Warship D832 Onslaught

I am a very lucky woman.  I have a husband that supports me 100% and takes amazing care of me.  This past year has been very hard with issues with my family and my health.  He never wavered and really had to do more than his fair share while I worked to get healthy again.  Plus he works crazy hours.  I wanted to give him a treat that would make him smile.  Since I am horrible at winning any lottery ticket I thought something train related would do the trick.

My husband is a fan of the Warship class of diesels and luckily one was going to be at the Swanage Railway Diesel Gala.  I asked my MIL if there was a possibility of setting up a driver’s experience but as she rightly pointed out, that wasn’t an option for safety reasons.  I’m sure the passengers would prefer experienced drivers!

But the option of a cab ride was a go as long as everyone was ok with it.  As the drivers were staying with us, that part was easy and as my FIL works with the railway and we know a few people that was taken care of as well.  I can’t lie, I was excited to get this set up.  Then when I found out I could have a cab ride as well, that was just a bonus!  My husband went first then I got to have my ride.

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I had some videos but they are too large.  Wordpress recommends I upgrade to Premium.  Those of you who have upgraded, do you recommend?  And have they improved importing your followers to the new upgraded site?

Both of us enjoyed the cab ride very much.  Everyone was such a great help and so generous with their time.  It was a fabulous gala.


Quite the Diesel Show in Swanage

The main reason for the timing of our trip to England was the springtime Diesel Gala at Swanage Railway.  Obviously we were there for friends and family but if we can get our train fix than all the better!

We had the perfect weather for this trip and it really made the gala shine.  A few locos trickled at the beginning of the week but several came in as a convoy on the Wednesday before the gala.  My husband and I have fun “racing” the convoy from Corfe Castle to Swanage.

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Because they need to come down when the rails aren’t busy we don’t get a lot of light for the display but it was still loads of fun.  It is so impressive the amount of work the volunteers put into this.  There is quite a lot of logistics to wrangle.  We stayed in Swanage well after dark watching them shunting the locos round to get them staged for the first day.

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We bought a three day pass for this so we just rode the rails so to speak enjoying all the different locos and watching the locos changing out at Norden.

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I had been noticing people perched up on the hill at the castle in Corfe taking pictures.  When I say perched, I mean just that.  It’s almost like a cliff!  I can’t imagine having to storm the castle with armor, shields, and weapons.  It seems like an impossible task to me!  But it does give you the perfect spot to watch the locos go over the viaduct.

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Still need to get over there for a Steam Gala but this was a lot of fun.  The vibe was great and it was just what we needed to have a blast.  A huge success all round.  🙂


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!

Where Would We Be Without The Volunteers?

I think the railways would be in a sad state if not for the volunteers. To think of all the track BR ripped up to be left to overgrow. If it was left at that there would be some dismal areas. Thank goodness volunteers filled the void to create preservation railways. And it was done despite BR’s stubbornness. For example when it came time to rip up the Swanage line a group offered to buy the line if they left the track. At first BR said sure for £125k which is a lot of money today never mind in the 70’s. Money was being raised when they changed their mind and took up all the track. It became all overgrown until money could be raised and BR would agree to sell the land to Dorset County Council. The railway leases from the council.

This weekend the railway is celebrating 35 years. It was such an awful lot of work clearing the line, relaying all the track, bringing in coaches and locomotives, rebuilding them, then getting people to come. And this happens all over the UK.

As a last bit of behind the scenes I got to go up the line to where they were salvaging parts to use in the rebuilding of a coach. There is such a lot of coaches and such, more than can be possibly saved, so for those that can’t be rebuilt they salvage what they can. The logistics of storing this stuff is mind boggling.

We were picked up in 08436. This was built in 1957 in Derby. It’s a 350HP workhorse. These shunters are very low geared and can haul just about anything. This day it was bringing up the crane.


So up we went and I got my first cab ride in a diesel.


It’s a bit different of course than a footplate ride and even has space for the essential tea kettle.



