Because of our annual maintenance and examinations, it has been a couple of months since our previous foray onto the mainline. During this time, a lot of cleaning had also been done, though that didn't stop the support crew from doing more.

We were greeted by beautiful, sunny weather on the day of the trip, which made the loco sparkle. We left Victoria on time, taking the Class 67 diesel with us. The climb out of the station onto Grosvenor Bridge is quite steep, especially for a cold engine, so we usually have the diesel bank us out - this used to happen in the days of steam, too. Occasionally, the banker has dropped off too early, leaving us to get onto the bridge ourselves. This time, the Class 67 was coupled to the train, but unmanned, so it was unable to provide any power, and just added to the load. Despite this extra weight, and no help from the diesel, we got out of Victoria without any apparent difficulty.

Because of planned weekend engineering work on our usual route, we had to trundle round the Hounslow loop. We arrived at Shalford for our water stop more or less on time, and left a couple of minutes early.

Clan Line approaching Chilworth - photograph by John Barrance

We had built up a bit of speed on the subsequent climb, until we approached Chilworth. Here, we were greeted with a red signal, GD908. There had been a detection failure on the level crossing, and, after about five minutes, our driver got us away again, with no apparent difficulty, despite the gradient.

Clan Line at Shere Heath - photograph by Julian Clark

Clan Line passing Shere Heath - photograph by Peter Trimming

We made up the lost time, and, apart from a brief stop at Redhill, we got back to Victoria just about on time.

As usual, we had many happy passengers visit the locomotive, and express their appreciation. Then, it was back to Stewarts Lane, where, after dropping off the stock, we turned the engine on the triangle, blew the boiler down, and put it to bed.

Out next trip is next Saturday, and we have a lot to do before then. We have the firebox to empty, and the smokebox to clean, as well as all the oiling and polishing. We will be working several days this week to turn Clan Line out in the best possible condition.