After our two-year overhaul, carried out by LNWR Heritage at Crewe, our gentle running-in period was not quite as gentle as we had hoped. Five trips in seven days, mainly with the Belmond British Pullmans, is quite a baptism of fire.
Our first trip, on Wednesday 5th July, was to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the very last steam-hauled Bournemouth Belle on British Railways. The tour was organised by UK Railtours, and featured the Belmond British Pullmans, and their impeccable service. The distance travelled was 275 miles, with an estimated load of about 500 tons. The trip went very well, with no major problems, though the weather was very hot - please spare a thought for the DBC and support crews. Thanks must also go to South West Trains' planning department for their considerable help, both beforehand, and on the day.
A couple of photos of the Bournemouth Belle taken by Chris Meredith
And some taken by Paul Blowfield
Our next trip, only two days later on Friday 7th July, was the first of three private charters for Belmond British Pullman, using the usual Surrey Hills route. We kept the fire in for the Fitness To Run examination on Thursday, and carried out the usual preparation and cleaning, as well as sorting out one or two maintenance issues that arose from the previous day. It was another hot day, but the trip went well, with no major problems.
Two days later, on Sunday 9th July, our next trip was the Waterloo Sunset for UK Railtours, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of steam on the Southern. This was a 317 mile journey to the Yeovil Railway Centre, where we were made very welcome. We made use of their turntable to turn both the locomotive and the support coach. The weather was again hot, making life uncomfortable for the DBC and support crews, but a good time was had by all.
A few photos of the Waterloo Sunset taken by Paul Blowfield
On arrival back at Stewarts Lane at about 1am on Monday 10th July, we had to start all over again, with another Fitness To Run examination, watering, coaling, oiling and fire cleaning, ready for the second private charter for Belmond British Pullman. It was hard and tiring work, but we made it, and Clan Line hauled another successful trip.
After Monday's trip, we had an extra few hours to prepare for the third private charter on Tuesday, which also went well.
Belmond had brought in Raymond Blanc as chef for these trips, and he paid a visit to the footplate of Clan Line during the water stop at Shalford. He seems to be enjoying himself.
Photo by Peter Starks
Now we have a day's rest, before starting work in preparation for a normal Belmond British Pullman Surrey Hills trip on Saturday.
The "old girl" has done us proud over the last few days - you just wait until she's "run in".