Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

From the Folkestone Herald Published 25 May 2000

Rail nostalgia.

REMARKABLE number of narrow gauge railways have added interest to the Garden of England over the years and, of course, one of the most popular is the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

The local railway, a great favourite with children and families alike, is featured in a new book on railways published on May 13.

Called Kent Narrow Gauge it is from the pen of two enthusiasts like the man who built the railway, Capt Jack Howey.

That is to say Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith who have penned literally dozens of railway books published by Middleton Press. In fact to prove that I am not exaggerating, the publishers’ blurb notes that there are now more than 120 of them.

The 96-page book with 120 photographs costs 12.95 from local bookshops or can be obtained post free from the publishers, at Easebourne Lane, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9AZ.

Both men live in West Sussex and have had a lifelong interest in railways.

The book was launched at a rare open day at the Bredgar & Wormshill Railway in beautiful grounds south of Sittingbourne, on May 13.

Typhoon locomotive

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway locomotive Typhoon pictured first thing in the morning in September 1987 on the old 30ft turntable, later replaced by a 40ft model.


The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway line takes up a large section of the book, and I was interested to see a photo of the remarkable loco created out of Capt Howey’s own Rolls-Royce car which I have referred to before in Memories. But other little known narrow gauge lines also get a mention, ranging from the ‘Fish Railway’ across the miles of shingle at Dungeness, to the little known Nuttall line which ran for only two years in the construction of a new sewer through the hillside, from Farthingloe, in Folkestone Road to Aycliffe, to a land owner’s line at Sandwich Bay involved in plans to build homes there in the early 1900s.

This was known as the Guilford Tramway after the Earl of Guilford, who lived at Waldershare Park.

Little used after 1915 it was to prove useful to the Army in the First World War serving camps in the area.

A narrow gauge network of lines used in construction of the Channel Tunnel also features prominently.

Bowaters Paper Mill at Sittingbourne had a large network of lines and some interesting locomotives which feature strongly in the new book.

And, apart from others in the northern part of the county such as the Chattenden and Upnor military line, near my grandparents’ home near Rochester - the apparent secretiveness of the line fascinated me in my teens -there were little trains connected with the holiday industry around the Isle of Thanet. Margate Dreamland, Margate and Herne Bay piers, and the Isle of Thanet Light Railway. - A fascinating book!


And, on the subject, of books I was pleased to yet the proofs back this week for my own new book on old Dover in the Archive series of books by Tempus Publishing who have already covered Folkestone, Hythe, Canterbury and Deal.


To change the subject completely and referring to last week’s Memories piece I find that I need to correct a date I gave for a walk down memory lane for Ron Dutt and other ex-Dover Road School boys who were evacuated to South Wales in the last war. A group of five meets up on June 2.

Mustang Fighters

This Mustang fighters photo is the cover picture of Mustang Wing a new book about RAF Brenzett, an advanced landing strip, by Anthony John Moor, I hope to write about next week.


Charabanc 1909

ANOTHER charabanc picture, but what interesting old cars they were. Memories reader and postcard collector Peter Hooper lent me the card postmarked July 1909. The picture was taken outside the old Co-op grocery and hardware store at the bottom of Dover Road. Two of the charabancs are clearly ‘Pop’ Wills Pullmans and this was probably a Co-op staff outing. The second car has a Maltby ‘Sandgate Pullman’ body dating from 1908 and the third is a 1906 MMC.



Court told of children of 12 drunk fetching beer.

THE DUKE of Cambridge agreed to lay the foundation stone of a new wing of the Royal Victoria Hospital at the end of May. Celebrations were to Include lunch at the Pavilion Hotel. Over a column of space In local papers was given over to a report of the Church of England Temperance Society’s annual meetings and concerts at the Town Hall. The main object of the society was re-habilitation of offenders sent to prison for drink offences. The meeting passed a resolution calling for the closing; of pubs on Sundays and a ban on children under 16 fetching beer for adults. Children as young as five had been found carrying jugs of beer late at night and some as young as 12 were drunk having gained a taste for it themselves. A subscription fund was begun for the widow and children of Sandling stationmaster Mr E Hilder killed In an accident on the railway. Recent Boer casualties In South Africa illustrated the international nature of the war. They included a German lieutenant and among the wounded was a Russian commander of the Foreign Legion. A trade exhibition was held at the Town Hall, with Red Rose Orchestra music, trade stalls and cookery lectures.



