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Eastleigh steam weekend proved a success

July 17, 2017

The Mayor of Eastleigh, Councillor Maureen Sollitt cut the ribbbon to open the event

Eastleigh’s proud railway heritage was celebrated in spectacular style this weekend.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the age of steam in the town  a steam locomotive, that served Eastleigh and other Southern Railway stations, was the stunning centrepiece of a weekend of events for all the family, as well as diehard railway enthusiasts.  

Wadebridge, the 92-ton steam locomotive made a very special stop – not at the busy Eastleigh rail station, but in the centre of the main shopping precinct at the north end of the town centre! Wadebridge was numbered as Eastleigh-built classmate Bideford and weathered to the condition she was in at the end of steam.  No tender was attached to the engine, allowing visitors a rare, close-up look at the footplate.

Organisers, Eastleigh Borough Council have been working closely with the Mid-Hants Railway/Watercress Line and the Eastleigh Business Improvement District to make it possible. The event is supported by Hampshire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In July 1967, steam trains, including Wadebridge, visited Eastleigh station for the very last time, heralding a new era of diesel and electric – that may have been more efficient, but had nowhere near the romance and spectacle of their magnificent, coal-powered predecessors.

As well as a chance to see Wadebridge at close hand, the event included:

  • Heritage displays at Eastleigh Museum and The Point
  • Rare film footage  
  • Music on the bandstand
  • Trigger the Train giving free rides in the town centre

And it is not just the firebox aboard the loco that was generating heat – on the Saturday the town’s annual Chilli Fiesta takes place in the Leigh Road Rec, alongside the steam-themed celebrations.

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