The wagon holding the crane was built in April 1942 and it was used to transport Sherman Tanks. The crane was added in 1971. Once we got to the other side of Norden we stopped and a group of volunteers met us. They needed the crane to shift a few things so they could access the parts they needed.



It was loud noisy work but fascinating to watch. We could have been there for hours but we had a family reunion to go to. So we did what we could. The thing with preservation is the list never ends so it’s ongoing.


Right near us was an old brake van known as the shark. It had the ploughs in front of the wheels to distribute the ballast. This was built in 1957 as well.



The history that is available is amazing, a bit like treasure hunting.

It wouldn’t be possible without the men and women who give their time and expertise to make these railways happen. If you have the chance to ride the trains and you see the crew, thank them. There is a good chance they are volunteers who do it for the joy of it. If they didn’t, just think how bleak it would be if the landscape had been left with the track ripped up.

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.

Brrr and a Fabulous Ride on the Cog Railway

There was much excitement this past Friday.  The day had finally arrived for the fourth grade to head to Mt Washington and ride the Cog Railway.  Each year there is a contest where the class produces a tourist video with the first prize being a free trip on the Railway.  We didn’t think we’d win as our teacher won last year but lo and behold the kids won!  And it wasn’t an understatement to say the parents had to be quick off the mark to get in as a chaperone.  I got my form in immediately.  🙂

Fortunately the mountain was far enough that we could ride a coach bus rather than a school bus.  Much nicer.  Here is the approach to the mountain from inside the bus.

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Mt Washington is the highest peak in the northeast at 6288 ft.  At home the temperature was a high of 71F/22C while the high at the summit was forecast to be 38F/3C with a wind chill of 16F/-9C.  Winds were predicted to be 55-65 mph with gusts up to 75 mph.  If it gets to 80 mph the trains stop running.  We dug out our winter wear for the trip.  So glad we did!

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The engines were from John Deere and run on bio diesel.  They do have a steam train but that only runs first thing in the morning. I was disappointed as I love steam trains.  This is the first and oldest running cog railway that opened in 1869.  The state government thought it was a joke but approved it because they didn’t have to provide funds.  Joke was on them as it was hugely popular.

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If you look closely you can see the rails going up the mountain.  The first coach was open air with benches bolted into the base.  Halfway up they would stop and pass out blankets and warm drinks for the rest of the ride.

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They would even bring up skiers  to ski down the side of the rails.  It would be black snow because of the coal.

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This 1000 gallon water tank is spring fed and no electricity or power is required.  The water is also 99.9% pure.  The steam train only has a 700 gallon capacity but needs 1000 gallons of water to get to the top so it will stop here and top up.

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The setup is quite something and it is very steep.  They encourage the passengers to stand in the aisle and try to stay upright.  The kids had a blast with this bit.

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Jacob’s Ladder is the steepest bit at 37.41% and it is 30 feet off the surface.

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The views on the way up were spectacular.  In the olden days the top was quite busy.  They had a newspaper that would publish everyday and would be sent down the railway and they also had a hotel up there that would charge $2.50 a night which was a lot of money.

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People do love to hike up this mountain and there are cairns dotting the trails every 50 feet or so to guide the hikers.

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My son and I had to hold on tight with the gusting winds.  It was very hard to keep our footing on the rocks.  I couldn’t believe it but there was someone up there in shorts!  No surprise she was complaining about the cold.  Honestly.

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This is one of the buildings that would house visitors and feed them.  This doesn’t have to be chained down as it is made out of stone but anything wood has to be chained.

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This is the building that recorded the record wind speed, notice the chains.

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This is an anemometer that measures wind speed.  They time the clicks to determine the speed.  This one was the actual one that recorded the record on 12 April 1934.  At one point the speed dropped and they realised the instruments were icing up so one of them had to climb up a wooden ladder in winds going about 160mph and whack it with a wooden bat.  People listening in on the radio heard the clicks going faster and faster until it hit the record.  Must have been something!

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A better view of the railway as we descended.  My son and I had a blast, what an adventure!  It was nice to get back to the warmth though.  🙂

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.