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Tenterden Terrier

Unfulfilled Projects

A Summary of Kent & East Sussex Locomotives and Rolling Stock

The story of the locomotives and rolling stock of the K&ESR is often presented as a chaotic mix of second-hand stock acquired as and when needed but this was never true.

The prime determinant of provision of stock was traffic requirements. All trains except railmotors were run as mixed trains for economy reasons, and small locomotives meant that coaches must be light with high capacity. Stock acquisitions and changes made during the existence of the line were quite logical and fall into six main phases.

  • New stock acquired at opening together with some second-hand locomotives and stock to cope as the business became established when finance was short.
  • Adaptation of coaches to cope with changes in ticket issuing brought about by discussions with the Board of Trade.
  • New stock acquired for extensions
  • Second-hand stock bought to meet the Board’s, for its time advanced, decision in 1910 to steam heat trains, with consequent disposals and alterations.
  • Ford and Shefflex Railmotors to supplement services.
  • Replacements, renewals and locomotive hirings in the 1930s.

Throughout Stephens’ time there was a propensity to operate carriages as fixed sets of three to four 4 and 6 wheeled carriages; this was broken for a brief period when the Pickering bogies were in operation for they seem to have operated in pairs except, presumably, for high days and holidays. As the LSWR coaches with steam heating became available they were formed into a set and the 1905 GER coaches (Nos 20-22) were converted to a steam-heated set which stayed together throughout the Stephens’ years.

Click on the images to see the larger pictures

K&ESR No (and name)

Type

Builder or originating company (to K&ESR)

Disposal date

Locomotives

1 (Northiam)

2-4-0T

Hawthorn Leslie (1900)

1941

2 (Tenterden)

2-4-0T

Hawthorn Leslie (1900)

1941

3 (Bodiam)

0-6-0T ‘Terrier

LB&SCR (1900)

Extant

4 (Hecate)

0-8-0T

Hawthorn Leslie (1904)

1932

4 second

0-6-0ST

SR ex LSWR (1932)

1948

5 (Rolvenden)

0-6-0T ‘Terrier

LB&SCR (1904)

C1935

6

Railmotor

Pickering (1905)

1941

7 (Rother)

0-6-0 Ilfracombe Goods

L&SWR (1910)

C1940

8(Ringing Rock later Hesperus)

0-6-0ST

GWR (1914)

1941

9 (Juno)

0-6-0 Ilfracombe Goods

L&SWR (1914)

C1940

Carriages

1

4w 3rd Saloon

Hurst Nelson (1900)

Rebuilt 1904

1 second

Bogie rebuild 3rd brake

Pickering (1904)

1934

1 Duplicate 4w 3rd Brake LSWR (1911) 1948

1 third

Bogie 3rd Brake

SR,LSWR (1943)

To BR

2
4w 3rd Saloon

Hurst Nelson (1900)

Rebuilt 1904

2 second

6w Composite

LSWR (1910)

To SR 1932

2 third

Bogie 3rd Brake

SR,LSWR (1932)

1948

3

4w 3rd Saloon

Hurst Nelson (1900)

Rebuilt 1904

3 second

Bogie Composite Brake

SR,LSWR (1932)

1948

4

4w 3rd Saloon

Hurst Nelson (1900)

Rebuilt 1904

4 second

Bogie rebuild Composite brake

Pickering (1904)

1935

4 duplicate

6w composite

LSWR (1911)

1948

4 third

Bogie 3rd Brake

SR,LSWR (1936)

1948

5

1st

Hurst Nelson (1900)

Rebuilt 1904

5 second

Bogie 3rd Brake

SR,LSWR (1936)

1948

6

1st

Hurst Nelson (1900)

Rebuilt 1904

6 second

Bogie rebuild 3rd

Pickering (1904)

1932

6 duplicate

4w 3rd Brake

LSWR (1911)

1944

6 third

Bogie 3rd Brake

SR,LSWR (1943)

To BR

7

4w Full Brake

Hurst Nelson (1900)

To Selsey Tramway c1916

7 second

8

4w Full Brake

Hurst Nelson (1900)

