Spring Steam Gala
From time to time visiting locomotives have been utilised for regular passenger services in the days after the gala. They are again also used for private photographic charters, after a gap in the practice between 2021 and 2023.
The first Spring Steam Gala was a one day event held on 10 April 1976 and attended by more than 2,500 travellers. It became a two day event the following year although still staged in April, a format maintained during the 1980s and 1990s. Early galas used home engines only, with guest locomotives appearing regularly from 1992.
In 2000 the Spring Steam Gala moved to March, the first being a 3-day event on 8-10 March 2000 advertised as a 'Branch Line Gala Weekend'. A number of subsequent galas were also branded as Branch Line Galas, some taking local themes such as 'Somerset and Dorset' or 'Welsh'.
From 2020 it was held in an April spot.
- 2004 and 2011 No galas due to engineering work.
- 2008 No gala due to the 2007 Storm Damage, although guest locomotive S&DJR 88 took part in the reopening weekend.
- 2013 The Spring Steam Gala was hit by heavy snow, resulting in attendances being around half of the numbers expected. In 2018 heavy snow hit the third day (Sunday). The Railway still managed to run the services as planned.
- 2020 Due to work on Falling Sands Viaduct closing the line between Bewdley and Kidderminster, the gala was retimed towards the end of April before being one of the events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 2021 The event was again arranged for April due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and also marketed as the 'Spring Steam Up', the SVR opting not to use the term 'Gala'.
- 2022 Again arranged for April due to the replacement of Kidderminster Footbridge and the need to prepare for Bridgnorth Loco Shed reroofing.
- 2023 Again arranged for April due to the first phase of the Bridgnorth yard relay project. Advertised as a three day event (Friday to Sunday). The preceding Thursday featured curated excursion trains with visiting GWR Collett 4073 Castle class 4-6-0 4079 Pendennis Castle.
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).
The following is an incomplete record.
|Year||Number of passengers||Reference||Notes|
|2008||No Gala following the 2007 storm damage.|
|2011||No Gala due to engineering work.|
|2013||The Gala was hit by heavy snow, resulting in reduced attendance|
|2016||3,537||Depressed number because of the non-appearance at the gala of announced visitor 6990 Witherslack Hall|
|2018||4,541||The Gala was hit by heavy snow, resulting in reduced attendance|
|2020||No Gala due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown|
|2021||2,588||||"Spring Steam Up" special event held over 4 days but with reduced capacity, replacing Gala due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions|
|2022||~7,500||SVR's PR: "around 7,500 visitors"||Reverted to normal format, held over 4 days but without the usual full line demonstration goods trains to conserve coal stocks.|
|2023||5,002||The Railway Magazine, May 2023||Paying passengers only, excluding shareholder vouchers and passes. Held over 3 days.|