Beer, Buildings I like, Food, Life, Nature, Railway, Railway days, travel

Going for a Spa

Visited the Spa Valley railway for the first time using a gift experience day given to me by my ex-colleagues when I was made redundant by the Council, so no better way to end a not so good year then having a ride on a steam train with the good Mrs D.

Catching the 1122 am ,Uckfield train from E Croydon we arrived in time to catch the late running 1203 pm departure. When we arrived they were just putting Ring Haw on the front. As Spa Valley lease the track from Network Rail (expires in 2022) they are not in possession of a run round loop which necessitates a rather complicated shunting manoeuvre, hence the photo of the Cl.31430 at the Uckfield end of the train.

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Leaving Eridge we made slow progress to Groombridge (& I do mean slow progress) waiting 20 minutes in the loop at Groombridge for the late running service from Tunbridge Wells West hauled by the GWR tank 813.

Groombridge is a rather quaint station, not the original as the original station site was developed for housing encroaching on the railway boundary so although the old station building is there the Spa valley station has been relocated further along, interesting none the less, especially the old bakery sign.

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Upon arrival at Tunbridge Wells Wests single platform i was able to take a photo of our steed Ring Haw on loan from the North Norfolk Railway.

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The Spa Valley is very much diesel orientated as can be seen from the DEMU in the background (fond memories of working on those when a Guard at Norwood back in the 80’s).

So to fed the inner man and woman we headed for the Opera House – a Weatherspoons. Being my first time in Tunbridge Wells (not my wife’s as she lived there years ago) Google Maps navigated us to the Opera House, where a lovely meal in beautiful surroundings did not disappoint.

Back to the station via the High Street and the Pantiles made for an interesting walk back, though we were early which was just as well as the late running was still occurring with the stock for the 320 pm departure not having arrived. However this go an opportunity to look round.

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Electro diesel 73140 was ticking over, I guess on Thunderbird duties.

The yard contained some interesting stock. 813 waiting patiently for its train to arrive along with the railways resident diesels.

Eventually Ring Haw arrived with the late running 320 pm departure. This meant 813 coming from the yard and attaching to  31430 which was the tail end – sure the Rev. Awdry would of had a field day!

The light as you can imagine was starting to fade badly as 813 coupled up to the head of the train.

We departed Tunbridge Wells West around 4 pm with a well loaded 4 coach train. Just outside Eridge, 813 was detached  to run into the bay platform, as  31430 brought the train into the main platform.

There we left the train and adjourned to the adjacent Huntsman pub (Hall and Woodhouse) See The Huntsman Eridge  for a couple of drinks before catching our train back to East Croydon.

A very enjoyable day, Goodbye and good riddance 2018, hears to what I hope will be a better 2019.

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Railway, Railway days

Mayflower to Brighton and back – Part 1

Valentines Day saw the good Mrs Driscoll and I travel to London Victoria to board the Valentines Day express headed by LNER B1 Mayflower  to Brighton organised by Steam Dreams for a special screening of the Film Brief Encounter which is 70 years old.

Image Steam Dreams guide
Image Steam Dreams guide

After a sumptuous dinner in the Weatherspoons above W H Smith washed down by a pint of Wandle ale, we made our way to platform 7 to await our train. Standing by the entrance it was clear to see who our travelling companions were as they too were clutching their cream coloured tickets.

Soon the unmistakable sound of a diesel filled the station and our train had arrived with a class 47 in Stratford livery as tail end Charlie.

Tail end Charlie
Tail end Charlie
County of Essex
County of Essex

Being coach K we did not have far to go and found our seats in good time. Promptly at 6.09pm we pulled out of platform 7 to make our tortious way over to the Brighton side with County of Essex giving us a good push up the steep climb to Grosvenor bridge and onto the slow lines through Battersea Park and Clapham Junction, in fact all the way down to East Croydon. It was quite a spectacle to watch those on the platform open mouthed or suddenly reach for their mobile phone to take a picture.

Good progress was made through Purely where the train took the line to Redhill by which time Mrs Driscoll and I were sipping the Chardonnay. Slow progress through Redhill and then fits and starts of speed. Pass Gatwick leaving behind the inevitable steam trail and the lovely smell that goes with it.

Three Bridges was passed with the new depot in the dark on the right hand side, over Ouse Valley viaduct and then Hayward’s Heath. As it was dark it was difficult to tell when in a tunnel as unlike modern trains our ears didn’t pop.

There was a good turnout of people at Hassocks as we steamed through as You Tube will testify – always good to see both young and old alike.

No sooner had we gone through Clayton tunnel then we were at Preston Park slowing for Brighton. Arriving at Brighton seemed to take an age. There was defiantly no shortage of steam on Mayflower’s part as she was blowing off furiously through her safety valve which was quite ear piercing!

Mayflower and her safety valve

 

Mayflower at rest

There was a veritable gaggle of people around Mayflower and the Steam Dreams Stewards had their work cut out herding us to board the coaches for the film.

Part 2 tomorrow.