The picture above shows one of the highlights of a ride on the Kent and East Sussex Railway – Tenterden Bank. The section from Rolvenden to Tenterden has an impressive gradient of 1 in 50, requiring the driver to open the regulator and fireman work very hard indeed!
Today we look at yet another star of the Kent and East Sussex Railway’s gala (click here for more). This locomotive is an important locomotive for those of a western persuasion, as it is the only survivor of F. W. Hawksworth’s 16xx class.
All members of this once 70 strong class were built by British Railways and for that reason it was pleasing to see 1638 in BR black, as previously it wore incorrect GWR colours (click here to see it in 2013).
Built to work on lines with restricted loading gauges, the 16xx class were ideal for lines with low clearances or in docks. Interestingly, British Railways only gave them a power rating of 2F, opposed to the higher rated fellow K&ESR gala stars USA class dock tank (rated 3F, click here for more) or J94/Austerity saddle tank (rated 4F, click here for more). Yet despite that, the K&ESR have found this locomotive to be a match for those classes on service trains.
Sadly, in common with Hawksworth’s 94xx class, many of the the 16xx class had very short working lives. 1659 had the record of just 5 years (built in 1955 and withdrawn in 1960).
1638 was a Welsh-based machine, being first allocated to Llanelly after construction in Swindon. Its early life in preservation was at the former Dart Valley Railway from 1967 (now the South Devon Railway) and it was here that I first saw her. Acquired by the Kent and East Sussex Railway in 1992, it has been based on the line ever since.