Spring Steam Gala
The Spring Steam Gala is the smaller of the two annual enthusiasts' galas with visiting locomotives and a more intensive timetable, but without the all night running of the Autumn Steam Gala. This event is typically in late March and is now billed by the SVR as "opening the season", even though trains commence for the February half-term week. The event incorporates three days of Gala from Friday to Sunday. Other common features include demonstration freight trains and shorter local, part-line services.
Visiting locomotives are also often utilised in the days after the gala for private photographic charters and passenger work.
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'.
- 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 is retimed towards the end of April
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|