Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Bluebell Steam Railway – East Sussex February 2014

Whilst we are down in Kent, we wanted to go to the Bluebell Railway.
I had been there just the once before, many years ago.

As it was Half-term we had the pleasure of our Granddaughter with us.
What a wet day! Fortunately, the comfort of a warm, steam heated compartment did the job!

Restored to 1920's, the Southern Region Horsted Keynes Station
The first loco of the two train timetable: U Class 2-6-0, Maunsell 1931 Southern Region loco

There are only 4 left in preservation now out of the 50 built. They were able to operate over most of the Southern Railway network, gaining the nickname “U -boats” after the submarine warfare of the First World War as they could go anywhere. With a British Railway power classification of 4P3F, they continued to operate with BR until 1966.

The Fireman gets up onto the coal
A view from the cab
Coming north into Horsted Keynes Station – see link
Note the signal gantry gives the Platform Number
Permanent Way work

It belted with rain for the run north with the U Class easily dealing with a gradient of 1 in 55 at it's steepest. We went through the new cutting at Imberhorne on the newish route to East Grinstead. It was interesting to see the depth of rubbish tip that had to be cut away.

A view of the 'rubbish tip' cutting – see clip of 1638 through the cutting
Arriving at East Grinstead
Signalling with white 'backplate'
Our second loco was No. 263, the South East and Chatham Railway's 1905 H Class.
We travelled in a 4 – coach train, again in the rain though the steam heating kept us warm.
No.263 at Sheffield Park Station

Grandma and Granddaughter enjoying the delights of steam travel
Father and Son 

Steam train enthusiasts! Last passengers!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Snowdrops Supreme!

Last Sunday was rather chilly though dry, with weak winter sunshine to show off the snowdrops! We visited a local (to our stay in Kent) garden, open as part of the National Garden Scheme.

Mere House was built in 1780 as the rectory of Mereworth Parish by the patron, 21st Lord Le Despencer, who was also Chancellor of the Exchequer and Postmaster General.

The house had been extended in the early 19th century and altered in 1876 to include the front porch – the architect's Assistant at the time was the celebrated novelist, Thomas Hardy.

Front entrance to Mere House, note the offset front with the north extension

The garden is some 6 acres, with ornamental trees, lake, woods and lawns. The openess of the garden has resulted in storm damage to trees and the kitchen glasshouses in the great storm of 1987 and in 1990. At this time of year, there were banks of snowdrops shining in the low afternoon sun.


We sat out for tea and cake – enjoying the fresh air!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Thomas aka Jessie – a Hunslet 0-6-0 1937 Loco

Last weekend, I was back up in Staffs to watch the rugby with my brother.
After the last minute disappointment of England being overhauled, we took off to North Wales on the Sunday. To the Llangollen Heritage Railway.

Purchasing a day rover gave us three full return journeys behind the day's loco.

Three coaches were comfortably headed up the initial 1 in 80 to Berwyn Station by the industrial Hunslet 0-6-0 Saddletank No.1837.
This 1937 loco worked at Eastmoors Steel Works, Cardiff before being withdrawn in 1965, into preservation. Eventually ending at Llangollen Railway and restored to working order in 2003.

No.1837 named 'Jessie' at Crewe Works Centre in 2005

Llangollen Ralway have 'modified' the Hunslet into the ever-popular Thomas the Tank Engine. We were told that 'Thomas' days are still a major fundraiser for the heritage railway even though 28% of takings are levied by the Thomas Franchise.

'Thomas' – minus saddle watertank, face and number – takes on water
The boiler back plate – there was a sticky left injector!
Heading west up the Berwyn Incline
A view down to the River Dee and the Chain Bridge Hotel
The picturesque Berwyn Station – see this link for Jessie pulling away up the 1 in 80
Entering the Berwyn Tunnel
We had the enjoyable experience of travelling in the guards coach and talking with the Guard – an ex BR Shrewsbury Freight Yard. The guard showed enthusiasm for his job!

Guard gives the green flag right of way! See this link for the real thing!

Homeward bound from Stafford Station - Siemens EMU