In my opinion, the Kent and East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) is the finest example of a preserved light railway, but now has a large facility that many “heavy” preserved lines would kill for – a massive carriage storage facility. The building was paid for by the Rother Valley Railway, who are working laying track towards Bodiam from Robertsbridge to give the K&ESR a connection with Network Rail. The carriage storage facility has won an award from the Institute of Civil Engineers, partly due to it being built for the relatively small amount of £500,000.The shelter has four roads of 120 meters of undercover space – over a quarter of a mile of track under one roof. Although there were some locomotives in the shelter at the time of my visit, this is only on a temporary basis. The main purpose of the shelter is to provide a dry environment for the railways carriages – of which the railway has several very rare and historically significant in its collection.
One of these carriages immediately brought back memories for me, the ex-LNWR Inspection saloon (LMS ED33) pictured above. This had only been in service on the preserved line for a short space of time in the 1990’s before withdrawal due to a rotten build rail. I remember riding on this coach, standing on the veranda – it made for an memorable experience. Unfortunately when it does return to service its use will be restricted as modern health and safety assessments dictate that there will need to have to a supervisor on either veranda. However, the railway may use it for private hire and so naturally being a non-VIP I’m happy to have had the experience of riding on the carriage in the past!
The pictures above show a number of the railway’s incredible pre-grouping rolling stock, that formed the better part of one row in the shelter.
In an adjacent row sat one of the railways newest additions – Pullman Car Aries. Aries is a “Festival of Britain” car and the last to be built at Brighton in 1952. As with the other carriages of this series, Aries was used extensively on the Golden Arrow service, taking passengers on the British leg of the London-Paris service. Aries has a fascinating history, with one to claim being it’s use on Royal Trains. To read more about the carriage and contribute to its restoration, visit the dedicated page by clicking here.
Finally, as with the first blog post looking at Rolvenden, big thanks have to go to the K&ESR and in particular to Bradley Bottomley for showing me around. If you are ever given an opportunity to take a tour yourself, I highly recommend it!
Thanks for reading folks!