Number 4 -  by Sam and Matthew Thomas and Nathan Simmonds

Our trip to Bristol by steam train with granddad Harry

On Saturday 28th March 2009 we Sam, Matthew and Nathan when on a steam train to Bristol via Banbury. We had to get up at 6:15am and granddad had to get up at 4:45am (he had to drive from Kettering to Solihull)! He came and picked up Sam and Matt first at 6:45am and then went to Nathan's house. Nathan's dad (Richard) then dropped us all off at Solihull station.

Arriving at 7:15am and had to wait at the station for 23 minutes (it seemed longer than that) the steam engine 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe departed with our train at 7:38am.

We were in Pullman Class and our seats were really comfy and springy and it seemed much bigger than modern day trains. We had to pick up passengers at Dorridge and Banbury stations on the way to Bristol.

There is a big difference between steam and electric locomotives;

  1. Smoother ride
  2. The sound of the whistle and wheels
  3. The smell of the smoke and steam
  4. It is slower
  5. More fun

The breakfast came as soon as the people at Banbury go on. There was a choice of: corn flakes, muesli or porridge. Then we had some toast with butter, jam or marmalade, followed by a full English breakfast. It was lovely.

Whilst we were still eating breakfast, it was announced the engine had a problem (at his time we were stopped and about to take on water for the locomotive). Then sometime later, they told us it was a bent radius rod, granddad told us this was a part which operated the valves on one of the cylinders. They also said that in about half and hour we would move forward to Didcot station, where we could visit a steam museum while the engine was fixed. This was lucky, because granddad wanted some pictures of a locomotive that was there. He is making a model of it for his model railway layout. The museum had some really cool equipment to turn engines round and move carriages from one track to another. You could also get into the driver cabs of some of their locomotives.

When we came out of the museum, we found the steam locomotive still was not working, because we walked passed it in bits. This meant that we had to wait for D1755 a Type 48 diesel engine to pick us up. When it arrived from Birmingham (with a new radius rod) it was hooked up to the carriages and we headed for Bristol, but now with a stop at Bath.

When we arrived at Bristol Temple Meads station, we only had a couple of hours before our return trip. So we decided to have a water ferry trip from the station to the centre of Bristol. Once in the city centre, we only had about an hour before our return train, so we caught a taxi. The taxi man told us a funny story on the way. He said "Once I took and American tourist from the city centre to the station, on seeing it she said wow, you even have a castle for a station". The station has a big clock and spire on the front and the wall tops are like those on a castle.

When we got back to the station, we had hot chocolate drinks (it was chilly) and Mattie bought some chocolate for one of the waitresses (he promised her on the way down that he would). She was very surprised when he gave her the chocolate, thinking he had been joking.

The train left Bristol on time at 4:30pm and having picked up our passengers at bath, we had dinner, which was: Mushroom soup - starter, roast Lamb - main course and Apple tart - dessert. With tea or coffee and chocolates to finish.

While we were eating our dinner we were held up again, this time because we were going to pick up the steam locomotive. This did not happen, as it would have meant we would have lost our slot for the run back to Solihull. So we left the siding where we were stopped and headed straight for our first stop at Banbury.

During the day, it was announced a raffle would be held. We all bought tickets and just after finishing dinner, Mattie was asked to draw one of the prize tickets. The ticket won second prize and it was only one number away from granddads ticket.

Our journey back to Solihull didn't happen as planned, as we were stuck at Banbury for a further hour, because we had missed our slot on the track. When we finally arrived at Solihull (over three hours late) we had to hunt for a taxi. By the time we got home it was 10:30pm.

What a day it was.

Thanks granddad !