A Look Back at Ongar: 6th October 2013
Prepared by Ian Smith, 13th October 2013.
339: Epping Station to North Weald Station: RT1700I emerged from the Central Line station at Epping to see Regal Busways Dart 614 (ex Metroline DLM152, as it says on the tin) pulling away on the 541 to Harlow. Fortunately, it was not the bus I wanted. That arrived a quarter-hour later, in the elegant guise of RT1700, looking wonderful in Country Area green and cream, on the scheduled 339 service.
The best places on the bus were already taken - by the driver and by families with enthusiastic youngsters, doing a round trip from North Weald. Nevertheless I found a good seat, with a view forward, and enjoyed the trip to North Weald: up through Epping Town, then right into Epping Forest, past Coopersale Lane End and under the motorway, and on past North Weald Aerodrome, before turning in to the station.
There we pulled up behind red RT3871, the other route 339 bus today. The double-deckers work out from North Weald in opposite directions, to Ongar and Epping, meeting at North Weald and connecting with the trains - a co-ordinated transport system!
North Weald to Ongar and back: 205205I walked across to the platform. Things certainly looked much better than on my trip here a year ago. It was not just the weather! That day there had been no steam train in service, but today Prairie tank 4141 was looking splendid, having just arrived with a train from Ongar. Coming in from Coopersale was the Marsh Line Thumper, 205205, looking great in a fresh coat of Network Southeast livery. Standing in the yard was Brush Type 2 31438 respendent in a fresh coat of Rail Blue with yellow ends. Both diesels looked so much better than last year's condition.
There were lots more passengers too. Last year the dire weather had resulted in almost empty trains. Today almost every compartment of the Thumper held a family. I have a considerable liking for these units, having travelled on them (including 205205) many times across Romney Marsh. So I indulged my taste for nostalgia and climbed aboard. There was no space in the motor unit, so I rode in the driving trailer. We grumbled off up the line past Blake Hall to Ongar. The only thing missing (apart from the numbers on the unit ends) was the throaty roar of the engine being worked hard. The Light Railway order imposes a speed limit, so the train just lolloped up the line to Ongar.
At Ongar the Western Region dmu was still awaiting a repaint, but with a lighter crust of detritus than last year, and the Finnish HULK still lurked on its own section of track near the station buildings. The tiny Diesel mechanical shunter, 2957, looked good in fresh black.
There was a general change of train population. I visited the station shop to buy a cakelet to eat, then returned to the platform. When the train was about to depart once more I climbed back aboard.
Back at North Weald Prarie tank 4141, having run round its train, was ready to depart for Ongar.
381 North Weald to Epping via Toot Hill: RF180Out front RF180, newly restored to public passenger carrying service in historic Green Line livery, was waiting on the forecourt with a 381 to Epping Station. This was why I was here, really. So I went over to join Roger Wright, who was driving...
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.