I had heard about this heritage rail system a few months back, in fact we even paused at the one station late one afternoon, but that was as far as it got. But yesterday after work, we made a quick trip out to the line for some quick photography.
I am not in a position to explain the history of the line, I will leave that to the website, suffice to say, it was not a waste of a journey at all. They were having Thomas The Tank Engine trips, and we arrived at the tail end of the day as people and locomotives were leaving.
My first wow moment came when we arrived. The train was in Alresford station, and in front was the famous "Tornado". I had been in the UK in 2008 when she was unveiled and I was really happy to see her up close and personal. She can be described as LNER Peppercorn class A1
In my mind I could not help but compare her to our main line steam engines in South Africa, and she seems smaller, lacking the immense bulk of a 15F or 25NC.
Departure was almost immediate, tender first to Ropley and beyond. But, the train was actually being pulled and pushed at the same time as there was a diesel on the other end.
I am not really a fan of diesel locomotives, but this style of diesel was unknown in South Africa, ours all looked like scaled down American locos. She is class 37-901 "Mirrless Pioneer", and is quite a handsome beastie.
The train departed, leaving us still at Alresford which was rapidly depopulating.
We visited the signal cabin to have a look at the frame there, and talk to the really friendly staff on duty. There was one more train due to arrive from Ropley, and we would wait her out.
The station and its platforms and buildings are really a time capsule of a day long gone by. There is no chrome and glass here, it is the way railways used to be in the UK many years ago. The green shunting diesel is a Class 08, of which there are quite a number still in operation.
|Even the posters are authentic.|
|As is the luggage. No wheelie bags here.|
And then the train was coming around the bend. I was expecting Tornado to be at the end of the train, but it was a totally different steam engine.
What a great surprise that was! I do not know much about British steam, but this is an original. She is the Schools Class 925 "Cheltenham". They were built in the 1930's and there seem to be at least 3 survivors of the class.
She is not really a big steam engine at all, and definitely from a different era altogether. She would now be coupled onto the end of the Mirrlees Pioneer and the pair would then head off to Ropley where they would be bedded down for the night. Our intention was to head to Ropley too, and take a look at the infrastructure there.
Last few pics and we were on our way. You can view some video of this portion of the visit at my YouTube Channel. We then continue our exploration onwards, heading towards Ropley