The Wandering Willow

(1) Bognor Regis via London Bridge

On 30th October 2010 Hastings Diesels Limited operated
the ‘The Wandering Willow’ charter for GBrf (GB Railfreight).


The Charter Described

From Hastings the train ran up to Tonbridge hauling and EDL (73 141) to Tonbridge where 66 712 was attached to the front. From Tonbridge the tour continued up to London Bridge Central side (rev). The tour ran down the mod-Sussex line to Bognor Regis where it reversed to continue on to Littlehampton.

The train’s schedule was to depart from Littlehampton for a run along the coast to Hove thence up to Ardingly. However, a camshaft failure on the EDL lead the tour being taken around to Ford for reversal so that the 66 could haul it along the West Coast.

With the 66 at the front the train emerged from Clayton Tunnel at around 73mph. After a brief stop at Haywards Heath the tour continued up the Ardingly Branch to the limit of Network Rail’s metals on No.1 Loop, short of the bridge over the River Ouse.

The tour returned to Haywards Heath with the EDL being ‘nursed’ along. Once in platform 1 (the platform numbering does not follow ‘convention’ of starting with 1 for the Up) the 73 was detached and shunted into the Good’s Loop headshunt for recovery later. With 1001 hauling the 66 good time was made to Newhaven Marine (rev) thence 1001 was hauled to Brighton.

After Brighton 1001 would once again be hauling the 66 and a member of GBrf remarked that the train would not emerge from Clayon Tunnel a second time in excess of 70mph; accordingly a wager took place for a not insignificant sum with a member of HDL staff! GBrf should really have noted their missing driver, for 75mph was attained out of Clayton Tunnel’s castellated northern portal! In line with the rulebook, the 66 was providing assistance from the rear!

The run north saw the charter back to time until London Bridge PSB tried to route the train around Bromley Junction and Crystal Palace.

Many left the train at London Bridge where the 66 hauled the train down to Hastings. The 66 was detached; 1001 to the depot and 66 712 back to Tonbridge West Yard. The EDL was recovered a few days later.

Despite the failure of the EDL, to their credit GBrf were able to ensure the tour remained a success!


Tonbridge West Yard and 66 712 is readied to join the tour.
The yard was also playing host to ‘Gordon’ the blue Vep.

010 0745 Tonbridge Train engine 66712 sits alongside 3417.jpg


Tonbridge and having run up from Hastings hauling the EDL, 66 712
was attached to the front of 1001 in order to ‘top and tail’ the tour.

032 0844 Tonbridge Train engine approaches 1001.jpg


At London Bridge passengers just start to alight as the destination
blinds are already being set up (to 82) for the run to Bognor Regis!

036 0935 Arrival at London Bridge.jpg


London Bridge and GBrf’s Paul Taylor fits the headboard
whilst Andrew (from HDL) confers with the driver.

038 0836 The nameboard is fitted at London Bridge.jpg


With the passengers aboard ‘The Wandering Willow’ is ready for the 'off'.

042 0938 Awaiting the road at London Bridge.jpg


Arrival at Bognor Regis and despite the torrential rain, passengers start to rush from the train to get that all important photograph; arrangements having been made to delay giving the door release so this picture could be taken!

046 1203 Bognor Regis and photographers leap.jpg


At Bognor Regis and 377 461 alongside the charter.

050 1203 Tour alongside 377 461.jpg


Photographing the photographers at Littlehampton!

072 1046 Photographing the photographers.jpg


Littlehampton and in sunshine
73 141 is given the road

075 1257 Right away at Littlehampton.jpg


Click to continue onto Ardingly

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