Former LMS ‘Black Five’ 44932 (see more details below) steamed through Andover station shortly before 10am on Saturday morning, stopping to allow passengers to join the Cathedrals Express on its way to Bath.
Representatives from Andover and Ludgershall Town Councils, Cllrs Geoff McBride, Owen White and David Drew, as well as committee member Mick James, watched its arrival and departure. The passengers all looked very happy, eating breakfast, including croissants, and some were even sipping Champagne…
Many local onlookers came especially to see the steam locomotive and to take photographs. One grandfather we met was thrilled to be able to let his grandchildren get up close to witness the thrill and noise of a steam locomotive. He went on to explain how he had travelled on the line up to Swindon before it was closed.
Other conversations confirm a good level of local interest in the creation of a Heritage Stream Railway to operate trains between Andover and Ludgershall.
Members of the steering committee have been invited to visit both Swanage and Shillingstone to meet with representatives who have themselves been in negotiations with Network Rail over track use for these lines.
The committee is due to meet again shortly to receive updates from both the MoD and Network Rail and to discuss the next steps.
Loco Info: The London Midland and Scottish Railway’s steam locomotive Class 5 4-6-0, almost universally known as the Black Five. It was introduced by William Stanier in 1934 and 842 were built between then and 1951. Members of the class survived to the last day of steam on British Railways in 1968, and eighteen are preserved. This class of locomotive was often a favourite amongst drivers and railway fans. No. 4932 (LMS) 44932 (BR) was built at the Horwich Works near Bolton and is owned by the West Coast Railway Company, a railway spot-hire company and charter train operator, based at Carnforth MPD in Lancashire.