Hospice supporters and railway enthusiasts came out in their thousands to welcome the steam locomotive Tornado to north Essex.
The `Walton Pier Express’ on August 12th was organised by Tendring District Council chairman Mark Platt to raise money for the hospice. After transporting passengers from London Liverpool Street to Walton-on-the-Naze, the loco then operated a shuttle service for rail enthusiasts between Walton and Colchester.
Sightseers gathered on platforms along the route to catch a glimpse of the train, which was also part of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the railway in Walton.
One of those on board was the Reverend Peter Edwards, Vicar of Walton.
“I had hoped to bless the locomotive before we set off but there wasn’t enough time, so I blessed the carriages instead. Some people carried on reading their books, but most people greeted me warmly. Perhaps there is something about vicars and trains. The Rev W Awdry created Thomas the Tank Engine, after all!”
Anne and Richard Brown from Dedham (pictured) left home in the early hours get to London in order to board the train at Liverpool Street Station at 7.15am.
Anne said: “It’s a fantastic way of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the railway arriving in Walton and it brings back happy memories of travelling on steam trains from Manningtree to Newcastle when I was a youngster.
“It’s great that it is all benefitting a wonderful cause like St Helena Hospice, which does such amazing work locally.”
Ruth Bendle, Community Partnerships Fundraising Manager at St Helena Hospice said: “We are immensely grateful to Councillor Platt and everyone who has helped him arrange the day’s events. Everyone who has seen or ridden behind Tornado today has had a fantastic time, and the money raised from the day will help us to care for patients and their families living in north Essex.”