Sir George was at Andover Station at 7 am to see off the Cathedrals Express steam train for a special St George’s Day trip to Oxford, Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon.
"As a former Secretary of State for Transport, and a regular commuter from Andover, it was a real pleasure to see this engine at the platform and wave it off on its journey."
Press Release bekow from Emily Watkinson, PR Manager for Steam Dreams.
On Wednesday 23 April, The Cathedrals Express is making a special St George’s Day trip to Oxford, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon and following a last minute decision will now start and finish in Andover for the very first time. The train which is scheduled to be hauled by West Country class locomotive, 34046 Braunton, will leave Andover at 07:30hrs and make its way through beautiful undulating countryside, arriving at its first destination of Oxford at 11.30hrs, where passengers may like to stay for a long afternoon. Alternatively, they could choose to stay on the train to visit either Warwick or the historic market town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
The Steam Dreams Chairman, Marcus Robertson, said: “We were originally due to start and finish in Salisbury, but following the fantastic response when we last visited Andover in March, we have decided to make this last minute change to allow locals to join us for this special trip. The route we take is very unusual and we don’t believe a train has ever gone direct from Andover to Stratford-upon-Avon before, so it promises to be a great day out.”
He added; “It seems very fitting that as we celebrate St George’s Day we are heading for Shakespeare’s Birthplace on the 450th anniversary of his birth. With two other fantastic destinations for passengers to choose from, this is one of our most popular day trips of the season.”
In Oxford there will be several hours to enjoy this picturesque city, with its stunning architecture and many independent shops, art galleries and museums. For passengers visiting the ancient County town of Warwick, a tour of the world famous castle with its Capability Brown landscaped gardens is highly recommended. There will also be plenty of time to explore the rest of this charming town, well known for its fascinating antique shops. Those opting for a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon will be in for a real treat as the town prepares to mark 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Holy Trinity Church, Nash’s House and New Place are just a few of the many attractions which celebrate the life of the world’s greatest playwright.
As always on The Cathedrals Express passengers have the opportunity to travel in four classes. These range from Premium Standard at £99 where they are seated at tables for four, with white tablecloths and complimentary tea and coffee at their seats, right up to Pullman Style Dining at £239 per person. Passengers in Pullman Style will enjoy a two course champagne breakfast or brunch on the outward journey and a five course dinner on the return. .
For this memorable journey The Cathedrals Express will also be picking up passengers along the route at Salisbury, Westbury, Trowbridge, Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon before heading to Oxford, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. Anyone interested in travelling on The Cathedrals Express should call the booking office on 01483 209888 or visit www.cathedralsexpress.co.uk.
For further press information contact Emily Watkinson, Steam Dreams, 07769 906293 or visit our website www.cathedralsexpress.co.uk.
Notes for Editors:
Steam Dreams & The Cathedrals Express
• Steam Dreams, which operates The Cathedrals Express, was the brainchild of steam train enthusiast Marcus Robertson, whose mother wrote The Wombles.
• The first Cathedrals Express left London for Canterbury in 2000 and was an immediate success
• Having celebrated its tenth anniversary on 15 December 2009 with a trip to Salisbury, Cathedrals Express began branching out to more destinations and using more locomotives
• The Cathedrals Express is now delighted to offer a number of UK multi-day tours and is also planning a series of overseas tours in the future
Braunton is a ‘Bulleid Light Pacific’ express passenger engine.
Braunton is a ‘West Country’ class locomotive designed by Oliver Bulleid. The locomotives were so named after towns on or near the Southern Railway system in the west of England, with the town of Braunton situated in North Devon.
The locomotives incorporated many modern features of the time, including electric lighting, an 'air smoothed casing' and the unique, yet problematic, internal chain driven valve gear. Submersed in an oil bath, it was an attempt to extend the mileages between locomotive overhauls however frequent leakage of oil and fires within the locomotive were not uncommon.
In the post war years of skills shortages and declining maintenance standards, British Railways embarked on a rebuilding programme of the ‘Light Pacifics’ in an attempt to improve reliability. In 1959 the air-smoothed casing and the internal chain drive were removed. By 1965 after accumulating 779,210 miles in service, Braunton was retired from service and sold to Barry Scrapyard. By 1988 the locomotive had moved from Barry but serious restoration did not begin until 1996 and was completed by 2008.
Over the winter of 2011 the locomotive was fitted with all the modern equipment to allow it to be used on the mainline railway network. Although restricted to 75mph, Braunton is capable of speeds in excess of 100mph.
The Cathedrals Express - Locomotive Background
70000 Britannia was the first of 55 Standard class 7 engines to be built in Crewe by British Railways.
Completed in January 1951 she was built for express passenger services between London and Norwich.
The BR Standard classes were designed by drawing on the best qualities from several previous locomotives to create an efficient engine that was produced with lower maintenance costs and weight saving measures to enable it to work across a wider geography.
Britannia has 2 cylinders, 6 driving wheels and a firebox of 42ft2 with most of the motion situated on the outside of the frames for ease of maintenance. Whilst limited to 75mph the locomotive is capable of reaching speeds up to 100mph.
For many years Britannia’s cab roof was painted white to commemorate her pulling the funeral train of King George VI from Sandringham to London in 1952. After 15 years of service in May 1966 Britannia was retired and after spells at preserved railways returned to the national network between 1991 and 1997 until major repairs were required and the locomotive was withdrawn for overhaul. In 2010 Britannia was steamed once more and 2011 marked the locomotive’s return to the main line after a 14 year absence. In one of her most important roles, Britannia hauled The Royal Train from Preston to Wakefield in January 2012.