“The Remembrance Line”
On 21st December 2008 Hastings Diesels operated the ‘1st Onward’ excursion from Hastings to Folkestone Harbour via Victoria. I’d opted to travel as a Club Class ‘power-car’ passenger as this was to be the last time a Hastings unit visited the harbour branch. Sadly a return visit to Folkestone Harbour proposed for early 2011 didn’t materialise and the branch is no longer operational.
A festive 1001!
Daylight was only just breaking when
left the depot at St Leonard’s West Marina.
1001 picked up its first passengers at Hastings.
Platform 2 at Tunbridge Wells Central
1001 is given the road by Tonbridge signal box.
Platform 2 at Tonbridge and enthusiasts
grab the opportunity to take photographs.
Yet another platform 2, thus time at Victoria
where the customer
information system proudly displays our (misspelt) destination.
Headcode 82 is raised and the
1st Onward is ready to depart.
Arrival at Folkestone Harbour and 1001
is prepared for
the first of two return trips to Folkestone East sidings.
The ‘Onward’ was built for the SECR in 1905 for their Folkestone - Boulogne route and weighed in at 1,671 gross tons. Her career was short-lived as following a 1st June 1908 collision with the 'Queen' in ‘Onward’ 1918 sank after catching fire at Folkestone. In 1920 the hull was sold to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and was rebuilt as the ‘Mona's Isle’.
Although the branch is currently still in place its days are numbered as VSOE had already moved to Folkestone West. There is an association hoping to save the branch (now called The Remembrance Line) for excursion traffic. However, without some underlying regular traffic (such as freight to the quayside – aggregates perhaps?) the future is very bleak indeed. This is a great shame as line could have had every potential for say, an interesting home for an electric trains museum.
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