Swanage Railway

Busman's Holiday by 3.1


For those of you that have been keeping up instead of trawling through the incessant posts out there in the ether (stating the obvious, like, "Everyone, listen up, this is my blawg and I can do/say what I want..."), for the last couple of months, I have been volunteering down at a quaint little railway down in Dorset, playing with rather big trains, getting absolutely filthy, and positively contributing to Britain's wonderfully rich railway heritage and the tourism it brings in from all over the world.

The LU150 events may have had something to do with that. Oh – and a fellow Metropolitan line colleague (and perhaps some ex-LT chaps in the paint shop). The fact my manager was very keen to tell me that I was also the first woman on a footplate to Chesham sort of consolidated things, as it goes. Cue cheesy flashback to the Chesham 125 event, way back when...

Piloting Met 1 through Chalfont & Latimer, kindly photographed by Tom Crame

Piloting Met 1 through Chalfont & Latimer, kindly photographed by Tom Crame

On the footplate of L150 at Chesham, kindly photographed by Julian Perham

It turns out I'm quite possibly the only girl out there who has successfully shovelled coal on their very first attempt (we call that "firing", for all you lay people out there) into the firebox of a beast known as an M7. (Which just so happens to be the very last one out there that is still in active service).

In a dress and heels and everything. Because, well, I'm classy-come-awesome like that

The Swanage Railway is a lovely little preserved line that runs for about 6 miles through the beautiful Purbeck countryside, past Corfe Castle, and at the moment, up to Norden, though there are firm hopes to reinstate the line to connect with the mainline service at Wareham. Exciting times!

As it happens, Met 1 came to visit Swanage Railway a few weeks back for the Autumn Gala, where I again donned bib and brace (and, as I've learnt over time to wear one for the sake of my hair not being caked in oil and grease, a flatcap). I may have put the train up as a Fast Chesham. And my colleague may have put it up as a Baker Street. We are, after all, promoting London Underground...

Fast Chesham? Anyone? Anyone?

Baker St set numbers fill me with dread!

As it goes, the lovely summer days by the coast have been and gone. It is absolutely pants weather-wise at the moment, and I can only imagine that when I am on shed digging out the ash pit in the morning come 0900hrs or so, it will be a right pea soup. But along with all the other lovely people here, besides a busman's holiday, it really is a labour of love. The smiles on all the faces, the families that come from all over the world to visit, and the pride in watching a shiny steam locomotive go – and knowing that I helped make it shiny or put coal in the firebox – it really is rewarding.