out based at Radstock and used to assist trains over the steeply graded sections of the line that passed over the Mendips.

This will be the first time a former London Midland & Scottish Railway tank engine has travelled over the line between Buckfastleigh and Totnes.

Joining 47406, is SDR based former Great Western Railway 0-6-0 No.3205, the sole surviving member of its class, several examples of which operated over the S&D after the line passed into the control of British Railways (Western Region) in 1958. 3205 did indeed itself see use on the former S&D system in 1965 and was for a time to be seen operating on the “branch” from Evercreech Junction to Highbridge.

The third steam locomotive taking part in the event will be the SDR based ex GWR pannier tank No. 5786. Restored to early British Railways plain black, 5786, which has just returned “home” in time to take part in the event after spending much of the summer on hire, is nearing the end of its current boiler ticket and will be withdrawn from service for overhaul in September. Like 47406, 5786 never worked over the S&D, however a few other ex GWR pannier tanks did after clearance tests were made in 1958 by 57xx No. 3604.

Whilst the locomotives will always draw most attention, there are two other items of rolling stock on the SDR that did indeed appear on the S&D line.

Special Saloon No.9005 was used by the Western Region General Manager and on 29th October 1958 the then manager Mr K.W.C.Grand travelled in the coach from Bristol Temple Meads to Highbridge and then onto the S&D metals for a trip to Templecombe. Here the train reversed and made its way back to Bath, before returning to Bristol Temple Meads along the former Midland route out of Bath.

The second item of stock has led a much more humble existence. Now owned by the Worcester Locomotive Society, Type 27 Wickham trolley No. 3767 is at present nearing the end of a major overhaul which when complete will see it returned to its former British Railways (Southern Region) guise in green with appropriate lettering. If completed in time the trolley, which had a spell based at Evercreech Junction, will be on display at Staverton Station.

Also operating as part of the intensive service will be the SDR’s diesel railcar No. W55000. Two other diesel locomotives will also see some use during the event. Sulzer Type 2 No. D7612 will operate three round trips on the Saturday, whilst newly restored Class 09 diesel shunter No. D3721 will be used to provide brake van rides at Staverton.     

The Real Ale festival will be held at the picturesque Staverton Station and is again being run by the SDR based Devon Diesel Society. Proceeds from the festival will be used to help maintain the Society’s locomotive including the ongoing restoration to working order of Class 50 No. D402.

The festival, which has been recognised by the local branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) will offer over 50 ales and traditional ciders from both local and national brewers. Cost will be £2.50 per pint, with no separate admission charge to the festival. Staverton Station Preservation Group will be selling a range of non alcoholic drinks and food.

Train services start at 10.00 (Buckfastleigh) and 10.43 (Totnes) each day and run at 45 minute intervals until 17.30 (Buckfastleigh) and 18.13 (Totnes). On the Friday, Saturday and Sunday additional trains operate beyond these times with the last arrivals being just after 22.30 at Totnes and just after 23.00 at Buckfastleigh.




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