2nd July 2008

V.S.O.E. (British Pullman)
(Wisley Gardens, Winchester & Beaulieu)

Locos Used 67020 & 67021
Stock Used at least 308 'Cygnus'


Loco(s) Route
67020 (1) London Victoria - Down Stewarts Lane - Battersea Reversible - Kensington Olympia - South West Sidings - South Acton - Staines - Byfleet and New Haw - Farnborough - Waller’s Ash DPL - Winchester - Eastleigh DF - Southampton Parkway
67021 (2) Southampton Docks QEII Terminal - Northam Jn - Eastleigh - Worting Jn - Byfleet and New Haw - Staines - Richmond - Clapham Junction - Up Ludgate - Battersea Reversible - Up Stewarts Lane - London Victoria

Notes :
(1) 67021 on rear.
(2) 67020 on rear.
(3) Initially uploaded as having run on 7th July, in error.

Source : Branch Line Anon

Tour Review
(from Branch Line Anon)

A running date of the “real” VSOE from London Victoria matched exactly with a family member 90th Birthday, so a gathering was duly arranged. As an enth it would have been churlish to miss this wouldn’t it, even with 67’s for haulage and not a kettle!

The three destinations available were Wisley Gardens [the Wisley near Woking!!]; Winchester for a guided walk round the town or Beaulieu for the Motor Museum and the New Forest but fortunately the party agreed on Beaulieu so maximum VSOE mileage. Wisley bookers only enjoyed the train and the food on the return journey after being bussed to Southampton so that seemed a bizarre option considering the fare was only marginally less and the whole point for choosing a VSOE day out is the train.

Anyway, our part of the family travelled to and from Victoria in our glad rags on a Bendibus, somewhat of a contradiction to the rest of the day. On arrival at Victoria you need to register at the VSOE Lounge on platform 2 as you are not told in advance what coach you are allocated to, in our case “Cygnus” which according to the bumpf was originally used on the Golden Arrow and liberated later from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Cameras duly retrieved from many jacket pockets and posh handbags, and in my case also recording for posterity that haulage was 67020/21 in top n’tail mode.

The itinerary revealed the outbound journey would be to Southampton Parkway but via Kensington Olympia as well as the anticipated loop via Staines to reach the ex Waterloo main line thanks to the Victoria departure, but returning from the QEII Terminal at Southampton Eastern Docks was a surprise so some rare freight track there then. Even before departure the booze and posh nosh commenced, so the delights of Stewarts Lane were accompanied by a Bellini [Grapefruit Juice with Champagne] and Fresh Fruit Salad, and the scenic highlight of South West Sidings virtual ballast quarry competed with Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Eggs with a dollop of Caviar, with, and typically for a posh menu, “a warm buttered crumpet”. Are there any other types?…..and anyway what was a common crumpet doing on the menu anyway, an absolute disgrace!!!!!!

As can be imagined from the route taken the speeds were not that great, perhaps a good thing when you realise the seats in these Pullman coaches are loose albeit heavy armchairs and are not bolted to the floor, [how do they get away with this in these H&SE days?]. With the glasses, crockery and potentially messy food, we remained on the slow lines to Farnborough after joining the main line at Byfleet & New Haw where pastries had appeared. Non-stop liquids since leaving London soon took their toll, so a visit to the exceedingly spacious loos brought the discovery that their floors were mosaics of the coach names, i.e. in our case of a swan. [and yes I did check other coaches to see if they were themed as well!] Speeds then increased but we must have been due to be looped at Waller’s Ash DPL as we stayed there for nearly 10 minutes before the first drop off at Winchester and then a high speed run through Eastleigh for a one minute late arrival at Parkway. Coaches took us to Beaulieu [complete with guide to regale us with non-stop local history and wild life anecdotes] allowing 2½ hours to build up an appetite view exhibits ranging from Donald Campbell’s Bluebird to a Model T Ford or wide boys De Laurean sports car and Delboy’s three wheeler next to each other, plus squeeze in a ride on the Monorail.

Then coach to Southampton Eastern Docks, arriving half an hour before booked departure where the QEII was actually alongside having berthed earlier that afternoon and due to leave on a 10 day tour around the Med that evening. I thought it had been a bit odd that the train had some empty coaches on the way down and it all became clear as the train was now full with Japanese/Chinese tourists off the QEII [as well as the Wisley visitors] for the journey back to London. No controls on wondering around to take photos of the train [or the QEII from outside a fence] but in doing this I missed the first glass of champagne served before departure, so had to make do with the complimentary bottle of wine. If not satisfied with that, anything up to £260 could have been spent on any other choice so have a guess what didn’t happen!

A slow crawl along the dock lines allowed time for the cold strawberry soup with champagne poured on top [!] to be dispensed, followed by chewy lamb with all the trimmings. Apart from the centre road through Eastleigh, the return journey remained on the slow lines the whole way, giving plenty of time and a smooth journey for the main meal followed by the cheese platter and Summer Pudding with Clotted Cream [in that order, French custom apparently!] Again via Staines on the return journey but this time direct but exceedingly slowly via Richmond and Stewarts Lane for a right time arrival back in Victoria.

In summary you had better not be teetotal as every course apart from the cheese had booze somewhere but you definitely don’t need to be an enth to enjoy this luxury day out for that special occasion. There is a huge difference in travelling on these real Pullmans to get the full effect rather than the Mark 1’s on the Northern Belle, but you may end up only doing this the once at these fares!

Branch Line Anon

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Branch Line Anon)

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
London Victoria 09.40d 09.42 [P2]   20.05a 20.05 [P2]
Kensington Olympia ? ? [DWL]  
South Acton ? ?  
Clapham Junction   ? 19/52
Richmond   ? 19/36 [UWS]
Feltham ? 10/41   ? ?
Staines ? ?   ? 19/11
Byfleet & New Haw ? 11/09 [SL]   ? 18/43 [SL]
Farnborough ? 11/28 [DS-DF]   ? 18/23 [SL]
Worting Jn ? 11/45   ? 17/59 [SL]
Wallers Ash DPL ? 11*57 ~ 12*06  
Winchester 12.10a ~ ??.??d 12.14 ~ 12.18   ? 17/40
Eastleigh ? [DF]   ? [UF]
Southampton Airport Parkway 12.26a 12.27   ? ?
Northam Jn   ? [UF]
Southampton Eastern Docks   17.05d 17.06

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