My Journey in becoming a Steam Enthusiast, Part 6 – The Watercress Line (1997)

1997 was a significant year for the Watercress Line, as it marked it’s 20th anniversary as a preserved railway.  My father and I visited the line twice that year.  The line’s impressive home fleet was supplemented by some very special visitors.  Continuing from last week’s post, here are a selection of photographs of the Watercress Line in 1997.

We start above and below with a member of the home fleet, U class 31625.  This locomotive is no longer in service and is awaiting overhaul.  In 1997, she was newly returned to working condition and looked great!

The U class is pictured above double heading behind the only surviving N class locomotive, 31874.  Unfortunately this is the only picture I have found so far of the N class in steam – unfortunately it is currently out of action pending an overhaul.

Possibility at the bottom end of the spectrum in terms of glamour is J94 Austerity 68011 Errol Lonsdale (above and below.)  This locomotive has hampshire connections, being employed on the Longmoor Military Railway for some time.  During preservation it spent a considerable length of time on the South Devon Railway, but has since been sold and moved to the Netherlands.

The next photograph below is of  USATC 2-8-0 S160 class number 3278 Franklin D Roosevelt, a locomotive that now owned by South Coast Steam ltd.

Another two resident locomotives no longer in action are BR standard class 5MT 73096 double-heading with original spam can 34105 Swanage.  See above and three pictures below.

Deliberately I have left the two magnificent visitors to the last!  Stanier’s four cylinder beast 46229 Duchess of Hamilton (above and four pictures below) visited the Watercress Line in 1997.  Seeing such a magnificent locomotive in steam really was a special treat!  The second time we visited the line, we had a better look at the engine at closer quarters.  This Duchess class locomotive is a member of the National Collection and has since had her streamlined casing added, although unfortunately it is no longer operational.

Last but my no means least we have some pictures of A4 class 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley in action.  What a magnificent locomotive!  And what a shame it is pulling a network south east liveried carriage!

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