For the past 88 years the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway has been an integral part of the landscape of the Romney Marsh. Known as “Kent’s Mainline in Miniature”, the World famous one-third full size Steam & Diesel locomotives have powered their way along the 13½ miles of track from the Cinque Port town of Hythe, terminating in Dungeness; a National Nature Reserve and one of the largest shingle landscapes in the world.
With 4 stations in between, all within walking distance of a beach, the railway provides you with an opportunity to explore this unique corner of Kent.
With coast & country walks and all manner of wildlife & flora to be seen, cycle rides, medieval churches and iconic Lighthouses are all on the doorstep.
We boarded our train in Hythe, it was a steam loco by the name of Hercules and sporting an immaculate maroon livery, Hercules hauled the inaugural train from Hythe on the opening day of the line - July 16th 1927. Her condition was close to derelict at this time, but in 1936 renewed ballast traffic saw to it that Hercules was rebuilt for use on this service.
So, by the time that the railway was commandeered by the Army she was fit to find fame as the engine used for the armoured train during World War Two.
Our journey took us through Dymchurch, St Marys Bay New Romney and Romney Sands stations with a stop at Romney Warren Halt to top up the water tanks before arriving at Dungeness, 13½ miles of not the best track in the world but it did add a certain something to the excitement of sitting in a fully enclosed one third size very basic carriage, it served the purpose and we were all protected from the elements – a chilling wind.
Our return journey was part way being hauled by again a one third size diesel locomotive, Captain Howey. Originally delivered in Union Pacific yellow and grey, 'Number 14' was repainted into the blue and cream livery of Eastbourne Buses in 1983 to celebrate their 90th anniversary. The loco received a royal blue and silver livery in time for the Millennium and for her naming ceremony.
'Captain Howey' can often be seen hauling the school train during term-time and is also used for other passenger duties throughout the operating season.
With excellent catering facilities available at some stations, the ever-popular Model Railway Exhibition, 1940’s Museum and Play Park at New Romney Station, good station shops, free car parking and facilities to assist Disabled visitors, RH&DR is the perfect any-weather, all-generations great day out in my opinion, we certainly enjoyed it and I’m sure you will if you venture down that way….
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