Railway provides volunteers with home from home


By Geoff Courtney

It may not be the Ritz or have been awarded any stars, but to the volunteers of the Kent & East Sussex Railway, it’s top-class accommodation that provides welcome comforts after a hard shift.

In what Shaun Dewey, the railway’s general manager, describes as the “biggest step change in volunteer facilities for many years,” two blocks of single-bedroom units have been opened at the railway’s Tenterden base for the use of anyone working on the railway, especially volunteers who live a distance away.

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Smile please: The KESR footplate crew of former Norwegian State Railways’ 21C class No. 376 smile for the camera as they wait for departure from Tenterden with the 11.45am to Bodiam on August 17. The venerable coaches behind the 1919-built 2-6-0 are, from nearest the camera, a South Eastern & Chatham Railway ‘birdcage’ built in 1910, a SECR 3rd class of 1901, a SECR coach dating from 1888, Metropolitan Railway ‘Jubilee’ steam stock No. 353 of 1892 on loan from London Transport Museum, and a GER six-wheeler of 1887. The combined age of the five coaches is 612 years. ANDREW FREEMAN

The two blocks comprise six single bedrooms – complete with double-glazing and blackout curtains – showers and toilets, and kitchens with cooking facilities. The charge to stay is £5 per night to fund heating, cleaning and maintenance, while the normal maximum stay is seven nights.

“A great deal of effort and resources have been put into providing this facility, and I must thank all those concerned for bringing the project to fruition,” said Shaun. “Many of the installation team gave up their holidays to work on site in some of the hottest temperatures for years.”

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