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Relaunch Gala - 28 July 2007

As the culmination of the 16-year restoration of the Bluebell's Metropolitan Railway carriages, the relaunch gala saw the carriages reunited with Metropolitan Railway locomotive No.1, which was built in 1898, the same year as two of the four carriages.

Driver Hopgood at the controls of Met.1 - Richard Salmon Fred Ivey launches the set - Andrew Strongitharm

Driver Adrian Hopgood was at the controls of Met.1 (Richard Salmon)
Well-known Metropolitan Line personality (and a former Met. Station master) Fred Ivey launches the set (Andrew Strongitharm)
(Click on any of the photos for an enlargement)

After brief speeches by Roy Watts (BRPS Chairman) and Martin Lock (the driving force behind the project for many years), Richard Salmon invited Fred Ivey to "launch" the Met set into service with, appropriately, some Boddingtons (three of the carriages were built in Manchester). Jon Bowers video (.wmv format, 10Mb) covers the relaunch ceremony itself.

The relaunch train departs northwards from Horsted Keynes - Derek Hayward Relaunch train north of Horsted Keynes - Dave Bowles

The relaunch train departs northwards from Horsted Keynes (Derek Hayward)
Relaunch train north of Horsted Keynes (Dave Bowles)

Guests at the launch included Paul Jessett representing the modern day Metropolitan Line, Dave & Bev Potter, Adrian Corke and Tony Lyster representing the Quainton Railway Society and Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, the owners and home of the Met. Loco No.1, and Michael and Jackie Cope representing both the Heritage Railway Association and Vintage Carriages Trust. The remainder of the participants were ticket-holders for the gala launch, who had supported the project financially by purchasing those tickets 10-15 years ago, and volunteers who had worked on the restoration, or assisted with the fund raising.

The relaunch train emerges from the tunnel at West Hoathly - Derek Hayward Relaunch train north of Horsted Keynes - Andrew Stronitharm

The relaunch train emerges from the tunnel at West Hoathly (Derek Hayward)
Relaunch train north of Horsted Keynes (Andrew Stronitharm)

After a buffet lunch at Sheffield Park, Paul Jessett spoke of the links the event reinforced between the Bluebell, with its historic Met carriages, and the modern-day Met, and, on behalf of Angela Back, General Manager of the Metropolitan Line, presented the Bluebell with a print of the last day of the use of the carriages on the Chesham shuttle in 1960.

The evening members special waits to leave Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon Neil Glaskin, guard of the evening train - Barry Coward

The evening members special waits to leave Horsted Keynes (Richard Salmon)
Whilst Sinclair Vincent, who also works on the London Underground, was guard for the afternoon train, Neil Glaskin is seen here, as guard of the evening train (Barry Coward)

In the early evening, a special train for Bluebell volunteers and members was run, and a raffle raised further funds towards the costs of bringing the Met loco to the Bluebell for the event. Volunteers from the C&W ended the day's celebrations with a BBQ at Horsted Keynes.

Test run at Kingscote - 26 July 2007 - John Sandys Photo Charter - 29 July 2007 - Tony Pearce

Two days earlier, the Met tank ran a test run the length of the line, which it passed with flying colours. It is seen here at Kingscote (John Sandys)
The day after the relaunch, the train was in public service, and in the evening Jon Bowers organised a photo charter - this photo from Tony Pearce was taken at the charter

Further photos and reports of the relaunch events are available as follows: The Met tank will be hauling the Met coaches again on the following days:
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Valid HTML 3.2! Copyright: Photos © individual photographers and text © Richard Salmon - 28-29 July 2007
Last updated 1 August 2007 by Richard Salmon.
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