1935

9

4w 3rd Brake, Van from 1910

GER (1901)

1935

9 second

6w 3rd  Brake

LSWR (1911)

To SR 1932

10

4w 3rd Brake

GER (1902)

To S&MLR 1916

10 second

4w Royal Saloon

PD&SWJR (1912)

To SR 1936

11

4w  3rd

CLC (1902)

To East Kent Light c1910

12

4w Composite

CLC (1902)

To East Kent Light c1910

13

4w 3rd

GER (1903)

To East Kent Light c1910

14

4w Full Brake

NLR (c1904)

To East Kent Light c1910

15

4w Full Brake

NLR (c1904)

1948

16

Railmotor

Pickering (1905)

Renumbered  to Locomotive No 6 (see above)

17

Bogie Brake composite

Pickering (1905)

To East Kent Light c1910

17 second

6w 3rd Brake

LSWR (1911)

1944

18

Bogie 3rd

Pickering (1905)

To Woolmer Instructional Railway c1910

18 second

6w 3rd Brake

LSWR (1911)

1948

19

Bogie 3rd Brake

Pickering (1905)

To Woolmer Instructional Railway c1910

19 second

4w 3rd Brake

LSWR (1910)

1948

20

4w 3rd brake

GER (1906)

1935

21

4w Composite

GER (1906)

1935

22

4w 3rd Brake

GER (1906)

1935

Wagons

1-10

Open Goods(1900)

Pickering

Officially1939(1-6),some earlier

1-4 second

Open Goods

SR ,LB&SCR (1940)

To BR

11-12

Cattle Wagons

GER (1901)

1935 (11),1944(12)

13-14

Cattle Wagons

NE (1904)

1928 (14), 1935 (13)

13 second

Cattle Wagon

SER (1928)

1948

24

Goods Brake

GWR (1907)

1944

Crane with no number, runner ‘Crane Guard No 1’

Travelling Crane & Runner

Pickering (1904)

1948

No Number

Breakdown Crane & runner

MR (1919)

1948

Can you help us in our research into Colonel Stephens Works?

Articles on Aspects of His Railways - Kent & East Sussex Light Railway

'The editors intend that this section will have regular articles on individual Colonel Stephens Railways, how they came about and how they were run. The Museum is in being to promote interest and research into his railways. Should you wish to contribute original, suitable and well researched material we will be happy to consider it, just E-mail us.'

The list of Topics Articles is below.


19th March 2015

A Summary of Kent & East Sussex Locomotives and Rolling Stock

The story of the locomotives and rolling stock of the K&ESR is often presented as a chaotic mix of second-hand stock acquired as and when needed but this was never true.

The prime determinant of provision of stock was traffic requirements. All trains except railmotors were run as mixed trains for economy reasons, and small locomotives meant that coaches must be light with high capacity. Stock acquisitions and changes made during the existence of the line were quite logical and fall into six main phases.


19th October 2007

Ticket Issue And Collection On The RVR

When Stephens built the Rother Valley he followed true light railway principles and kept everything to a minimum. This included not only small four wheeled carriages but also the absence of manned ticket offices at stations.


9th May 2006

ACCIDENT AT JUNCTION ROAD, 1929

To their detriment historians often neglect searches of local papers, perhaps because of the time it takes. Occasionally by pure chance press cuttings come to light that are exceptionally interesting and one has recently turned up via a website dedicated to Bodiam Happenings.


17th December 2003

A NASTY ACCIDENT

Brian Janes has been busy again. Nasty accidents on level crossings have been rather too prominent in the news of late but are nothing new. Stephens was almost obsessive in his drive to build light railways at minimal cost and one of his cherished economies was gateless level crossings protected by cattle grids. This was adequate in days when little traffic was to be found on rural roads and even then only a plodding horse cart or lorry. In 1914 however progress in the shape of a speeding motor car nearly undid this neat economy and could have cost the Kent and East Sussex Railway dear.


