TO MARK the start of the First World War, the West Somerset Railway is hiring the oldest of the two surviving ‘moguls’ for its Spring Steam Gala.

This year also marks 50 years since steam trains ceased to run on the former Great Western Railway line, which ran between Taunton and Barnstaple.

Some 342 ‘moguls’ were constructed, and the number 5322 will be appearing in the Spring Steam Gala on March 27-30.

The main theme of the event will reflect the operations of the railway system of North Devon and North Cornwall.

The 5322 was built in 1917 and was one of a batch of the class which was used in France during WW1 where it was used for hauling ammunition and hospital trains.

It returned to England in 1919, serving the GWR and British Railways until 1964.

In a further connection with the war, the Great Western ‘Toplight’ coach 3639 is at Williton awaiting restoration as part of the West Somerset Railway Trust’s “Heritage Carriages Project”.

This train was used in the ambulance trains which brought the wounded home from the Western Front.

For more information or to book tickets for the gala, call 01643-704996 or visit