A day out with Miles

Another day out on a preserved railway.  Allan reports:

Sunday 20th of May was the last day of the 1940’s weekend at the Kent & East Sussex Railway.  It was an over cast morning but the sun came through about midday. Burnt the low cloud and mist off, to make a wonderful sunny afternoon.

We were looking forward to the planned flight of a Spitfire over the railway at three o’clock.  There were plenty of military personnel about. With a small section of vehicles both at Tenterden & Bodiam.

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Engine driver Phil – PS

As a PS to our day on the Mid Hants Railway, here are the photos that Phil sent me.  More evidence that I was there!

And an interesting article on the iconic HST 125 units.  I rather liked the comments:

The InterCity 125 was made of very robust moulded plastic, not sheet metal. This was groundbreaking. Also, with conventional trains, coaches were pulled or pushed by a locomotive – but our train would have a power car at each end, a clever piece of engineering. One day, I asked the chief engineer: “What do the buffers do?” He pointed out that because our engine car would never be pushing anything, it didn’t need them. So we took them off, and that became part of the iconic look. The distinctive yellow nose was to warn people working on the track that this bloody great thing was coming.


It was often said that the British Rail sandwich was curly. It wasn’t. It was soggy and sweaty – because it came wrapped in 1960s clingfilm. We put them in boxes. Suddenly you could be travelling at 125mph on this fantastically designed train – and have a decent meal. It was wonderful.

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Engine driver Phil #3

Here we go again.  Back at Arlesford and running around.  Phil has signed his life away on a piece of paper to say that the Mid Hants Railway Ltd is not responsible for anything that happens to him whilst he’s on the footplate.  I’d be more concerned for the engine….

And he’s on the footplate, with a classy wave that wouldn’t look out of place at a Royal Wedding (note the topical reference.)

I settled down in the Maunsell coach to watch the world go by again.  This time around I took a few pictures as we went through Ropley, site of the locomotive sheds and works.  And some impressive topiary.

Back at Alton, Phil ran around with the locomotive, and the Royal Wave was still in evidence….

I’m please to report that the 9F was still fully operational after Phil’s trip on the footplate.  He was allowed to operate the whistle, so the years of practice in running trains at ESNG came into their own.  He also reported that the trip, even at 25 MPH, was rather bouncy and very hot.  And the fireman was shovelling coal for most of the time, the 9F being a hungry beast.

Before returning from Alton to Arlesford for the last time, a quick pit stop in the gents revealed this sign.  I was interested to see that it said Waterloo 1921, when the Southern Railway came into being, I thought, in 1923.  But I was amazed that the Southern had its own gender issues nearly a century ago….

It was an excellent day out.  Lovely weather, excellent trains, and Phil had a day to remember.  Even a crawl around the M25 on the way home couldn’t spoil that.

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Engine driver Phil #2

Meanwhile, back at Arlesford, 9F 92212 is running round….

This view from the footbridge shows the details of a typical Southern lattice post signal.  A pig to build in N – I once managed (most) of a rather simpler rail built post in OO.

Just waiting for the signal….

Hurry up Phil, you’ll miss the 1pm to Alton….

The coach behind the engine was reserved for a lunch party, so we chose the oldest coach in the train – I think it is a 1930’s Maunsell saloon.  The seats were like that old sofa at home.  Easy to drop into, but with tired springs and more difficult to get up!

Arriving at Alton, there is an immediate contrast with the Southwest (or whatever they’re called now) EMU on the opposite platform.  The footbridge in the background is the only remaining LSWR standard wooden footbridge in daily use.

I remember these signs on the roads through Hampshire, going on holiday as a kid.  All advertising Strong’s Brewery, but not with such good pictures.

Running round at Alton.  Talking to the platform staff, I found that the signal box was unmanned on quiet days such as this with one engine in steam, and with no interchange with Network Rail.  The run round is automatic, the points being changed after the locomotive is detected by a track circuit.  Not even the ‘big’ railways do this.

Beauty and the beast?  Which is which maybe depends on your era of interest!

