Steam Railway (UK) - - NEWS FOCUS -

A work­ing ar­moured train is set to re­turn to the Romney, Hythe & Dym­church Rail­way, as the line has launched an £18,000 ap­peal to build a new replica.

Owing to the RHDR’s strate­gic po­si­tion on the Kent coast dur­ing the Se­cond World War, 4-8-2 No. 5 Her­cules was fit­ted with ar­mour plat­ing and used to pro­pel a pair of spe­cially built wagons fit­ted with anti-air­craft guns, which were cou­pled fore and aft. The train pa­trolled the line through­out the war and is said to have shot down at least one en­emy air­craft.

As ar­guably the most en­dur­ing im­age of the RHDR’s con­tri­bu­tion to the war, wooden mock-ups of the ar­moured lo­co­mo­tive and one of its wagons were built in the 1990s and dis­played dur­ing spe­cial events. They also oc­ca­sion­ally ran over the line, but have not been used in this way for many years and are now con­sid­ered life-ex­pired.

The Romney, Hythe & Dym­church Rail­way As­so­ci­a­tion is build­ing a new replica of one of the two wagons, based on one of the orig­i­nal ar­moured train’s Raven­glass & Eskdale Rail­way hop­per wagon frames. Un­like the old replica, this will be built of ar­moured steel, and built to mu­seum-qual­ity draw­ings that re­pro­duce the orig­i­nal di­men­sions, method of con­struc­tion, and ma­te­ri­als.

RHDRA Chair­man Si­mon Foulkes said: “We will use the ex­per­tise of Ar­moured En­gi­neer­ing of Old Romney, which re­stores tanks and mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles to mu­seum spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the likes of the Bov­ing­ton Tank Mu­seum.

“This goes way be­yond the for­mer wooden look-alike mock-up to a se­ri­ous scheme to con­serve the rail­way’s her­itage.”

The rail­way is also build­ing a new wooden mock-up of Her­cules’ ar­mour which can be fit­ted to ei­ther it or class­mate No. 6 Sam­son and run at spe­cial events. Once fin­ished, this will be the first time a work­ing ar­moured train has op­er­ated over the Hythe-Dun­geness line since the early 1990s.

Mr Foulkes says: “It won’t be the same spec or qual­ity as the replica wagon, but it will mean we can ac­tu­ally fit it to a lo­co­mo­tive and run it on high days and hol­i­days.

“The wagon should be fin­ished by the sum­mer, but the mock-up ar­mour for Her­cules will be a longer job; the trick there is de­sign­ing some­thing we can get on and off a lo­co­mo­tive without scratch­ing the paint­work!

“We know sur­pris­ingly lit­tle about the orig­i­nal ar­moured train. If any­one has any in­for­ma­tion, please do get in touch.”

To con­trib­ute to­wards re­build­ing the RHDR’s ar­moured train, visit projects/spe­cial-projects-fund


Som­er­set Light In­fantry troops man the Romney, Hythe & Dym­church Rail­way’s ar­moured train on Oc­to­ber 14 1940.

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