'M7' for Minehead

The West Somerset Railway will host an interloper from the Southern Region at its Autumn Steam Gala on October 6-9, in the shape of ‘M7’ 0-4-4T No. 30053 from the Swanage Railway.

LSWR 0-4-4T ‘M7’ No. 30053 coasts into Swanage station with the midday service from Norden on September 1. SAM MIDDLETON

LSWR 0-4-4T ‘M7’ No. 30053 coasts into Swanage station with the midday service from Norden on September 1. SAM MIDDLETON

The Drummond-designed locomotive, the only operational survivor of its class, will be the sole representative from the Southern Region at the gala.

The line-up is dominated by Western Region designs, with ‘57XX’ 0-6-0PT No. 4612, ‘Small Prairie’ 2-6-2T No. 5542, ‘Manor’ No. 7828 Odney Manor and ‘Halls’ No. 6960 Raveningham Hall and No. 4936 Kinlet Hall due to attend. The latter will be making it final appearance in steam before being withdrawn for its ten-year overhaul.

Completing the roster of locomotives will be LMS ‘4F’ No. 44422 and ex-S&D ‘7F’ No. 53808. The addition of the ‘M7’ to the line-up will mark one of the rare occasions when the ‘M7’ has ventured away from its home at Swanage.

The class survived until 1964, working branch line trains, and although none were allocated to the Minehead branch, the 0-4-4Ts were a familiar sight in Barnstaple, Bude and Okehampton, among others.