After 10 months of specialist repair work, the locomotive that hauls the Spitfire Steam Train is back on track for Faversham’s Historic Vehicle Weekend on May 21 and 22.
At last year’s car show, the locomotive broke down and was unable to complete the journey from Faversham to Sheerness-on-Sea using steam power. Shepherd Neame brewery made a donation for the repairs and now the steam engine is in first-class condition.
The locomotive, named Oliver Cromwell, was built by British Railways in 1951 and withdrawn in 1968. The train was restored in 2008 in time for the 40thanniversary of steam’s final swansong. Similar locomotives were once a common sight racing through Kent at the head of famous express trains such as the Golden Arrow.
The train will take passengers from London Victoria to Faversham on Sunday May 22, as well as completing a shorter return trip in the afternoon to Sheerness-on-Sea. The Spitfire Steam Train will return to London in the evening.
Visitors to Faversham will have the chance to see hundreds of classic cars and motorcycles on display and enjoy the best local fare and street entertainers. Shepherd Neame will also open for brewery tours and will serve lunch in the charming 15th century function room.
Return train fares are £87.50 in Spitfire Class or £64.50 in Hoppers Class from London Victoria with concessions for children. It’s also possible to reserve tables for two or complete carriages for large groups.
The afternoon return trip will take passengers from Faversham to Gillingham, then onward to Sheerness-on-Sea. Train fares cost between £17.50 and £24, with concessions for children.
The train is made up of historic carriages from the 1950s and 1960s, and will carry a real ale bar serving a range of Shepherd Neame beers, soft drinks and snacks.
Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre manager Graham Hukins said: “As Britain’s oldest brewer we greatly value the importance of history and heritage and are pleased to see locomotive back in action. The Historic Vehicle Weekend will be a great event for all the family.”
Advance booking for the Spitfire Steam Train, guided brewery tours and lunch at the brewery is highly recommended.