Fittingly after yesterdays blog post we move forward in time to the 22nd July and to another character from Thomas the Tank Engine and friends; 5 James! This is in reality the sole surviving Maunsell N class (31874) that was painted as the Thomas the Tank Engine character towards the end of its last stint in service. It has been shunted back into Ropley loco yard to be re-painted into BR colours, ahead of the Watercress Line’s gala Autumn steam gala.
The N class will be a static exhibit at the gala, alongside several other Maunsell locomotives including recently restored schools class 925 Cheltenham (of which I caught a glimpse – see below.)
Retrieving the N class must have involved moving a few out-of-service locomotives and one of these; Ivatt 2MT tank engine 41312 was out on display (below.) An old favourite of mine, I love the locomotive’s cheeky looks; that earned the class the nickname of “Mickey Mouse”.
Also out in the yard were regular performers 850 Lord Nelson and black 5 45379.
U class 31806 was one of two locomotives in steam. It can be seen in action in this video (click here) and in the picture below.
After watching the U class leave Ropley, I decided to make my way to Alresford. At Alresford; Westcountry Pacific 34007 Wadebridge arrived, making some odd noises with steam leaking where it wouldn’t usually. It was not a happy machine!
Wadebridge was taken out of service and left for Ropley, though she was used to shunt the carriages onto platform 2 to allow the Hampshire unit to get out.
The old class 08 diesel shunter D3358 was started to help restore services so that all the passengers could get back to Alton again.
Despite (or because of!) the drama, it was another lovely day out on this special railway. It was good to see that already preparations were being made for the September gala – it looks like it will be brilliant! Exciting stuff!