FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The Golden Arrow: Victoria to Folkestone Harbour

Posted in England, Folkestone by folkestonejack on January 24, 2009

The number of ‘last’ trains to Folkestone Harbour over the past two years has been quite remarkable, but the end is clearly going to come before too long. Today’s Past Time Rail tour from Victoria to Folkestone Harbour may yet be the last train – or it might not! I wasn’t taking any chances, so headed on down to Folkestone once again to take a few photographs of the occasion.

West Coast Railways Class 47 diesel 47787 seen through the columns of Folkestone Harbour station

West Coast Railways Class 47 diesel 47787 seen through the columns of Folkestone Harbour station

West Coast Railways Class 47 diesel 47787 brought the railtour into Folkestone Harbour station and whilst crowds gathered around the steam locomotive I headed to the far end of the station to grab a shot of the diesel through the majestic columns of the old station. Even in it’s decayed state the station still manages to exude a sense of its former grandeur.

As with every one of the ‘last’ railtours to Folkestone Harbour huge crowds had gathered to the inner harbour whilst other photographers had gathered on every available high spot from the hillside to the balconies of the Burstin hotel in search of the perfect vista. Other brave souls had clambered up amongst the chimney pots of the Shangri-La (once a German consulate) which must have given an incredible viewpoint.

Photographers amongst the chimney pots of the Shangri-La

Photographers amongst the chimney pots of the Shangri-La

On this occasion Tangmere made two ascents of the 1-in-30 gradient before heading on to Canterbury, giving plenty of opportunity to try a variety of shots. In between ascents the locomotive was coaled from a lorry, watched by an impressive crowd at the level crossing in front of the station.

A crowd admires Tangmere at Folkestone Harbour

A crowd admires Tangmere at Folkestone Harbour

I headed to the bottom of the Tram Road to watch Tangmere start the ascent proper – an incredibly powerful sight. If this was to be the last railtour it was an impressive way for the line to bow out.

Southern Region Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 no. 34067 Tangmere tackles the 1-in-30 ascent that runs parallel to the Tram Road

Southern Region Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 no. 34067 Tangmere tackles the 1-in-30 ascent that runs parallel to the Tram Road

The impending closure of the Folkestone Harbour branch hangs heavily over the town. The proposed demolition of the viaduct and swing bridge threatens to rob Folkestone of a link that has existed for somewhere around 160 years. It seems a heavy price to pay for the creation of a modern marina. A large part of the charm of Folkestone Harbour revolves around its old viaduct, fishing boats and the cobbled streets of the Stade. I’m not sure that a marina would be much of a substitute.

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