9th August 2002

A LIGHT RAILWAY'S WAR

In the Colonel Stephens Railway Archive a typed report exists, almost certainly written for official purposes at or near the end of the war, reporting the East Kent Railways War record. We are not sure if this ever went into print. As snapshot of a now forgotten time and age it seems worth now setting down in Topics. Article by Brian Janes.


3rd November 2001

THE KENT AND EAST SUSSEX RAILWAY HORSE BUS

This article is based on notes prepared by John Miller, Honoury Curator of the Museum.


9th June 2001

FROM HEADCORN TO MAIDSTONE: The Kent & East Sussex Railway's Maidstone Extension

This article is an edited combination of two articles by Neil Rose in the Tenterden Terrier.


14th February 2001

OPENING UP THE WEALD

John Miller, Honoury Curator of the Museum.

Click on the images to see the larger pictures

RVR original stock. This train would rarely if ever have been this length. Note the proximity of footboards

When Stephens built the Rother Valley he followed true light railway principles and kept everything to a minimum. This included not only small four wheeled carriages but also the absence of manned ticket offices at stations. Paper tramway style tickets were issued by the guard and tickets seemingly only issued on the train. The early carriages had an open layout internally but no corridor or any other connection. The issuing of tickets on the move had to be accomplished by staff swinging out of the end doors, stepping between the carriages using the outside footboards (which were specially extended on the original stock) and striding the gap.

For the first three years of operation this practice went unnoticed but, perhaps typically, a middle class gentleman, Guy Ewing, a land agent of Tunbridge Wells, poked his nose in and wrote to the Major Pringle of the Railway Inspectorate on 5 February 1903 as follows

‘We heard yesterday when travelling on this line, that you were down the day before to inspect the extension from present station to one nearer the Town.  In passing from Robertsbridge up the line, you can hardly have failed to notice what we regard as a most dangerous practice, which would not be permitted on any other line under any circumstances.  Not only is it unnerving to passengers to see a man walking along the footboard from carriage to carriage, but we regard it as a highly dangerous practice, and venture to think the Company should not be permitted to call upon their servant, the Guard, to do so.  Why can not tickets be issued at the stations as on other lines, or in the alternative have corridor carriages so that the man can walk along without risking his life on the footboard, particularly in wintry weather.’

This was passed to the administrators in the Board of Trade (who oversaw railway operation). The BoT official thought it should be looked into and wrote to Stephens as Managing director. He replied, in his usual hasty scrawl, on 13 February saying:

‘Eight of our nine carriages on this light railway are constructed internally on the corridor principle.  No danger is feared from the guards following the universal continental practice of getting from one carriage to the other as the steps are adapted for this purpose.  The practice has been in use for nearly three years without accident or complaint and the traffic does not justify the employment of persons capable of issuing tickets at the various stopping places.

Your obedient servant

H F Stephens’

 Blueprint of RVR 4-wheelers showing extended footboards and internal 'corridors'

As a result the BoT asked for a meeting which Stephens attended. Although one suspects Stephens felt he was on weak ground as always he defended his practices vigorously, in particular citing that it was a regular continental practice and that the staff were quite safe when passing through each carriage as they were constructed on the corridor principle (then of course a great rarity away from expresses) at least internally, with good footboards and internally opening outer doors. Very interestingly for the historian, he supplied a drawing of a complete train with its internal layout, which by this time consisted of sundry four wheelers.

One would like to have been a fly on the wall in this meeting, the record of which has regrettably not survived. Arguments resting on how many feet and inches were safe to step over the gap between two carriage footboards, 6 inches wide, rocking at 25 mph, 3 feet above the track are bad enough ,but what about the discussion of the technique need to open a door in these circumstances. And was there a concession for frosty weather Mr Ewing had mentioned? Edwardian railwaymen were a hardy race.

At any event Stephens conceded several points about footboards, doors and handrails. Most importantly he reported on 22nd September that arrangements had also been made to issue tickets from the stations at Bodiam, Northiam, Tenterden Town (just opened), and partially at Rolvenden. And he confirmed on 28th June 1904 that passengers could book at all stations except Robertsbridge and Junction Road. When the Headcorn extension was built ticket offices were provided from the outset, the extra staffing costs presumably offsetting the hassle factor, although in most cases manning was essential for the vital goods and parcels anyway.

