A HAMPSHIRE heritage railway has launched a new formal dining service on one of its trains.

The Royal Wessex Fine Dining Sunday Lunch service will offer Watercress Line passengers a three-course Sunday lunch in the railway’s first-class Pullman-style carriages as they travel between Alresford and Alton.

It was launched at the Watercress Line in Alresford on Sunday, April 14 by special guest the Commanding Officer of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, Lt Col Anthony Sharman.

Lt Col Sharman congratulated the Watercress Line on the new service before cutting a red ribbon and launching The Royal Wessex.

Hampshire Chronicle: The service was launched by Lt Col Anthony SharmanThe service was launched by Lt Col Anthony Sharman (Image: Watercress Line)

He then joined other guests to enjoy the Sunday lunch dining service on the inaugural journey afterwards.

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Rebecca Dalley, CEO of the Watercress Line, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of our newest fine dining train, The Royal Wessex. It was an honour and a pleasure to welcome Lt Col Anthony Sharman, Commanding Officer of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, to The Watercress Line for the launch from Alresford Station.

“Our diners can relax in the sumptuous comfort of The Royal Wessex carriages furnished with richly upholstered seats, cosy table lamps in the windows, curtains, and tables laid with white damask cloths. The gastronomic lunch, prepared by Lemon Stone Events, is served with a selection of fine wines, including English sparkling wines.

“It’s a chance to return to a bygone era and sure to be an unforgettable experience. It’s already proving to be a popular choice.”

The original Royal Wessex service was introduced by British Railways in May 1951. It was one of a number of named trains introduced to commemorate the Festival of Britain of that year, and transported people from the South Coast to the festival in London.

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It left Bournemouth West on Mondays to Saturdays at 08.20 for Southampton and London Waterloo, returning from Waterloo at 16.35. It stopped running as a named train in the 1960s when steam haulage ceased on the Southern Region.

The train was hauled by a Merchant Navy or West Country class locomotive and used a dedicated set of the newly-designed all-steel standard Mark1 carriages, still used on The Watercress Line today.

The Royal Wessex Fine Dining Lunch service will run on various dates throughout the year. To find out more or book, visit the Watercress Line website.