Autumn Grand Steam Gala News

No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester - Paul Pearson

No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester - Paul Pearson


A unique and powerful record-breaking express steam locomotive that was a hi-tech prototype for a class never built – and took volunteers 13 years to restore from a scrapyard condition – is to star in the Swanage Railway’s Autumn Grand Steam Gala and Vintage Transport Rally.

One hundred and one ton British Railways Standard Class 8 No. 71000 ‘Duke of Gloucester’ was built in 1954 to replace Princess Royal class locomotive ‘Princess Anne’ destroyed in England’s worst ever train crash at Harrow and Wealdstone in London during 1952.

Along with the massive ‘Duke of Gloucester’, the Swanage Railway’s Autumn Grand Steam Gala between Friday 7 and Sunday 9 September, 2012, will also feature two small Bagnall saddle tank locomotives ‘Alfred’ and ‘Judy’ which used to work china clay trains at the Par Docks in Cornwall.

With evening trains running on the Friday and Saturday, Purbeck District Council’s Norden Park & Ride attended car park conveniently next to the station will be open until late – not closing until after the last train.

Cornish dock tanks ‘Alfred’ built in 1953 and ‘Judy’ dating from 1936 will be hauling special shuttle trains on a mile of little used track between Norden Park & Ride and Motala, near Furzebrook, which is the boundary with Network Rail and the national railway system.

The Grand Steam Gala includes a vintage vehicle rally next to Harman’s Cross station – staged by the Bournemouth and Poole Preservation Club – and demonstration freight trains.

The Swanage Railway’s own stable of five main line steam locomotives – Victorian M7 tank No. 53, 1920s Great Western Tank No. 6695, 1940s Bulleid Pacifics No. 34070 ‘Manston’ and No. 34028 ‘Eddystone’ as well as 1950s Standard Tank No. 80104 – will also be hauling trains during the three-day event.

Swanage Railway commercial manager Martin Payne said: “Once again, our Grand Steam Gala and vintage transport rally will be an atmospheric, nostalgic and very enjoyable event with eight steam locomotives, evening trains and demonstration freight trains.

The Wessex Belle Bistro dining train will be steam-hauled on the Friday and Saturday evenings of the Grand Steam Gala with advance booking recommended.

In visiting the Isle of Purbeck, the historic and record-breaking ‘Duke of Gloucester’ will be taking a break from hauling excursion trains on the national railway network while the two dock tanks ‘Alfred’ and ‘Judy’ are visiting the Swanage Railway from the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwall.

Martin Payne explained: “Our Autumn Steam Gala will be featuring the best of little and large. ‘Duke of Gloucester’ is a huge, gleaming and very powerful steam machine while the two diminutive Cornish dock tanks ‘Alfred’ and ‘Judy’ have an endearing charm and appeal all of their own.

“The Duke set new records on some of its old stamping grounds and on new territory – 1991 seeing No. 71000 take the so-called Blue-Riband for the fastest ascent to Ais Gill on the Settle and Carlisle Railway.

“In 1995, No. 71000 competed against fellow express steam locomotives ‘Duchess of Hamilton’ and ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ to become overall winner of the Shap Trials. The Duke also set the fastest recorded climb of Camden Bank by steam, attaining 41 mph with the equivalent of 13 coaches being pulled.

“We’re very grateful to the 71000 Trust and the Cornish Steam Preservation Trust based on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwell for allowing their wonderful locomotives to visit the Swanage Railway,” explained Mr Payne.

Swanage Railway train service details are available by going online and visiting or by calling the Swanage Railway on 01929 425800.