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Getting There

By train - The RH&DR can be accessed from London St Pancras via the new high speed 1 route to Folkestone, then by bus. Stagecoach buses serve the railway from Ashford, Canterbury, Hastings, Rye, Folkestone and Dover.

By Car - The stations at New Romney, Dungeness and Hythe are all on or near the A259. Hythe Station is only 3 miles from the M20 junction 11, New Romney and Dungeness are 30 minutes from the M20 junction 10 via the A2070 and A259. Most routes are signposted with brown tourist signs, all the major stations have car parks (see below).

Review

It has been several years since I have visited the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway but from what I have seen on TV, videos and photos it has not changed dramatically.

For a 15” gauge railway, 13½ miles is a lengthy route, the journey from Hythe to Dungeness takes 65 to 70 minutes. There’s loads to see and do along the way so you can easily spend all day or even longer.

The flat and almost straight route gives the locomotives a chance to stretch their legs, just watching the little trains at full speed from the lineside is entertainment in itself. The RH&DR is a stark contrast to the next longest 15” gauge line in Britain, the 7 mile Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway which threads through the Lake District with sharp curves and steep gradients.

The shingle peninsular at Dungeness is a fabulous place to visit. Rather than being eroded as much of the British coastline is, the peninsular is actually getting bigger. Everything there seems to be extreme in size, the sky and the power station are very big and they dwarf the fisherman’s houses, roads and trains which are all very small.

Before I visited the RH&DR, I had not heard of the school train. I happened to be on New Romney Station when the horde of children invaded the platform and boarded the train. On this occasion traction was provided by a steam locomotive which I assumed was normal but I have found out since that it is usually diesel hauled.

The railway has a fascinating history and the company’s objective to restore, maintain and develop the railway in line with Howey’s and Zborowski’s original vision keeps that history alive. Even the new diesels, one of which is named Captain Howey is in keeping with the vision as Howey himself experimented with alternatives to steam for the winter season.

I am not a fan of narrow gauge mainline diesels, the two at the RH&DR were built in the 1980s so there is nothing ‘heritage’ about them. One of them will usually be on the roster each day for the school train and some timetabled services but most trains are steam hauled which, after all, is what most of us want to see.

It is remarkable that all of the original steam locomotives are still in use today including The Bug, having been rescued from the bottom of a scrap heap! I would like to see the vision taken a step further with the Dungeness extension being doubled again but there appear to be no plans to do it.

If you are interested in railway history or just like little steam trains, then a visit to the Romney Marsh is a must. Despite being a quiet corner of Kent, access is easy with the M20 and HS1 line nearby.

The longest 15” gauge railway in the world.

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway is a 15” gauge light railway in Kent, the 13½ mile line runs along the coast from Hythe to the shingle headland of Dungeness. The railway was the dream of two millionaire racing drivers and was built in the 1920s as a one third scale main line.

Dungeness
Romney
Sands
St Mary’s
Bay
Dymchurch
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Map | Getting There | Attractions & Facilities | Operation | Brief History | Review | Links

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Contact Details

Headquarters Address:





Telephone:

email:

 

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway,
New Romney Station,
Kent.
TN28 8PL

01797 362353/363256

info@rhdr.org.uk

New
Romney
Romney Warren
Halt
Hythe

Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway at a Glance

Type: Preserved Narrow Gauge Railway

Gauge: Narrow, 15”

Length: 13½ miles

Stations: 6 + 1 halt

First opened: 1927, extension to Dungeness: 1928

Post war re-openeing: 1946 (Dungeness: 1947)

Current not-for-profit ownership: 1972

Operation

Service

Trains run every day from the end of March to the beginning of November and every weekend in the winter. Santa specials run at weekends and some weekdays in December but there is no service on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Refer to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway website for the timetable (see link below). There is also a school train which runs every day during the school term.

Locomotives

The railway has 10 mainline steam engines and 2 mainline diesels as follows:

The diesels are used on school trains, maintenance trains and some passenger trains.

Stock

Most coaches are built to a standard RH&DR design, with aluminium bodies, as either closed saloons or open coaches in 16 and 20 seat configurations, as well as 6 seater saloon/luggage composite vans.

Special coaches include:

Map

The map below shows the location of all the stations on the Romey, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, click on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode. Use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.

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Attractions and Facilities

There are seven stations on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway from which you can board a train and travel across the Romney Marsh.

Brief History

The idea of building a 15” gauge miniature main line with double track was the brainchild of Count Louis Zborowski, a millionaire of Polish and American decent, educated at Eton and deeply interested in all things mechanical. He was one of the founders of the Aston martin Motor Company and had his own well-staffed workshop where he built and maintained his own racing cars which he also drove.

Later that same year everything was cast into doubt when Zborowski was killed while driving in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. However, Howey’s father had died a few months earlier and he was now his own master financially. Encouraged by his mother and friends, he decided to continue with the vision as a memorial to Zborowski.

The line would be 8 miles long, flat and with no important obstacles, When Howey visited the site he gave his approval right away and Greenly commenced the survey. By the end of 1925 the application for a Light Railway Order was made and after protracted discussions with all parties concerned, was granted six months later.

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway quickly became famous and people came to ride on what was referred to as the 'Smallest Public Railway in the World'. The railway prospered until the outbreak of the Second World War when most of the civilian population was evacuated from the area.

There followed a boom period when tourism in the south of England became very popular but as overseas holidays became more affordable, passenger numbers fell.

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