Tonight we have yet another picture from the Kent and East Sussex Railway in the 1990’s. For a short period of time, the light railway was home to a 3 car ‘Hastings’ Diesel-Electric Multiple Units (DEMU.) The Hastings DEMU was a class built specifically to run through from London to Hastings, a feat made difficult for many trains by the narrow tunnels of the Tunbridge Wells to Hastings section. The tunnels were narrow thanks to the line being built so cheaply that they were at risk of collapse after construction and as a result required extra layers of bricks. It was this same infrastructure restriction that had led Maunsell to develop the Schools class, which were replaced by this DEMU class.
The class were a success – in fact they were very successful. They outlived their design life by three times and proved to be reliable. The Hastings DEMU class were built 1957-58 whilst steam locomotives were still being built by British Railways. They are very much an important part of our railway heritage.
Although this DEMU only spent a short time on the K&ESR, it has since had quite a career (not just as a three car unit too). The Hastings Diesel Group have gone from strength to strength and amassed many miles on Mainline tours. Their website – www.hastingsdiesels.co.uk is well worth a browse. It gives a real insight into the history of the Hastings line and this characterful piece of railway history.
Thanks for reading!