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 5786, 5542, 5526, 6412 and 1369 are expected to be in steam at the time (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 and 1450 from the Severn Valley (plus auto coach 178) are already confirmed as guest locos. 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!

Trains will run from approximately 10am until approximately 6pm on each day, plus all night on Saturday 6 into Sunday 7 April (see below).

Overnight Running

There will a rare night of all-night running on Saturday 6 April into Sunday 7 April.

As part of this there will be some good opportunities for night-time photography on the line (from public areas) and also on the shed, where, in the evening, supervised groups of photographers will be able to take photos of the engines from within the yard and running shed area. More details of this will be announced later.

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 are detailed below.


Tickets are available from our Ticket Website.

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

We are delighted to say that round trip tickets will be at the ‘normal’ price, and are currently on sale at the 2018 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, available later!

Round Trip 16.00 9.00 15.00 45.00
1-Day Rover 20.00 12.00 19.00 57.00
2-Day Rover 34.00 20.40 34.00
3-Day Rover 48.00 28.80 48.00
4-Day Rover 62.00 37.20 62.00
5+ Day Rover 76.00 45.60 76.00
Overnight ONLY * 16.00 9.00 15.00 43.00
Overnight Supplement * 8.00 5.00 8.00

* – 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:

  • Saturday (6 April) rover tickets are valid until 7pm on Saturday 6 April.
  • Sunday (7 April) rover tickets are valid from 7am Sunday 7 April.
  • Passengers wishing to ONLY travel on the overnight trains, from 7pm Saturday 6 April to 8am Sunday 7 April, may purchase an ‘overnight only’ ticket for £16 (£9 children).
  • A discount for holders of Saturday tickets, who may extend their ticket to be valid until 8am Sunday 7 April, by purchasing an ‘overnight supplement’ for a reduced rate of £8. (Please show BOTH your Saturday ticket and your overnight supplement to the ticket inspector.)
  • A discount for holders of Saturday tickets, who may extend their ticket to be valid from 7pm Saturday 6 April, by adding an ‘overnight supplement’ for a reduced rate of £8. (Please show BOTH your Sunday ticket and your overnight supplement to the ticket inspector.)
  • Passengers with a Saturday rover ticket AND a Sunday rover ticket (ie a two-day rover, or two one-day rovers, etc) may travel overnight at no extra cost, ie, from the start of the service on Saturday to the end of the service on Sunday. (Please show BOTH your Saturday and Sunday tickets to the ticket inspector.)

Tickets are available from our Ticket Website.


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. It is unlikely (at this stage) that we will be issuing lineside photo permits.

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.