Surrey Hills & Ramsgate Open Day – 7th & 8th June 2019

We were honoured to be invited to the South Eastern Railway Open Day at Ramsgate Maintenance Depot on Saturday 8th June. But, before that, we had a trip round the Surrey Hills, hauling the Belmond British Pullman. This went very well, with many happy passengers.

On our return to Stewarts Lane, and after turning the locomotive on the triangle, the work really started. We only had a couple of hours to get a lot done.

The fire had to be cleaned. There was quite a bit of clinker that needed removing, and the ashpans had to be emptied. Then the fire had to be built up again, as we were going to Ramsgate under our own steam, hauling a Class 67, which was also going to be on display.

While this was going on, we also had to see to the lubrication. These two jobs have to be co-ordinated, as you can’t drop hot ash into the pit while someone is underneath, oiling the middle engine. We also had to replenish the tender with coal and water.

We left Stewarts Lane soon after eight o’clock and made our way to Ramsgate. We were very surprised, and pleased, to see the number of people who had come to see us on our way, particularly at Faversham.

We arrived at the depot at about midnight, and then had to do some shunting to get our engine, support coach and Class 67 into their designated positions. We were immediately made to feel very welcome, despite the hour.

We were up again early to start on the job of cleaning Clan Line. There wasn’t time to do a thorough job, but we did what we could. Because of the location, we thought that the Golden Arrow regalia was appropriate.

We were in the prime position, greeting the visitors as they came in the entrance. We also opened the show with a long blast on the whistle.

There was always a long queue of very patient guests to visit the footplate, despite the squally showers.

The queue of patient guests – photograph by Mike Turner
The sun did shine some of the time – photograph by Mike Turner

We met some very interesting people during the day. There was a footplateman who remembered working on Merchant Navy locomotives when he was based at Ashford. He showed us a photograph that he had taken from the footplate of Clan Line, before the rebuild.

We also met Joe Paddock, who used to be based at Salisbury. He remembers being a fireman on 35028 on a special in 1966 marking the closure of the Somerset and Dorset. This could well have been the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society Somerset & Dorset Farewell Rail Tour on 6th March 1966. According to Six Bells Junction, what was to become our engine hauled the train from Waterloo, via what is now the Mid Hants Railway, to Templecombe No. 2 Junction during the day, and back via Salisbury in the evening.

Fireman Joe Paddock with driver Ron Luckins in 1966 – photograph by Joe Paddock
Joe Paddock back on the footplate of Clan Line in 2019 – photograph by Mike Odam

After our visitors had left, we had to prepare for the journey home. Even though the engine hadn’t moved all day, it still used oil, so we had to top up all the axle boxes and other oiling points before leaving, and bring the fire round again. We finally left about half an hour later than scheduled, but had made up this time, and more, by the time that we got home.

It had been a very tiring, but very enjoyable, couple of days, and we made lots of new friends.

The next thing on the agenda is a boiler washout this coming weekend.

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