Light Railway Modelling

Kent & East Sussex Light Railway - Locos

Les Darbyshire


The standard Gauge light railways of this country, and in particular those under the influence of the late Col. H. F. Stephens, have always had a particular appeal to the railway enthusiast. Their use of an extraordinary variety of locomotives and rolling stock, usually though not invariably obtained second hand, their free and easy methods of operation, the attractiveness of the countryside through which most of them ran all these features combined to give them "character" (something which "modern image" British Rail sadly lacks) and make them excellent subjects for modelling. However, models of light railway sub¬jects, other than the ubiquitous "Terrier," are rather scarce, and this may be due in part to the lack of suitable published drawings.

It is hoped, with the Editor's permission, to remedy this situation by producing a series of drawings covering all aspects of light railways in¬cluding locomotives, rolling stock and typical track layouts and buildings. Most of these will be from the Kent & East Sussex Railway as this is one of my personal specialties, but other lines will be included where possible.

The drawings have been prepared using a variety of sources of information, some being taken from official drawings and others constructed using a few known dimensions and projections from photo¬graphs. Although the latter may offend the purist, models made from such drawings are accurate enough to convey the atmosphere of the prototype, which is usually the most important requirement for this type of modelling. Where drawings have been made in this manner it will be stated, and if any reader has more accurate information, I will be delighted to receive it, via the Editor.



The scale to use for light railway modelling is largely a matter of personal preference. 4 mm. scale is excellent for the creation of a "scenic" model, though to obtain the correct "broad gauge" appearance of the prototype (caused by the use of light section rail), I would strongly recommend the use of EM gauge (or Protofour if you are really keen) rather than 00 gauge. My own experience is in EM gauge, though for any future modelling I will use 0 gauge. Although this requires a lot of space indoors, even the smallest garden will pro¬vide room for quite a reasonable length of run, and this is where my next layout will be built.

Now to the subject of this month's drawing. The first stage of the Kent and East Sussex Rail¬way (then known as the Rother Valley Railway) was opened in 1900 from Robertsbridge on the S.E.R. Hastings line to a temporary terminus, later named Rolvenden, near Tenterden. For the open¬ing, two small 2-4-0, tank locomotives were pur¬chased from Hawthorn, Leslie & Company of New¬castle, Works numbers 2420 and 2421 of 1899. Named respectively "Tenterden" and "North¬iam" they operated all services of the first year until they were supplemented by the addition of a Terrier, No. 3 Bodiam, purchased second-hand from the L.B. & S.C.R. With driving wheels 3 ft. 3 in. diameter, leading wheels 2 ft. 6½ in. diameter (not 2 ft. 9 in. as stated in several books) and a low pitched boiler, they had a rather squat appearance, particularly when viewed from the front. The position of the buffers at the top of the buffer beams enhanced this effect.



The original livery was dark blue bordered with black and lined in vermilion and white, very like the Great Eastern colours. At first the dome and chimney cap were painted over, but very soon they were polished, both being brass. On the formation of the K. & E.S.R. in 1904, the livery remained unchanged, but the words "Kent and East Sussex Railway" were added in an oval band around the nameplate. This lettering was presumably in gold or cream, and the oval band appears to be black.

Both locomotives later had additions and alter¬ations which rather changed their appearance.


1.             No.1 Tenterdon was originally identical to No.2

2.             No.2 was later rebuilt with a stovepipe chimney (see drawing KES 1)

3.             Dimensions taken from drawing supplied by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd.

     Fig 1 Tenterden 1930

   Fig 2 Tenterden K&ESR 1905

    Fig 3 Northiam at Sheperdswell 1925

Fig 1 'Tenterden' at Rolvenden about 1930 showing the later simplified livery.

Fig 2 'Tenterden' with larger driving wheels and in early K&ESR livery 1905.

Fig 3 'Northiam' at Sheperdswell, East Kent Railway 1925

At about the time of the opening in 1905 of the K&ESR's extension to Headcorn on the S.E.R. Tonbridge-Ashford main line, No.1 Tenterden was rebuilt with larger driving wheels, believed to be 4ft. 1in. in diameter. It has been said that these wheels came from a "Terrier", but as the balance weights differ, this seems unlikely. At the same time the leading wheels were increased in diameter, apparently by increasing the tyre thickness, sandboxes were added above the footplate, and the buffers were moved to the bottom of the beams. Fig. 2 shows Tenterden in this condition.

Sometime later, a stovepipe chimney was added to both locomotives, and coal rails fitted. These were the only alterations to Northiam, whose livery was also unchanged, at least until 1937. The livery of Tenterden was slightly altered around 1920, when block lettering was used on the tank sides as shown in Fig. 1 and on the drawing.

Both locomotives lasted until about 1941 when they were sold for scrap. Tenterden was out of use for some time before this, and as far as is known, stayed on the K&ESR for the whole of her life. Northiam, on the other hand, travelled widely. She was transferred to the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway in 1917, returned to the K&ESR after a year or two, and in 1923 went to the East Kent Railway, where she is shown in Fig. 3. In 1937 Northiarn achieved immortality when, with half her cab removed and a spiked-top chimney fitted, she starred as the locomotive Gladstone in Will Hay's film "Oh! Mr. Porter", filmed on the Basingstoke and Alton Railway.

