East Kent Railway – Summer 2000
(extracts from Newsletter to members, w/e 31/7/00)
The Summer 2000 Gala event which took place over the weekend of 15th and 16th July and saw the first advertised passenger runs for our Class 33 locomotive proved to be a great success. Star of the show was not surprisingly 33 063 which thanks to the efforts of leading members and supporters, looked absolutely resplendent in its almost completed BR Blue livery. Missing the repaint on one side only and its number and BR transfers, the locomotive operated the vast majority of trains on both days and operated throughout with the 2EPB and the MLV giving the whole weekend a suitably Southern flavour. Pictured at Shepherdswell, 33063 with 2EPB 5759, 10.45 to Eythorne, 16/7. (Photo D.Robinson).
The occasion was significant in providing an opportunity to witness for a full two days, the rewards and achievement of all our years of hard work and preparation. It was a shame not all SELG members and supporters were able to visit the Gala. They undoubtedly missed a great deal!!
Saturday 15th July started early for some Group members/supporters as they prepared the locomotive for the first train of the day with a booked departure time of 10.45hrs. In readiness, the train formation of 33 063 + 2EPB + MLV + 427 was shunted into position with the plan for 33 063 to work the outward departures from Shepherdswell and our other operating asset, 427 returning the train from Eythorne. The opportunity was also taken to move 33 065 from the storage sidings at Shepherdswell to the sidings at Eythorne for display as shown, above. (photo D.Robinson).
At a slightly later time of 11.00hrs, the horn of 33 063 rang out and the locomotive eased its train out of Shepherdswell and the Gala had officially started. Loadings on the train were busy, helped no doubt by the prospect of the return to traffic of 33 063 after 4 years and the operation of the type back on the Tilmanstone Colliery line for the first time since the 1980’s before the line closed to traffic. It was quickly evident that despite its relatively short length, the line to Eythorne had plenty to offer the Class 33 follower. The climb following the first level crossing just outside Shepherdswell and the thrash through the tunnel was spectacular and certainly left a lasting impression on those aboard. After the second return trip of the day, the decsion was taken to remove 427 from the formation as the locomotive was running hot due to the power of the Class 33. 427 was then utilised on ‘driving experience’ duties at Shepherdswell. The removal of 427 led to the interesting operation of 33 063 + 2EPB + MLV, with the Class 33 operating the return trips from Eythorne in conjunction with the MLV with the use of cab to cab radios. This arrangement replicated the common practice of many years when Class 33’s were regularly pressed into snow rescue duties on the Southern Region hauling EPB units when the third rail became inoperable due to heavy snowfalls. An idea for this years Santa Specials perhaps.The opportunity was not lost either to detach 33 063 ¼ mile from Shepherdswell station on the return trips to allow the MLV to haul the EPB into the station under its battery power – the first MLV operation on a preserved railway!! This also gave the opportunity for 33 063 to run light engine each time back into the station for re-coupling to the train – plenty of work for the secondman. In all, on the Saturday 5 return trips were completed with 33 063 proving very popular with the enthusiasts and general public alike. Above, 33063 makes ready with the 1200 to Eythorne, 427 stands on the right with group members. (D.Robinson)
Our star attraction together with sunny but not Beach weather and the other attractions such as trade stalls and bouncy castle made Shepherdswell a busy, bustling place throughout the day! It was also particularly good to see our newest member make the journey all the way from Scotland to see his locomotive. Hopefully the resulting cab ride to Eythorne and back made the long journey worth his while! After a long day our volunteers returned 33 065 from Eythorne to the more secure location at Shepherdswell and made their ways home to recharge their batteries for the next day!
33063, 12.00 Shepherdswell – Eythorne on the Sunday. (D.Robinson)
(Above, 063 with the 14.00 to Eythorne, 16th July. Photo D.Robinson).
33063 can be seen again in action over the August Bank Holiday weekend when the locomotive has its next outings!