WORLD RENOWNED HERITAGE RAILWAY STAGES VINTAGE WEEKEND
By Richard Holdsworth
The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway – probably the most famous narrow gauge railway in the world – is holding its annual Vintage Weekend on September 28/29 and it promises to be a wonderful event for all the family.
The four main stations – Hythe, Dymchurch, New Romney and Dungeness – will see displays of motor vehicles of all types from the 1940’s to the 1980’s. There will be live music from across the era with a Vintage Dance Troupe and re-enactors dressed in the style of the1940s, while the 1940’s Museum at New Romney Station will be open with the Replica Armoured Train the centre of attention.
There will be a Punch and Judy show with Professor Pom Pom the magician to entertain the younger visitors and on the menu in the two cafes – New Romney and Dungeness – there will be dishes that step back in time – fortunately Ration Books not needed!
History shows the railway found itself in the front line with the Battle of Britain going on overhead and invasion a constant threat a mere few hundred yards away on the Kent coastline.
In fact, at the onset of hostilities in 1939 the railway was requisitioned by the War Department, the Department even creating the only miniature armoured train in the world, this being used extensively during the building of PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) built to supply fuel to the Allied forces in the invasion of fortress Europe.
So the RH&D Railway is the perfect setting for a Vintage on the Railway event and it will be no surprise to see re-enactors representing our armed forces on the platforms and travelling on the trains throughout the two days. Give them a cheer and don’t be shy to have your photograph taken with the famous from the war years – and keep a look out for the WWll spiv flogging nylons and ciggies and other “hard to get” treats of the war years! And chat to Richard Holdsworth local author and evacuee and get him to tell you what it was like to be caught in a German bombing raid in which 49 people died and a further 99 injured. Richard will be on Dymchurch station throughout.
Nowadays the Romney, Hythe and Dungeness Railway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the South-East and the Vintage Weekend will attract many hundreds of visitors. Trains run at 45 minute intervals throughout the two days starting with the first from Romney to Hythe at 9.35 and to Dungeness at 9.48. The last trains will leave back to Romney from Hythe at 6.15 in the evening and Dungeness at 6.04. But please check on www.rhdr.org.uk for full details of the weekend’s timetable.
The railway has a coffee shop at Hythe Station, the Heywood Buffet at New Romney Station and The Light Railway Café at Dungeness, famous for its fish and chips. All will be open throughout the weekend and all the main stations have retails outlets where you can purchase souvenirs.
The RH&DR was the culmination of the dreams of two men; Captain J. E. P. Howey — a racing driver, millionaire land owner, former Army Officer and miniature railway enthusiast and Count Louis Zborowski — eminently well-known racing driver of his day and also a rich man.
The Count was keen to build a fully working railway using the 15″ gauge, and Howey — well known in miniature railway circles for owning large locomotives to the 15” gauge — was enthusiastic too. The Count ordered two Pacific locomotives, Green Goddess and Northern Chief designed by the leading model engineer of his day, Henry Greenly and built in Henry Greenly, Paxman and Co. and which would run on the line the two men were determined to build.
However, before the two locomotives were delivered the Count was killed while racing at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix. Howey was left with two locos and the task of finding
somewhere to run them. He commissioned Greenly to help him, and it was he that came up with the railway at Romney Marsh and the official opening finally took place on 16th July 1927.
During those early years the railway became famous and people came to ride on what soon became known as the ‘Smallest Public Railway in the World’. The locomotive fleet was extended to nine main-line express engines and a fleet of luxurious coaches was built. During the Vintage Weekend four steam trains will be operating along with a diesel. It promises to be a great time!
More details on: www.rhdr.org Or Telephone: 01797 362353
Richard Holdsworth. www.holdsworthwrites.co.uk
“Rye’s Own” September 2013
All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement. © World Copyright 2015 Cinque Ports Magazines Rye Ltd., Guinea Hall Lodge Sellindge TN25 6EG