The Watercress Line’s Spring Steam Gala will feature two guest engines set to thrill visitors.

This event, from April 26 to 28, is a chance to explore the heritage railway’s ten-mile line behind home-fleet and guest locomotives, with an extensive operating service running each day.

LMS Jubilee Class Leander no. 45690 will make her first appearance at a preserved line in Hampshire since restoration, with permission from the Beet family and operator West Coast Railways.

She was built in Crewe in 1936 and was used mainly on ‘second division’ express passenger services. She will soon be removed from service for an overhaul.

Battle of Britain Class Manston no. 34070 will also operate at the gala courtesy of Swanage Railway and Southern Locomotives Ltd.

Built in Brighton in 1947, the light Pacifics were designed by O V S Bulleid to work over the restricted secondary routes of the Southern Railway. Manston was named to honour the RAF airfield near Ramsgate in Kent which was involved in a 1940 air battle.

The home-fleet locomotives will include S15 Class 506, a fast freight engine, courtesy of Urie Locomotive Society; 41312 Ivatt from the Southern region; and 1788 Kilmersdon which worked at Kilmersdon Colliery near Radstock.

There will be society stands and displays at Ropley station and the gift shop at Alresford will be open. Refreshments will be available at the West Country Buffet at Alresford station and Ropley’s T-Junction.

Chief executive Rebecca Dalley said: “In addition to riding behind some wonderful locomotives along the beautiful South Downs National Park, visitors can explore railway exhibits and enjoy guided tours, which will give them a real insight into what it takes to maintain and run locomotives at The Watercress Line.”

For more information and to book tickets, including for the free guided tours, visit