Footplate Ride on the 31806

Whenever we travel back to the UK I always have a list of things to do and eat.  Once we land and make our way to Swanage we pop down to the water and I get my fish n chips.  Clears the cobwebs.  Nothing like the sea air to give you a second wind, or third or fourth, depending on how hard it is to stay awake.

Of course I always ask my FIL if it’s possible to have a footplate ride.  I make sure I pack clothes that can get dirty and trainers that are on their last legs.  Today I was able to have a ride on the 31806 and it was fabulous!  The weather was amazing, which is good as this one is an open cab.  Must be miserable in the rain but I didn’t have to worry about that!

Loco Yard had done a post about this particular loco a few years ago.  Originally it was a K class and rebuilt into a U class in 1928.  It’s home is now at the Swanage Railway.  I have to say I really enjoyed this loco.  I love how the little kids get so excited when they see it coming.  Well, and the big kids to.  I felt I should have worked on my royal wave with all the waving going on!

Here are some pictures and videos to share with you.

Next weekend the diesel gala is happening which makes my husband happy.  Fingers crossed the weather holds!

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.

Over The Hills We Go…

The weather was up in the air today but it looked like we would avoid major rain so we decided to take the kids on a hike on the ridge from Swanage to Corfe. It’s a lovely walk once you get up the steep bit and you can see for miles. We did miss the path for the Nine Barrows from the Iron Age so the kids only saw bits as we walked by unfortunately.


Dorset is such a gorgeous part of the world. You are hard pressed to find a bad walk. Purbeck is especially beautiful. You find all sorts of flowers on your journey.



As soon as we get to the top the views are breathtaking as we overlook the bay.


And we have to be mindful that we are walking through farmland and we encounter animals. This time we just saw some sheep but last time we had to make our way through a large herd of cows blocking a gate.


It helps to be mindful of the tiniest of creatures, even the bane of English gardens everywhere. This one was pointing towards my mother in law’s but the rate it was going it would take at least a year!


We had storms come through last night so it was still very gusty at the top. These trees are used to it though and present all sorts of bendy shapes.


Despite the clouds coming in and some misting we were able to enjoy the walk keeping in mind there was cream tea at the end. The castle was the beacon getting closer and closer.



After a several mile hike we rested at the base of Corfe Castle with the sparrows zipping in and out at high speed while enjoying the cream tea. Wish I could have gotten a picture of these birds but they were zooming about buzzing very close to us. I could feel the wings as they went by!



When asked why we would move back to England I would point to this. Why wouldn’t we?

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!

Swanage 5 2013 Swanage 1 2013

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.

Swanage 6 2013

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.

Swanage 2 2013 Swanage 3 2013 Swange 4 2013

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.  🙂

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.