The steam locomotive GWR Prairie tank engine No. 5521, in the guise of London Transport L.150, is making its first ever visit to the Isle of Wight at the end of May for the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s Spring Gala.
The Gala will also formally mark the return to service of newly restored Ivatt 2MT Class locomotive 41298, which is now back in steam some 48 years since it last ran; and the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend event is marking 50 years since the end of steam on the Island’s railways. Two former Island locomotives – No. 24 Calbourne and No. 11 Newport – will be in steam alongside L.150 and the Ivatt, with No. 8 Freshwater on display and the World’s last remaining E1 Class locomotive No. 2 Yarmouth also on display.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway Chairman, Steve Oates said:
“With the Ivatt back in service, and 2016 being the 50th anniversary of the end of Island steam, this will be a very special weekend for us. And, with visiting loco L.150 hauling many of the trains, this will be the first gala in five years where we welcome a locomotive from ‘overseas’!”
The Gala, which runs from Saturday 28th to Bank Holiday Monday 30th May, is expected to feature different combinations of locomotives and mixed livery trains, with special timetables in operation all weekend.
Peter Vail, General Manager at the Havenstreet attraction said:
“It’s always good to do something different and with thousands of railway enthusiasts, as well as Islanders, expected here over the weekend, we’ll be doing all we can to put on a very special event.
“Our historic Island locos Calbourne and Newport will be in steam and the weekend will be the first opportunity to see them both working alongside the Ivatt which is of a type of locomotive that was considered for Island use in the 1960s”.
Meanwhile, the visit of L.150 which has operated on the London Underground, sets-up the possibility of an enticing encounter with the former London Underground trains on the Ryde to Shanklin electric line, which adjoins the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction Station.
“Subject to operational timings, it is hoped that there will be photo opportunities to capture the 1938 electric ‘tube’ stock on the Ryde to Shanklin line alongside L.150, when its positioned in the IW Steam Railway’s headshunt at Smallbrook Junction”.
Throughout the Gala guided workshop tours will be available (subject to engineering requirements). The Steam Railway’s Train Story Discovery Centre will be open as will the newly-opened Haven Falconry Bird of Prey Centre which is located just next to Havenstreet Station.
A Real Ale Bar will be open each day offering a range of Island ales, plus the Railway’s Refreshment Rooms, shop, small exhibits museum, children’s play area, and woodland walk will also be open.
Don’t miss another story! Get the Island’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily newsletter here.