Bid to re­store his­toric rail­way van is launched

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Michael DeFroand mde­froand@thek­m­

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

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