One of the more popular and often over looked trains at a gala is the freight train. I have always been a big fan as they proved a different type of photo opportunity and the wide variety of wagons are interesting to look at.
In the photo above we see SR West Country ‘34007’ Wadebridge hauling the freight train towards Ropley during this years Spring Steam Gala. The wagons in the train belong to the Watercress Line Wagon Group whose aim is to restore then operate wagons and vans for use on the Mid Hants Line. The train features wagons that would of appeared in a typical freight train operated in and around Hampshire circa-1960. In 1960 many of their wagons were newly built, introduced by British Railways as a result of the 1955 Modernisation Plan, but older wagons from per-1948 nationalisation days were also in regular use. Almost anything you can think of was carried by local goods trains and the wide variety of wagons available made no two freight trains the same. Aside from the wide variety of wagons the Wagon Group has created some loads to complement the wagons such as a coal crane, Pirelli cable drums (both from Eastleigh), BR ‘A’ and ‘AF’ type containers and a unique newly-built reconstruction of a BR ‘D’ type open container. The combination of differing wagons and unique loads makes the Mid Hants Wagon train something rather special and interesting.
Lord Nelson with the late running freight.
In total the Wagon Group has a total of 30 operational vehicles in use on the Mid Hants line. Currently the group is restoring a milk tank, insulated containers and a Southern Railway ‘BY’ van S653 as well as carrying out the typical day to day maintenance work on the existing fleet of wagons.
The Black 5 hauling some hoppers last year.
Last year myself and Dave went on a tour of the Medstead wagon group and had a very enjoyable and informative time but this year we missed the tour, ironically due to taking photos of a late running freight train! The wagon guys are a brilliant, slighty insane bunch of guys and do a great and sometimes over looked job. If you would like more information about the Mid Hants Wagon Group, or about how you can become a volunteer you can contact them on the Mid Hants Website.
Thanks for reading