The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway has been running since July 1927, and was originally started by Count Louis Zborowski and J.E.P Howey, however Count Zborowski was killed while racing at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix before their first engines were delivered. The first ones being the Green Godess and the Northern Chief, designed by model engineer Henry Greenly. Howey and Greenly worked together and the latter suggested the location of the Romney Marsh for their project. By the time of the Grand Opening on July 27th, they had also added the Hercules, which was the first train to run out of Hythe, and at that time, the track only went 8 miles, as far as New Romney. Eventually this was expanded to Dungeness with many stops inbetween ( see stations below). If you would like to read more about the history of this railway, the RHDR have a lot more detail on their website: http://www.rhdr.org.uk/
You will find on their site timetables & fares, and all the great things they offer now that they didn't have when I was a child, like catering, weddings, and a 'Schools Pack' for use in the National Curriculum for History for lower KS2, we didn't have lessons like that in my day, I expect it includes a ride on the railway as well! Also, did you know you can even make a booking to actually drive one of the trains - how cool is that?
You can also get all the technical details on the engines from the RHDR website if you are a train buff, as this page is not going to try to compete with any of that, we hope to show you how the engines have changed over the years through old and new photographs, and mostly to show you how much fun they have provided in the past, and are still providing today.
These three photos were taken from the Ward Lock Guide for the year 1936/37. I don't normally scan from books, but as this one is so old, I thought it would be OK. In that they described the RHDR as the Toy Railway.
This card is from 1940, and it is a photo of the Northern Chief.
Dr. Syn at Hythe
Here is Hurricane, also at Hythe
Dr. Syn at Dymchurch
Green Goddess at Dungeness
Dungeness again, this time advertising for the Hythe Chamber of Commerce on the front.
A lot of coming and going at Hythe Station
Southern Maid at Hythe. You will notice that very few of these cards are dated, I think that is because people tend to keep them as a collection rather than mail them. It's unfortunate though, because the postmark is usually how I determine the age of the card.
On the other hand, this one is easy to date, because I know that when the railway opened again to the public in 1947 after the second world war, they had Laurel and Hardy do it. If you go to the RHDR official website you can see a video of these two entertaining the crowds that day.
If you would like to know more about this visit, I urge you to check out this website: http://www.laurelandhardy.org/RHDR3.html This page, and another linked from the bottom covers Laurel & Hardy's visit in 1947, plus reinactments of that visit. But if you are a L & H fan, you should check the rest of the site, you are in for a treat!
Was this one dressed up to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd I wonder? If so, it would date it to 1953. However, if you compare this card with the Chamber of Commerce one above, they look to be identical, so possibly only the card was changed, not the engines. They didn't have photoshop in those days, but I am sure they had their ways.
During the war, the trains were armoured, and used to transport military goods and personnel across the Marsh. This photo shows No. 5 Hercules in action.
I am not sure where this was taken, but it dates from 1951 or 52.
St. Mary's Bay was often a very popular stopping point in the 50's and 60's because they had several holiday camps there like Maddieson's Golden Sands at Dunstall Lane, the School Journey Centre at Jefferstone Lane, and the Rugby Club camp among others.
Now I wish I had been travelling that day, a train full of soldiers in kilts is the stuff dreams are made of! However, I don't have a date for it. It is the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders at Hythe station. They were housed at Howe Barracks in Canterbury.
I remember popping across the road from where I lived in Mountfield Row in New Romney to the station. This was on display there, and I would watch the trains go round for ages. I wonder if it is still there?
Now THIS is really what the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway is all about isn't it? It was designed for fun, and nobody knows how to have fun more than kids! Just ask sisters Katy & Lucy if they enjoy it every time they go for a ride, and they will certainly tell you!
Lucy with her Mum, Nicola
This photo of Herculese, and the five above were taken by Katy & Lucy's Dad, Dave.
Hurricane at New Romney
Captain Howey at New Romney in 2003
Ah yes, kids have always had fun around these little engines. This is Reg, Peter and Ricky Dyer getting right into the engine around 1949.
