Spa Valley Railway » Family Events

Summer Steam Gala

12th, 13th and 14th July – With visiting Large Prairie 4144 and the return to service of 34053 'Sir Keith Park'!

Summer Steam Gala - with visiting GWR Large Prairie 4144 and the return to service of Bulleid Pacific 34053 'Sir Keith Park'
Our Summer Steam Gala takes place on Friday 12th, Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th July and you can enjoy the sights and sounds of up to four steam locomotives operating an intensive train service between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge.

Visiting us for the first time is GWR Large Prairie 4144 courtesy of the Didcot Railway Centre and this 2-6-2 locomotive, not that often seen on the Southern region will join Rebuilt Bulleid Pacific 34053 'Sir Keith Park' which is returning to service after overhaul, Original Bulleid Pacific 34072 '257 Squadron' and Caledonian Railway No. 828.

GWR Large Prairie 4144 – Courtesy of the Didcot Railway Centre
Four similar classes of this type were built between 1903 and 1949, being known as 31xx, 51xx, 61xx and 81xx. They began with No. 3100, introduced as one of the new Churchward standard designs, in 1903. Building of the type continued under Churchward's successor Collett, sometimes incorporating parts from the earlier engines as these were withdrawn from service.

Apart from London, with only one example, the 51xx class engines were allocated to many depots throughout the Great Western system. They often became the mainstay of the suburban services, besides being employed to bank heavy trains uphill in Somerset, Devon and through the Severn Tunnel. They lasted until replaced by dieselization from 1957 onwards.

4144 was built at Swindon in September 1946 and, having spent time as the Severn Tunnel banker, was withdrawn from Severn Tunnel Junction depot in March 1965.  The locomotive was sent to Woodham Bros. of Barry for cutting up but survived until it was bought jointly by the Society and one of its members in 1974.

The rebuild was completed in 1997 and 4144 was used on the ‘Steam on the Met’ in 1998.

The locomotive had its boiler removed for overhaul in August 2010 and officially re-entered service on 2nd May 2015. As well as use at Didcot the locomotive has visited several other heritage railways since returning to service. 

SR Battle of Britain Class 34053 'Sir Keith Park'
At this gala, resident Bulleid Pacific 34053 'Sir Keith Park' is returning to service following an intensive overhaul by Southern Locomotives Limited at Tysley and Herston Works. The boiler is from fellow Bulleid Pacific 'Sidmouth' and has enabled 34053 to return to service much sooner. We operated 'Sir Keith Park' between 2020 and 2022 when the locomotive was withdrawn for overhaul, this was after the engine found a home with us at Tunbridge Wells West. 34072 is also now based at our railway and this gala is the only time in 2024 you can enjoy both Bulleid's operating together, 34072 is off on hire until the end of 2024. 

Locomotives:

All locomotives face Tunbridge Wells West.

Timetable & Brake Van Rides
Further details to follow. A two train service will operate.

Catering
Set A will convey our bar car 'Kate' and set B our Restaurant Miniature Buffet serving a range of drinks and light refreshments throughout the day, at Tunbridge Wells West our station shop serves teas, coffees, hot chocolate and light snacks and there are catering outlets at Groombridge and Eridge serving hot and cold drinks and light refreshements too. 

Real Ale & Cider Bar – Kate
Visit bar car 'Kate' on Set A to enjoy a pint or two! Brewery to be confirmed.

Dining Trains
The popular Fish & Chip Supper and Real Ale trains will operate on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th July from Tunbridge Wells West departing at 19:30, non-dining passengers can travel on these services without needing to book an additional ticket.

On Sunday 14th July the popular Kent Cheese Train will operate from Tunbridge Wells West, tickets must be pre-booked.

Tickets – Cheaper online in advance!
Rover tickets, which allow for all day unlimited travel on the Spa Valley Railway's two main trains (including all evening services) are now available to purchase via our website. An additional supplement is applied to Brake Van Rides which will be made available shortly, you must purchase a Rover ticket and the relevant brake van supplement to be eligible to travel on the Brake Van. Discounts for Members of the Tunbridge Wells & Eridge Railway Preservation Society and HRA Card holders will only be available at our ticket offices on the day and cannot be bought online in advance. There is a slight discount applied to all online ticket sales!

We have kept our fares as low as possible, the cost of moving steam locomotives and coal has increased significantly in recent years and to enable this event to be put on we have had to adjust our prices to match. Sadly, we cannot set the fares like we used to back between 2011 and 2019.

Ticket Prices when booked online in advance:

One trip returns are not available at this event and singles are only available on the day.

Tickets are now available and they'll also be available on the day from our ticket offices. Tickets are valid for unlimited travel on the day of issue/date shown on your eTicket.

Whilst you do not need to book a space on the evening trains if you just want to travel, you must book a combined Day Rover and Fish & Chip Supper ticket if you wish to enjoy food we provide too, you can book these tickets online via this webpage here. We cannot take bookings on the day as the chip shop needs to order stocks in the week prior to the event.

Early Morning Photography Session
In partnership with Paul Burgess you can book yourself onto an exclusive early morning photography session at Tunbridge Wells West, for full details and to book (this is not for train tickets which can only be purchased via this website or in person at a ticket office on the day) please click here.

Book tickets

Fri 12 Jul 2024
Open Day Event departing from: Travel All Day, Any Train!
Sat 13 Jul 2024
Open Day Event departing from: Travel All Day, Any Train!
Sun 14 Jul 2024
Open Day Event departing from: Travel All Day, Any Train!

Booking information

On the day of your visit you MUST have your eTickets available to show either in a print out or on a mobile device, both will be checked visually by a member of staff before boarding the train.

Note that a £10 admin fee applies to all booking alterations.

Click here to view our refund, cancellation and alterations policy

FULL TERMS AND CONDITIONS CAN BE FOUND VIA THIS LINK