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August 9th 1963 - the Marathon Two Hour Bournemouth Trip

Discussion in 'Bullhead Memories' started by Big Al, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

    May 30, 2009
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    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I think you could call this an interesting day in that it was when I took 45 minutes to travel a little over a mile and a half on a steam hauled service train.

    With steam starting to disappear across the Southern network and many branch lines closing, I was determined to travel on as much steam territory as possible by taking full advantage of the weekly Southern Rover tickets that gave you unlimited travel over a seven day period. The ticket was not particularly cheap given my modest means but with the use I was going to get out of it, within a few days you had recouped the cost of the outlay. Of course, much of my time was spent on the SWML as that's where the loco performance was to be sampled.

    I had already picked up some steam nuggets like the Swanage branch with 30667 one way and 30111 back to Wareham. And then there was the new track for me from Salisbury to West Moors and back with the intention of covering the Castleman's Corkscrew from Brockenhurst to Broadstone Junction on the following day. On the West Moors leg I had 76056 one way and 76005 back. This was at a time when connections were held as I had arrived at Salisbury some twenty five minutes late from London after 34101 had failed at Basingstoke on a down ACE relief service to be replaced by 34026.

    Anyway, on the day in question I had started out on the 0830 from Waterloo with 35001 and waited at Southampton Central for the following 0835 semi fast with 34009 to drop me off at Brockenhurst. 30108 then took me around to Poole and Branksome thereby completing this particular piece of beautiful Southern territory, sadly now all gone. I then returned to Broadstone for some more M7 mileage although, surprisingly my outward leg was with 34103. Nevertheless, 30056 brought me back to Bournemouth West so I could cover the third side of what used to be a triangle of track north of the station. I then headed back towards London.

    So with no idea of what was about to happen I boarded the 1330 Weymouth to Waterloo service at Southampton expecting a nice non stop dash to London arriving in or around 1640. This was when all fast trains were operating to the old two hour Bournemouth timings. We had 34037 up front with 12 on and things were already not looking good as we left nine late and were then stopped for a minute by signals outside of Eastleigh. It was a steady climb to Roundwood and we touched 86 before a tsr at Winchfield. Woking almost brought us to a stand with a further signal check so we had already been running for our booked 85 minutes to Waterloo as we passed New Malden and with 10 miles still to go.

    The first sign of serious congestion ahead was when we were held for nearly four minutes between Raynes Park and Wimbledon and then stopped for 12 minutes at Wimbledon. At this point a station announcement was made explaining that a cable fire at Waterloo had caused a complete failure of all signals at the terminus and passengers were advised to alight and take alternative services such as District Line trains. With nothing to lose I decided to stay on board to see what happened.

    We moved on to Earlsfield where, after 112 minutes running time from Southampton we were stopped once again for ten minutes and then moved slowly, signal by signal towards Clapham Junction where the train was finally terminated a little after 6 pm. It took us 46 minutes to get from Earlsfield to Clapham and the overall running time from Southampton was just under 159 minutes. I have no idea whether this is a record but consider for a moment that the crew managed Clovelly in steam, in charge of this train for two hours forty minutes and without taking on further water. That, in itself was quite an achievement and it is to their credit that they were able to avoid any problems.

    As for myself, and in spite of the delayed 1635 down Royal Wessex sitting in the adjacent platform with a Merchant Navy up front, I decided that this was enough for me for one day. My Rover week was to continue on the following day (a summer Saturday) with 4933 Himley Hall from Reading West to Basingstoke on a Birmingham Moor Street to Portsmouth Service and then onwards with 6839 Hewell Grange on a service from Wolverhampton right into Portsmouth Harbour. Now that was rare!
    johnofwessex and andalfi1 like this.

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