East Kent Railway
East Kent Railway is a heritage railway charity, formed in the 1980s to preserve and restore stations, engines, rolling stock and other railway infrastructure trains that were once part of a small network of lines serving the Kent coalfield. It is therefore an important part of Kent’s industrial heritage. After the mines closed, the railways also fell into disuse, but thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers a two mile stretch of track has been restored between Shepherdswell and Eythorne, two of east Kent’s most picturesque villages. Train services operate during summer weekends, with a limited service in winter, when visitors can also continue to enjoy other attractions, including woodland walks, model and miniature railways at Shepherds Well and attractive tea rooms at both termini. See www.eastkentrailway.co.uk/ for details.
One of the railway’s projects is the restoration of steam locomotive “St Dunstan”, which spent most of its working life at nearby Snowdown Colliery. This project, as with many other engineering undertakings at the railway, is being undertaken with participants from the railway’s very successful Rail Apprentice Scheme, which has offered over a hundred local young people opportunities to gain invaluable engineering and rail environmental experience, leading in some cases to full employment in the wider rail industry.
In 2014 EKR received an award from ITV’s People’s Millions, and was also awarded the second of two grants from the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust.