Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (RH&DR) attracts both local users and national and international tourists. The railway’s main attraction is of course the world famous steam locomotives however the business has expanded into several catering outlets, souvenir shops and a Toy & Model Exhibition. These extras both help to support the railway financially and meet the increasing demands of visitors.
The RH&DR opened to the public in 1927. The brainchild of Captain J.E.P. Howey and Count Louis Zborowski the 15” gauge railway was often referred to as the ‘Smallest Public Railway in the World’. Originally running between the Cinque Port towns of Hythe and New Romney, the line was later extended down to Dungeness. The Railway has survived many historic events including World War Two in which the Railway was requisitioned by the War Department and was used extensively during the building of PLUTO which fuelled the Allied Invasion Force.
The Railway has also attracted many noteworthy fan including comedians Laurel and Hardy and the Royal Family, as well as thousands of domestic and overseas visitors that visit each year to ride behind one of the 11 world-famous steam locomotives.
2017 marks the 90th anniversary of the railway when there are plenty of special events throughout the year including the 90th Anniversary Birthday Party.
Location – Romney Marsh
The railway was set up in 1927 by two entrepreneurs essentially looking to build a ‘big boys toy’. The Romney Marsh was the flattest area available at the time of building and planning so the ideal place for a railway. The Dungeness section of the line was added later.
Advantages of Romney Marsh
The Romney Marsh location benefits the railway in terms of landscape to be explored. The railway begins at Hythe where it benefits from the views of the Royal Military Canal and the Listening Ears. Travelling through farmland towards the seaside village of Dymchurch that is a hugely popular seaside destination.
New Romney itself has other heritage features that tourists can explore such as St Nicholas Church, Romney Marsh Visitor Centre and the IMOS Foundation art displays. Dungeness is increasing popular with visitors due to its NNR setting and attracts many bird watchers and photographers.
The RH&DR has close connections with the Romney Resource Centre, the railway often provides work experience to those learning through the Resource Centre. The Centre is a good base for some of the training courses the Railway uses.
The Romney Marsh has some stunning scenery and other attractions that can encourage tourists to stay in the area for longer breaks.
The area benefits from High Speed Rail links into Ashford International and a regular train service in Folkestone, Stagecoach buses are also regular from Folkestone to Hythe, check public transport connections.