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Special train journey marks end of steam travel 50 years ago

The special steam train marks the end of steam travel fifty years ago Credit: ITV Meridian

A special steam train is running through the Meridian region today to mark the exact day it ended 50 years ago.

The train will be hauled by a powerful ex-Southern Railway Pacific type steam locomotive No. 34046 Braunton from Waterloo to Yeovil.

The special steam train marks the end of steam travel fifty years ago Credit: ITV Meridian

The journey continues to an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Tisbury and Gillingham in Dorset to Weymouth before 34046 Braunton steam hauls back to London via Bournemouth.


50 years since the end of Southern Steam

It is 50 years since we said goodbye to our regular steam train services.

They were finally ousted when electric trains took over on the route from Waterloo to Weymouth, via Bournemouth, Southampton, Winchester and Basingstoke.

The occasion is being marked at various events this weekend, not least at the Watercress Line in Hampshire from where Mike Pearse sends this report.

Mike spoke to Geoff Burch, former driver, Richard Bentley, driver and Colin Chambers from the Watercress Line.

Heritage railways in Kent given funding boost

A new campaign has been launched to encourage more people to visit Kent's heritage railways.

It follows the award of government funding last Summer aimed at promoting the five railway lines in the county.

The campaign includes online advertising and signs put up at at mainline stations Derek Johnson reports.

Derek spoke to Sandra Matthew-Marsh from Visit Kent and Cllr Mark Dance from Kent County Council.

West Sussex man qualifies as one of youngest steam train drivers

A steam train driver has become the youngest to qualify on the mainline for almost half a century.

Jim Clarke pulled out of Victoria in London today in the Belmond British Pullman. He "passed out" as a qualified steam engine driver at the end of a journey to Guildford, Surrey.

It is believed he is the youngest person to achieve the feat since 1968. Before setting off, Mr Clarke, of Haywards Heath, West Sussex, said: "A good few years of work has gone into it. Before you have to be passed out as a fire man, work your time, be put forward for driving, go through the training and then hopefully today pass the driver's exam. I am confident as I can be."

He was following in the footsteps of his father Don Clarke, who started driving steam engines in the 1960s and spent 49 years working on the railways. Mr Clarke Snr said: "We are very proud of him. It's something he's always wanted to do. I think he'll find it very interesting. I did 49 years on the railway and enjoyed my time. You feel part of the machine and it's the sheer physical effort of what you put in to get the power out of the loco. It's quite satisfying if you've had a good run."

Dozens of passengers were on-board for the trip. The train, which made its first trip in 1982, features carriages dating back to 1925.

It is hauled by the Clan Line engine, which is owned by the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society.


Steam train models go under the hammer

Seven steam locomotive replicas are going on auction in Newbury today.

The models are expected to sell for up to £200,000 at the Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions.

The collection was owned by the late Don Witheridge who built his own miniature railway.

Don's model railway was fully signalled to British Rail standard which, at the time, was unique for a replica model.

Whilst working on his train project, Don was introduced to model locomotive builder John Adams.

The two men worked together as John built several skilfully crafted models for Don, many of which form the Don Witheridge collection.