Pathfinder Man Of Kent – 15th September 2021

This trip was only five days after our previous one, so there was a lot to do in a short time. The cleaning had started the day after the Surrey Hills, when the engine was still hot. We had to wait until Monday before we could comfortably get into the firebox and smokebox to clean them and the ashpans out. The fire was lit that evening. On the Tuesday, we were busy with all the usual preparation day tasks. More cleaning and polishing was done. The Fitness To Run examination was carried out on both the locomotive and the support coach. The tender was loaded with coal, and filled with treated water. The lubrication was seen to. And there are always a few maintenance tasks to carry out.

The railtour started at Newport, South Wales, very early in the morning, with various pick up points on the way, but we took over the train in Battersea Loop.

As it was a tour round Kent, and our late Chief Engineer, Andy Davies, lived in Ashford in Kent, it was decided that we would carry a commemorative headboard. We also had a brief ceremony at Margate to mark his passing. For more on Andy, see here.

There were some delays to the train before it got to us, and it arrived about forty minutes late. We coupled up in Battersea Loop, and left about thirty five minutes late. To save some more time, we were routed via Herne Hill and Beckenham Junction. By the time that we left Bromley South, we were only sixteen minutes late. When we got to Margate, we had made up more time, and we were only eight minutes late.

Clan Line at Longfield Hill near Meopham – photograph by John Barrance

At Margate, while the passengers were taking the sea air, we serviced the loco. We were met by a water tanker to refill the tender. We were also met by a couple of our support crew who had brought a ton of coal in a van, just to be sure. Even though the coal was distributed into small bags, each one had to be lifted by hand onto the top of the tender. They didn’t feel very light by the end of that.

When servicing midway through a trip, we are usually in a siding, away from the third rail and running lines. This was not possible at Margate, so we had to do everything in the platform. We couldn’t do all the oiling that we would usually carry out, but we weren’t too concerned about that. We also could not carry out the usual fire cleaning, because we couldn’t empty the ashpans where we were. Therefore, we just did what we could. Fortunately, we didn’t seem to have too much clinker.

We left Margate on time, and built up some speed to tackle Martin Mill Bank, but this was to no avail. Signal checks slowed us right down, almost to a stop, at Deal. However, we recovered, arriving at Dover Priory about six minutes late.

Clan Line at Broadstairs – photograph by Peter Wilson
Clan Line climbing Martin Mill Bank – photograph by John Barrance
Timing log for the part of the journey from Margate to Dover Priory, compiled by Chris Meredith:-

LocationScheduled TimeActual TimeSpeed (mph)Comments
Margate Platform 115:2015:19:54
Dumpton Park15:30:3438/24
Thanet Parkway15:36:1754
Minster East Junction15:4015:39:5440/13Approach control
Minster South Junction15:40:1520
Martin Mill16:08:1015/31
Buckland Junction16:1116:16:4040/15
Dover Priory Platform 116:1416:20:12

We had a short stop at Dover Priory, which was the first chance that the passengers had to see the front of the locomotive, and the headboards.

After some more good running, we stopped at Paddock Wood to take more water from a waiting tanker. This took longer than planned, but we had made up the time before we got to Bromley South.

We left the train at Acton and made our way to Stewarts Lane, while everybody else went onwards towards South Wales.

We enjoyed our day out with Pathfinder Railtours. Let’s hope that we can do it again sometime soon.

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