Spring Steam Gala

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2012 Spring Steam Gala guest 60019 Bittern
The Spring Steam Gala is the smaller of the two annual enthusiasts' galas with visiting locomotives and a more intensive timetable, but without the all night running of the Autumn Steam Gala. The event now typically incorporates four days of running from Thursday to Sunday. Other common features included demonstration freight trains and shorter local, part-line services.

From time to time visiting locomotives have been utilised for regular passenger services in the days after the gala. They are again also used for private photographic charters, after a gap in the practice between 2021 and 2023.


The first Spring Steam Gala was a one day event held on 10 April 1976 and attended by more than 2,500 travellers.[1] It became a two day event the following year although still staged in April, a format maintained during the 1980s and 1990s. Early galas used home engines only, with guest locomotives appearing regularly from 1992.

In 2000 the Spring Steam Gala moved to March, the first being a 3-day event on 8-10 March 2000 advertised as a 'Branch Line Gala Weekend'.[2] A number of subsequent galas were also branded as Branch Line Galas, some taking local themes such as 'Somerset and Dorset' or 'Welsh'.[3] From 2020 it was held in an April spot, and from 2023 extended to four days.

Notable events

  • 2004 and 2011 No galas due to engineering work.
  • 2008 No gala due to the 2007 Storm Damage, although guest locomotive S&DJRSomerset & Dorset Joint Railway, jointly operated by the London and South Western and Midland Railways (later Southern and London Midland and Scottish Railways) 88 took part in the reopening weekend.
  • 2013 The Spring Steam Gala was hit by heavy snow, resulting in attendances being around half of the numbers expected. In 2018 heavy snow hit the third day (Sunday). The Railway still managed to run the services as planned.
  • 2020 Due to work on Falling Sands Viaduct closing the line between Bewdley and Kidderminster, the gala was retimed towards the end of April before being one of the events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 2021 Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic it was marketed as the 'Spring Steam UpIn reference to the direction of travel means towards the major terminus (i.e. towards Kidderminster on the present day SVR)', the SVRSevern Valley Railway opting not to use the term 'Gala'.
  • 2023 Advertised as a three day event (Friday to Sunday). The preceding Thursday featured curated excursion trains with visiting GWR Collett 4073 Castle class 4-6-0 4079 Pendennis Castle.
  • 2024 The first advertised use of diesel traction, with the Class 108 DMU working some of the local services and goods trains at the south end of the line.

Passenger numbers

From time-to-time the SVRSevern Valley Railway publishes the number of Gala passengers, according to the method of counting these which has varied over time (for example, since 2010 documents sent to shareholders became valid as a ticket which did not need to be exchanged for travel).[4]

The following is an incomplete record.

Year Number of passengers Reference Notes
2008 No Gala following the 2007 storm damage.
2011 No Gala due to engineering work.
2012 4,209 [5]
2013 The Gala was hit by heavy snow, resulting in reduced attendance
2014 3,900
2015 4,313
2016 3,537 Depressed number because of the non-appearance at the gala of announced visitor 6990 Witherslack Hall
2017 4,537
2018 4,541 The Gala was hit by heavy snow, resulting in reduced attendance
2019 3,472 [6]
2020 No Gala due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown
2021 2,588 [6] "Spring Steam UpIn reference to the direction of travel means towards the major terminus (i.e. towards Kidderminster on the present day SVR)" special event held over 4 days but with reduced capacity, replacing Gala due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions
2022 ~7,500 SVRSevern Valley Railway's PR: "around 7,500 visitors" Reverted to normal format, held over 4 days but without the usual full line demonstration goods trains to conserve coal stocks.
2023 5,002 The Railway Magazine, May 2023 Paying passengers only, excluding shareholder vouchers and passes. Held over 3 days, plus preview day.
2024 ~4,700 [7] 'Almost 4,700 people coming for the event'. Held over 4 days

See also

Steam Locomotives visiting the SVR for galas
SVR Passenger numbers


  1. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 39
  2. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 131
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 138,141
  4. SVR Forum shareholders' Passes thread
  5. 'Spring Gala 2012', SVR Online thread
  6. 6.0 6.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members.
  7. Branch Lines, May 2024