Wings and Wheels Society.

GCR Winter Steam Gala 30-1-2022.

The Great Central Winter Gala is unique in being held in January each year and has grown in popularity year on year with steam fans looking to banish the winter blues. This year's star guests were Spam Can Bullied 34072 from the Swanage Railway and BR standard 4MT tank from Butterley. So a touch of Southern Region flavour but with a full supporting cast of GW, LMS and larger BR Standard from the home fleet, running in a timetable which boasted the “wind-cutter” coal train, a van train and suburban services as well as “expresses”. Well worth getting early on a Sunday for! W&W member Chris Roscoe kindly picked myself and W&W members Paul & Charlie Woolard up in his sporty orange Vauxhall, and we headed north up like clockwork up the M5 in gloriously unseasonable sunshine. Chris made good time and we were soon at Quorn to see two goods trains and a vintage DMU run past, before the first move of the day behind 34072 257 Squadron gleaming in the sunlight (complete with Bournemouth Belle headboard). Photography here was made easier by standing on traffic cones thoughtfully provided by Leicestershire Constabulary, they proved surprising sturdy Officer! Trains were fairly full with many understandably still wearing masks. After a round trip to Leicester, it was time for a spin behind freshly overhauled 78018 to Rothley followed by a quick refreshment stop at the GCR's famous “tin shed” real ale bar. We sampled Screaming Drama Queen (try ordering that with a straight face!) from Old Street Brewery, lovely. Unusually this year the timetable meant having to make some hard choices, and a spin behind visiting 4MT 80080 won out over the temptation of the non-stop express behind the Spam Can and BR Standard Five 73156. We had all seen this combination before at the Swanage Autumn 2019 Gala, and taking the BR Standard tank had the benefit of putting us in position at Rothley to see the Bullied on the van train which was something fresh. By this stage the sun had inevitably disappeared and we finished with another spin with BR 4MT 80080 before departing home. As ever a fantastic show, just like a 12 inch to the foot scale model railway; nowhere else gives you that steam age mainline vibe. My thanks to all the volunteers at the Great Central for making it happen in these uncertain times, and of course to Chris driving up there.

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to N Clarke.