Not so long ago, the unit was quietly rotting away in the corner of a small railway in Kent. Rumours of internal politics were rife and I was firmly of the belief that the unit would quietly disintegrate and that would be the end of that. I was sure that there would be interest in the unit and that a thumper would be a great asset if it were to be repaired, but it appeared that that was not going to happen.
Time went on and Amy and myself heard nothing until we became aware of a man called Matthew Plews. Never met him, but it appeared that he was a man with a mission; a mission to get the thumper back working again.
I do not very often get emotional, but the video of the unit starting up for the first time - Callum almost in tears and the all round emotion of everyone there was infectious. I am sure that everyone who saw it was moved.
The railway its self is quite a small operation, but they had a thumper - they were trying to get it running and Amy and myself were determined to give them as much publicity as we could muster.There was never any question that the unit would be included in the "Not the last thump " event.......but would anyone turn up. There was some nervousness come the day when I arrived. However, I was in for a shock.
The unit was sat quietly waiting in the sidings and the small team who had undertaken a minor miracle in getting the unit to the stage where it could start to earn its keep, were ready. At the appointed hour it moved into Shepherdswell platform and the impossible had happened. Its first fare paying passengers were starting to board. After a few moments the available seating had all been taken and the unit pulled out, unfortunately having to leave some passengers behind because of a lack of space. The place was heaving.
Throughout the day the unit performed faultlessly and the initial nerves became a distant memory.
The unit is far from finished and is still a work in progress, but the dedication of those involved in getting it this far should not be under-estimated. Begging and borrowing parts may still be the order of the day, but as an enthusiast I am delighted that the first Hampshire unit is still in use and in time I am convinced that it will become a credit to the preservation movement.
Thank you to all those who were involved, including Josh, Callum, Callum and Matthew for providing a brilliant day out. The beer tent and the general atmosphere provided a fantastic backdrop to this little piece of railway history. Gentlemen, the unit is a credit to you and we wish you every success in the future.
Chris Cannon and Amy Adams