Mid-Hants footplate experiences!

The Watercress Line has been busy working with The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust  to bring you some unique footplate experiences that are available when Tornado visits the railway in October and November.  Given the enormous popularity of this locomotive, the M.H.R. wanted to provide experiences that have yet to be made available anywhere else and at a price most could afford, enabling you to join the elite few who have travelled on the footplate and indeed taken charge of this fine steam locomotive.  We are very pleased to offer the following experiences.


Yes, you could say ‘I drove Tornado, the first main line steam locomotive to be built in this country for almost 60 years!’.   You won’t just drive her for a few hundred yards, but a trip totalling 6 miles along part of this challenging line!  Starting from Alresford, you will be welcomed onto the footplate by the crew, shown where and how the controls work and then given the regulator – she’s all yours!  You will then drive Tornado 3 miles to Ropley up the 1 in 80 gradient and then mastering the braking technique on the return trip back down the hill.  This experience will be ‘light engine’ and will feature the locomotive only with no coaches.  Guests are invited to witness your achievement from Alresford station where there is a buffet serving hot and cold refreshments.  There will be excellent photo opportunities for observers at Alresford, either from the platform or from the raised picnic area overlooking the station.

This once in a lifetime opportunity can be yours for as little as £350.00!  Participants will receive a certificate of achievement on completion of the trip.


For those simply wishing to say they have been for a ride on the footplate of Tornado, there will be space on each 6 mile trip for a rider.  This could be a friend or relative of the driving participant wishing to record the experience for posterity, or simply someone wishing to experience the thrill of being on the footplate of a powerful steam locomotive.

Rides are available at £150.00


For those wishing to have a go at Driving and Firing this magnificent machine, there are spaces on the ‘Advanced’ experience.  Very few people have had the opportunity to drive and fire this main line registered locomotive, so this is your chance to join the elite few.

Starting at 9am at Alresford Station, you will be in control of Tornado hauling a train of coaches along the full length of the steeply graded 10 mile line.  Under the instruction of a highly experienced crew, you will be paired with another participant to take turns as both Driver and Fireman during the day, completing a 10 mile trip in each role.  When not on the footplate you will assist the Guard, help with coupling and other areas of importance.  You are able to invite up to 3 guests (over 16 years) to travel on the train during your experience and when not on the footplate, you will be able to join them on board the train for refreshments.  A lunch will be provided for the participant at the West Country Buffet at Alresford Station.

Whilst this is an Advanced Course, no previous experience is required and is available to first timers too looking for the ultimate steam locomotive experience!

The course duration is 7 hours approx. and available at £800.00 per person.

Full terms and conditions can be viewed here