Steamy spectacular as elegant engine pays Portsmouth a visit

STEAMED UP The Pompey Pacific clatters through Fratton Station as it makes its way to Portsmouth Harbour Station.   Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (113227-1)
STEAMED UP The Pompey Pacific clatters through Fratton Station as it makes its way to Portsmouth Harbour Station. Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (113227-1)
Picture: Isle of Wight Radio/PA Wire

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SIGHTS and smells from a past era filled a busy train station when an old steam engine paid a visit.

The 70000 Britannia steam train pulled into Portsmouth Harbour station on Saturday as part of an excursion called the Pompey Pacific.

CAP A view of the crew on passengers on the Pompey Pacific  ''(113227-3)

CAP A view of the crew on passengers on the Pompey Pacific ''(113227-3)

The 60-year-old locomotive then stopped at Fratton train station to pick up more coal and water for its return journey to Somerset.

It is the first time the historic train has been on an excursion to the city.

Platforms were packed with people who turned up to take photographs of the old engine.

Train enthusiast Ben Heath, 14, of King George Road, Portchester, was there with his grandmother Cathie.

He said: ‘It was absolutely brilliant. I’ve been interested in trains since I was a toddler and I volunteer on the Watercress Line.

‘I have been waiting for months to see this ever since I heard it was coming here.

‘It’s just something about the smells and the sounds that I really like.

‘They let me stand inside the cab of the train while it was stopped at the platform which was really nice of them.

‘There’s something so much more exciting about seeing them on a main line with all the other trains.’

Britannia was built in 1951 and taken out of service in 1966.

For many years, the roof of the cab was painted white to commemorate the fact King George VI’s funeral train was pulled by the engine after his death in 1952.

Anne Dunn, 54, of Queen Street, Portsea, said: ‘It’s not something you see every day at the train station.

‘I knew it was making a visit and I just wanted to come down and take a picture.

‘It looks very majestic and it’s so nice to see these things still out and about.

‘It looks like it has been kept in very good shape over the years.

‘There is a lot of history there and it does bring back a lot of memories.’

Passengers on board the train, which left from Taunton in Somerset, spent six hours on the tracks before arriving in Portsmouth for the day.

Britannia was once owned by record producer Pete Waterman and now belongs to a British millionaire businessman.

The train is one of only two survivors in its class, of which there were 55 built in the 1950s.