17th May 2003

Wessex Trains
The Golden Arrow

Locos Used steam : 34067
diesel : 47737 & 66001
E-D : 73136
Stock Used Wessex Trains own stock

1Z87 : Victoria to Dover Priory
1Z86 : Dover Priory to Canterbury West
1Z88 : Canterbury West to Victoria

Loco(s) Route
34067 (1) (2) London Victoria - Brixton - Herne Hill - Kent House - Beckenham Junction - Swanley - Sole Street - Gilingham - Rainham - Faversham - Canterbury East - Shepherds Well - Dover Priory - Folkestone Central - Sevington Loop
34067 (1) (3) Sevington Loop - Ashford International
66001 (4) Ashford International - Canterbury West
34067 (5) Canterbury West - Minster - Ramsgate
34067 (5) Ramsgate - Deal - Dover Priory - Folkestone Central - Ashford International - Paddock Wood - Tonbridge - Sevenoaks - Orpington - Petts Wood Jn - Bickley Jn - Shortlands Jn - Nunhead - Denmark Hill - Stewarts Lane - London Victoria

Notes :
(1) 73136 coupled inside 34067. It is reported it did not power but was for "insurance purposes" in case of any braking issue (34067 has previously suffered brake problems).
(2) Banked from Victoria to Grosvenor Bridge Jn by 47737.
66001 on rear.
(4) 34067 & 73136 on rear.
(5) 73136 on rear.

Tour Stock (from Malc Thompson) : The stock was Wessex Trains' own coaches and (if memory serves) consisted of support coach (no 35518, named MERLIN), kitchen car (CAMELOT), Pullman car PEGASUS, Mark 2 SO, Buffet car (no 1800, ex-APT prototype), 3 Mark 2 TSO's (including THE RED KNIGHT and MELISANDE) and a Mark 2 BSO (PENDRAGON).

Sources : various including Malc Thompson

Tour Review
(from Terry Jackson)

This tour had been eagerly awaited by many people, most of whom had their fingers crossed for various reasons. Firstly for the organisers, Wessex Trains, this must have been the crunch tour after the many problems they have had with Tangmere on previous trips. It was the flagship tour of their programme and it just had to be a success. Secondly for many of the enthusiasts on board, the key attraction was the chance to do Faversham-Canterbury East-Dover with steam, especially as rumour had it that this was to be the only Dover trip in the Tangmere programme which would do this route. So how did it all turn out?.

On the day it was to be a late start off Victoria at 10.57 which allowed a leisurely journey to join the train. My own journey was enlivened whilst changing trains at Clapham Junction by watching South West Trains staff trying to clear a 455 unit (5901) which had failed in the down local platform. A following train (5870) was called into the platform and, after detraining the passengers, it was coupled to 5901. The combined train then attempted to leave only for the coupling between the units to part and the jumpers were ripped from their connections. After running repairs to a damaged connection on 5870 and many attempts to re-couple, the units were finally despatched to Wimbledon and order was restored.

Whilst this was not a good omen for the day, arrival at Victoria revealed Tangmere resplendent in full Golden Arrow regalia and looking absolutely superb. 73-136 was coupled inside Tangmere as a precaution and this did somewhat spoil the visual effect but on balance was a sensible move. The stock had been brought in by 47-737.

An on time departure was made and Tangmere proceeded to run as well as the pathing would allow. We reached Faversham on time and everyone relaxed as we departed onto the Canterbury line with the engine working really hard on some of the gradients on this section. Short stops were made at Canterbury East and Dover before we took water at Folkestone East. From here we ran down to Sevington loop where we had a fifty minute stop whilst 66-001 ran down from Dollands Moor and coupled to the rear of our train. This enabled us to make a quick stop in Ashford where we reversed and 66-001 took us to Canterbury West.

Here we had a two and a half hour stop during which the passengers could relax and Tangmere was serviced. Unfortunately the weather which had been quite good up to this point began to deteriorate and by the time we left again a steady drizzle had set in. 66-001 had meanwhile returned to Ashford and Tangmere therefore took us onto Ramsgate tender first. After running round, we left to face the climb of Walmer bank in really horrible conditions but, despite slipping several times on the climb, Tangmere coped quite well although we were about 18 minutes down at Dover.

After another speedy stop at Folkestone West for water, we headed back to London with some more good running including using the new Shortlands fly-under, which had only just opened (were we the first steam train to use it ?). All of this saw us arrive into Victoria five minutes early.

So what were the conclusions on the day ? It can only be that the whole day was a resounding success both for the organisers and the enthusiasts. It's been a hard slog so far for Wessex Trains and we can only hope that having got this tour in the bag they will go from strength to strength.

However it has to be said that there was one slight niggle which surely has to be corrected. Some of the non-railway punters wanted to get off at Canterbury East on the down journey to spend the day in Canterbury but, as they did not realise we had actually stopped in the station, they missed the stop. Wessex Trains have got to get a public address system installed and fast. They will need these passengers in the future.

Terry Jackson.

Timings (Booked & Actual)

Location Booked Actual
Victoria 10.57d 10.57
Grosvenor Bridge Jn 11/00 -
Voltaire Road Jn 11/02 11/02
Brixton 11/04 11/03
Herne Hill 11/06 11/05
Kent House 11.12a ~ 11.18d -
Beckenham Junction 11/21 11/21
Shortlands Jn 11/23 11/22
Bickley Jn 11/27 11/29
St Mary Cray Jn 11/29 11/31
Swanley 11/34 11/35
Sole Street 11/43 -
Rochester Bridge Jn 11/50 11/49
Gillingham 11/56 11/55
Rainham 12/01 -
Sittingbourne 12/08 12/08
Faversham 12.18a ~ 12.30d 12.18 ~ 12.30
Canterbury East 12.43a ~ 12.45d 12.45 ~ 12.51
Shepherds Well 12/59 -
Buckland Jn 13*05a ~ 13*18d -
Dover Priory 13.22a ~ 13.28d 13.21 ~ 13.28
Folkestone Central 13/41 13/42
Folkestone West 13.44a ~ 13.57d -
Saltwood Jn 14/02 14/02
Sevington Loop 14*10a ~ 15*00d 14.10 ~ 14.55
Ashford International 15.05a ~ 15.15d 15.00 ~ 15.13
Canterbury West 15.37a ~ 18.00d 15.38 ~ ??.??
Minster 18/21 18/18
Minster East Jn 18/22 -
Ramsgate 18.28a ~ 18.48d 18.25 ~ 18.50
Sandwich 19/00 -
Deal 19/06 19/10
Buckland Jn 19/19 -
Dover Priory 19.22a ~ 19.24d 19.28 ~ 19.30
Folkestone Central 19/37 19/43
Folkestone West 19.40a ~ 19.55d -
Saltwood Jn 20/00 20/02
Ashford International 20/10 20/15
Headcorn 20/21 20/25
Paddock Wood 20/30 20/36
Tonbridge 20/43 20/46
Sevenoaks 20/53 21/00
Orpington 21/02 21/09
Petts Wood Jn 21/04 21/11
Bickley Jn 21/05 -
Shortlands Jn 21/10 21/15
Nunhead 21/23 21/23
Crofton Road Jn 21/26 -
Denmark Hill 21/27 -
Voltaire Road Jn 21/31 -
Factory Jn 21/32 -
Stewarts Lane 21/35 -
Grosvenor Bridge Jn 21/38 -
Victoria 21.44a 21.38

Back to "The Railtour Files"