After a lot of hard work by several people, from different organisations, to sort out the damage to a tender tyre, we were finally ready for this trip, which marks Clan Line's seventieth birthday.

The day started bright and mild, with Clan Line looking its best for its seventieth birthday celebrations. We left Victoria one minute late, but signal checks meant that we were already eleven minutes late arriving at Clapham Junction. We were delayed further by reports of a dog on the line, and by following a stopping service, and arrived at Staines twenty four minutes late.

Clan Line at Barnes - photograph by David Element

There was some good running after Woking, to try to make up some of the lost time, but we had to come to a halt on the approach to Basingstoke, as we had been routed through the wrong platform. This added to our deficit, and we were now thirty eight minutes late. Despite the best efforts of the footplate crew, we were only able to claw back four minutes. This meant that our stop at Salisbury was only twenty minutes, during which time we had to take water and pull coal forward. We managed to leave only one and a half minutes late.

Clan Line at Potbridge, near Winchfield - photograph by Steve Wright

Clan Line on the Down Main at Farnborough - photograph by Colin Weaver

Clan Line at Salisbury with Wayne in charge - photograph by David Mant

Then, we suffered a major equipment failure - the tin opener fell apart, and even our chief engineer wasn't able to repair it. However, our resourceful catering department ensured that we didn't go hungry.

The pathing stop at Gillingham was six minutes late because of having to wait for another service, and we arrived at Sherborne five and a half minutes late, and Yeovil Junction ten minutes down.

As usual, the good people of the Yeovil Railway Centre at Yeovil Junction made us very welcome, and were very helpful. We made use of their turntable to turn both the locomotive and the support coach. As well as this, we carried out the usual mid-trip servicing. We loaded six tons of coal, topped up the lubrication, and used their water crane to re-fill the tender. Whilst this was being done, we also cleaned the fire, to get rid of all the clinker that had built up, and emptied the ashpans. If we didn't do this, it would block the primary air coming up through the fire.

Clan Line on the turntable at Yeovil Junction - photograph by Mark V Pike

We were ready to leave on time, but were delayed by a late running service train, and left Sherborne fourteen minutes late. However, the signallers were on our side, as they often are, and we missed out the pathing stops at Tisbury and Gillingham, which allowed us to arrive at Salisbury eight and a half minutes ahead of schedule.

Unfortunately, we were delayed on leaving by eight and a half minutes, but good running meant that we were only one and a half minutes late by Worting Junction, and two minutes early at Staines. We finally got back to Victoria thirty seconds early.

By the time that we got back to the shed at Stewarts Lane it was twenty past eleven.

It was a great way to celebrate Clan Line's seventieth birthday - here's to the next seventy years!