Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Monday, June 22, 2009
twister over London
We were in London over the weekend celebrating our first wedding anniversary. We were offered an upgrade when we arrived at the hotel to a £1000 a night penthouse suite for £80 extra a night, so took it happily! The suite was amazing and one of the best features was a balcony overlooking the approaches to Waterloo station.
When I was a kid in the early 60s I used to visit my Nan up in Battersea. Her flat overlooked railway lines, but unfortunately all that ever used them were boring Southern green emus. But over in the distance you could see plumes of smoke - loads of them. For some reason my dad thought they were from Paddington but of course a little research revealed they were coming from Waterloo. Obviously they were coming from the Southampton and Bournemouth trains (and, right at the start, Salisbury and Plymouth trains). Steam lasted at Waterloo until 9 July 1967 on Britain's last steam main line.
Did I ever talk Dad in taking me to see them close up? No, I tried ...
But I'm sure it's those distant plumes that first got me interested in railways.
But on Sunday morning, 42 years on from the end of steam at Waterloo I finally DID get to see a steam train (fairly close up). After nearly two days of just 4 sorts of emus, on Sunday morning, just as we were about to leave there it was! And, amazingly, it was Tornado, the first main line steam loco to be built in the UK since 1960 (the S&D's Evening Star!)
It brought a lot of things together. Close up steam at Waterloo at last, a brand new steam locomotive which will, with a bit of tweaking to let them burn wood, doubtless be the first of 1000s in the 21st century, and even the 'old' Eurostar terminal at Waterloo in the foreground, showing that railways are always evolving!