Today marked the first of a series of celebrations at various preserved railways around the country marking ten years since the withdrawal of Class 201-207’s, affectionately known as “Thumpers”. Ten years ago the last of this type on still working on the mainline ran “The Last Thump”, so fittingly these celebrations have been called “Not the Last Thump”!
The Watercress Line ran its Thumper Unit 1125 (click here to find out more about this unit) with special headboards and headcode 10 to mark the ten years. As you can see on these headboards (see above), it was a double celebration for the Watercress Line, as it was also ten years since their unit first arrived on the railway.
As an enthusiast it was a first for me, as I had never before traveled to a heritage line specifically to ride behind a heritage diesel unit. This is not because I dislike diesels, but for me steam engines are the main attraction! However, Thumpers are an exception for me and indeed as time progresses the exception list is growing as I seem to be more and more interested in non-steam traction! There is a reason behind why Thumper units are a particular favourite of mine, (click here to find out why) and needless to say I really enjoyed my ride with Mrs Locoyard in Mid-Hants Railway’s Thumper.
For Mrs Locoyard, although she enjoyed the trip she couldn’t quite see the appeal, which from what I hear is not uncommon. Diesels are not quite as romantic as steam engines and so fewer people find them interesting. That said, Mrs Locoyard was impressed by the engine room, as was I. Perhaps the spectacle of a huge engine chugging away is the best way to convert the masses! At Alton the wonderful volunteers allowed a few of us a special look at the 600hp engine that gives this class its’ distinctive “Thump” and hence its name. I am not the best at videos, but thought it important to record the sound from within the engine room, so below is a short video!
We took the first trip from Alresford to Alton. After having a good look at what was the star of the show, we ventured into the town and returned by steam, first to Ropley behind 850 Lord Nelson and then back to Alresford behind U class 31806, which is likely to be my last run behind this locomotive for the foreseeable future (click here to read more). Below is a gallery of images of the trip for you to enjoy.
Click here to read more articles from this visit to the Watercress Line.