On one of my trips home from Canada, I took my son Graham Dyer to see the trains at New Romney. It was too early in the year to go for a ride, but they were getting them ready for the season, and kindly allowed us into the sheds to take a look.
Big kids have fun too! This one was sent to me by Andy Cadier, who tells me it is his partner Mrs Rosemary Dadson her daughter Sarah Harvey and husband David. The latter two run a printing and embroidery shop at 59 The Old High Street.
These two were taken by George Hills who lives in Palmarsh. George often sees the trains go by as he is walking his dog through West Hythe. The train on the right is about to go over Botolph's Bridge.
No. 11 Black Prince again leaving Hythe
Black Prince on the Hythe turntable
Double header, No. 11 Black Prince & No. 2 Northern Chief leaving Dymchurch
These five fabulous photos were taken by Jan Pedersen, who owns the most interesting website, it's called 'Even More Tales From the Tap Room' and lists just about every pub that has ever existed in Folkestone. He has also printed newspaper articles and court records of all the skullduggery that has taken place in these pubs over the years!
No. 10 Dr. Syn on Botolph's Bridge
Green Goddess leaving Dungeness
This card has me a little puzzled, it says on the back 'No. 1 Green Goddess, Romney to Hythe, approaching the Warren' All I can say is if it is approaching the Warren, it has taken a wrong line somewhere!
The following 15 photos were kindly donated by Gerry Stone
New Romney for the driver wannabe
No. 5 Hercules at Dungeness
Hercules again, passing through New Romney, the place you will see lots of sheep!
No. 12 John Southland. This locomotive was named after the founder of Southlands School. I attended that school for a year when I was about 13. I understand it has now been renamed The Marsh Academy. They named the engine after him when they signed a contract to provide a school run service between Burmarsh Rd, Dymchurch and New Romney in the 1980's. This service is provided throughout the school year. Originally it was utilised by about 140 children, but lately it has dwindled to about 40.
These two photos were sent to me by Jubbly, above, who lives in Australia now, but at one time lived in Peckham, London, and used to visit her Nanny in Greatstone. Jubbly tells me that her Nanny used to collect the coal at the side of the tracks of the RHDR and use it to supplement her own on her fire.
Recently, Jubbly and her Auntie Maureen from London, UK co-ordinated a visit to Kincardine in Ontario, Canada to visit with each other and Auntie Dot (right in the photo) who lives there. Dot had picked up this poster on a visit to the UK in 1995.
Samson No. 6 at New Romney
Samson again on the New Romney turntable
No. 3 Southern Maid on the turntable at Hythe
No. 4 The Bug with a works train.
No. 7 Typhoon at New Romney
I am not sure about this one, but it could be the Winston Churchill
This one however is definitely the Winston Churchill
Diesel No. 14 at New Romney
The Light Railway station at St. Mary's Bay
Northern Chief leaving Dungeness in 2003
If you have any photos, old or new, of your family having fun on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, I would love to add them to this page. Just send them, with a little background information, to Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Black Prince at New Romney in 2003
Dr. Syn and the Balarus Express on New Year's Day 2003
The Green Goddess at Dymchurch in 2003
Herculese at Dungeness in 2005
The Bug, right after a complete overhaul at New Romney in December 2005. It looks as if it is all dressed up for Christmas doesn't it?
Why not share your memories of travelling on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway with us in the Guestbook!
With grateful thanks for the co-operation and help from Danny Martin, General Manager, Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway, New Romney Station, NEW ROMNEY, Kent TN28 8PL. T 01797 362353 - F 01797 363591. www.rhdr.org.uk
Lets finish the page for now with people having fun once again. These six photos were kindly sent to me by Mike Howland who tells me they were taken at the New Romney station in 1998 or 1999 when they were having a 'Thomas the Tank Engine Day', and had to take their Grandson Daryll because he was a huge Thomas fan. So huge it looks as if Daryll was kissing that train on the cheek in the last photo! The cute little lad is now 19 years old, so I hope we are not embarrassing him too much! :-) I also hope he has kept his love of these trains.
Here are Gerry's Grandchildren enjoying a day out with their parents