City of Wells headlines Bluebell’s nod to 1967

THE Bluebell Railway elected not to try and match the Mid Hants Railway’s vast array of Bulleids for its End of Southern Steam gala on July 7-9.

Instead it marked the 50th anniversary with a mini-gala that made the most of the home fleet, plus one visitor.

That guest came in the form of Bulleid ‘West Country’ No. 34092 City of Wells, which stayed on the railway for the remainder of July.

No. 34092 City of Wells powers up the bank towards Horsted Keynes with a rake of ‘Blood & Custard’ Mk1s during a John Bowers photo charter at the Bluebell Railway on July 10. STEVE LEE

It was the second time this year the loco had been back on Southern rails, having visited the Swanage Railway’s Strictly Bulleid event in late March/early April, but only the second time it had done so since 1988.

During the gala the Giesl ejector-fitted Pacific was given the opportunity to test its mettle, working non-stop services between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park on the Friday and Saturday.

Maintaining services with ‘Wells’ was the Bluebell’s own BR Class 5 4-6-0 No. 73082 Camelot and Maunsell ‘Q’ 0-6-0 No. 30541.

The Derby-built ‘5MT’ was one of several of the class to work on BR’s Southern Region, but just missed out on becoming a 1967 survivor having been withdrawn the previous year.

Goods trains ran on two of the days, with an extended timetable allowing for a number of loco changes and photo opportunities.

The same glorious weather that blessed the Mid Hants’ event stretched across to East Sussex, with the gala being well attended.

However, the railway’s communications director Roger Garman said visitor numbers were “not vastly different from those for an early July weekend”.

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