Famous Steam Train To Visit South Coast

A record-breaking steam locomotive playing a key role in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations – and named after Her Majesty when a child – is hauling a special excursion train from Oxfordshire to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

It will also travel through Winchester, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Wareham.

Carrying some 500 passengers in style, the 'Cathedrals Express' from Oxford and Banbury takes to the rails on Thursday, 19th April, 2012, for its five-hour journey down to the Isle of Purbeck and its Jurassic Coast.

At the head of the twelve-coach train will be the powerful and prestigious 1930s-built 'Princess Elizabeth' steam locomotive named after Her Majesty The Queen when she was the seven year old Princess Elizabeth.

The train journey will be a very historic one because it is believed to be the first time that an LMS Princess Royal class steam locomotive has ever worked a train in both the Isle of Purbeck and in Dorset.

Back in 1936, the express steam locomotive successfully gained the record for the longest and fastest steam hauled non-stop passenger train on the west coast main line between London and Glasgow – an Anglo-Scottish record that 'Princess Elizabeth' still holds.

Built in 1933 for £11,675, the 8P power classification express steam locomotive is also historically important because it is the surviving prototype design of the LMS Stanier Pacific class of steam locomotives.

The special 'Cathedrals Express' steam train is due to call at Wareham at 2.25pm, Corfe Castle at 2.54pm and then Swanage at 3.14pm before departing Swanage for the journey home to Oxfordshire at 5pm.

No. 6201 'Princess Elizabeth' will be taking a key role in the national Diamond Jubilee celebrations when while standing on Chelsea Bridge for 15 minutes, its whistle will start a thousand-strong Royal flotilla on the River Thames in London at 2.30pm on Sunday, 3 June, 2012.

Earlier that day, 'Princess Elizabeth' will be hauling the Vintage Trains' 'Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant' excursion train from Solihull in the West Midlands to London's Kensington Olympia station.

Swanage Railway Company chairman Peter Sills said:

"We're absolutely delighted and very excited to be welcoming such a prestigious, historic and record-breaking steam locomotive to Swanage.

"It's very apt that the locomotive named after Her Majesty the Queen when she was a seven year old child in 1933 should be visiting Corfe Castle and Swanage before playing a part in the national celebrations to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee," explained Mr Sills who lives in Wareham.

No. 6201 'Princess Elizabeth' was built for the London Midland and Scottish (LMS) Railway company at its Crewe works in Cheshire during 1933 for £11,675 and was the second Princess Royal steam locomotive class.

After 'Princess Elizabeth' started hauling prestigious express trains – including the 'Royal Scot' – between the London Euston and Glasgow Central stations, the other 12 steam locomotives of its class became known as 'Lizzies'.

With six driving wheels, four cylinders and a 45 square foot firebox, the 4-6-2 wheel arrangement 'Princess Elizabeth' was withdrawn by British Railways from its Carlisle Kingmoor locomotive depot in October, 1962, and was bound for a scrapyard.

Luckily, a railway enthusiast purchased the locomotive from British Railways in 1963 for £2,160 and it was restored it to full working order by the Princess Elizabeth Locomotive Society.

The 'Cathedrals Express' starts from Banbury and picks up passengers in the Thames Valley at Oxford, Pangbourne, Reading West and Basingstoke before travelling to Corfe Castle and Swanage via Winchester, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Wareham.