Golden Anniversary Steam Gala 2019

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of the Ashburton Branch – and the SDR is planning a BIG celebration year!

There will be many activities and events going on throughout the year, with two key centrepiece events – a Steam Gala from 6-14 April, and a Diesel Gala from 19-21 July – with all the annual SDR favourites as well.

This event is in the very early stages of planning, and this page will be updated as the planning progresses with an up-to-date summary of the details. News, as it happens, is also published in our 2019 News.

The steam gala will run from 6 to 14 April 2019, and promises to be one of the biggest and best the SDR has ever put on! There will be a large number of engines and a busy and varied timetable. Extra activities and opportunities to get involved.

Our History:

The Ashburton Branch has a rich and varied history. We intend to show off as much of this as we possibly can over the week, particularly with a large display exhibition that we’ll be mounting at Buckfastleigh.


The home fleet of 5542, 5526, 6412 and 1369 are expected to be in steam (although at least one loco is expected to be out ‘on hire’ during the Steam Gala). The staff of the SDR have selected their wish list of favourites for potential visiting locos, and we are working hard to see what can be arranged.

We are delighted to say that 6430, from the Llangollen Railway, is already a confirmed guest loco. More guest locos will be shown here as they become confirmed.

Ashburton Branch Grand Reunion

A reunion for everyone who has worked on the Ashburton Branch, at any point in its life, for any of its owning/operating companies, is being held at Buckfastleigh on 13 April 2019. Read more…


There will be an intensive timetable on all days, with some unusual workings promised. It is planned that there will be some ‘theme days’, and we are still very much open to receiving suggestions as to your favourite themes that you would like to see on the programme!

Overnight Running

It is hoped that there will a rare night of all-night running. This will also give some good opportunities for night-time photography on the line and on the shed. (Please see the note about lineside photography below). Food will be available overnight to keep everyone’s energy up, and ticket options to allow visitors from either the day before or the day after to take part in the overnight trains. There are some administrative, operational and social hurdles to overcome in the planning of this, so watch this space for more info!


Tickets will be available to purchase both on-the-day, and online, including with an advanced booking discount. There also will be Gift Aid options available, that give you the opportunity to make your ticket even more efficient.

We are delighted to say that round trip tickets will be at their normal price. Rover tickets will also be available, including multi-day rovers. There will also be some supplements for brake van rides, footplate rides, drive-a-train, Breakfast on Board, and much more!

The link to the tickets website will be published here when tickets become available.


There will be a great many photo opportunities during the week, with many varied loco combinations and workings. There will also be some arranged shoots, including night-time shoots.

Line-side Photography permits are available from the SDR as normal, and permits issued on or before 15/5/18 may be used during this event (as long as they are still in-date on the date they are used). We would welcome a voluntary donation to help with the considerable costs of putting on this event from photographers who aren’t travelling on our trains. Thank you.

Permits issued from 16/5/18 onwards are not valid between 6 and 14 April 2019, and a special one-day permit may be obtained for £10, or a all-nine-days permit for £25. Please note that lineside-photo permit holders must attend, or have attended, an SDR PTS course. Full details

Exhibitors & Traders

Railway-related exhibitors and traders will be welcome to attend the gala. More details of the arrangements for this will be published in the near future.