This belated opening of ticket offices is interesting because the original plans of the Rother Valley buildings all show ticket offices. However surviving card tickets of the conventional Edmondson type seem onlyto have been issued after the time of the extension to Tenterden Town in 1903.

This correspondence and the meetings also seem to have triggered work on rolling stock. The Board of Trade had asked for through corridors on all new stock. By mid-1904 six of the original carriages had been converted into three longer ones on new bogie underframes.  Plan of Pickering Bogie Brake composite with extended footboards and internal 'corridor' There was no end connection but Stephens claimed that a train, as a rule, consisted of two cars so the need to go between cars was minimal. This rebuilding of the six original, lightly built, four wheelers as corridor bogie coaches by Pickering’s (the Builders) was a more complex job than the simple placing of bodies on a new chassis because brake ends were provided on two of them rather than continuing to use the existing separate brake vans. This change in operating practice made a little more sense of the order for more purpose built bogie coaches ( again with no end connection) from Pickering in 1905 for the Headcorn extension. In the event these coaches were little used.

By 1904 however the BoT had been satisfied and had walked away contented. Stephens happily continued in his own way. With capital short he now settled for ex mainline coaches, and from around 1911 he bought more so that he could provide steam heating. The model bogie coaches he had made so much of a few years earlier were sold back to the makers in 1909/10 and one transferred to the East Kent Light with the rebuilds pushed into sidings for use on market days only. Stephens did put fall plates and end doors into his railcars and paper tickets continued to be issued for many years. And ticket inspection, with the occasional issue for halts, continued on steam trains in the same old hazardous way.

Stephens and his successors happily got their staff to continue this dangerous practice –very possibly until the arrival of real corridor coaches in the mid-40s. Fortunately there were no known injuries although there was a tale that came out many years later that some poor individual had been jarred off the footboards at night and, just to double the hazard, the train had to be backed up to find him. He was found safe, but well scratched, in a bramble patch.

Source

National Archive (PRO) MT6/2254/1

 

LIGHT RAILWAY ACCIDENT

Motor-Bus Jumps Rails and Runs Down Embankment

 Photo of Railmotor at Junction Road in 1930Photo of Railmotor at Junction Road in 1930

Click on the image for a larger picture

To their detriment historians often neglect searches of local papers, perhaps because of the time it takes. Occasionally by pure chance press cuttings come to light that are exceptionally interesting and one has recently turned up via a website dedicated to Bodiam Happenings (www.bygonebodiam.co.uk/). The cutting is reported to be from the "Southern Weekly News" or the "Evening Argus, and is dated 12 January 1929.

A smash occurred on Wednesday afternoon on the Kent and East Sussex Light Railway, when the Ford motor-buses which are sometimes run in the place of a steam train, jumped the rails between the Junction Holt and Robertsbridge Station, after they had just passed over the main Hastings to Hawkhurst Road.

It was the 3.24 train from Bodiam and there were two passengers, the guard, and the driver.  These buses are run two together, back to back, thus one pulls on the upward journey, and the other on the return.

On reaching the place of the accident the front motor-bus seemed to jump off the rails, and ran down the bank, turning a complete somersault, the wheels preventing the second bus from following.  The back of the front coach was torn out, thus uncoupling the join between the two.  There was not a sound piece of glass left on the bus, and the body and metal were wrecked to such an extent that a witness of the accident afterwards said that the only description that he could give was that it resembled a concertina.

The driver, who was lucky to escape with cuts and bruises, was unable to move until help was summoned, and then he crawled out, suffering badly from shock.

The two passengers, a gentleman and his wife were thrown about when the motor-bus turned on the side of the first coach, but were otherwise unhurt, as also was the guard, who was with them.

The guard, after assisting the driver to free himself from the wreckage, started to run to Bodiam Station, but a farm labourer who was working near, and had given assistance, recalled and reminded him of the telephone which runs from Udiam House to Bodiam Station.  The stationmaster called on the gangers, who were working near the station, and they went to the scene of the accident.

