Valentines Day saw the good Mrs Driscoll and I travel to London Victoria to board the Valentines Day express headed by LNER B1 Mayflower to Brighton organised by Steam Dreams for a special screening of the Film Brief Encounter which is 70 years old.
After a sumptuous dinner in the Weatherspoons above W H Smith washed down by a pint of Wandle ale, we made our way to platform 7 to await our train. Standing by the entrance it was clear to see who our travelling companions were as they too were clutching their cream coloured tickets.
Soon the unmistakable sound of a diesel filled the station and our train had arrived with a class 47 in Stratford livery as tail end Charlie.
Being coach K we did not have far to go and found our seats in good time. Promptly at 6.09pm we pulled out of platform 7 to make our tortious way over to the Brighton side with County of Essex giving us a good push up the steep climb to Grosvenor bridge and onto the slow lines through Battersea Park and Clapham Junction, in fact all the way down to East Croydon. It was quite a spectacle to watch those on the platform open mouthed or suddenly reach for their mobile phone to take a picture.
Good progress was made through Purely where the train took the line to Redhill by which time Mrs Driscoll and I were sipping the Chardonnay. Slow progress through Redhill and then fits and starts of speed. Pass Gatwick leaving behind the inevitable steam trail and the lovely smell that goes with it.
Three Bridges was passed with the new depot in the dark on the right hand side, over Ouse Valley viaduct and then Hayward’s Heath. As it was dark it was difficult to tell when in a tunnel as unlike modern trains our ears didn’t pop.
There was a good turnout of people at Hassocks as we steamed through as You Tube will testify – always good to see both young and old alike.
No sooner had we gone through Clayton tunnel then we were at Preston Park slowing for Brighton. Arriving at Brighton seemed to take an age. There was defiantly no shortage of steam on Mayflower’s part as she was blowing off furiously through her safety valve which was quite ear piercing!
There was a veritable gaggle of people around Mayflower and the Steam Dreams Stewards had their work cut out herding us to board the coaches for the film.
Part 2 tomorrow.