HISTORY will come steaming back into Littlehampton at the end of the month, as the town prepares to welcome a new locomotive.
The Welsh steam locomotive Sherpa will be making its debut trip along the Littlehampton Miniature Railway’s seafront line on Saturday, March 31, more than two decades after steam power was last used on the popular attraction.
Sherpa’s appearance, on a six-week lease, will reopen the railway after months of hard work by a dedicated band of volunteers.
They were led by Chris Phillimore, the managing director of TIR Ltd, the company responsible for refurbishing the 760m track.
In preparation for the return of steam to the town, enthusiast and driver Chris Shanks alongside Chris Phillimore and Bruce Whalley, took a trip up to Fairbourne, in the Snowdonia National Park, where the engine is currently based, last week.
Chris Shanks, who used to drive the original, 1948 Thurston steam engines on the Littlehampton line, during the late 1970s and ’80s, will be one of those taking the controls of the newest addition to the current fleet of diesel engines.
He had the chance to put the Welsh loco through its paces during his visit.
Chris, who owns Shanks Printers and Finishers, in Littlehampton, said: “It’s a remarkable engine.
“I have been driving steam engines for so long, it’s wonderful to get a chance to do it again.
“We have got a great history. This is one of the oldest lines of its type in the country.
“I am certainly looking forward to getting back on it with a steam loco.”
Chris Phillimore, who took over the site last year, said he was excited at the prospect of bringing steam power back to Littlehampton.
He said: “Our aim is to make the railway an attraction in its own right so that we can help to support the local economy.
“This year, we hope to further improve the stations and open a retail and exhibition space in the engine shed in Mewsbrook Park.”