The two passengers who were catching a train at Robertsbridge Junction, were taken on the trolley, the lady at first refusing to go, but afterwards was persuaded to give way.

The line was cleared later in the evening, the first train running through to Robertsbridge about 8 0’clock.

On Thursday morning a breakdown train arrived with a crane, and lifted the last bus back on to the rails.  It was found that, except for the windows being smashed, very little damage was done to the coach.  The other was lifted on to the rails, where the engineers made the wheels fit to run.  All of the stray pieces of metal were placed in an empty truck.  The buses were taken to Rolvenden to the repairing and building sheds.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brian Janes comments that the accident seems to have gone unrecorded before. It seems to have taken place on 9 January 1929 at a period of extremely cold weather, indeed one of the most severe winters of the 20th century (press cuttings on the same website record snow and frost and in early February a great freeze that disabled a railmotor). The derailment seems to have occurred very near to Junction Road Halt, possibly at the points for the siding. There was a low embankment here that eventually led up to a bridge over the River Rother. The crew and passengers were very lucky to get off so lightly.

The service was a regular one for a Railmotor at this period and the fact that there are only two passengers on what was the busiest section of the railway shows why they were used at this time.

The speed with which the mess was cleared up would be an object lesson to railways in the present day, with only one train to Robertsbridge and two to Headcorn cancelled. There is a willingness to ‘get on with it’ and not cry over spilt milk. In the rapidly gathering dusk and then the dark the workers both freed the driver and dealt with the passengers but quickly got the trailing railmotor taken off the rails to clear the way. The breakdown crane that the Colonel had purchased from the Midland Railway in 1919 seems to have been very useful on this occasion being brought in the next day to retrieve the railmotors. The mythology of the railway than the crane only ever languishing in a siding at Rolvenden appears at least to be wrong on this occasion.

The railmotor is not identified but it may be that this accident was the beginning of the end of Ford Railmotor No 1, which was withdrawn rather earlier than No 2. I have previously surmised that this unit might have seen little use after the end 1929 and been withdrawn early because of mechanical shortcomings. The damage as reported was severe and it might seem unlikely that it would have justified extensive repair. Nonetheless repairs must have been made. In the only known photograph after this date the bodywork of No 1 looks intact and No 2 ran for another 10 years. Monty Baker who knew the railway intimately from the early thirties says that No 1 was worn out but the bodywork seemed sound. The body of one car of the first pair was eventually  disposed of in 1932 and the second in 1935. Further, Railmotor mileage in 1929 was the second highest of any year when the Railmotors were running. The fact the railmotor set must have been returned to work quickly certainly shows tremendous work all round. Rolvenden was certainly as multi-skilled in those days as it is now.

The timing of the accident is interesting in that, although Stephens was looking at the cost of a new Railmotor before the accident, the Shefflex railmotor set was not ordered till some time in 1929 .Certainly the whole incident may explain why the Shefflex set, which had been ordered in the name of the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire (Order Numbers 2058 and 2059), came to the K&ESR instead.

Finally I do cherish the image of the husband and wife passengers travelling, on a bitter January afternoon, the 3 miles to Robertsbridge on an open permanent way trolley. Our ancestors were made of tough stuff.

Sources and Acknowledgements
Bradshaw
Colonel Stephens Archive
Stephen Garrett
Monty Baker

Click on the images to see the larger pictures

Nasty accidents on level crossings have been rather too prominent in the news of late but are nothing new. Stephens was almost obsessive in his drive to build light railways at minimal cost and one of his cherished economies was gateless level crossings protected by cattle grids, (a system that he may have pioneered in the UK so far as public roads were concerned). This was adequate in days when little traffic was to be found on rural roads and even then only a plodding horse cart or lorry. In 1914 however progress in the shape of a speeding motor car nearly undid this neat economy and could have cost the Kent and East Sussex Railway dear.

