An early start as we headed out towards the East Coast where we were to visit the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch narrow gauge railway. But first, we had our morning delve into our Bradshaw's to hear what would have awaited us if our tour was on the way in 1873. The approach was through some beautiful green countryside and many quaint villages. We arrived in time to catch the train to Hythe as we had arrived at Romney instead of Hythe. In the end, it was a better decision.
The line has been an institution on the Romney Marsh for over 90 years and nearly closed in the 60's but the Association was born in 1967 to ensure the line remained open for future generations. The current structure, put in place by Sir William McAlpine in the early 1970s was supported by the Association.
The line was well utilized during WW2 where it was used to take guards to various sites on the bank. Also the line carried a lot of supplies, such as Pickets, mines, barbed wire and much more. Exercise Pluto, the laying of an oil pipeline across the Channel to France after the Normandy invasion was at a most important part to the further advancement towards Berlin and movement of the pipes etc to be able to be completed weighed heavily on the Govt mind.
The train was waiting for us so we boarded the train and set off for Hythe. As we trundled over the bridges, through the lovely English countryside we realised what a special place was here to support us, along the way we passed the old St Mary's Bay Flying Field, known locally as Jefferson Field. It was from here in 1915 that the planes meant for France stopped their journey for one last check before adventuring across the Channel to the battlefields.
Lunch and then off to the Kent and East Sussex Railway. Arriving earlier than our programmed time, we allowed to board the earlier train and headed to Bodiam. Tenterdon and Bodiam are two stations preserved as they were when the line first opened, they were in fabulous condition and all enjoyed the ride to Bodiam and back. There had been many water birds in the area and following the trip, some of our group stayed at various stations on the route, and the others went to Tenderdon.
The Association has preserved its country line role and its steam locomotives, coaches, goods stock, signalling systems, stations and operating practices. Tomorrow the Bluebell line.