The heading may sound like a disaster but in fact this is a heartwarming story. The tornado in question is actually a steam locomotive pulling a very special train called "The Winton Train". The journey commemorated a series of eight train journeys that occurred seventy years ago at the outbreak of World War Two. Those trains carried hundreds of mainly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to new foster homes in Britain. They were organised by a 29 year old clerk called Nicholas Winton. The last leg of the four day route was from the port of Harwich in Essex to London's Liverpool Street Station. Today, a now 100 year old Sir Nicholas Winton was at the station in London to greet 22 of the original travellers who, along with their families ,had reinacted their earlier historic journey.
Although it is heartwarming to think that these children escaped to safety and went on to new lives in Britain it is also a sad tale as most, in not all, of these children waved farewell to their parents from the train as it departed and never saw them again. If you click on this link - here - you can read more about the 1939 journeys and today's 70th anniversary event.
I first became aware of this story when I heard that the steam locomotive "Tornado" was hauling a train from Harwich to London. This steam locomotive itself is actually a very interesting, unique engine. Rather than being a preserved and restored old engine it is actually brand new - the first steam locomotive to be built in Britain for nearly fifty years. There were 49 similar locomotives built in 1948/49 but the last one was scrapped in 1966 when the network went diesel and electric. Unlike many classes of engine not one saved - all went for scrap. Someone in 1990 had the ambitious idea to built an entirely new one from the original plans. Money was raised and over a eighteen year project the new loco 60163 "Tornado" was built. You can read about the project here.
This morning after dropping Troy Junior at school I drove to Marks Tey station in Essex. There, at 09.45, along with many other onlookers, I saw "The Winton Train" pulled by "Tornado" come through the station at speed. Here are two photos:-
It was a fantastic, albeit very brief, sight as the train hurtled passed, commemorating a very heartwarming story.