Mid-Hants Railway Spring Gala 2018

For me the Mid-Hants Pre-Spring Steam Gala marks the start of the steam railway gala season.

This year’s Gala was not without its problems. One of the originally intended guest locomotives was unable to take part because it was needed on its home railway, and a replacement was found in the form of GWR 0-6-0 pannier tank no.1501. For me this was a highly acceptable substitute as I regard any GWR locos taking part in a gala as a definite bonus. The other problem the Mid-Hants had was that both of the Black 5s that were to take part failed and it was a great credit to the hard work of the engineers at the railway’s works at Ropley and the locos owners that both locomotives were repaired in time to take part in the gala.

South Western Railway had its own problems on Friday and my train arrived at Alton 20 minutes late, fortunately I had allowed plenty of time for the journey so I still arrived with time to spare before the first train of the gala.

Sadly the weather was not all that kind. I went on the Friday and Saturday, Friday was very cold and there was even a brief flurry of snowflakes at one point thankfully the snowfall didn’t last very long and the snow didn’t settle on the ground. Saturday was a slightly better day temperature-wise but there was a light rain throughout the day which rather put a damper on things. The order of the day was take up your position, take your photos then either board the train or retreat to somewhere under cover to wipe the rain off your cameras. I found that the small plastic bag that had contained my lunch made a very handy protective cover for my video camera on the tripod, my DSLR took up its usual place under my coat.

Weather aside I thought it was an excellent gala the theme of the gala was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of steam on British Railways. The locomotives taking part were:

LMS Black 5 no.45379
LMS Black 5 no.45231 ‘The Sherwood Forester’
LMS Ivatt class 2MT no.41312
BR Standard class 4MT no.76017
SR Schools class 925 ‘Cheltenham’
GWR/BR 15xx class no.1501

One of the interesting points of the gala were the regular freight train workings between Alresford and Ropley, there were two different freight trains running and between them they did four round trips during the day. As well as providing some variety for the photographers they were a perfect opportunity for the railway to show off its excellent collection of restored goods wagons.
The railway’s famous Real Ale Train, the RAT, was running as part of one of the passenger sets.

One of the ‘set pieces’ of the gala was the recreation of the 15 guinea special, the last steam train on British Rail complete with a replica of its 1T57 reporting number which was hauled by the two Black 5s, as was the original (although they weren’t the same Black 5s that worked the original train). I found it a bit disappointing that the railway choose to run this special as the first train out of Alresford which meant that those who travelled to the gala by train and started from Alton didn’t get to see it or have the opportunity to travel on it, the return working from Alton was the second to last departure meaning that there was no way of returning to Alton for anyone who travelled on it. I suspect I was not the only person who had hoped that it would run mid-morning & mid-afternoon so that I could have the opportunity to travel on it and video & photograph it passing through Ropley.
This disappointment, and the bad weather, aside I had an enjoyable time at the gala and was able to take some nice photographs and am looking forward to returning in October for the Autumn Gala.

Here is my video of the gala.

Some more of my photographs of the gala can be found on my website

Photographing trains: Heritage lines

Photographing trains on heritage railways is in many ways a lot easier than photographing on the main line, to start with the locomotives are not going anywhere near as fast and you usually get more than one opportunity to photograph each loco, especially during a gala.
Indeed, during a gala there could be anything between six and ten locomotives taking part and for a gala the railway will usually have a fairly intense timetable so there’s not much waiting time between trains. Continue reading “Photographing trains: Heritage lines”

Photographing Trains: Mainline.

Photographing trains on the mainline has its own special problems. When you consider that a train on the mainline is probably approaching you at 60+ miles per hour you’ve probably got just 30 or 40 seconds to get your photo before train is past and gone.

If you’re at a station and you stand on the opposite platform to the one the train is due on you can get a good shot of the loco as it passes, although there is always the risk that a service train will arrive at the crucial moment and totally block your view! Continue reading “Photographing Trains: Mainline.”

Photographing Trains: Tornado

Over the past few months Didcot Railway Centre, home of the Great Western Society and all things Great Western, has been invaded by visitors from the London North Eastern Railway.

In August the centre was host to the famous A3 class no.60103 Flying Scotsman and A4 class no.60009 Union of South Africa, then towards the end of October it was announced that A1 class no.60163 Tornado would take possession of the centre’s main demonstration line. Continue reading “Photographing Trains: Tornado”

Photographing trains: Flying Scotsman

During the August Bank Holiday what is generally referred to as the World’s Most Famous Locomotive, LNER A3 no.60103 Flying Scotsman, visited Didcot Railway Centre, then two weeks later the locomotive visited the West Somerset Railway for a few days and the railway organised a programme of special trains.
Continue reading “Photographing trains: Flying Scotsman”

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway was opened in 1987 to serve the old London docklands area that was being redeveloped. Originally the DLR had two routes, Tower Gateway station on the edge of the City of London to Stratford and Island Gardens. With the continued development of docklands as one of London’s major financial centres the DLR’s popularity grew to the point where the limited routes were no longer able to provide the transport requirements of the area. Continue reading “Docklands Light Railway”

Shillingstone Station

Shillingstone station lies between Blandford and Sturminster Newton stations on the line from Evercreech junction to Wimborne. The station was opened 1863 by the Somerset and Dorset Railway although the station was built by the Dorset Central Railway.  It is the last surviving Dorset Central Railway station and as such is important from both architectural and historical perspectives.

Continue reading “Shillingstone Station”

Top Ten

Top ten lists are always fun, people create them for just about everything and not everyone agrees with the list anyway. But isn’t that part of the fun of them?

So here’s my top ten list of steam locomotives, the astute among you will notice that in some cases I’ve chosen a class rather than a particular member of that class. Some of you will call this cheating, and perhaps it is, but after much thought there are some cases where I really couldn’t decide between the representatives of the class.

Continue reading “Top Ten”