Easter Festival Overture
Details for the upcoming Easter services to launch the 42nd season proper on the K&ESR are now reasonably set, if not in stone, with the focus on the railway very much on Knowle that arrived on hire for the first time from the Southern Railway as 2678 three-quarters of a century ago in February 1940.
Although availability of locomotives is somewhat constrained this year, there’s plenty to entertain enthusiasts, families and even hitchhikers with a broad galaxy of travel options and train combinations extending into the school holiday period.
For the first time the popular Gold timetable runs all-steam on all four days of the festival with eight passenger trains from Tenterden every day with a 45-minute interval. Indeed even if the weather does not play ball, the arrangements should help put outstanding winter blues well and truly to the sword.
For what is believed to be the first time in preservation, both Terriers will be in steam on the same day on separate trains on the K&ESR with both sporting the late-BR “cat and mangle” totem, acquired by Bodiam in 2011 and Knowle in 2013. That is, excluding the Return to Robertsbridge event in September when there was a two-mile trackless gap between them, with 32670 employed on RVR metals and 32678 running between Tenterden Town and Bodiam.
The Terriers are to work five trains each day between them, with either 376 Norwegian or 65 Maunsell working the main train. The plan is that Good Friday and Easter Saturday will be the main focus of attention for enthusiasts. 32678 is scheduled for three round trips leaving Tenterden Town at 1130, 1345 and 1600hrs with a two-coach train typical of the type of train it used to run regularly in service on the Hayling Island whilst 32670 will be employed on the Vintage train with departures at 1215 and 1430hrs. Please note that for the benefit of photographers it has been specifically requested that neither engine will carry additional headboards or adornments on Good Friday.
On Easter Day and Easter Monday, for variety, and in part precipitated by a private charter late on Saturday, the two engines will swap turns with Bodiam taking over the “Hayling Billy” formation and 32678 on the Vintage. This means that there will be opportunities to ride and photograph all four combinations over the weekend. It is even possible to travel over the whole railway behind both engines, perhaps sustained by refreshments from the Buffet at Tenterden Town by riding first on the 1130 and then on the 1430, or, with a later start, first on the 1215 and then, after a longer break, on the 1600 service.
Bodiam was famous for working the last special on the Havant–Hayling with Fenchurch in 1963 and she may well be decorated on Sunday or Monday to recreate her appearance that day. Indeed this is thought to be her first opportunity to work an advertised public service Hayling-type train on the K&ESR.
But there are many other options and you can break your journey as you wish. At Bodiam, the Cavell Van will be open. This is a particularly poignant year, being the centenary of Edith Cavell’s execution by the Germans during the Great War. Also at Bodiam there will be a miniature traction engine event on Saturday, Sunday and Monday – and of course the Castle. (Hitch) Hikers will appreciate the regular service to and from Wittersham Road, with a train calling every 20 to 25 minutes; the walk between here and Northiam via Newenden is particularly recommended as it crosses the K&ESR near the Rother Bridge.
Easter should also serve as an overture for the eagerly-anticipated visit of the M7 30053 from the Swanage Railway later in the spring and to this end visitors are invited to send in digital images obtained for the railway is very short of good publicity photographs. If circumstances permit, first-thing on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, it is hoped to arrange for 32678 to be posed by the daffodils for a few minutes just below the level crossing at Tenterden Town, so patrons can obtain uncluttered images of the engine.
It should be a very special weekend, especially if other spring flowers, such as the primroses on Wittersham Bank put on a good show and if gambolling lambs have been turned out, particularly in the fields below Cranbrook Road crossing or in the vicinity of Padgham’s Curve near Bodiam.
After Easter, holiday running will continue with two trains running every day until the 19th, except Fridays 10th and 17th, and Monday 13th when there are no trains. Knowle is initially lined up to work the Vintage train, so she may very well end up working seven days in a row starting from Good Friday; a fitting acknowledgement to her splendid career so far on the K&ESR.
Source – Terrier Trust