Clan Line speeding home on a summer night
It was back to council affairs this morning for me, keeping the town clerk informed about various developing projects and planning for future committee agendas. I also managed to have a look at the building works at Lansdown Hall which are going very well, with completion due in early September.
When I got home at about 1pm, Helena told me I had missed a steam train running down the valley towards Stroud, whistling a warning as it approached the local pedestrian crossing near us at Bowbridge. I normally know in advance when the steam specials are using this famed route across the Cotswolds, but this was a surprise.
So I checked and found it was would be making its return trip to London early this evening. Helena decided to accompany me on this specific blip search and we drove to the Stroud station with a few minutes to spare. The station was already busy with other train spotters and after some consideration I decided to return to a former position to get a good view.
The light was beautiful with the sun setting in a clear blue sky bringing pools of sunlight onto the track where the train would approach from. Sadly, it didn't come on time and being about twenty minutes late meant the dusk was setting in. When the engine at last approached at quite reasonable speed, I was rather dismayed to find it wasn't needing to build up speed and as a result the smoke from the chimney was very thin and less dramatic.
I grew up watching this engine, a Merchant Navy class pacific, in its prime steaming down the mainline from Waterloo to Bournemouth at very high speeds pulling the fastest trains on the Southern Region. But the sound of the engine, the wheels and the smell of the smoke took me right back. It is a very special atmosphere, as evidenced by the numbers drawn out into the evening air to witness it.
I particularly like the rather faint detail of the man looking out the side of the cab, standing next to the driver, whose face can't made out, but with the orange glow from the fire illuminating the back of the cab. It would have been a privilege to be allowed to stand in the cab when a engine was working, and ?I did manage it once, but never on such an elegant first division iron-horse like this one.
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