There was a time when young lads would ask Santa for an engine for their model railway; this year, the Kent & East Sussex Railway has gone one better having been presented with a 73 ton steam locomotive in full working order. The 84 year old giant was built at the famous Swindon works for the Great Western Railway and has been acquired by volunteers to strengthen the fleet of engines at the Tenterden-based line.
Following months of planning, and a share offer to Members, the Kent & East Sussex Railway is delighted to announce the arrival of GWR 0-602t 6619 to its fleet.
Chairman, Geoff Crouch says,
‘This is a milestone achievement bought about by the passion of volunteers to provide 6619 with a permanent home. It will more than adequately serve our current needs and those of the future with the planned extension to Robertsbridge firmly on the horizon’.
The Railway has waited twenty years to introduce a new locomotive, the previous being the GWR Pannier 1638 in July 1992. 6619 has twice visited the K&ESR, the first occasion being August 1992 and more recently in 2008. On both occasions the popular locomotive supplemented the Railway’s own steam fleet during the peak season.
Supporters are set to celebrate the arrival of 6619 on Sunday 25th November with a formal welcome ceremony at 10.30am at Tenterden Town Station after which, the locomotive will steam to Bodiam and back at the head of a special train packed with those who have helped turn the dream of bringing 6619 to the K&ESR into reality.
After this, 6619 will be in action at weekends throughout December hauling the line’s popular Santa Specials. Amongst the passengers on these Yuletide trains is Father Christmas who distributes presents to all children during the journey while there is a festive tipple and mince pie for adults. Advance booking is strongly recommended and tickets can be purchased from www.kesr.org.uk or by telephone on 01580 765155