FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Bluebell explorers

Posted in Bletchley, Croydon, England by folkestonejack on November 9, 2013

One of the delightful side-effects of the Bluebell Railway’s re-connection to the mainline has been the emergence of Sheffield Park as a destination for charter trains. In the year to date there have been three steam-hauled charters, starting with Tornado’s visit on 10th September 2013. I missed that occasion but managed to catch the next two charters en-route to the Bluebell Railway.

The next charter to the Bluebell Railway was hauled by BR Britannia Class no. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, which blasted through Bletchley rather magnificently at 11:01am on 2nd November 2013. The tour was pretty neat in design, as it ran from one preserved railway to another (having started at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway). Unfortunately, the weather was rather dreadful by the time it arrived at the Bluebell Railway.

Oliver Cromwell hauls the Bluebell Explorer through Bletchley on 2nd November 2013

Oliver Cromwell hauls the Bluebell Explorer through Bletchley on 2nd November 2013

The third charter stuck to southern metals, running from London Victoria to Sheffield Park, followed by a run to Uckfield and then back to London Victoria. Unusually, this charter was topped and tailed by steam locomotives – BR rebuilt Light Pacific 4-6-2 no. 34046 ‘Braunton’ on the front and LMS Class 5MT 4-6-0 no. 44932 on the back.

Braunton hauls the Bluebell Explorer through South Croydon on 9th November 2013

Braunton hauls the Bluebell Explorer through South Croydon on 9th November 2013 around 9.21am

Typically, the light was beautiful in the lead up but the clouds had crept in by the time the railtour passed through my chosen spot at South Croydon. Nevertheless, this was still better than conditions on the Bluebell Railway itself which was once again quite wet.

A Southern class 455 electric multiple unit passes through South Croydon about 40 minutes earlier

A Southern class 455 electric multiple unit passes through South Croydon about 40 minutes earlier, with significantly better light

It will be good fun catching other railtours as they pass through the area in the coming years. It’s a great stretch of line with some interesting places to watch and photograph a steam locomotive working.

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