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Steam’s Up: Bahamas To Mid Hants Via Guildford

Published on: 25 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 28 Oct, 2020

By Bob McShee

We are living in unusual times with Bahamas being in Hampshire!

This is because the Jubilee class steam engine named Bahamas was the star attraction at the Watercress Line’s Autumn Gala last weekend (October 17-18).

LMS Jubilee Class, No.45596, Bahamas pauses at Guildford on October 6. Picture by Mike Bennett.

Former London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) and then British Railways (BR), No.45596, Bahamas, had travelled, together with its support coach, from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire on Network Rail’s tracks under its own steam on Tuesday, October 6.

It came to Guildford at 9pm then it ran around its support coach before journeying in reverse via Alton to get on to the Watercress Line.

No.45596, Bahamas, departs from Ropley at 9.30am to Alton.

It was Bahamas’ first visit to the Watercress Line and the first engine I know of that was permitted to travel under its own steam to a preserved railway, they are usually transported on a low loader.

The theme of the gala was the former Somerset and Dorset Railway Joint Railway (S&DJR) line.

S&DJR 7F Class, No.53808 arrives at Alresford with The Pines Express. This and the following pictures by Bob McShee.

At present, (S&DJR) 7F Class, No.53808, a visitor from the West Somerset Railway, is staying on the Watercress Line for a while, with other engines at the gala typical of the locomotives that ran on the S&D.

In former times, Jubilee class engines like Bahamas pulled trains from Manchester to Bath, but were not permitted to go further over the S&D line.

BR Standard Class 4MT, No.76017, leaves Ropley with the 10.02am to Alresford.

Therefore, at Bath those engines would be replaced by an S&D engine similar to 53808, and the train would continue on to Bournemouth, the principal express train being named The Pines Express.

Southern Railway S15 Class, No.506, arrives at Ropley with the 9.50am from Alresford.

The timetable for the gala had all the engines working between Alton and Arlesford. When passengers arrived at the station we were given a wrist band which allocated us a designated seat on a train for the day, thus making the gala Covid compliant and ensured safe distancing.

BR Ivatt Class 2MT, No. 41312, arrives at Alresford with a goods train, with Bahamas in the adjoining platform.

There was a maximum of 500 visitors allowed per day and each day was a sell-out. I compliment the Watercress Line on organising such a well run event.

I will submit a report later to the Dragon on the financial feedback of the gala weekend.

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