Steam & Heritage
The Railway Magazine|August 2017

Thousands at Mid-Hants for gala marking 50 years since Southern steam bowed out

Gary Boyd-Hope

FOUR Bulleid Pacifics, two BR Standards and an Ivatt ‘Mickey Mouse’ tank led the charge for the Mid Hants Railway’s five-day July gala commemorating both the 50th anniversary of the end of Southern Region steam and the line’s own 40th anniversary of preservation.

Some 6,175 passengers took advantage of the superb weather to travel over the weekends of July 1-2 and 7-9, enjoying a variety of motive power that could have been plucked straight from 1967.

The locos shared duties on a blend of passenger and freight turns, each adorned with appropriate headboards or headcode discs to catapult visitors back to the halcyon summer of 1967 – albeit a little cleaner.

The presence of Gloucs-Warksbased ‘Merchant Navy’No. 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co not only marked a welcome return for the class over ‘The Alps’, but also the loco’s first return to the former Southern Region in 53 years. The rebuilt Pacific was a popular draw and took part in one of the gala’s many set-pieces when it double-headed on July 8 with another of the visiting engines – BR ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T No. 80078.

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