Class 55 ‘Deltic’ 55009 ‘ALYCIDON’ was pictured approaching Goviers Lane Crossing at Watchet with a train for Minehead on Thursday 8th June 2023. This mainline-registered loco was the star of the WSR’s SUMMER DIESEL FESTIVAL that ran from 8th through 10th June 2023. Photo by Martin Rouse © CC BY-NC 3.0
The three days of the WSR’s SUMMER DIESEL FESTIVAL featured an excellent lineup of locos working an intensive timetable that included workings to Norton Fitzwarren (some using Class ’09’ haulage), combined with open days and exhibits along the line for additional interest. The weather was absolutely perfect at the start, although some rain did come along for a few hours on Saturday afternoon – but not enough to dampen the spirits of the visitors !
Photographers were struggling with the strong sunlight on the Thursday and complaining about the grey skies on the Saturday, but we have received a record number of absolutely excellent photographs from members and supporters, and will be including some of them in our next DEPG Newsletter (and keeping some back for the 2024 DEPG Calendar).
Commercially, the event has also been a big success, which is very important because it means that the budget for next year’s gala will be bigger and the plans bolder, and we have plenty of time to act upon the lessons learned this year.
Overall, the event was a big success because of the massive amount of preparation work plus the efforts of all of the staff and volunteers throughout the event, plus the support of everyone who attended and bought a ticket or refreshments or merchandise. THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH !
Class 25 D7659 (25309, 25909) performed very well, with the sound of her 6-cylinder Sulzer engine bringing back memories of bygone days when another Class 25 was based on the WSR. Pictured on the climb from Watchet to Washford on Friday 9th June 2023 by Keith Fender © CC BY-NC 3.0
The visiting locos all performed well, in fact the only casualties were our two ‘Hymeks’, with D7018 being unavailable for use due to ongoing issues with the transmission control block, and D7017 performing well on the Thursday until failing at Watchet on the last service of the day with an electrical issue. The Gala Planning Team had made contingency plans for loco failures, but the loss of both ‘Hymeks’ resulted in some burning of the midnight oil and many late phone calls to crew members to re-roster them and ensure that the revised diagrams remained interesting and entertaining. The revised plans worked out very well indeed!
The issue with D7017 was a failed electrical component and was resolved on Friday afternoon, but the cut-off time had been passed and the loco could not be re-rostered for Saturday without another timetable re-write, so the loco was out of the gala. However, permission was obtained to attach her to the front of Class 33 D6575 (33 057) on the 13:25 departure from Williton to Minehead on the Saturday, and suffice it to say, this service was very well patronised, with the ‘Hymek’ putting in a very entertaining performance.
D7017 was detached at Minehead and stabled in position for her booked workings this coming weekend, so COME BACK AND RIDE BEHIND D7017 on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. See our DIESEL RUNNING DATES page for details.
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 was attached ahead of Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) between Williton and Minehead on Saturday 10th June 2023. The consist was pictured while waiting to depart from Watchet by Barrie Childs © CC BY-NC 3.0
As if we needed another issue to contend with during the gala, the driver’s ‘Beclawat’ cabside window at ‘A’ end of D7017 decided to collapse just after the loco left Williton ‘light engine’ for Bishops Lydeard on the first morning of the event, the window breaking into a thousand pieces and now requiring many hours of work to remove the equipment from the interior of the cab to allow the trim panels to be released to replace the window glass and repair the 62-year-old mechanism. Perfect !
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 displays a removable wooden window on the driver’s side at ‘A’ end, after a failure in the window mechanism on Thursday 8th June 2023 caused the window to drop down suddenly, shattering the glass. Photo by Robin Fisher © CC BY-NC 3.0
If the success of a gala can be measured by the number of photographs taken, then this one was a BIG sucess because we have been lucky enough to receive hundreds of photos for publication in support of the DEPG and the WSR. We can only feature a few of these, but there are two galleries that are easy to access and feature an excellent selection of images. Click on the screenshots below to go to the gallery sites:
For an almost one-hour-long video covering the gala event, check out the YouTube video posted by Josh Brinsford on his South West Trainspotter channel:
To wrap up our coverage of the gala, here are some more shots of gala participants both active and passive, with thanks to all of the photographers who have submitted their work to us for the benefit of the DEPG and WSR. THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH !
After her moment of glory on Friday 9th June when she towed Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 from the platform at Williton to the diesel depot for repair, Barclay 578 (ROF1) returned to her ‘on display’ role for the rest of the event (thankfully!). Pictured on Saturday 10th June 2023 by Josh Brinsford © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 52 ‘Western’ D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ was outdoors for the first time in many months, with Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 beyond, both providing cab visit opportunities at Williton on each day of the gala. Pictued on Saturday 10th June 2023 by Josh Brinsford © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 33 ‘Crompton’ 33002 (D6501) ‘Sea King’ was a very popular locomotive at the event and was a credit to her owning group, South Devon Diesel Traction. Pictured with our D6575 (33 057) while waiting for the token at Williton on Thursday 8th June 2023 by Tom Courtney © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6566 (33 048) was fresh from the paint shop and glowing in the sunshine as she approached Minehead at 10 mph so that secondman Mark Bladwell could hand over the token. Pictured on Friday 9th June 2023 by Mike Lanning © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 wore black ribbons and carried a wreath in remembrance of the late SIMON PURVIS, the DEPG’s volunteer Class 14 loco manager and a very well respected Class 14 expert. The loco was pictured arriving at Blue Anchor on Friday 8th June 2023 with sister locomotive D9551 from the Class 14 group at the Severn Valley Railway. Photo by Robin Wichard © CC BY-NC 3.0
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518 is a major restoration project that is underway at Williton. This loco was the last of its class to work on BR in 1969 and then spent 16 years working at NCB’s Ashington Colliery in Northumberland. The loco has not been in use since 1985 and will be returned to service wearing NCB Ashington colours. Pictured at Williton on Friday 9th June 2023 by Josh Brinsford © CC BY-NC 3.0
MANY THANKS to all of the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this event happen, and thanks also to the many visitors who attended and supported the event !
The BLUE timetable runs throughout June, featuring diesel haulage each weekend, with visiting Class 25 D7659 (25 309, 25 909) in use on Saturday and Sunday 24/25th June, and Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 working in between on 17/18th June. For details of planned DIESEL-HAULED public services, see the DIESEL RUNNING DATES page on our website.
KEY DATES for your diary:
WSRA AUGUST STEAM RALLY: Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August at Norton Fitzwarren
DEPG 50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS : Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd September 2023.