The last few week’s we’ve looked at all of the stars of the Watercress Line Spring Steam Gala 2014, but there was another piece of heritage traction that people were traveling on that was not a “headliner”. Class 205 DEMU 1125 was being hauled by Met Tank No 1. This particular example was built in 1959, so is an elderly machine in its own right!
This unit has been associated with the railway for much of it’s life. Originally a three-car unit it ran on the line in British Rail days from 1960. The unit had a lucky escape in 1971 when the engine room caught fire at Alton, but fortunately it survived and was rescued by a class 33 diesel locomotive. Two years later, 1125 hauled one of the last services on the Watercress Line before it was closed by British Rail.
Renumbered 205025 in 1986, this Thumper unit remained a 3 car unit until overhaul in 1998 when its centre coach was removed along with the engine which was replaced. It served Connex South Eastern until 2004 when it was sold to the Mid-Hants Railway and replaced by a class 170 unit.
I have a fond memory of a Connex South Eastern Unit in 2002 that may well have been this very example (click here to read more).
There is a fantastic website dedicated to the surviving Thumper’s that comes highly recommended –www.preservedthumpers.co.uk. 2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the last Thumper withdrawal. A special called ‘The Last Thump” ran in 2004, so to mark the anniversary the group are working with the owners of preserved Thumpers to run specials called “Not the Last Thump!” Have a look at the series of celebrations at various locations by clicking here.