 Biddenden Station plan, the car was heading southOn a clear April day the first morning train to Headcorn was unusually hauled by that rarely used beast the 0-8-0T No 4 Hecate. The train itself was the normal ex-South Western Railway three coach Set comprising No. 1, 4 wheeled 3rd class Brake Comp., No. 2, 6 wheeled 1st and 3rd class Comp. and No. 19, 4 wheeled 3rd class Brake Comp. With such super power on the front and no wagons tied on behind the train was running to time. Driver Edward Brazier and Fireman William Meggett slowed to a crawl for the level crossing approaching Biddenden station and reportedly whistled the usual warnings. Two thirds of the way across the road they struck a motor car that, in today’s terminology ‘ had come out of nowhere’. Swerving across the road to try and avoid the oncoming train, the car collided with the leading buffer of the engine and was swung round and dragged some 40’ over the Cattle Guards and along the Permanent Way towards the Station before the Train was brought to a standstill.

Palmer, the Biddenden station agent, immediately reported this to Stephens, in the following matter of fact terms.

I beg to report that the 9.11am train here this morning collided with a Motor Car on the Level Crossing at Biddenden Station. The Motor Car when I first saw it, was travelling at a fast speed, and on the Engine Driver whistling again just by the signal, the car seemed to swerve across the road towards our fence, and then come gradually to a standstill, with the two front wheels over one of our metals, and the Driver looking Halden way. The car seemed to be still about a second before the engine buffer hit the bonnet, turning the car round and hitting the body up against the fence, which fell to pieces, and appeared to pitch 3 men out – one man was dragged about 20 yards by the Motor which was caught on the guard which is fixed to the front of the Engine.

I rendered every assistance and procured a Doctor at once from the Village, who said he must have assistance, also a car, so I telephoned to Tenterden Agent to fetch Dr. Skinner and a motor from Simmonson’s to take the injured to Maidstone Hospital.

The car belonged to Marchant & Tubb, Outfitters, Maidstone. The occupants were – Geo. Bowles, Driver, Lewis Matson, Herbert John Bowers and Clarence R Cole.

The injuries were as follows:

Geo. Bowles - Fractured skull and was delirious.

Lewis Matson – Scalp wound & back injured.

Herbert John Bowers – Face and knee slightly injured.
(Allowed to go home from hospital)

Clarence R Cole – Nose scratched and hand.
(This man did not go to Maidstone Hospital)

The Driver of our train was Brazier, Guard, J. Stanford, Engine No. 4 (“Hecate”).

I have names of witnesses – Mr Tuscon, Bishopsdale Farm, Biddenden, Gun, Guy House, Biddenden – Capt. Hall, Birchley, Biddenden, Pinnock, Wagstaffe, Biddenden, H. Seagrave, National Sanatorium, Biddenden.

I also beg to state I judge the speed of our train at 3 to 4 miles per hour when the accident happened.

(Signed) C. Palmer

W H Austin was immediately despatched, probably from Tonbridge and the next day reported

As per your instructions I visited the scene of the above yesterday arriving on the spot about 12-25pm (note the speed of his arrival-ed.) and beg to report as follows:

 Photo of a 1914 Ford“In this case it appears that the 8-55am train ex Tenterden to Headcorn whilst crossing the Public Road Level Crossing on approaching Biddenden Station at 9-13am was run into by a “Ford” Commercial Motor Car, Registered No D.8318, the property of Messrs Marchant & Tubbs, Ltd. Maidstone. The Car (which was completely wrecked) contained four occupants…there follows details of car occupants and train he continues…

“From evidence received it appears that this Car was travelling in the direction of Tenterden and from a statement made by the Biddenden Station Agent, Palmer, who witnessed the accident was going at a fair speed. Palmer states that the Chauffeur of the Car was seated on the right hand side of the Car and another occupant was seated immediately on the left of the Chauffeur their attention being directed towards the Station (the opposite direction in which the train was proceeding) and as the Car was crossing over the Level Crossing collided with the left trailing buffer of the engine the Car being swung round and dragged some 40’ over the Cattle Guards and along the Permanent Way towards the Station before the Train was brought to a standstill.”

