The Lavender Line
Isfield Station
Nr Uckfield
East Sussex
TN22 5XB

Lavender Line News

18th October 2013 

Post Steam And Transport Gala Report And Photos

The Lavenders lines 3rd annual steam and transport gala has proven to be the most successful event the railway has ever hosted with a bumper crowd and three steam engines. The Friday before the steam and transport gala the Lavender lines working members set to the task of preparing the site for a busy weekend ahead with locos being prepped, shunting to be done and organising to be had. The catering staff were busy through the week preparing both the Cinders buffet for large crowds and our buffet coach which hosted tea, coffees and cakes. By the evening all three steam engines were in light steam with some of the crews finding themselves familiar with one of the visiting Port of Par twins by taking one of them for a short spin to get use to the unique position and controls of the squat saddle tanks. As the sun went down on Friday evening it was the calm before the storm, very quiet with just the sounds of simmering steam engines to be heard.

Saturday morning was an early start for all members; all three engines were in lit by 7.00 with preparations for the day well underway. By 9.00 there was a stream of vintage vehicles entering the neighbouring field as the attractions started to build, traction engines, classic cars, military vehicles, motorbikes and tractors are just some of what was pouring into the field ready for the display. At 9.45 the visiting Port of Par twins Alfred and Judy made there way together into platform 1 where they parked up for a while to allow the early bird visitors a chance to get close to there unique and great looking engines. With both the engines and crews now fed and watered the Twins made their way onto their train as did our resident steam engines Austin 1. Trains ran in an intensive manor with train’s departing every 25 minutes from 10.30 until 2.00. At this point a shunt took place where the locos swapped trains allowing visitors to ride behind the Twins in the coaches as well as the goods set. This change over took place for only a short period of time with a 25 minute service taking over yet again until 5.30. Through the day the platforms were crowded with passengers and visitors all wanting to get a good shot of the visiting engines as they worked hard out of Isfield station. Riles miniature railway also took stage with a two train service consisting of a visiting steam engine and one of the resident electric locos, this went down very popular with visitors and proved to be great addition to a very busy gala.
The Sunday proved to be an altogether different day, the weather was perfect for a transport gala, the sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and there seemed to be much larger crowd taking over Isfield station from a very early point in the day. This is the first time Alfred and Judy have ever visited the South East on there tour of the UK which was evident on the platforms as all people wanted to see was the twins. The day started much the same as Saturday, an early start again for the crews with all working members at the tools ready to ensure it was another successful day. By 12.00 though the station was so busy it was difficult to move around the site, some passenger trains were so busy they even had to wait for the next one! There was a smile amongst the members as they realised that for two days only the Lavender line had more working steam engines than the nearby bluebell railway, a first for us! The same intensive 25 minute timetable continued throughout Sunday with the locos yet again swapping places half way through the day, but there was a bonus for those who stayed beyond 5.00. The 5.30 last train of the day was hauled by all three locos as the crews put on a spectacular triple header for the remaining crowds. All three engines took charge of the goods set with the twins enjoying most of the hard work, a fantastic site to see and a great way to end a great gala weekend.

A big thank you to the Bodmin and Wenford railway for the hire of Alfred and Judy over the gala weekend, they were a big attraction and combined with the visiting vehicles and other attractions they pulled off the best gala weekend yet. Also a big thank you to all the working members over the course of the weekend, all the catering staff, ticket collectors, guards, train crews, organisers and points men who made the whole weekend run like clockwork.
Plans are already under way for next years event with big ideas already to top this years, don’t forget though our next big event is our Christmas at Isfield which will kick off on Sunday 1st December. Check out our special events page for more details