I had heard from the Malvern History page on Facebook that a double headed steam train would be picking up travellers at Malvern Station on a day trip to Cardiff on Sunday morning. As this nicely coincided with taking my son Duncan to the station to return to London we arrived a little early to see it. Unfortunately Beastie was too poorly to come, so he stayed in bed while I was in charge of the pictures.
Duncan and I took a good position on the down platform to get a view along the line which is straight to Malvern Link. It was already 5 minutes late and we were chatting idly when suddenly I heard a distant chuff, on the edge of my hearing.
“It’s coming” I whispered tapping Duncan excitedly. We stopped talking and soon after, heard a faint train whistle as the train drew near to Malvern Link. We waited, spellbound, straining our eyes and ears for any sign of the train.
Then, there it was, at first sight just a swirl of steam and smoke in the far distance, getting ever closer as it stormed down the line towards Great Malvern. Then we saw its front light, then the engine itself. It blew its whistle again, just because it could. It had no need to attract attention to itself.
Then all of a sudden it was rushing past. First the two engines with the drivers and stokers faces tinted orange by the roaring flames of the fire. Then the coaches. Lots of them. So many coaches that the engines were well out of the other end of the station, all steamed up and lit with table lamps and decorated with tinsel. Full of smiling faces looking forward to their shopping trip to Cardiff and maybe their silver service meal on the way home.
We rushed through the tunnel to try and get a better view from the other platform as the line curves to the right out of the station, as it heads towards the tunnel through the Malvern Hills and then out into Herefordshire. By then the next train to Birmingham had arrived and was massively spoiling the photo opportunities from this platform. This was in fact the train Duncan needed to catch so I left him briefly and tried in vain to get a picture of the engines but they were too far distant to be inspiring and also completely engulfed in steam.
The whistle blew, doors slammed, the engines began to roar and bellow and the lovely train drew off.
We had just enough time for a quick hug then Duncan too was on his way to London.
I have had a hankering for a special train ride for a while and this just confirmed what I already felt. I admit, I am now a railway nut, officially. This has to be the single most exciting moment for me for some time, sad I know. If our circumstances were different and Adrian had been with me and said, “Come on, get aboard. This is your Christmas present” I would have been delighted.
We might have to go back this evening and see it again.