Autumn Steam Gala

2017 Autumn Steam Gala guest GER 564 at Arley
For many enthusiasts, the Autumn Steam Gala is the highlight of the SVR year, involving overnight running and having the presence of visiting locomotives.

The first Autumn Steam Galas were referred to as "Enthusiasts' Days" or "Enthusiasts' Weekends"; these normally featured home locomotives only. In the 1980s, visiting locomotives began to appear and have done so for each year the Gala has run since 1990. The event also extended in duration and typically runs over four days Thursday to Sunday inclusive, with overnight running on the Friday and Saturday nights. Other common features include demonstration freight trains and shorter local, part-line services. One popular operation in previous years was the running of a "Breakfast train" using the Severn Valley Venturer stock.

From time to time visiting locomotives are utilised for regular passenger services in the days after the gala. They are also sometimes used for private photographic charters.


Notable events

  • 1975 First Enthusiasts Day, with 11 locomotives in steam.[1]
  • 1976 First Enthusiasts Weekend.
  • 1980 LMS Stanier Jubilee 45690 Leander participated before undergoing a contract boiler overhaul.
  • 1984 First guest locomotive at an Autumn Steam Gala (5051 "Drysllwyn Castle")
  • 1989 The "Autumn Steam Spectacular" was the last Autumn Steam Gala featuring home locomotives only.[2]
  • 1993 First overnight running took place.
  • 1998 First three day gala.
  • 2000 The Autumn Steam Gala was cancelled due to the boiler crisis.
  • 2007 The Autumn Steam Gala took place despite the storm damage which closed the line north of Bewdley. The Gala included services running on the main line to Birmingham Snow Hill as well as between Kidderminster and Bewdley, the only unaffected section of the SVR.
  • 2016 The Autumn Steam Gala was replaced by the 'Pacific Power' event featuring visiting locomotives LNER Gresley A3 Pacific No. 60103 'Flying Scotsman' and LNER Peppercorn A1 Pacific No. 60163 'Tornado'.
  • 2020 The Autumn Steam Gala was cancelled due to the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
  • 2021 First announced as a fixed itinerary 'excursion' service under COVID-19 restrictions, it reverted to a more traditional operation with passengers able to choose their itineraries. The Railway, however, continued to offer a small number of private bookable compartments, where passengers were guaranteed exclusive use of a compartment on a single train throughout the day. To assist with social distancing, the number of tickets available each day was limited.
  • 2022 There was evening, but not overnight, running. The reason given was to conserve coal supplies.
  • 2023 Thursday Preview Day plus Friday to Sunday, with the return of overnight running on the Friday and Saturday night.

Passenger numbers

From time-to-time the SVR 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).[3] The following is an incomplete record:

Year Number of passengers Reference Notes
2008 7,596 [4]
2009 5,511 [5]
2010 5.775 [5]
2011 6,500 [5]
2012 6,318 [5]
2013 6,030 [5]
2014 5,901 [5]
2015 7,300 [6] Over the Preview day and three days of Gala
2016 n/a Replaced by 'Pacific Power' event.
2017 5,300 [7]
2018 6,335 [8] Over the Preview day and three days of Gala
2019 5,850 [9]
2020 n/a Event cancelled
2022 >5,500 [10]
2023 5,156

See also