IT was like stepping back in time seeing a steam locomotive chug its way into Hampshire’s most famous railway town.

Crowds of trainspotters gathered to see the first mainline steam model to be built in 50 years pull in to Eastleigh and pass through other county stations yesterday morning.

The £3m Tornado took the vintage carriages from Swanage to London Waterloo and will be making a return journey on Sunday.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust charity raised the money to build the steam locomotive based on a 1948 design.

Chairman Mark Allot said: “Eastleigh is always a popular stop being a former railway town.

“We want to ensure the romance and passion for steam does not die out in this country. From the reaction we are getting it shows that Britain has not fallen out of love with it.”

Steam enthusiast Andy Burton, 42, of Swanage: “There is a majesty about steam that you just don’t get with today’s trains.

“It is just a living and breathing thing, the steam, the smell, the sound, everything, it’s fantastic.”

Fellow trainspotter, Keith Hargrave, 73, from Fair Oak, said: “I used to work on the trains and this brings back memories, good memories.

“Steam engines are alive. When you are walking around them there is the popping and crackling and smell of burnt oil or burnt coal.

“New trains don’t hold any fascination for me at all, they are just an oblong box with an engine stuck in them.”