Golden Anniversary Steam Gala 2019

Golden Anniversary Steam Gala 2019

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of the Ashburton Branch. Our steam gala, celebrating this milestone, will run from 6 to 14 April 2019. There will be many activities and events going on throughout the week; it promises to be one of the best the SDR has ever put on! There will be a number of visiting engines and a busy and varied timetable.

Throughout the event there will be an exhibition at Buckfastleigh with, displays showcasing fifty years of steam trains on the South Devon Railway, a souvenir stand, a Real Ale Bar and, on certain days, free children’s activities.

Different themed days will provide opportunities to celebrate our railway, locomotives and history.

What's On

For the duration of the event, a marquee at Buckfastleigh will house displays celebrating 50 years of Preserved Steam on the South Devon Railway, a souvenir stand selling an assortment of “50th Anniversary” goodies, private locomotive group stands and provide a warm, undercover seating area. Light refreshments, including hot and cold drinks, will be available and a bar will be operating everyday except Monday.

Children’s activities will be available both weekends of the event including:

• Face painting, circus skills, balloon modelling, games, magic tricks and candy floss in the marquee at Buckfastleigh.
• An I Spy Trail with free gift for children upon completion.
• Our Miniature Railway, the Garden Railway and a Vintage Fair Ground will be open in the Gardens at Buckfastleigh.

Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th

Our opening weekend will feature a re-enactment of the first passenger train operated by the Dart Valley Railway which took place in April 1969. This will include the first operation of a four coach Auto Train since the early 1970s! In a South Devon Railway first, you will have the chance to travel our rails overnight with a special nocturnal time table whilst sampling an on-board evening meal or Full English Breakfast.

On Saturday evening we will be celebrating with musical entertainment from DJ Dave and Go Tell Alice – find out more Here

View our opening weekend Time Tables here.

Monday 8th – Friday 12th

Great Western and British Railways period branch line themes will set the scene for individual days. There will also be opportunities to drive a diesel locomotive hauling a goods train and ride on the footplate of a steam engine. For the professional or amateur photographer, you can enjoy one of our morning photography experiences.

On Wednesday 10th you can enjoy a freshly cooked lunch on the train.

View our Monday – Thursday Time Tables here.

View our Friday Time Tables here.

Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th

To close the event, we will celebrate the Inaugural Special of May 1969 where Dr Beeching officially re-opened the railway. All the locomotives will be operating an intensive timetable whilst there will be a grand reunion of staff and volunteers of the past 50 years!

View our Grand Finale Weekend Time Tables here.


Visiting Locomotives

We are delighted to have 6430 joining us from the Llangollen Railway.

6430 was purchased from John Cashmore Ltd and arrived at Buckfastleigh in the mid-1960s as a source of spare parts for 6412 and 6435.

6430 was later bought by Hugh Shipton from the Dart Valley Railway, as little more than a kit of parts. It spent some time undergoing restoration at Long Marston MOD depot, before moving on to Llangollen in 1996.

Richard Hoskin
9466 - Photo Sam Hooper

Joining 6430 will be 9466, appearing courtesy of Gwyneth Maude, the sister of the late Dennis Howells MBE who sadly passed away in August 2018.

Built in 1952, 9466’s first home depot was Worcester where it was used on local passenger and freight duties.

Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 No 1219 will be visiting for our 50th Anniversary celebrations between the 6th April and 14th April 2019. The locomotive is appearing courtesy of Ryan Pope, Andrew Barclay Restoration Group.

1219 will play an important part of our nine day gala as a station pilot at Buckfastleigh. You’ll be able to watch as 1219 will be shunting our trains ready for our other locomotives to take them down the line. On certain days 1219 will also haul a return Brake van special to Totnes and you’ll have the opportunity to drive this locomotive over a short distance of track.

Ryan Pope
Ollie Ridge
Great Western Railway 0-6-0 Pannier tank number 1501 will be joining our celebrations between the 6th and 14th April. The locomotive is appearing courtesy of the 1501 Pannier Tank Association and the Severn Valley Railway. This will be 1501’s first visit to the South Devon Railway and we are looking forward to meeting her.

Alongside the visiting locomotives will be our resident engines 5526 and 6412.

6412 is one of three members of the class to have been purchased for preservation and arrived at Buckfastleigh in the mid 1960s straight from service with the Western Region of British Railways. 6412 had the honour of hauling the first train to run on our line on re-opening day, 5th April 1969.

6412 and 4555 at Buckfastleigh in 1969 - Simon Hicks
Bernard Mills

5526 was built at Swindon in 1928. She spent almost her whole life in the west country having been shedded at St Blazey, Bodmin, Exeter, Plymouth Millbay, Laira and Truro, ending her main line days at Westbury in June 1962 when she was sold for scrap to Woodhams in Barry.

5526 was rescued from Barry scrapyard in 1985, going first to Swindon where restoration started, before being moved to Buckfastleigh where restoration was completed.


Tickets for our Golden Anniversary Gala are available from our Ticket Website.

Tickets will be available to purchase both on-the-day and are already available to purchase online.

There will also be some supplements for brake van rides, footplate rides, drive-a-train, Breakfast on Board, and much more, available later!

Round Trip16.009.0045.00
1-Day Rover20.0012.00
2-Day Rover34.0020.40
3-Day Rover48.0028.80
4-Day Rover62.0037.20
5+ Day Rover76.0045.60

* – See notes about overnight-running below.

  • Joint tickets with Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and/or Otters & Butterflies available at normal prices. Valid for one round trip on the train.
  • Children under 3 travel free.
  • Members’ and shareholders’ reduced-rate tickets are available for purchase by telephone (01364 644 370) or on the day. Details will be circulated internally.
  • HRA passes, BR Priv, SDR Free Travel Vouchers NOT valid on this event.
  • Working members of other heritage railways with which we have reciprocal travel arrangements pay the SDR members’ fare.

The above notes apply to the Steam Gala event only. For all other times, please see our normal fares.

Rover tickets are valid for unlimited travel on the day to which they apply (see special restrictions regarding overnight running).

Overnight Running, Saturday 6 into Sunday 7 April –

If you are attending the overnight running you will need to be in possession of a Saturday Rover until 23.59 and a Sunday Rover from 00.00. To avoid disturbing passengers during the night, Rover tickets for both Saturday and Sunday may be checked together from 21.00 on Saturday 6th.

Tickets are available from our Ticket Website.

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…

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.

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