We have been visiting the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway for a number of years now, first with the children and most recently with our Granddaughter for a Santa Special. The railway runs from a terminus near to the retail park in Sittingbourne which is a walkable distance from the railway station. The station also has a fair sized car park nearby. It should be noted that trains may only be caught from Sittingbourne as there is no public access to the Kemsley Down station.
The line operates a collection of narrow gauge industrial steam locomotives and rolling stock mostly originating from the line when it was used to ferry paper and raw materials between the Kemsley paper mills and Sittingbourne. In truth the journey is not as scenic as some other lines but has an interesting journey along a section of elevated concrete viaduct and then across grassland until Kemsley Down station is reached. The line has had a chequered history at times being threatened with closure due to the land owner wishing to dispose of it and also the condition of the substantial concrete viaduct at the Sittingbourne end.
Kemsley Down station is the headquarters of the railway with the locomotive sheds and stock sidings all here. There are some ‘standard’ gauge industrial saddle tanks here on isolated sections of track and also a rare example of ‘fireless’ steam locomotive as used in the paper mill.
Kemsley Down station also possesses a large open area mostly grassed where children can run around and also where a picnic may be had. There is a very reasonably priced refreshment room and a small shop where you can purchase railway related souvenirs and books outlining the history of the line. A branch of the river Swale passes by the station site giving access I believe to the Saxon Shoreway if you fancy a ramble. The site also has toilet facilities.
The charm of the line is that here you get to ride behind a small narrow gauge locomotive immaculately turned out in a genuine vintage passenger carriage belonging to a lost age of travel. If it is running you may also get the opportunity to ride in an open carriage, which on a sunny day brings a whole new experience to rail travel behind a steam engine. If you talk to any of the volunteers here you will find them most enthusiastic about their railway and readily prepared to help with any queries that you may have.
Well worth a visit if you like trains and would like to experience something a bit different and young children will love its quirkiness.
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