An annual Armistice Day steam special will mark the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands War.
The 45606 Falkland Islands will “live again” as it hauls The Railway Touring Company’s ‘The Kentish Belle’ from London Victoria to Margate on Friday, November 11. The train will depart from London mid-morning for a nostalgic steam journey through Kent. It will travel through Dartford, Gravesend, Chatham and Gillingham. At Faversham it will take the Whitstable line to Margate.
On the return The Kentish Belle, with 45606 Falklands Islands at its head, will pass beneath the White Cliffs of Dover.
‘The Kentish Belle Armistice Day’ steam train, organised by The Railway Touring Company, will be hauled by historic Jubilee class locomotive 45996 Bahamas but this has been temporarily re-named 45606 ‘Falkland Islands’ in tribute to those who took part in the conflict.
45996 Bahamas is a sister loco to the original steam loco 45606 Falkland Islands. Owners the Bahamas Locomotive Society gave permission for the loco to be re-plated in 2022 as a mark of respect to the fallen from all sides in the Falklands conflict, which took place in the South Atlantic in 1982. The original 45606 Falkland Islands locomotive was built in 1935, but withdrawn from service in 1964 and eventually scrapped.
The locomotive was temporarily renamed and renumbered in a ceremony in September at Swanage Station in Dorset. The new ‘Falkland Islands’ nameplates were cast from the original and fitted to the locomotive in the presence of a large crowd. The organisers’ original intention was to have a service presence and the nameplates unveiled by Falklands veterans but, they say, the fates conspired to see the ceremony cancelled on three previous occasions, so that this was not possible.
Following The Kentish Belle Armistice Day journey, the Falkland Islands nameplate will be removed and donated to The Royal Marines Association, The Royal Marines Charity, for auction at its annual charity fundraiser.
Keith Whitmore, chairman of Bahamas Locomotive Society, said: “We are delighted to have been able to facilitate a commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands conflict and to remember the fallen on both sides of the conflict with our loco, as a one-off, carrying the identity of its long scrapped sister LMS Jubilee Class locomotive 45606 Falklands Islands.”
The Railway Touring Company’s MD, Kelly Osborne, added: “Our Kentish Belle Armistice Day steam service is warmly welcomed by those who wish to remember loved ones and mark the day in a special way. This year, with 45606 Falkland Islands hauling the train, the journey will be a poignant reminder of all those lost during this more recent conflict.”