06/05/2005 – 08/05/2005 West Somerset Railway

One of the small number of ‘big name’ preserved railways we hadn’t been to…so when we received an invitation for 31271 to attend the West Somerset 2005 Gala we were very pleased indeed. Not only ‘new’ for A1A but as far as we know , Minehead itself had never witnessed a Class 31 hauled train.

Over the weeks leading upto this event , 31271 was given a thorough exam and finally had the middle plough fitted at each end to complete her 1990s look once more. Movement to the WSR was arranged with FM Rail who were providing 45112 for the event. With 31271’s transit exam completed earlier in the week , 47703 arrived at Swanwick on the morning of Thursday 5th May to collect 31271 as well as the CFA’s 37190 and 50007 also attending the Gala .The rostered loco for the move , 45112 , had failed in the morning at Derby however once sorted, it relieved 47703 at Derby with the convoy and thus worked the train to Bishops Lydeard arriving there approx 1800.

The support crew arrived at Taunton after a long car journey for a ‘cuppa’ and to view the convoy passing through. Fully refreshed , we met the new arrivals at Bishops Lydeard where 31271 was checked over and ‘ run up ‘ for 45 mins before we retired to our ‘digs’ in Stoford ( Yeovil ) for some more ‘refreshment ‘ and a well earned rest.

In the carriage sidings at Bishops Lydeard , 31271 is prepared for the days events..07/05/05

Friday dawned bright and earlyish and 271 was prepared for her first run , an afternoon trip , the 1405 Bishops Lydeard – Minehead and 1600 return. What a superb Railway , friendly staff , lovely line and stations and glorious sunshine…marvellous..! 31271 lifted the load 5 with ease and sounded sweet on the long gradients along the line.

Almost ready for departure at Bishops Lydeard with 31271 with the same train stands at Williton..07/05/05

the 1505 to Minehead..07/05/05 photo M Bryant

On the Saturday morning we were thankfully rostered a load 7 set which made 271 work a little harder and worked the 1000 Bishops Lydeard – Minehead and 1310 return followed by the 1505 Bishops Lydeard – Minehead and 1650 return although on the 1310 we were piloted by 50007…. 31271 seemed to sound louder with every trip ! A successful days running over , we retired to a local hostelry with many of the WSR lads for refreshment where we learned that D7017 , one of the resident Hymeks had unfortunately failed on one of the final trains of the day……

31271 has a break at Blue Anchor awaiting the GBRf ED’s to arrive from Minehead ..08/05/05

With glorious weather once again , Sundays trains were the 1055 Bishops Lydeard – Minehead and return as well as the 1605 Bishops Lydeard – Minehead and 1830 return again on a load 7 set. Prior to departing Bishops Lydeard on the 1055 we were informed that 50007 had failed at Blue Anchor on the 0955 ex Minehead so upon arrival at Crowcombe we had a bit of a wait as a result of single line passing etc . We then learned that the newly repaired D7017 sent to rescue the failure had itself failed whilst en-route and that 33048 was now being despatched …! , we therefore decided to shutdown 31271 ..! What a farce…!

Following an hour delay , we re-started 271 and continued on our journey to Minehead. The timetable as a result of the failures unfortunately ‘went to pot’ but thankfully we worked our remaining trips albeit very late and no-one seemed to complain. For our final trip, resident 33048 piloted 31271 from Minehead to Williton where we completed the last leg of our final journey on our own back to Bishops Lydeard. Thankfully 271 ‘behaved herself’ throughout the event and received much praise from WSR staff and visitors alike. An absolutely superb event and one of our most enjoyable….and a railway we’d love to return to one day….

Whilst waiting at Minehead , the opportunity was taken to ‘buffer up’ to the HST set on the line for the photographers !…..if only !..08/05/05 photo M Skidmore

Early on the Monday morning , 31271 was marshalled with the 3 visiting GBRf Class 73 EDs together with 37190 ready for the journey to Old Oak Common . This move to OC went completely to plan with arrival at the West London depot mid afternoon . From here 31271 was moved a few day later to Nene Valley Railway courtesy of GBRf to effect a change over with 31108 with the latter visiting the Mid Hants Gala the following week. Click here.

31271 en-route to Old Oak Common on the branch Safely arrived at Old Oak Common with 37190..09/05/05

between Bishops Lydeard and Taunton..09/05/05

photo S Harvey