THE Watercress Line’s Diesel Gala event will be returning to the historical railway next month with three days of heritage diesel traction action.

Lasting from July 14 to July 16, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of both heritage and modern diesel traction and enjoy rides on an intensive diesel train service operating over a steeply graded line, with visiting and home-fleet locomotives.

Among the gala’s visiting fleet will be the Class 33/0 D6515 (33012) “Lt. Jenny Lewis RN”, courtesy of the 71A Locomotive Group, based at the Swanage Railway. Originally built in July 1960, D6515 was delivered to Hither Green depot on the southeastern section of the Southern Region. It also spent time allocated to Eastleigh and Stewarts Lane depots.

The Watercress Line will be announcing other visiting locomotives over the coming month and has confirmed that six of its home-fleet trains will be operating, including Class 47 47579 “James Nightall GC” and Class 08 08288 “Phoenix”.

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In addition, the gala weekend will offer rides on the miniature railway, the chance to visit the viewing galleries, a Goods Shed exhibition and society stands and displays. The Beer Junction will be open in Ropley, real ale, wine and soft drinks available for purchase. Other refreshments will also be available from the West Country Buffet and T-Junction.

Watercress Line interim chief executive Rebecca Dalley said: “The three-day Diesel Gala is a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in diesel traction to get up close and ride behind some of these impressive locomotives. We have an all-day service operating each day of the gala from early morning to evening, providing the opportunity to enjoy the diesel traction over our steeply graded line.

“There will be plenty to see and do during the event - something for everybody to enjoy, so please book ahead on the Watercress Line website.” 

For more information and to book tickets, visit the Watercress Line website.