Winter Steam Gala

Friday 29th December, Saturday 30th December and Sunday 31st December 2023

The South Devon Railway Winter Steam gala returns for this festive period, with not one but two visiting steam locomotives in use, plus a locomotive from the South Devon Railway home fleet. Trains will operate to an intensive timetable, giving plenty of opportunity to travel behind these heritage locomotives.

The middle of winter is a great time to travel on our Great Western branchline, as the lack of greenery on the trees allows for some stunning views of the river and hills as the train meanders down the valley of the river Dart, travelling between Buckfastleigh and Totnes. Our trains are also cosy and warm, being heated by steam from the locomotive hauling your train.

Our buffet carriage will be serving hot and cold drinks, light refreshments and snacks (including mince pies!) on some services.

Our standard fares apply for this event, making it even better value!

There is a large free car park at our Buckfastleigh station, and our station at Totnes Riverside is a 450-metre walk from Totnes National Rail station, which has paid parking and rail and bus links. See the How to Find Us page for more details.

Locomotives in Use

Visiting thanks to our friends at the Bodmin Railway and the Waterman Railway Heritage Trust, this event sees the first visit to the South Devon Railway of GWR 4575 Class “Prairie” No. 5553, appearing in BR Black livery.

5553 was built at Swindon in 1928 and was initially based at Bristol Bath Road depot, before moving around various depots in British Railways days, finishing at St Blazey depot (near Par in Cornwall) where it was withdrawn and sold to Woodham Brothers for scrap in 1961.

It was the last locomotive to leave Barry scrapyard in 1990, holding the record for being the locomotive that spent the longest time there, and following a comprehensive overhaul steamed for the first time in preservation in 2002.

5553 will make a great pairing with our other visiting locomotive, No. 7820 “Dinmore Manor” which is also in BR Black livery. Both locomotives worked on the iconic Cambrian railway in Wales during their working life, and we look forward to seeing the pair work together on the SDR, including a double-header each day.

Photo courtesy of Bodmin Railway.

British Railways built 78xx Class locomotive No. 7820 Dinmore Manor makes a return visit to the SDR, courtesy of owning group Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd and home-railway, the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway.

After being in use on our Polar Express services, Dinmore Manor will have a final 3 days operating on the SDR (in original guise without cow-catcher and bell!) over our Winter Steam Gala. A very popular locomotive, this is a rare chance to ride behind the engine on normal services on the SDR.

The first Manor entered service in 1938, and the design proved successful with 20 of the locomotives being in service by 1939. A further batch of locomotives was delayed due to the war effort, however British Railways were allowed to order another 10 in 1950, and Dinmore Manor was the first of those built for British Railways, being completed in November 1950.

Photo copyright R. Sherwood 2021

GWR 64xx Class Pannier Tank No. 6412 is a popular stalwart of SDR services. It was the first locomotive to work passenger trains on the railway in preservation during Dart Valley days, before being sold to the West Somerset Railway in 1976. The South Devon Railway purchased the locomotive back in 2009, with it being restored to steam in 2015.

The locomotive is now into the final year of its current boiler ticket and will stop for overhaul at the end of the 2024 season, so this will be one of its last gala appearances for a while.

6412 is a firm favourite on the SDR and will complement the two visiting locomotives, including working a prototypical “Auto” train with recently repainted Auto carriage No. 233. 


Trains marked with a  have a buffet on board serving hot and cold drinks and light refreshments, and also contain wheelchair accessible seating.

The working timetable, with details of locomotive and carriage allocations, is available to download for those who would like further information – CLICK HERE.


Our standard fares (shown opposite) are valid on all days of our festive services, including the Winter Steam Gala. Please note that return tickets offer travel for one return journey, whereas Ranger tickets offer unlimited travel all day. Single fares are also available.

The usual membership and shareholder discounts (HRA/SDRA/PRIV) are available on return fares for this period (when purchased from our booking offices). No discounts are offered on Ranger tickets.

Our Ranger tickets offer the best value for this event, with unlimited travel all day on all SDR services, allowing you to travel behind a variety of locomotives and make the most of our intensive timetable.

Fare type
Child (3-15)£16
Child (0-2)Free
Senior Citizen£22
Family Super Saver Bundle (1 adult & 2 chuldren)£50
Family Super Saver Bundle (2 adults & 2 children)£69
Disabled / Carer£11.50