On Saturday 3rd February the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) marked 50 years since passenger services resumed at Tenterden, in Kent, in a special way. The past, present and future of the K&ESR were brought together for a photo to signal the start of the much-loved railway’s golden anniversary celebrations.
Current K&ESR General Manager Robin Coombes (centre) was joined for the photo by engineer Liam Head (left), one of the dedicated team keeping the railway fleet moving into the future, and volunteer Dick Dickinson (right) who was a young fireman on those first passenger services back in 1974 and today still serves as a locomotive driver.
The trio posed with the original reopening headboard in front of ‘Poplar’: one of the original Terrier steam locomotives ‘Poplar’ which pulled some of the first services to and from Rolvenden 50 years ago.
The official opening ceremony for the line was conducted by the then MP for Ashford, the Rt Hon William Deedes, on 1st June 1974 – an event that the railway will be celebrating with a special 50th Anniversary Gala on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June, full details of which are yet to be announced.
“The K&ESR has come a long way in the last five decades so we have much to celebrate in all that has been achieved, despite the challenges we have faced and will continue to face,” said Robin Coombes. “In our golden year, we will therefore be looking forward as well as back, including towards the exciting prospect of a reconnection to the national rail network at Robertsbridge.”
Information about the 50th Anniversary programme, which will include exciting new events as well as popular favourites, is being published on the railway’s website, along with opportunities to book and save: www.kesr.org.uk
Photo Credit: Robin Coombes