While everyone else was headed for the heath on Saturday night, Vicky was steaming off in the opposite direction. She’d heard that the Tornado steam train was coming through, and wanted to sit on a fence and wave a hanky as it passed…
The Tornado is the recently-finished built-from-scratch A1 Pacific Steam Locomotive. I remember the hoo-ha around its completion, thinking what a wonderfully romantic, typically British thing it was to do, but didn’t take a huge amount of ‘local’ notice of it as it was built, I believe, in York, and I assumed that it wouldn’t make it to anywhere round here.
This, apparently, was exactly the assumption that the station staff and transport police at Blackheath had either made themselves or wanted everyone else to make. When Vicky got there, they denied all knowledge of such a train coming through.
She dodged onto the platform, past all the crowds coming off the trains, and waited for the 7.15pm moment she’d heard rumour about. When it did actually come through, she was enchanted. “Brilliant,” she describes it as being. “Atmospheric. Evocative of an old movie.”
Being the public spirited soul she is, she even captured its fleeting moments in the station:
I looked up the schedule for the Tornado – and the next time it will be admits to being around on the Kent Circular, it isn’t coming through Blackheath – but you could actually go on it. It’s a special Christmas Lunch or Dinner train that takes you to Tonbridge or Maidstone (despite its title being a ‘White Cliffs’ dinner) on Monday 21st Dec. Tickets start at £59.