“I have interviewed Driver Brazier who states that he was proceeding across the Public Road at a speed of 6 miles per hour. Previous to this the warning whistle was given at the speed Board, and again immediately before crossing the road. A good lookout was kept before crossing the road by both Himself and the Fireman but nothing was noticed to be coming along the road previous to crossing and it was not until the engine was two-thirds of the way across the road when the collision occurred. Guard Stanford and Station Agent Palmer bear out Braziers statement.”

“I would mention that a Mr Gurr of Biddenden volunteered information to me yesterday as to passing this Car some ¾ miles from the Station. He states that he was engaged with his man carting stone from the Station when this Car passed him and he commented on the speed of same (which was estimated at 40 miles per hour) to his man and remarked that the occupants would come to grief sooner or later going at such a speed.”

“The Station Agent has names of other witnesses who would tender evidence if required as to what they saw.”

(Signed) W. H. Austen.

 The engine involved in the accident "Hecate"This accident, mild as it was by today’s standards, caused a stir. Not least because the car’s occupants, although clearly speeding by the standards of the day round a shallow blind bend on the approach to a built up area decided to sue the railway in much the same vein as today’s coffin chasing lawyers. Worst of all they won the first round for when the case came up at Cranbrook County Court following conflicting evidence about the adequacy of the whistled warnings, a number of questions were put to the jury who, in the words of The Railway Gazette ‘ evidently intended to find everything they could against the company’. Two questions caused such concern that they were subject of correspondence at Ministerial level because of the cost implications for building light Railways. Amendments to the Light Railway Acts were even considered .The Questions were

‘Was it negligence on the part of the railway company not to have gates’; and

‘ Was it negligence on the part of the Railway Company not to have watchmen.’

The answer to both was ‘yes’

Within weeks the Appeal Court supported the verdict. The senior Justice cut short the proceedings saying the appeal judges quite clearly felt that it was impossible to find any evidence not to support the finding of the Cranbrook jury. Leave to Appeal was refused but Stephens battled on and fortunately for the financial well being of his railways finally secured a favourable judgement. Writing in victorious mood to the responsible senior official in Whitehall he wrote

‘ We were successful off our own bat. I think however that if we had had the Board of Trade’s assistance, we should probably have secured the ‘execution’ of the plaintiffs!’

Seriously and practically the case showed the importance of the railways duty to do everything necessary to show the exercise of reasonable care in the conduct of its business.

Perhaps we might finally note the Kent and East Sussex Railway subsequently became noteworthy for copious and noisy whistling at all of its level crossings!

In the Colonel Stephens Railway Archive a typed report exists, almost certainly written for official purposes at or near the end of the war, reporting the East Kent Railways War record. We are not sure if this ever went into print. As snapshot of a now forgotten time and age it seems worth now setting down in Topics.

Shepherdswell Station in March 1940"Railways in War Time"

This small but nevertheless important standard gauge Light Railway which was opened in October 1916 has a physical Junction with the Southern Railway Company's main London, Chatham and Dover Line at Shepherdswell, serving that part of East Kent which lies between Shepherdswell, Eythorne, Eastry and Wingham, together with a branch line Eythorne to Tilmanstone Colliery and similar branches from Eastry to Richborough and Eastry to Hammill.

The opening up of the district served by this Railway gave transport facilities and services to some of the most fertile fruit and vegetable producing lands in the County and afforded a speedy and direct service for products to the London and other Markets. #

It will be seen from the statistics given below that during the War period the tonnages have very considerably increased both in regard to Goods and Mineral Traffic.


Total Traffic Carried
Year Goods Tons Mineral Tons Coal & Coke Tons Total Tons
1940 7,950 4,390 330,684 343,024
1941 8,205 5,617 285,188 299,010
1942 11,733 5,955 263,925 281,613
1943 14,365 7,547 274,987 296,899
1944 18,336 6,248 278,033 302,617

Train and Engine Miles
Total Train Miles Shunting Other Total
Year Coaching Goods Total Miles Miles (Light, etc) Engine Miles
1940 6,544 15,823 22,367 2,085 1,504 25,956
1941 6,205 15,376 21,581 2,292 1,203 25,076
1942 6,322 15,654 21,976 3,530 1,433 26,939
1943 6,170 16,233 22,403 4,007 1,570 27,980
1944 6,129 15,452 21,581 4,080 1,603 27,264

During the War period 1940/1944 extensive operations and exercises were carried out on the Railway by the War Department.