10m rail plan to include new railway to Hastings.

A 10 MILLION upgrade of Southern Railway was to include a new line from Folkestone to Hastings, part of a scheme for a better service between Margate and the West Country, which included upgrading the line from Thanet, through Dover to Folkestone. Sir Charles Wakefield opened the Philbeach Convalescent Home at Station Road, Hythe, which was established by the Tram, Omnibus & Tube Benevolent Fund, which managed subscription funds of employees of the company, and was to care for needy wives and children of men who served in the First World War. The Folkestone Herald editor wrote that the start of work on a band pavilion in Marine Gardens, near the sea, almost coincided with that of a start being made on another at the Leas Concert Hall, which it had been decided to call the Leas Cliff Hall. Martin Walters were advertising the latest Vauxhall cars Including the “famed 30-98 hp Velox, the fastest standardised touring car - Guaranteed 100 mph.” Others were the Wyndham, Melton, Princeton, Grafton (all 14-40hp), the Carlton and Kington (23-60hp.) Prices ranged from 595 to 1,295, but no price was given for a Velox. Talks were still going on between the council and local bus companies about a better run timetable of services and regulations.



Local girl judged UK’s most beautiful girl at 6.

NOLA Ansell, daughter of Mr & Mrs J E Ansell, of Longford Hotel, The Leas, was selected as Great Britain’s most beautiful child In the 1950 Sunday Dispatch competition for children born in 1944. Her portrait, featured on the front the Herald’s midweek Gazette paper, was on show at the Daffy Mall “Ideal Homes Exhibition.” Nola was in the top 10 the previous year. Photographer Theodore Greville, of Halksworth Wheeler Studios, persuaded her to enter again and she won. It was a double for Theodore who also photographed young Michael Slade, who took second place in the class for children born in 1946. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Slade of Bouverie Road West. There were 57,500 entries. A portrait by Cheriton photographer H B Green, of Joan Wallace, not a Folkestone child, also gained a first, for children born in 1947. For those looking forward to a good Season of cricket a cartoon in the Herald's midweek Gazette 50 years ago provides food for thought; 817 runs were scored In one day in a match between East Grinstead and an MCC XI in July 1914. E. Grinstead made 442 for six, and MCC 375 for two, Pat Hendren 201 not out. 50 years ago the Folkestone Gazette published an early photo of the original Black Bull Inn, in Canterbury Road.



Worst ever catches threat to port’s fishing boat fleet.

FISHERMEN at Folkestone, Hythe and Dungeness were said to face bankruptcy unless catches improved. A Kent fisheries officer said gloomily that he couldn’t see how some of them could do anything else but look for jobs elsewhere unless there was government aid. He pointed to Ramsgate where the rot had already started - a 15-strong fleet of trawlers had dropped to one in a year. Winter catches were the worst for 14 years. At every Kent port it was the same story, he said. Folkestone fisherman Bert Reed said it was the worst winter since that of 1962/3 when the sea froze in some areas. Folkestone might have to brace itself against further winds of change and welcome hovercraft services, warned the Herald editor. British Rail was considering the port as a base for its cross-Channel hovercraft operation which could have meant valuable jobs. The suggested site was the concrete apron at the Warren. The town had a taste of hovercraft ‘din’ with pleasure trips from just below the Leas, and didn't like it. The editor said the proposal could tie in with a proposed conference and leisure centre planned for Copt Point. In a compromise move to speed up housing Shepway council was being asked to agree to Its planned 1,700 new homes being finished In three years instead of five. This was the outcome of talks between council officers, Whitehall officials and KCC officers.


If anyone should have any a better picture than any on this page, or think I should add one they have, please email me at the following address:-