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'Kenny Belle'

If you have any photos, stories, or further information about the 'Kenny Belle', please email them to the Nine Elms website Shedmaster at shedmaster@nineelms.svsfilm.com

Jim Rowe kindly sent in two photographs featuring the 'Kenny Belle' local passenger working between Kensington Olympia and Clapham Junction.

Driver Bert Fordery and Fireman Bob Symons on 80145 at Clapham Junction (Central side) with the "Kenny Belle".

The same train with 80145 leaving Kensington Olympia later the same day.

Photographs are from Jim Rowe's collection

82006 just about to run around at Clapham Junction platform 17 prior to returning to Kensington Olympia.
Photograph from Alan Newman's collection

82025 at Olympia on 20th March 1964 waiting to return to Clapham with the 16.36 'Kenny Belle'.
Photograph copyright Pat Avery

Alan Rawlings has sent us the following item:
As a lad, living in Wimbledon, my meagre finances didn't stretch far so the service for postal workers between Clapham Junction and Kensington Olympia was a great opportunity to get behind steam at low cost. I stumbled over it by chance when I was passing through Clapham Junction one day and saw the train heading off towards Kenny O. By asking around I gradually pieced together what was going on and that triggered a number of return trips with various locomotives over several years.

It wasn't clear to me at the time whether this service really was for the public - well not the reverse working, anyway - as it was always empty (apart from me) on the Kenny O - Clapham leg in the morning and the Clapham - Kenny O leg in the evening. I always used to get strange looks from the postal workers when they saw me already on the train as it arrived for them in the evening especially as I was clearly a bit young to be a worker!

There were two trains at each end of the day. Journey time - eight minutes. The morning train left Clapham at 0816, returning at 0832 from Kenny O. Just a six minute run around before setting off again at 0846 and returning at 0900. In the evening there was a 1650, returning at 1706 and the second train left at 1720, returning at 1736. Although there seemed to be pattern of operation, it did vary. Trains usually started out of Platform 1 and returned to Platform 17 for the second trip. At the time, (1965), the service was usually the Standard 3 tanks like 82018, 82023, 82026. Things moved on in 1966 to Standard 4s such as 80015, 80133 and 80154. Finally, in 1967 I picked an Ivatt Class 2 - 41319. However, the highlight for me, and what started it all, were the H Class tanks that I travelled behind in 1962 - 31305, 31542.

This truly was one of London's hidden gems and a steam 'commuter' service that survived in the capital long after everything else had disappeared.

Roy Gould (ex Waterloo driver) has sent us the following:
I used to go to the posh grammar school in Battersea High Street and used to see the Belle most mornings. The variety of locos was amazing, the standard 2-6-4 tanks, the Ivatt tanks, Q1s, BR standard tender locos, sometimes a light Pacific. I think it depended on what loco Nine Elms had available. But didnít Central men used to work the morning run?

What interested me was the stock; there was a 4 car set of BR green suburbans, one was S1000S which has a white roof. I found out later that was the prototype glass fibre coach and it still exists on one of the steam lines. Then there was a maroon set of 4 BR suburbans, and a mixed rake of 3 suburbans with a Bullied brake in the middle. Then of course at the end of steam there was the 6TC, converted from a Nelson electric set. That appeared before the end of steam and the day I rode on it the 33/1 had to run round as the push-pull equipment wasnít working so the driver said.

Somewhere about Iíve got a bit of grainy 8mm cine film of the Belle at Kenny, running round and a few grainy black and white shots on 126 film. Those featured a BR standard tank. ISTR an incident there with a fireman twirling the tea can over his head; of course the handle jammed and he ended up with tea all over his head!! I often tried to get a lift there or back on the empties but the guard would never let me, and it cost 6d to get back to Clapham on the 49 bus from Kenny!!

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