18th July 2004
"The Load Bank" - K. & E.S.R. Diesel Gala

I'd been keen to do this line ever since my best man (a normal) had visited with his family two years ago, so when the diesel gala appeared on the horizon earlier in the year I was keen to be there.

As is always the way with these events they never quite deliver what is initially advertised and about a week before the event it became apparant that one of the two required shunters (D2023) would not materialise.

Shall I or Shan't I ? Needless to say a late decision around 8.30 am on the Sunday saw me packing brunch and heading off for the Dartford Crossing. All seemed to be going to plan when I pulled in to Tenterden Station car park with lots of time to spare before the first departure of the day. A good value rover ticket was purchased for 10 and I set out on the 10.30 'roll down the bank' behind some old 'Ford' diesel electric, dating from the 1930s. I jumped out at Rolvenden to wait for 33 065 Sea Lion, splendidly turned out in blue livery with white roof, and did the return trip to Bodiam, continuing on to Tenterden where the 08 was due to work a Rolvenden shuttle.

Now diesel galas these days have a habit of not quite delivering on the day and suffice it to say that a few of us were somewhat miffed as 33 065 ran round the train, no driver on site was one excuse banded around. There were probably only about a dozen bashers there, but a few of us pointed out (quietly and politely) that long journeys had been undertaken to get the 08. Well 065 worked the shuttle down to Rolvenden and 33 052 brought us back where the tannoy announced that the 08 would work the 15.10 Rolvenden shuttle. Fine, but family promises of 4 pm arrivals at home had been made, so a damage limitation move of driving car to Rolvenden was made. Here 73 136 was taken up to Tenterden for the DMU (50971 + 51571) to Rolvenden for 052 up to Tenterden. 08 108, bearing number D3174, backed on as promised and although it rolled out of the station on time I sensed some of the railway personnel were not delighted with the move. Anyway, it was straight into the car for me, but my 40 minute late arrival escaped any ranting so the day has to be classified as successful.

Well done to the staff at K&ES for sorting out the gronk problem and for providing an interesting gala at a fair price.

Mike Searle

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