Anniversary Trip on 27th April 2024

Fifty years ago, Clan Line hauled its first main line trip in preservation. To mark the anniversary, we took the British Pullman, a Belmond train, to Bath Spa, with UK Railtours‘ support.

It was a tiring few days for the support crew, some of whom had been on the original trip in 1974. Some of them started work on the Thursday, by which time the grate and smokebox had already been cleaned. On the morning of the trip, everybody was up and working by four thirty.

We left London Victoria on time, and made for Woking by way of Brixton, Herne Hill, Tulse Hill and Wimbledon.

Clan Line at Haydons Road – taken by David Element

We were moved across to the fast line, and were travelling in the low seventies by the time that we reached Hampton Court Junction. We had to slow for the train ahead, and were down to thirty one miles per hour through Woking.

Clan Line at Winchfield – photo by Ken Brunt

We got back up to sixty four miles per hour by milepost 31, and Farnborough was passed at seventy mph, bang on time.

We were down to twenty four mph at Basingstoke, but passed Worting Junction at fifty four mph. We passed Andover at seventy one, and got to Salisbury about a minute early.

We took water, and pulled coal forward, at Salisbury. We were allocated forty eight minutes for this, so we had plenty of time to let people visit the footplate.

Clan Line at Warminster – photograph taken by Robert Headland

After some more good running, we reached Bath Spa about three or four minutes early. Having let our passengers off, we made our way to Bristol East Yard. After servicing, we turned the locomotive on the triangle, and returned to Bath Spa to pick up our passengers again.

Clan Line at Bath Spa – photograph by Jack Young
Clan Line at Warminster – photograph by Kate Parker

We had a good climb of Upton Scudamore Bank, reaching the top at about thirty six miles per hour. Wayne, our driver for this part of the journey, said that he had the cut-off set to just under fifty per cent, and the regulator almost fully open. For the lower three quarters of the climb, speed was held at thirty nine mph, but it dropped back slightly to about thirty six as we got to the top. Jim, our fireman, had been keeping the needle on the red line all the way up, and, as Wayne eased the regulator before the top, the safety valve lifted.

Clan Line on Upton Scudamore Bank – photo by John Newbury

Our next port of call was Salisbury, to take on more water, and to pull more coal forward. The good running continued, and we were five minutes early at Farnborough. We passed MP31 at fifty eight mph, and we stopped at Woking for a crew change. After Byfleet and New Haw, we had to take things easy because of a possible land slip on the Weybridge side of Virginia Water, but we still managed to get back to Victoria on time.

After starting the day at four thirty in the morning, the support crew were eventually able to stand down at a quarter to midnight – tired but happy.

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