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Northern Belle steam train journeys through Kent

By William Janes

Onlookers were treated to a glorious example of steam engineering today as the Northern Belle pulled into The County Town.

The luxurious vintage train was met by an exited crowd as it arrived at Maidstone East Railway Station at 12.30pm for its debut journey in Kent.

On its way it has already passed through Ashford International at 13.41pm, Canterbury West at 14.14pm, Sandwich at 14.46pm, Deal at 14.52, Dover Priory at 15.05, finally arriving at Folkestone West at 3.20pm - all to raise money for Heart of Kent Hospice.

The Northern Belle rumbled into Maidstone East Railway Station at 12.30pm
The Northern Belle rumbled into Maidstone East Railway Station at 12.30pm
Northern Belle Steam Train passing between Dover & Folkestone. Picture: Ryan King (10089747)
Northern Belle Steam Train passing between Dover & Folkestone. Picture: Ryan King (10089747)

The locomotive is then set to return to its starting point at 5pm.

On their round trip, passengers will enjoy Champagne and luxury dining in the elegance of 1930s Pullman coaches.

The 10-carriage train, comprised of seven dining cars, two kitchen cars and a brake car, will be drawn by a Black Five steam locomotive, Number 44781, originally built for the London Midland and Scottish Railway, which made its last service run on August 11, 1968.

Watch as passengers prepare and the Northern Belle rumbles away

It was later used in the 1969 film The Virgin Soldiers.

Well-dressed passengers were eagerly awaiting the train's arrival on the platform.

Marian Anderson, from Borough Green, said: "My husband is a keen railway enthusiast so when we saw it as a charity fundraiser we thought why not."

Video of the train tearing through Hollingbourne Railway Station sent in by bystander Mark Brooks

Angela Leaney, from Ditton and who was getting ready to board the train with her husband Bill, said: "We've had this planned since March. We both love steam trains and love riding on them - we're not great experts but we like going on them. We love the steam, it's quite exciting.

"The tickets were expensive but this is my 70th birthday treat. It's for a good cause, my Husband's uncle was in the hospice and his sister is a volunteer so we're supporting them."

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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