On September 12th a group of almost 40 assembled at around noon, on time for our visit to the East Kent Railways site at Shepherdswell. Following arrival we were able to visit the Ranger's Station in Knees Wood, which served as a training camp during WW1 & WW2. A volunteer, Mark, showed us evidence of the occupation during those times, which had been recovered by members of a local metal detector group. Other attractions included the video and museum carriage, the miniature railway (see photograph), model railway and signal box, which had been dismantled and re-erected here following the closure of the railway line at Barham.
Model diesel locomotive pulling enthusiastic visitors
photo: Jenny Anderson
At 12:30 we were able to eat in the picnic area where the volunteers, Wendy, Alison & John the BBQ chef provided some very nice food, including some excellent home made puddings - what a change from Brake Bros offerings at our weekly meetings! Orange and Coconut punch was available to those who had not taken advantage of the BYO availability.
After a leisurely lunch we squeezed into the apprentice portacabin where Jim, the last miner to work at the Kent Coalfields, gave us an illuminating talk with a film. Colin told us about a book illustrated with pictures of the time which he had written and where profits go to E K Railway. Chef John had changed his apron and with chairman Gary gave details of the apprentice scheme which is proving both popular and successful.
Following the talks we were able to look at anything which we had missed prior to lunch, before boarding the train for our private, Rotary only, journey. Mark Esdale (see photograh) along with Philippa Davies were on the footplate and Jenny Anderson and Sandra Power were at the other end as the brakemen - or should it be 'brakewomen'! So we were in good hands. The day ended towards 17:00 with all of us expressing our admiration at the time and effort put in by so many dedicated volunteers - there were about two dozen on duty on the day of our visit.
Mark Esdale on the footplate
photo: Philippa Davies