Rail enthusiasts, including the local MP and transport minister Norman Baker, were treated to a blast from the past at Lewes Station on Friday.
The occasion was the visit to the town of the Tornado steam train for its special ‘Cathedrals Express’ trip to Salisbury and back.
With the platform bustling with train buffs, Mr Baker donned a boiler suit in preparation to ride on the footplate of the iconic steam engine on part of its journey which went through Haywards Heath, Redhill, Purley, Kensington Olympia and then on to the historic cathedral city of Salisbury.
The Tornado is a recreation of the famous Peppercorn ‘A1’ steam locomotive the last original one of which was scrapped in 1966 as a result of the rapid dieselisation of the train industry.
However, in 1990 a group of steam train enthusiast got together and decided to construct a brand new Peppercorn A1 Pacific and just 18 years later the locomotive’s wheels moved under its own steam for the first time.
Mr Baker said: “The rail network these days is so much driven by efficiency and capacity that there is no doubt we have lost some of the romanticism along the way.
“However, steam trains like the Tornado allow you to be transported instantly back to a time where it was not just about where you were going, but how you were getting there and it was a real privilege to get the chance to ride on the footplate of this beautiful locomotive.”