This trip was a fundraising journey round Kent for the Railway Children charity, using the Belmond British Pullmans. The original plan was to have both Clan Line and Tornado on the front of the train, but, unfortunately, because of problems with its tyres, Tornado was not able to join us.
There is a lot to do between trips, including cleaning and maintenance, so we usually leave a weekend free between trips to allow for this. As our previous trip was on the day before this run, all this had to be done overnight. Despite this, the support crew still turned our engine out in a sparkling condition.
Because Clan Line was going to have to work harder than originally planned, this would have an effect on the amount of coal and water that we would use. Therefore, because of this, and the likely railhead conditions on some of the steep climbs, we had a Class 67 diesel with us.
On the Sunday, we left London Victoria on time, and we were within a couple of minutes of right time until we were held up by a Gatwick Express at Redhill.
By the time that we got to Godstone, we were ten minutes adrift. Because of this, and some slipping, we made use of the Class 67 – after all, that is what it was there for. We were only a couple of minutes late for our stop at Headcorn, where we took water and pulled coal forward. This went well, and we were able to leave a few minutes early.
The journey to Dover made use of the Class 67 again, especially on the climb to Martin Mill, but we were doing well, and were about five minutes early at Buckland Junction. Unfortunately, we were held here for about ten minutes, making us six minutes late on arrival at Dover Priory.
After a crew change, we left Dover Priory only one minute late, but were four minutes early at Ashford. Because of this, we were catching up with the train ahead, so we had yellow signals to Paddock Wood, where we took more water.
Apart from a brief push on the way out of Paddock Wood, the rest of the journey was accomplished without needing to call on the diesel for assistance.
We were doing well, with a good climb of Hildenborough Bank, until we were checked at Sevenoaks Tunnel. We were a few minutes late at Sevenoaks station, but had made it all up by the time that we got to Herne Hill. This continued until we got back to Victoria.
Everybody seemed to have enjoyed themselves. We believe that about £228,000 was raised for the Railway Children charity.