Tuesday, 5 April 2016

There she blows: the Devon Belle roars through the Somerset countryside

There is nothing quite like a steam train to get those nostalgic feelings surfacing.

I was born next to the Chard branch line but can't remember the trains travelling along the track because it closed in 1962.  Apparently, though, I went on the last train, safely tucked up in a pram, with my parents and siblings.

It's a nature reserve now, and well worth a visit. The old halt has been restored, and there's a lovely statue of a little girl who was evacuated to the village in the Second World War.

There's something reassuring about a steam train, the sound, the sight and the smell of it taking people back to an age gone by, a period of time in which things seemed much more simple but probably weren't. That's what nostalgia does for you, it makes you look at the past through rose-tinted spectacles.

So when I heard via Facebook that a recreation of the historic Devon Belle was going to pass through the main line closest to Lush Places - several miles from us but on a clear day you can sometimes hear a train in the far distance - the word soon spread.

The train features the engine No. 60163 Tornado, completed in 2008 at Darlington Locomotive Works.

The original Devon Belle ran from London Waterloo station to Ilfracombe and Plymouth from 1947 to 1954.
At the weekend,  people gathered all along the track at appropriate viewing spots to see the train, which was coming from Waterloo, going to Exeter and then back via Taunton and Castle Cary.

I was at Wayford Bridge and there were cars pulling up, people spilling out, disturbing a fox which ran across the track, and we waited for what seemed ages. And then, we saw it and heard it at the same time. It roared through, giving us a whistle and a great puff of smoke.

My camera's battery decided to pack up just at that point. And the train went so fast, Mr Grigg - at a different vantage point and close to a trainspotter with a Box Brownie camera - just managed to snap the carriages as the train shot through down towards Axminster.

Boy, did it go fast! And so many carriages. The next photo and video is by a friend, James Dawson:
And there she was, gone.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Mein Gott, that was fast. Rather off topic, but the woman who talked loudly non stop on our train journey from London to Newcastle left the train at Darlington. Peace reigned in our carriage for the last few miles.


  2. I have a very hazy memory of a trip by an enormous smoke-belching train all the way across Canada. I remember stopping in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and the memory is all wound up by snippets and threads of steam and noise, blocks of ice and the sound of screeching brakes and whistling.

    1. I was watching a really interesting programme on the TV last night about railways which touched upon the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada (although not on your side, Pondside). I was fascinated to learn about the Victoria Bridge, built over the St Lawrence River from 1853 to 1859 and, at the time, the world's longest bridge. It was created by the engineer Robert Stephenson with whom, I am delighted to say, my grand-daughters share common ancestry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Bridge_(Montreal)


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