The Dean Forest Railway is all set for a massive double-header this year, most notably with a two-week festival this month to mark two significant events.
This year marks the opening of the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Company 200 years ago. The railway was authorised by George III under an Act of Parliament in 1809 and the original tramroad began its working life in 1810. The railway was originally planned to have eight branches and eventually connected with the Severn Railway Bridge crossing the River Severn to Sharpness. Passenger trains ceased north of Lydney Town in 1929 and the DFR began running to Parkend again in 2006.
The other significant event happened 40 years ago with the founding of the Dean Forest Railway Preservation Society, formed in 1970. The Society has accomplished much in that time and it seemed fitting to celebrate the two events with a special festival fortnight.
Over a two-week period from Saturday, June 19 to Sunday, July 4, the Dean Forest Railway will hold a festival period including a gala weekend on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27. A big draw will be the National Railway Museum’s iconic locomotive 3440 City of Truro, believed to have been the first to have reached100 mph, which will feature on all running days over the festival and gala period.
The full festival schedule is as follows: Saturday, June 19; Sunday, June 20; Saturday, July and Sunday, July 4 – two steam locomotives operating (Mike Little’s 1450 plus auto coach on July 4).
Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27 – gala weekend with 3440 plus all available locomotives running. Intensive service with double-heading and demonstration goods.
Midweek running will feature on Wednesday, June 23; Thursday, June 24; Wednesday, June 30 and Thursday, July 1 with City of Truro running in conjunction with one of the DFR-based main-line diesels.
The railway has a large free car park, refreshment facilities and access to its award-winning museum, featuring exhibits on the Severn and Wye Railway and the Severn Railway Bridge.