Firstly, an apology. Here at gala control, there is precious little wi-fi bandwidth and uploading dozens of photos is going to be too much to ask of it, so this blog post will be a brief text only update. Between the day job and the GWSR, I won't be sleeping in my own bed for a few weeks now, so a full report from the gala may be some time in coming.
From the customer's point of view, hopefully everything is going pretty much to plan and so far the comments that I have heard from people in the vicinity of Toddington have been very positive indeed. As a bonus, the sun is shining in a way entirely out of keeping with a normal bank holiday weekend too, so much so that I am in danger of getting a tan.
From the gala committee's point of view, the build up has been far from straight forward. There are many things that need to be done behind the scenes to make a gala work. Everything happening on site is no accident, somebody somewhere has had to think about it, and make it happen. The most obvious thing to make happen is getting the locos on site and ready to run. Without going into details and apportioning blame anywhere (if for no other reason than it isn't entirely obvious to me exactly where any blame may lie), getting our locos on site has proved to be a challenge, in particular our star loco, Wells. The fact that the gala committee are greatly indebted to all of the staff and volunteers who have given up their time to make the gala happen goes without saying however without the superhuman efforts of a small number of people, the whole thing would have come off the rails.
We only had Wells on site at the last possible minute, arriving on our unloading road in the car park st Toddington at 22:30 last night. That it arrived with us at all is down to a crew from Allelys who pulled out all the stops to get it to us under extremely difficult circumstances. To my shame, I am afraid that I don't know their names, but they did a truly magnificent job. Getting the loco on site was just the start of it, from then on, a small team of people from the steam loco dept who weren't down to be operational crew on the Saturday started the process of reuniting Wells with its tender, filling the boiler with water, performing a mechanical fitness to run test, bringing her into steam and then finally this morning giving her a full steam test before allowing her out on the first train. Aside from the three owner's representatives (John, Jan and Mike), from the steam loco dept, Ian, Andy (two of them), Phil, and Dan did a fantastic job in getting her ready for the gala. I have almost certainly missed somebody, my apologies for that It's dedication like that, far above and beyond the call of duty that the makes the GWSR such a fantastic railway for both volunteers and visitors alike.
Normal blogging activity will be resumed as soon as time and internet connectivity allow, until then, do come along and enjoy the "Speed to the West" Cotswold Steam gala for yourself..