Santa’s Train – A Hard Day’s Work for 31806 on the Mid-Hants Railway

2012 - Watercress Line - Alresford  - Ex-SR U class - 31806U class 31806 has been hard at work throughout December on the Watercress Line, hauling Santa Specials from Alresford to Medstead and Four Marks.

Santas Train Sign - 2012 - Watercress Line - AlresfordIt’s incredible to think that some 84 years after it was (re-) constructed, this locomotive would be of considerable interest to all generations.

2012 - Watercress Line - Alresford  - Ex-SR U class - 31806This locomotive started it’s life before 1928 looking rather different.  It used to be a K class 2-6-4 Tank engine, but was rebuilt following the Sevenoaks rail crash (1927) into a U class mogul (2-6-0), which cured the problems of very poor riding.

2012 - Watercress Line - Alresford  - SR green mark one carriagesHauling a rake of six, full, fully booked BR mark one carriages over the heavy gradient from Alresford to Medstead and Four Marks presents a challenge for the locomotive and crew, which apart from the loud chuff-chuffing of the steam engine goes largely unknown to many of the train’s passengers, who are fairly per-occupied by Santa, presents and mince pies!

2012 - Watercress Line - AlresfordThe locomotive is country-facing and for this reason the gradient is tackled tender-first.

2012 - Watercress Line - Medstead and Four Marks - Ex-SR U class - 31806Nicknamed the “Alps, the final stretch from Ropley to Medstead and Four Mark’s is a straight one in sixty gradient.

2012 - Watercress Line - Medstead and Four Marks31806 could be heard long before arriving at Medstead and Four Marks, giving plenty of notice to get a snap of the booking office before it arrived!

2012 - Watercress Line - Medstead and Four Marks - Ex-SR U class - 31806Usually the locomotive would then drift down to Alton, but during the Christmas period the U-class hauled service terminates here.

2012 - Watercress Line - Medstead and Four Marks - Ex-SR U class - 31806Another Santa Special service operates from Alton to Ropley during the same period (except for the first weekend of December) – each service can only be joined at either Alresford or Alton; with each seat pre-booked.

2012 - Watercress Line - Medstead and Four Marks - Ex-SR U class - 31806After turning around it’s train, the U class then returns to Alresford, smokebox forward this time.

2012 - Watercress Line - approaching Ropley (Bighton Lane) - Ex-SR U class - 31806The last services of festive period operate just before and after dusk and this really adds to the atmosphere!

2012 - Watercress Line - Ropley - Ex-SR U class - 31806We finish the set of pictures at Ropley with the final return train of the day from Alresford.

2012 - Watercress Line - Ropley - Ex-SR U class - 31806I hope you’ve enjoyed this set of pictures that may have given you some idea’s for the photo competition! 

2012 - Watercress Line - Ropley - Christmas Tree and Lights

Do not forget to send in Locoyard’s Christmas photo competition!  Click here for more details.

2012 - Watercress Line - Ropley - Ex-SR U class - 31806

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