John Speller's Web Pages Kent & East Sussex Light Railway

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Kent & East Sussex Light Railway Untitled Untitled
The Kent & East Sussex Light Railway (originally known as the Rother Valley Railway) was built to connect the town of Tenterden (pop. 3,243 in 1901) and some parts of the Kent Coalfield with the rest of the British railway system. The Act under which the line was built said that the South Eastern & Chatham Railway was bound to make up any deficit that the line made, something that later became a great headache for Sir Herbert Walker, General Manager of the Southern Railway. The section from Robertsbridge on the South Eastern Railway's Tonbridge-Hastings line to Tenterden was opened to goods traffic on 26 March 1900 and to passenger traffic a week later. An extension to Headcorn on the South Eastern Railway's Tonbridge-Ashford line was opened on 15 May 1905. Colonel Holman F. Stephens ran the line from its opening until his death in 1931. The line became part of British Railways in 1948. Passenger service was withdrawn in 1954, and goods traffic in 1958. However, the line was rescued from dereliction by a group of enthusiasts in 1974 and has for many years been successfully run as a heritage railway.
Map of the Kent & East Sussex Light Railway
Rother Valley Railway train behind Hawthorn, Leslie 3 ft. 3 in. 2-4-0 tank No. 1 "Tenterden" at the time of opening in 1901. Sister engine No. 2 "Northiam" played the part of "Gladstone" in the 1937 Will Hay film "O Mr. Porter!"
K&ESR 4 ft. 3 in. 0-8-0 tank No. 4 "Hecate" built by Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. in 1904
The K&ESR's diminutive steam railmotor No. 16, built by R. Y. Pickering & Co., of Wishaw, in 1905
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