Spa Valley Railway » Family Events

Summer Diesel Gala

2nd, 3rd & 4th August – With visiting Class 03 03063 'Paul A. Mobbs', Class 33/2 33202 and Class 50 50021 'Rodney'!

Summer Diesel Gala – with visiting Class 03 03063 'Paul A. Mobbs', Class 33/2 33202 and Class 50 50021 'Rodney'!
The heritage diesels take over the running of the Spa Valley Railway for three days this Summer as the popular gala, held every first weekend of August since 2003 (excluding 2020 for obvious reasons...) is back and this time year we're delighted to announce the first two visiting locomotives, a Slim Jim Crompton in the form of Class 33/2 33202 courtesy of Stewart Robinson and one of English Electrics most powerful locomotives, Class 50 50021 'Rodney' courtesy of PTG Tours!

Trains will operate on Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th August with late evening Real Ale & Cider trains (plus of course you can just travel if you wish) on both the Friday and Saturday evening, there will then be the return of the popular 'LoadEx' on Sunday 4th August where 50021 will lead all the mainline locomotives involved at this event from Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge and then lead the return trip back up the line.

Joining the event are Drewry 2591 'Southerham', Thomas Hill Vanguard 189c, Class 08 08922, Class 25 D7535, freshly painted into BR Blue Class 31/4 31430 'Sister Dora', Class 73 73140 and Class 207 DEMU 1317. Resident Class 33/0 33063 'R.J. Mitchell' is out of service having some much needed bodywork repairs undertaken and will return to service in October 2024.

Class 50 50021 'Rodney'
The British Rail Class 50 is a class of diesel locomotives designed to haul express passenger trains at 100 mph (160 km/h). Built by English Electric at the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willowsbetween 1967 and 1968, the Class 50s were initially on a 10-year lease from English Electric Leasing, and were employed hauling express passenger trains on the then non-electrified section of the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Scotland. Initially numbered D400–D449 and known as English Electric Type 4s, the locomotives were purchased outright by British Rail (BR) at the end of the lease and became Class 50 in the TOPS renumbering of 1973.

Once the electrification from Crewe to Glasgow was completed the locomotives were moved to the Great Western Main Line (GWML) out of Paddington to allow the retirement of most of the remaining diesel-hydraulic locomotives then in use. As trains on the GWML steadily moved to High Speed Train operation from 1976, the Class 50s moved to hauling trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St Davids, and also trains from London Paddington to Hereford and Worcester via Oxford until the majority of those trains too were taken over by IC125 operation. The class was steadily retired from service in the late 1980s and early 1990s as their services moved to operation by second-generation Class 159 DMUs.

50021 'Rodney' has been lovingly restored by Paul Spracklen and his dedicated team of volunteers along with classmate 50026 'Indomitable' over a period exceeding 20yrs has resulted in two wonderfully preserved diesels. 50021 becomes the third class 50 to traverse Spa Valley Railway metals, after 50019 in the 1990s was based at Eridge and 50026 visited in 2017 for our Summer Diesel Gala proving very popular. 

Class 33/2 33202 'Dennis G. Robinson'
The British Railway Class 33, also know as Type 3, is a class of diesel-electric locomotive that was built by Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company between 1960 - 1962, a total of 98 were produced, the Spa Valley Railway is home to 33063 and 33065, owned by the South East Locomotive Group.

The class was built to be able to easily work passenger trains in the summer and then freight in the winter, this was due to the class not being fitted with steam heating boilers. They were most commonly seen in the Southern region with them being allocated to either Eastleigh or Hither Green. BR started to slowly withdraw the class from service with the majority either being sold to industry, scrapped or private railway companies. As of the present day 29 locomotives are left out of the original 98 produced, with 24 being preserved at various heritage railways and 5 being owned by mainline charter operator West Coast Railways. 

33202 was released from Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon on 9th February 1962, originally as D6587, and allocated to Hither Green (73C). In July 1991 the locomotive was officially named " The Bruma Star". Over the course of its working life it was transferred to St Leonards and then back to Hither Green were it stayed until it was bought by Fragonset Railways in 2002. Whilst with Fragonset the locomotive undertook various mainline rail tours and freight workings, it was also named "Meteor" in November 2002. Upon the administration of Fragonset Railways in 2006, 33202 was eventually sold into preservation in February 2009 and is now owned by Stewart Robinson.

33202 has previously visited the Spa Valley Railway in 2014 and 2015 and is a very appropriate locomotive for the route as it was often seen on the Hastings Line back in its mainline days.

Class 03 03063 'Paul A. Mobbs'
The British Railway Class 03 is a diesel-mechanical locomotive that was built at either Swindon or Doncaster Works between 1957 and 1961, a total of 230 were produced. 

03063 was released from Doncaster Work on 14th July 1959 originally as D2063, under Pre-TOPS, and was allocated to the York North (50A). In the July of 1968 the locomotive was fitted with a dual braking system which allowed it to shunt/haul air fitted stock. In February 1974 it was renumbered 03063 under the then new TOPS system. Over the course of its life it was transferred to various depots including Bradford Hammerton Street & Hull Botanic Gardens where it was then withdrawn in November 1987. Upon withdrawal from BR the locomotive was then sold into preservation.

The locomotive was then bequeathed to the Mid Norfolk Railway in 2023 upon the passing of it's owner, the late Paul Mobbs. The locomotive has named "Paul A. Mobbs" on Saturday 25th May 2024 by the railways Chairman, James Oakley, in memory of it's previous owner. During the gala we anticipate 03063 to operate shuttle services along with Drewry 2591 'Southerham', Thomas Hill Vanguard 189c and Class 08 08922. 


There will be two sets of carriages operating throughout the event, plus our Class 207 DEMU 1317 and the Queen Mary Brake Van.

Set A: 5 car set, including bar car 'Kate'. Vacuum brake set. Coaches: 5037 – 25843 – 4999 – 9414 – 25843 – 4828
Set B: 4 car set, including the buffet car. Dual brake set. Coaches: 4946 – 21214 – 1864 – 4949

The evening trains will be operated by the following locomotives using Set A:
Friday 2nd August – Class 33/2 33202 Tunbridge Wells West end and Class 25 D7535 Eridge end.
Saturday 3rd August – Class 50 50021 Tunbridge Wells West end and Class 31/4 31430 and Class 73 73140 Eridge end.

Tunbridge Wells West

High Rocks



Evening Dining Trains – Day Rover ticket holders can just travel non-dining on these trains too but we do have combined dinner and rover tickets now available!

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 diesel locomotives and diesel fuel 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.

Book tickets

Fri 02 Aug 2024
Open Day Event departing from: Travel All Day, Any Train!
Sat 03 Aug 2024
Open Day Event departing from: Travel All Day, Any Train!
Sun 04 Aug 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.

If you want to book a combined Day Rover and Fish & Chip Supper ticket you must do so via this webpage here

Click here to view our refund, cancellation and alterations policy