All Quiet on the Railway

There are times where it’s who you know comes into play. I’ve mentioned before my father in law is very involved with the Swanage Railway and is one of the volunteer drivers. He kindly offered to take us down first thing in the morning so we could have a behind the scenes look.

The alarm was set for 5.30 in the morning and I got on my trousers that I bought that were cheap and I could get dirty. Off we headed down on the quiet Sunday morning. We wanted to get there before they started getting the Eddystone ready to go.


All was quiet at that time of morning and we were the first to arrive.


If the locomotive is warm as the Eddystone was from the night before it takes a good 3 hours to bring it up to temperature. You could do it faster but there are different types of metal that expand at different rates and if you do it too fast you will stress the locomotive. If it is started from cold you need at least 8 hours, usually much longer. They will start them on Thursday if running on weekends.


The Eddystone was originally numbered 21C128 and was built at Brighton Works and completed in April 1946. It was a Bulleid light pacific that looked like the Manston still does.


In 1958 it was rebuilt to it’s current form. This helped correct issues with materials used as well as lubrication issues. It was the first to be withdrawn in 1964. After 22 years of sitting quiet and then swapping owners it completed the last rebuild in 2003 in Swanage and has been running here every since. It will go for another rebuild next month.

We got the chance to go under the locomotive and poke about. It’s fascinating to see all the parts that make up the machine.


We did go on the footplate in hopes to watch the firing process. You can see the small flame in the bottom left of the opening. But too many cooks in the kitchen so we left them to it.


The M7 30053 which is a 0-4-4-T and built in 1905 is special to us as my father in law, along with a few others, have worked tirelessly to bring it back to the UK from Steamtown, USA and restore it. It had been outside for 20 years and needed a lot of work. It took from 1987 to 1992 to get it back up and running again at Swanage Railway. Back in 2009 I got to help paint it to get it ready for the Eastleigh Centenary. That was quite something to see.


We got a look at the smoke box of the M7. You can see all the tubes behind the blast pipe. The blast pipe is the exhaust of the steam and makes the chug chug sounds. As the steam puffs up and out of the blast pipe is creates a vacuum which draws the hot air from the firebox through the boiler and heats the water creating the steam.


There is a cat that adopted the railway and goes by Ringwood there. She’s very friendly and loves hanging about and curling up on laps when there is paperwork to be done. Though apparently the owner asked that the cat be kept away as she is tired of the black footprints. There is an easy solution to that! Keep her home. But I think Ringwood would be missed.


In the shed is the 80104 in the middle of being rebuilt. The boiler is out for work. To be inspected and certified requires a lot of work. In order for an inspector to get in to inspect all the tubes have to be removed.


Even though it is a lot of work I can see why the volunteers are drawn to this work. Especially in the quiet of the morning.


It was a real treat despite the early start to the morning. We went on to do other things with the railway that morning which will be my next post. 😊

Trains For A Cure…

We really lucked out with the weather today.  Forecast said rain all day and what we ended up with was bright sun.  Will not argue with that at all!  We took the train to Southampton for Sieman’s train day to celebrate 10 years and to raise money for MND.  It was a great turnout and a lot of fun to see how the modern trains work.  I thought it was great they had some steam as well.  The M7 was doing runs to raise money for the charity and the queue was long the entire time.

Trains 1 2013 Trains 2 2013

They had the depot open so we could walk round to see where they repaired and built the trains for the Southwest line.

Trains 3 2013

The cool bit was they would walk you through under the train so we could see the workings underneath.  Here you can see the sand nozzle to prevent slippage in cold weather as well as autumn with wet leaves on the track.

Trains 4 2013

Once we’d been round and seen all the workings we headed back on the train and stopped at Corfe Castle for some cream tea.  We usually go to the National Trust Tea Room as they have a lovely garden overlooking the castle.  It’s such a lovely spot to sit and sip tea.

Trains 5 2013 Trains 6 2013 Trains 7 2013

Another wonderful day puttering about.   Tomorrow we embark on our cruise!  We are very excited to say the least.  🙂

Steam Gala at Swanage

Back in May I talked about the Diesel Gala at the Swanage Railway.  This weekend it’s the Steam’s turn.  I look forward to when I can actually go!  But with it being in September and the kids are back at school it is hard to schedule that but it’s on my list.  There is something about the sound of steam trains that I really love.  I get all excited when I see one.  It is the sound of adventure and history.  And old Agatha Christie novels.  I’d love to do the Orient Express, without the murder of course.  🙂

Back in 2009 I got a chance to be up close and personal with these machines and I was completely hooked.  I’ve mentioned before my FIL drives them in Swanage.  I’ve been lucky to have a couple of footplate rides and to be behind the scenes.


Even better, I got to help paint one!  The M7 was part of the exhibits at the Eastleigh show and it needed to be painted beforehand so all hands on deck.  I was all chuffed until I saw I missed a couple of spots when I was behind it at Eastleigh.  Shiny wet black paint hides a multitude of sins until it dries.  Sigh.  But it was really fun being part of the process.  They had it at the show going back and forth a bit for people to ride in.


Now they did give an option for people to pay £5 to get in early to take pictures without pesky (me) people getting in the way.  I was amazed at how many people didn’t do that!  And boy were they cranky!  But my soon to be husband was showing me how things worked and what the different configurations meant.  And as I love to know how things work I had a lot of questions.  Oh dear.  They even had some really old steam engines on display which were quite fascinating.


I was excited about having my first footplate ride back in Swanage.  The teams that drive the steam trains are so impressive.  There are years of working your way up to being fireman then driver and the knowledge is very extensive.  Being a fireman isn’t just shoveling the coal in.  You have to know how to read the fire.


And all the dials and wheels aren’t for show.  The slightest adjustment can mean a lot.  When the Mallard set the record it must have been something else to be on the footplate.  You are limited on the Swanage line to how fast you can go and I felt like I was flying!  We were going a fraction of what the Mallard went.  The fireman must have been ready to just fall over at the end.


Of course the ride had to come to an end.  I wanted to go again but you mustn’t be greedy.  🙂  I did get to have my picture taken for prosperity.


If you haven’t been to Swanage it is well worth the visit.  Here is the information for the Steam Gala.