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 It was the first to be withdrawn in 1964.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. 😊

Chasing The Tornado

If there is one thing we’ve learned on our visit is that prior to booking flights we should check the Swanage Railways calendar for events. If we had we’d have seen the scheduled gala this weekend celebrating 35 years. We leave on Thursday. One of the highlights will be the Tornado 60163 which is a A1 Peppercorn 4-6-2. Fortunately it came in last night and we chased it from Corfe Castle to Swanage. Hell of a date night!

This is a brilliant piece of workmanship. The last of the original Peppercorns was built in 1949. Unfortunately all 49 were scrapped by 1966. The Tornado was completed by 2008 at Darlington’s Works. It may be familiar to some from Top Gear when it featured in a race. Only time I’ve ever rooted for Clarkson!

My husband and I found out when the train was leaving Norden and went early to Corfe Castle to scope out a good spot for pictures. We tried a couple of hills but the viewing was very narrow so we decided on a pasture that gave us nearly a 180 degree view. Which is important because it is 70 feet long plus you have the diesel bringing it in and the support coach. It didn’t come in on it’s own as it had to come in backwards. The turntable in Swanage isn’t big enough.

We had the field to ourselves as it seemed people were scared of the cows. There was a couple standing on the other side of the fence but they wouldn’t come in. They were by the fence and the cows were trying to untie his shoelaces. I was a bit surprised how friendly the cows were! We got licked by some very rough tongues.


Finally we heard them coming. We were positioned just before the viaduct.




We popped back in the car and headed to Swanage but realised we got ahead of it so we parked at Harmon’s Cross and dashed to the bridge to catch it as it was leaving the station.



Then we dashed off to Swanage in hopes we’d get there in time. Alas, we got stuck behind a guy on a bicycle. So the Tornado was waiting for us when we arrived.


There was a decent crowd at this point. The diesel backed off to give the Tornado room to get round the support coach and then back the coach and itself into a siding. This was done on both sides of the bridge so a pack of us were running back and forth to get photos.




Then it made a terrific racket clearing out the water. It was quite something!


And for those who like diesel this is a 56303 for the DCR. It was originally numbered 56125 and was built in Crewe in 1983. Between 1999 and 2006 it sat waiting to be scrapped but it was renumbered and put back in service. My husband noted that it was strange to see the coach, diesel, and the Tornado with the Tornado being the youngest and the coach being the oldest as it dates from the late 1950’s.

It was such a fun night and quite the sight to see.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

Finding the Cure for Jet Lag….

My husband and I are on the first part of our holiday.  We’ve been so excited to get going.  We’re spending a few days in Swanage before heading to our cruise round the Med.  We arrived yesterday doing all we could to keep our eyes open.   It was a stressful flight due to 3 sisters around us and acting out the parts of the movie “The Mean Girls” and making us their target.  It was a full booked flight but the crew on Virgin Atlantic did the best they could for us and gave us a lovely bottle of champagne.  So cheers for that!

We really do the planes trains and automobiles for this trip.  It was car, bus, plane, bus, train, car and then we arrived.  🙂  As I can’t sleep on the plane I was up about 36 hours.  So we had to keep busy yesterday.  Fortunately it was a gorgeous day.  Full sun though brisk.  First stop was getting fish n chips by the water.   It was fabulous!

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The seagulls were begging.  One would go up to people and yell at them.  Pushy to say the least!  You can just see the Isle of Wight in the distance.

On the trip from Woking to Wareham we struggled to keep awake but I did manage to be awake at the Bournemouth station.  It’s a neat little station.

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I’m into steam but fortunately old beautiful stations still exist!

After our lunch we headed over to the Swanage Railway.  They were having a mini event for a local group so we were able to get some great photos of the Manston that they were running for the group.

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It was raining today so we weren’t able to be outside.  I was hoping to pop up to Corfe Castle for a cream tea outside but not a good day for it!  Tomorrow we’re near Southampton for a train do that is raising money for motor neuron diseases.  It’s at the Northam Traincare Facility in Southampton.  Should be fun but we’ll have to layer up due to the rain!  And the M7 will be there.  🙂

Diesel Gala in Swanage

I like trains.  In the train world that comes across as a bit strange but I find them fascinating.  I think because I love machines.  I love steam trains and my husband is into D & Es.  So a year ago this weekend we headed to Swanage to see my in-laws and to attend the Diesel Gala.  It is happening again this weekend and I hope it is as successful as it was last year as it was a lot of fun.  Swanage Diesel Gala.

The weather was perfect and they had a wonderful beer festival at Harmon’s Cross so there was a great festive feel to the whole weekend.  In Swanage there is a great spot on the bridge to take pictures of all the action coming and going.

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The next day was gorgeous so we hiked to Corfe Castle and saw the trains rumble past.

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And of course we had to stop at Harmon’s Cross to sample the local beers and ciders.

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And lucky for me they still kept the steam trains running.  🙂  They had a bit of fun and added the D to the number for the occasion.

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Personally, I like to be where all the fun is so I grab a footplate ride when I can.  My FIL is the driver on this trip.  🙂  It’s the best seat in the house!

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They have the steam gala in September and some day I hope to go to that one.  That would be amazing.