FH: stories | Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

RHDR

Few days out are more quintessentially British than a journey aboard the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (RHDR).

Connecting 13 miles of Kentish coastline and surrounded by the unique landscape of Romney Marsh, the world’s smallest railway welcomes over 150,000 visitors a year.

“I think the most extraordinary thing is how the railway came to exist in the first place,” suggests Danny Martin, RHDR’s Director and General Manager.

“Most narrow gauge and steam railways come from industrial backgrounds like cement works or mining. This one came from two individuals with a crazy notion that they would have the best railway set that money could buy.

“They set about using their personal wealth to create it. They didn’t know where it was going to be put, they didn’t really know what it was going to be like. What they did know was that they were going to have a very fine fleet of locomotives with an engineer to build them; a professional railway, but with a sense of fun as well.

“Because it was small and something no one had seen before, it became a tourist attraction. Even back in the 1920s and 30s and right up to this day that was its main source of income. It ran a few freight trains, took troops to the cinema during the Second World War, but the essence of it was as a working railway, very British and driven by enthusiasm.”

The service remains a great way to see the district with a day pass allowing visitors to make as many trips up and down the coast as they like, stopping off to see the Royal Military Canal in Hythe, the Dymchurch Fair and the UK’s only desert at Dungeness.

Danny continues, “In terms of heritage railways, we’re in the Top 20 and that’s something we’re proud of.

“Our estimation is that for every £1 spent with us, around £4 is brought into the economy from people eating with us or local restaurants to overnight stays with events put on encourage visitors to stay longer with us and in the area.”

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