In May 1940 a squadron of the Royal Air Force entered upon the Railway and took over complete control of Staple Station, for all intents and purposes that station being closed to the general public. Both the inwards and outwards traffic formerly dealt with at Staple Station had to be diverted to either the Company's Wingham or Woodnesborough Station, and the Company's Clerical and other Staff attached to the Station had to be temporarily transferred to Woodnesborough Station. The Company's trains were only permitted to pass direct through the Station except in cases where goods were consigned for or to be dispatched by the RAF, and that procedure continued until August 1940 when the squadron was transferred elsewhere, after which Staple Station and premises were handed back to the Company.

Heavy Rail GunOn the 8th September 1940 three super heavy batteries of Artillery entered on the Railway with their 0-6-0 six wheeled tender engines together with heavy guns, which were mounted on six wheeled bogie undercarriages, each of which weighed approximately 82 tons. These guns, together with the locomotives, were stabled in the Company's Sidings at Shepherdswell, Eythorne and Staple Stations also at Poulton Sidings. At frequent intervals exercises took place at certain points on the Railway, the guns with their gun crews for such exercises being hauled by W D Locomotives. Firing practice took place on several occasions with live shells, the Sidings in which the guns were stabled being specially equipped with anchorage for securing the gun carriages when firing took place. On the occasion of such practices a good deal of damage was done to the Company's buildings by gun fire concussion, doors and windows blown out, portions of roofs being lifted, etc. When firing practices were to take place it was necessary to cease all traffic movements within a certain area and to withdraw the staff from the sheds and shops. On the first occasion of such practices it was considered unnecessary to remove the coaching stock from the station and as a result of not doing so some of the drop and quarter lights were blown out of some coaches which were stabled about 100 yards from the guns. It was then decided for the future to remove such stock during the period of the practices to other sidings as a precautionary measure. +

The super heavy batteries remained on the Railway until December 1944 when they were transferred elsewhere.

From the period September 1940 to January 1945 the W D engines and trains ran 10,349 miles over the Company's System in the course of their exercises and for other purposes. This mileage is not included in the Company's mileage statistics.

The War period has not passed without this Company experiencing some incidents which called for special precautions to be taken. During the period the Battle of Britain was in progress there were occasions when it was necessary to delay shunting and other operations for a period and for the staff to take cover. Fortunately only once was the track damaged by enemy action, that was on the 19th September 1940 when a high explosive bomb fell, blowing out a 14'0" length of track on an embankment on the Richborough Branch, leaving a crater 8'0" deep by 12'6" in diameter. The crater was filled in and the track replaced, normal working being resumed within twelve hours of the happening.

There were several near misses from H E bombs which fell just clear of the Company's boundaries at various parts of the System. Apart from the severance of telephone and tablet wires from time to time, nothing of a very serious nature happened other than previously stated.

The percentage of staff serving with the Army, Navy and Air Force is 12.

# Dick Cash, a long time East Kent employee, recalled ' we might have anything from a dozen to twenty wagons on the evening train, most of it fruit...we used to pick up everywhere then, every siding, staple was the busiest place, you could easily pick up a dozen wagons there.' Truly heroic work for the O1s 0-6-0s largely involved which were limited to ten wagons on the Coal trains in BR days.

+ Mrs Cash Recalled ' I particularly remembered the rail guns, one day I had a nasty fright as I didn't know they were going to fire the Guns. I had finished work and walked down by the Railway. It was very quiet, no one was about and there was no traffic, I asked the Control point if I could go past down the road and they let me through. I had just gone by when the guns fired, I was so frightened.' And who wouldn't be....