Small world department – I was greeted by a gentleman on the platform, and realised that it was Neil Grace who has traded at a number of our shows.  He was doing the proud grandad act – a good excuse for a day out on the railway.

92212 is obviously well cared for, with a lovely oily sheen on the black paintwork.

Though I wasn’t getting a footplate ride (strictly one person, one way), I was delighted to be invited up to have a look inside the 9F’s cab.  There’s a lot of room up there, and a decent roof, compared with older locomotives.  But it’s not much more comfortable.  I think the last time that I was on the footplate of a steam locomotive was 1972 at Barry scrapyard – though my EMU cab ride in Hong Kong is another story.

And so back to Arlesford – ready for Phil’s big moment on the footplate.  More next time.

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Engine driver Phil #1

Phil of ESNG fame recently had a significant birthday (a large number with a ‘0’ – just the one – on the end) and for a present his family bought him a footplate ride on the Mid Hants Railway, the Watercress Line.  I was delighted, and a little privileged, to be asked to chauffeur him for the day.  Let’s face it though, I’ll do almost anything for a free train ride and a free lunch.

So, Thursday 17 May saw us driving down to Arlesford from Horley, and despite some difficulty in parking – it was market day and there was a big funeral on at the church near the station – we were soon pottering around a rather quiet Arlesford station.  I was impressed by the careful conversion of the goods shed into a shop, meeting room and rest rooms.

The station was very quiet, the first train of the day having departed, and apart from a few coaches and an Southern Region DEMU, the only thing moving was an O8 and Southern Railway CCT.  This had to move out of the run-round before the train returned from Alton.

We wandered along to the signal box, and Phil invited himself in.  So I did likewise.  Although it was off-season and mid-week, I was most impressed by the friendly Mid Hants staff, and how quick they were to spend time with you, explain things, and even invite you to have a closer look.

Probably a typical small signal box, no doubt with a few Southern Railway (or even LSWR) details.  It always interests me how a simple track layout accumulates so many levers for points, signals, and facing point locks (the blue ones).  But the signals do go all the way up to the end of section approaching Ropley, next station up the line.

And just to prove that I was actually there…. Inspecting the block token instrument.

We retreated to the station buffet for an early lunch – on my part the old standby of ham, eggs and chips (and very good it was too) – and failed to see the train come in from Alton.  The locomotive on the front, and our locomotive for the day, was a BR 9F 2-10-0.  This monster was a bit of overkill for the Mid Hants, but a 9F with a passenger train was reminiscent of the final days of the Somerset & Dorset Railway.  This magnificent machine was built in 1959, and worked for less than 10 years before the end of steam on BR.

Uncoupling the coaches – mainly BR Mk 1 carriages.  In some ways these standard carriages are as much as a design classic as the HST125 units currently celebrating 40 years of use.  Mk 1’s have been around for over 60 years, now, and are still a mainstay of the preservation movement.

Running around the train, and that’s where we’ll leave things today.

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ESNG meeting – 16 May 2018

After Sunday’s monster N-mod layout, and lots of members, Wednesday was rather more restrained.  But we still got trains running….

It was Terrier night, with my British Railways version (plus new Dapol Maunsell brake-composite.)

Derek’s ‘Bodiam’….

And Derek’s ‘Earlswood’.

Simon was running a PA-PB-PA set with a train of non-passenger coaching stock and other cars.

And last but not least, Chris’ EMU in ‘Jaffa Cake’ livery.  Surely one of the best liveries to grace modern rolling stock, but all too short-lived?

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Brian in Germany

A couple more videos from Brian, who writes….

Dear All,

Just thought I’d share a couple of the most interesting aspects of my recent trip to the Dampfspektakel in Trier Germany.

As part of a RailTrail group we travelled on one of the positioning trains from Cologne to Trier, passing some massive intermodal yards. I’ve never seen anything on that scale:

Then there was a visit to the Dampflok Museum at Hermeskeil, which if you haven’t seen it can perhaps be compared to Barry scrapyard:

I hope you enjoy watching these.



And here’s the programme (in German)

Dampfspektakel Programme

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