25262 at the Spa Valley, Saturday September 22nd 2018
Unfortunately i couldn't make 25262's star role in the Spa Valley's diesel Gala in early August so this running day with 262 was a must. I considered buying a "Southern Daysave" a few days earlier to get from Leighton to Eridge but their service is so unreliable i flagged that idea.
Saturday 26th dawned and it was no surprise to see the 0723 Southern caped so it was all aboard the 0716 local with 350123 as power. As we left a text from "PB" who's planned Loughborough trip looked problematic as a suicide at Long Buckby had closed the Northampton - Rugby section and obviously on today's railway they couldn't divert his Euston - Crewe service via Weedon, could they?<
An ontime 90046 passed our 350 near Ledburn with M16 sleeper and apart from a few "ROG" 37's and broken 56303 at Wembley HS that was it for the WCML as a GE blockade meant no liner traffic. At Euston it was good to see 87002 fresh off her epic railtour turn to Padd the previous Thursday evening, back on her rostered sleeper ECS duties.
Various 377's then 171804 took me to Eridge on an Uckfield service. Purring through the likes of Riddlesdown and Oxted brought back distant memories of thrashing Cromptons on the East Grinstead commuter services and thumper turns too. At Eridge a bargain 11 quid day rover saw me and a good few normals await the 1020 departure to Tunbridge Wells. The station Bert then came down the platform and advised "the diesel train was cancelled but they were trying to fix it. The steam engine should be along shortly though"
Kettle 52322 made an almighty racket on approach which obviously wasnt the Crompton i expected to be working the train into Eridge. Oh well perhaps the Cromptons on the back i mused. Then the Kettle appeared with Crompton ticking over behind! The kettle came off and into the siding to admiring coos and ahhs from the assembled hordes whilst 33063 worked the train into Eridge, about 5 coach lengths mileage!
1020 from Tunbridge Wells
I decided to do the kettle anyway and hope we crossed the "rat" at Groombridge loop, which we did, so i bailed at Groombridge, a nice shack for a 50 minute fester for 25262. Despite the now heavy rain the time quickly passed and i was soon in a front compo of 3 coach CIG unit 1497 enjoying much thrash up front especially during the climb past High Rocks. This driver was enjoying himself and he thrashed 262 hard as much as possible on all the remaining turns.
At Tunbridge Wells there was time to admire 33065 under restoration in the sizeable depot building with 33202 and 73140 stabled outside. Here i was advised that it was a stock issue not a "broken diesel" that had caused the cancellation of the first trip. 25262 thrashed back to just outside Eridge station where the rat was uncoupled to run into the siding, whilst 33063 worked us the 5 coach lengths or so into Eridge station.
A repeat performance several more times with much thrash and rain. The 1610 ex Tunbridge Wells was hauled into Eridge with 33063 dropping on the back for the final run back to Tunbridge Wells. Hugely enjoyable fun despite the weather, shame only 2 or 3 other hard core bashers were there to enjoy it too!.
52322(k) 1110 Eridge - Tunbridge Wells Eridge - Groombridge
25262 1200 Eridge - Tunbridge Wells Groombridge - T.Wells
25262 1250 Tunbridge Wells - Eridge T.Wells - Eridge North
33063 1250 Tunbridge Wells - Eridge Eridge North - Eridge
25262 1340 Eridge - Tunbridge Wells Eridge - T.Wells
25262 1430 Tunbridge Wells - Eridge T.Wells - Eridge North
33063 1430 Tunbridge Wells - Eridge Eridge North - Eridge
25262 1520 Eridge - Tunbridge Wells Eridge - T.Wells
25262 1610 Tunbridge Wells - Eridge T.Wells - Eridge