The preparation of Clan Line for this trip started well before the 10th August. We had had a steam test the previous weekend to ensure that everything was working properly, so the first thing to do on Thursday morning was to drop the remains of the fire, clean the grate, and empty the ashpans. The fire was lit in preparation for the Fitness To Run examination on Friday.

We had already made a start on the cleaning, but all the support crew, plus several other willing helpers, were at work early on Friday. As well as the FTR and all the cleaning and polishing, all the lubrication was attended to, coal was loaded and trimmed, and the tender was filled with treated water. There was some concern during the evening when the power to the shed failed, but we soon discovered that we weren't alone.

Saturday was a long day for the support crew, as we were due off shed soon after six o'clock in the morning, and weren't due back until about midnight. Because of this, we were split into two overlapping shifts. The early shift were up and working by four o'clock, bringing the fire round, putting the trimmings in, winding the lubricators and doing the final polishing.

We left Waterloo just after the first shower of the day, and had reached about forty miles per hour by the time that we passed Clapham Junction.

Clan Line passing through Clapham Junction - photograph by Paul Blowfield

We were running in the seventies between New Malden and Walton-on-Thames. We were due to be put on the Fast Line all the way to Woking, but a points failure meant that there was a block on the fast after Weybridge. This made us three minutes late by the time that we reached Woking. We were up in the seventies again between Fleet and Winchfield.

Clan Line entering Basingstoke - photograph by Paul Blowfield

We were held at Basingstoke for a late-running service from Waterloo to Exeter. However, we were back into the seventies by the time that we reached Whitchurch, and only slowed to sixty seven miles per hour by the time that we topped the climb at Grately. Then it was back into the seventies again until the approach to Salisbury. Here, we took water and pulled some coal forward. We also stopped at Yeovil Junction to take on some more water, with the assistance of the Yeovil Railway Centre.

Clan Line passing through Templecombe - photograph by Ian Carter

Clan Line leaving Templecombe - photograph by Paul Blowfield

The original schedule had us waiting for a service train to pass at Chard. However, while taking water at Yeovil, we had been told by Control not to make this stop, but to wait at Axminster instead. This was caused by another late-running Exeter train behind us. An up-train would pass us at Axminster, and would pass the late-running down-train at Chard. This meant that we wouldn't get the run at Honiton that we had hoped for.

Clan Line leaving the outskirts of Axminster - photograph by Jerry Lack

Another shower of rain made it more tricky. Our driver took it steadily, with no more than 150 psi in the steam chest, and the cut-off set at between 50% and 60%. We entered the tunnel at twenty six miles per hour, and left it at thirty two.

Here is a video taken by Julian Lack of the climb of Honiton


The re-scheduling meant that we passed through Honiton quite a bit earlier than we were expecting to, so we apologise to anyone who had come out to see us, but missed us. All this made us about half an hour early by the time that we reached Exeter St. David's. It gave our passengers extra time in Exeter, and we hoped that it would give us extra time for servicing - but it was not to be...

One of the first jobs that we had planned to do was to fill the tender with water, so that the tanker driver could leave. He had to fill up with another load of water and meet us at Bristol, and we didn't want to run the risk of him being held up by the traffic. Once we entered the yard, we wanted to set back to our planned servicing position, where the tanker and coal lorry were waiting. However, we were followed in by a freight train. We couldn't move until the Class 66 had detached and left the yard. It detached quickly, but it was ages until it was allowed out onto the main line. Then we could move and start the work. We filled the tender with water and allowed the tanker to go, we did the oiling, and we cleaned the fire. When it came to loading the coal, though, there was a problem - the crane on the coal lorry wouldn't work. Fortunately, we have some people with some engineering expertise, and we managed to diagnose the fault, make a temporary repair and load the five tons of much needed coal. We finally got back into the station twenty five minutes late, and left twenty three minutes late.

Clan Line is impatient to leave Exeter St. David's - photograph by Paul Blowfield

The rail conditions were better for the climb of Whiteball, and we built up to a speed in the mid-seventies on the approach. We entered the tunnel at sixty miles per hour, and left it at seventy one.

Clan Line just about to enter Whiteball Tunnel - photograph by Pete Doel

We kept running in the mid-seventies for well over thirty miles, until we were slowed by signals in the Worle area. By the time that we got to Bristol East Yard for our next water stop, we had made up five minutes of our deficit. Fortunately, the tanker had arrived in time. Unfortunately, a heavy rain shower also arrived at the same time as we did. We also took advantage of this stop to top up some of the oiling points. We managed to leave Bristol East Yard a few minutes early.

There was some more fast running to Salisbury for our final water stop. We also had another ton of coal waiting for us, which had to be loadede by hand. This was always part of the plan.

After leaving Salisbury, we were delayed by signals outside Basingstoke, and we had a fifty mph Temporary Speed Restriction at Fleet, but we still managed to pass through Farnborough at seventy five miles per hour. Unfortunately, signalling problems in the Queenstown Road area meant that we got back to Waterloo twelve minutes late.

Clan Line on return to Waterloo - photograph by David Element

After our happy passengers had left us, we had to get back to Stewarts Lane, dropping the stock off at Kensington Olympia. By the time that we had put the engine to bed it was about one o'clock on Sunday morning - over twenty one hours since some of us had started work.

The engine came back very work-stained, so there is a lot of work to do to get it back to its usual pristine condition for Friday's Surrey Hills.