Bid to restore historic railway van is launched
AN appeal to raise £35,000 to restore a historic railway van has been officially launched.
The Mayors of Tenterden and Ashford met at the Kent & East Sussex Railway to launch the appeal to restore the important railway legacy of the Great War.
Cllrs Alan Sugden (Tenterden) and John Holland (Ashford) endorsed the heritage railway’s plans to restore South Eastern & Chatham Railway passenger luggage van No.132.
Built in 1919, its historic significance originates from its role in conveying, from Dover to London, the remains of three war heroes repatriated from Europe.
The first of these sombre journeys was made during May 1919 when No132 carried home the body of nurse Edith Cavell, a journey that led to it being dubbed the Cavell Van by railwaymen.
Edith Cavell moved to Belgium as director of a nurses’ training school in Brussels. She remained there at the onset of the Great War, and was soon helping allied soldiers escape the Germans.
But she was arrested, court- ber 1920 when it conveyed home the remains of the war’s highest profile casualty the Unknown Warrior.
The van arrived at the Kent & East Sussex Railway in 2004.
Railway volunteers aim to have it restored by November 10, 2010, exactly 90 years after it carried the Unknown Warrior.
Apart from mechanical restoration, its interior will be fitted with a catafalque draped with a Union flag and educational displays to demonstrate the historic journeys it made.
From left, railway chairman Norman Brice, Cllr John Holland, Cllr Alan Sugden, Elizabeth Carter of the Royal London Hospital League of Nurses, league secretary Jane Reeves and standard bearer Doreen Foster