Between 1961 and 1968 an RCTS member attended grammar school on Battersea High Street and so passed through Clapham Junction and under the site of the West London Extension Railway’s Battersea Station, destroyed by incendiary bombs in October 1940.
Every morning around 8.20am a steam-hauled passenger train, comprised of four compartment coaches headed by a tank engine, crossed the High Street on the embankment that led to Battersea Bridge across the River Thames and disappeared into the industrial complex of the Chelsea Basin.
Volume 31 of the Railway Observer revealed this working to be an unadvertised service running during the morning and evening rush-hours between Clapham Junction and Kensington Olympia for local Post Office Savings Bank staff and Lyons factory workers. Known locally as ‘The Kenny Belle’ his diaries recorded that BR Standard ‘2MT’ 2-6-2T No. 84024 was in use in September 1961 before being ousted by ‘H’ class 0-4-4T Nos. 31305 and 31542. After the withdrawal of the 0-4-4Ts, the service remained steam worked until the end of Southern steam by 2-6-2Ts and 2-6-4Ts allocated to Nine Elms.
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Early volumes of the RO filled in the prewar history of the passenger workings over the WLER and cycle rides to school enabled the watching of these trains at Clapham Junction, Earl’s Court, West Brompton, Stamford Bridge and Kensington Olympia.
Read more in the July 2017 issue of The RM – on sale now!