Spa Valley Railway
I visited the Spa Valley (Tunbridge Wells West) for the first time in July 2008. When I arrived at Tunbridge Wells West, resident loco Fonmon was waiting by the water tower. I expected to be on the first steam hauled train to Groombridge of the day, but it turned out that a more intensive service than advertised, with a second loco in steam. That second loco was newly overhauled 7715 on its first day in steam on the railway.
The line currently runs to Groombridge though the track has been prepared for running into Eridge.
Keighly and Worth Valley Railway
Another visit in August 2008 on my way home from Yorkshire. I only had time for one round trip. Only one engine in steam but 90733 looked splendid! I also liked how the vast majority of the locos are in BR black and the rolling stock maroon, which I imagine would be very effective on a two train timetable.
The line runs between Keighley and Oxenhope through Bronte country. It offers something slightly different as it has a slightly more urban feel than other preserved lines, though still has some lovely scenery.
Kent and East Sussex Railway
I have visited the 10 mile line twice in recent years - once in 2004 and a second time in 2006 for the Terrier specials weekend.
It runs between Tenterden and Bodiam and was built by Colonel Stephens as a light railway. This means that the railway survives by using tank engines almost exclusively, with only one tender engine.
The Watercress Line
I don't remember exactly when I visited the line, but it was sometime during 2007. On the day, 5MT 73096 and Black 5 45321 'Sherwood Forester' were on service duties. West Country 'Bodmin' was still 'in ticket' and was in steam, recieving some attention from a young volenteer at Ropley.
The second occasion was in April 2009. I rode up and down the line then had a footplate ride on Lord Nelson, which was absolutely fantastic. Managed to get a few good shots on a runpast on the last train of the day on my way home. Wadebridge was also on a birthday special. These photos are at the bottom of the album.
The line's smallest loco (other than 'Thomas' and 'Douglas'), is Ivatt 2-6-2T 41312, and most other engines have had or currently do have mainline certificates. There is a network rail connection at Alton, allowing mainline trains to enter and leave the line, and it runs south to Alresford.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway and Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
I visited both railways during Easter 2007. I was disappointed not to see either Fairburn running though 'Repulse' was undeniably smart and was in a livery that matched the line's crimson and cream coaching stock.
The Ravenglass and Eskdale railway is a delightful narrow guage line which is relatively famous for its place in the Thomas the Tank Engine books.
Just a few photos from my Easter 2005 visit to the Swanage railway. 4MT 80078 was on service train duties and visiting GWR 0-6-0T 813 appeared to be on driver training. Both trains were 4 Mk1 coaches in lenght, all in Southern Green. With the exception of the visiting saddle tank, all of the steam stock and some of the deisels are appropriate to the line and in appropriate liveries. This gives the line a real character. The increasing Bulleid influence thanks to Southern Locomotives Limited will also enhance the Swanage Railway experience!
Bodmin and Wenford Railway and West Sommerset Railway
I have visited the Bodmin Railway several times over the years. I used to go to Cornwall every year for my summer holiday and the visit to the railway was the highlight. Both the photos of the Bodmin and Wenford line and West Sommerset are from Summer 2005 when we returned to the West Country after a few years of travelling to Europe. On this particular occassion, I met Lenny Henry upon joining my train at Bodmin General which was a brilliant suprise!
Isle of Wight Steam Railway
This visit was part of my 2006 summer holiday. Waggoner was running the main service train with Ajax on a two coach train. We got to the railway by the Island's main network. I don't feel that tube stock is appropriate for overland duties as the windows are too low and the seats uncomfortable, though the two car unit had just been repainted into London Transport red and did look quite good!
It was a shame to not see any southern locos in steam, but it was still a good day out!.
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway
The phrase 'mainline in minature' sums up this line. The same gauge as the Ravenglass and Eskdale, but with a double track section between Hythe and the headquarters at New Romney. All of the locomotives are based on full size express locomotives such as Gresley's A1 and each engine has its own livery. There are some American outlined engines, one of which was running when I last visited in 2005 whilst on a camp right next to St Mary's Bay station.