Either locomotive would make a delightful model, though the provision of 13 mm. diameter ten-spoked wheels for Northiam might prove a headache for 4 mm. scale modellers. Tenterden in her later form could use "Terrier" wheels suitably modified, and several of the smaller motors on the market will fit satisfactorily

Hecate 0-8-0

Hecate was the largest and most powerful engine ever to work on a light railway in this country, and yet it was also the biggest white elephant.

To understand this, we must go back to the beginning of the cen¬tury, and picture the scene on the Kent and East Sussex Railway in 1903. The original RotherValley line had just been completed up the hill to TenterdenTown, and gangs of navvies were busy constructing an extension to Headcorn, on the South Eastern main line, Head-corn was then just a small village and hardly justified the cost of building across fairly difficult country to reach it. However, the real goal was not Headcorn, but Maidstone, even then a town of considerable size and importance. Powers were being sought to extend from Headcorn to a junction with the S.E.R. at Tovil, with running powers from there into the town itself. Unfortunately, between Headcorn and Maidstone lay the formidable barrier of the North Downs, and the proposed route through Sutton Valence and Loose would have been a difficult one to build and run, with heavy earth¬works and severe gradients and curvature.

In anticipation of the building of the extension, the K. & E.S.R. ordered a powerful new locomotive from R. W. Hawthorne Leslie of Newcastle, and a set of bogie coaches from R. Y. Pickering of Glasgow, both being delivered in 1904. The locomotive was an out¬side cylindered o-8-o side tank engine with a short wheelbase and flangeless driven wheels to cope with the sharp curves expected on the new line. With cylinders 16 in. by 24 in. and driving wheels 4 ft. 3 in. diameter, its tractive effort was 16,385 lb., more than twice that of the line's other locomotives and sufficient to take trains over the 1 in 40 gradients of the North Downs crossing. Numbered 4 and named "Hecate," the engine looked most impressive in its livery of dark blue lined in red, with a copper cap to the chimney and a polished brass dome.

The line was opened as far as Headcorn in 1905 and there it stuck! Some land was bought along the extension, but lack of funds at the time prevented its completion. Later, the first World War and road competition ensured that there never would be any money available, so the line was never finished and poor "Hecate" became a white elephant. With no trains to haul over the Downs, and banned from the original Rother Valley line be¬cause its weight of 434 tons was too great for the bridges, its sole duty was a once-a-week round trip to Headcorn to keep it in working order. This unhappy state of things continued for 26 years, punctuated only by a visit to the East Kent Railway from 1917 to 1919, where useful work was done on shunting heavy coal trains at Tilmanstone

Colliery. Eventually the Company must have realised that this was quite ridiculous, and in 1932 they exchanged "Hecate" for an ancient L.S.W.R. "Saddleback" and two spare boilers from the Southern Railway. This was a good bargain on the S.R.'s part, as they repainted

"Hecate" (keeping the name), numbered it 949, and sent it to Nine Elms, where it worked almost daily on shunting duties until eventual scrapping in 1950.

"Hecate" would make an excel¬lent subject for modelling. The body has clean, simple lines, and would take a large, powerful motor to give prototype performance. Even the flangeless wheels would be of benefit on a sharply curved model layout.

One day I will make a model myself, with a train of the Pickering bogie coaches to go with it, and in my imagination the Maidstone line will be finally built, and the North Downs will echo to the sound of Hecate's exhaust as it climbs the long bank out of Sutton Valence!

Hesperus 0-6-0ST

The history of this loco¬motive depicted in the drawing goes back to 1876, when the Narberth Road and Maenclochog Railway was opened from Clynderwen to Rosebush in Pem¬brokeshire, at the foot of Prescelli mountain. The line possessed three 0-6-0 saddle tanks by three differ¬ent makers - Hudswell Clarke, Manning Wardle and Fox, Walker, and were named respectively " Pre "Ringing Rock" and "Mar¬garet." After a somewhat chequered career, which included two changes of name and a 13 year period of closure, the line was taken over by the G.W.R. in 1898, the loco¬motives becoming respectively Nos. 1379, 1380 and 1378 on the new company's books.

No. 1380 "Ringing Rock" (Manning Wardle 630 of 1876) worked in the West Country for a few years, and was then reboilered and somewhat "Swindonised," though not drastically. She was withdrawn by the G.W.R. in 1912 and sold to the Bute Works Supply Company, who in turn sold her to the Kent & East Sussex Railway in 1914 as their No. 8.

On the new line she was used largely on passenger traffic, and at one time ran as an 0-4-2 with the rear section of coupling rod removed, as seen in Fig. 1. About 1921, she was involved in an un¬usual accident. The line between Northiam and Bodiam ran close to the River Rother and was liable to flooding. On this occasion the line was under water, though trains were still running. Unfortunately the pressure of water had shifted the track and No, 8

was derailed, but luckily she came to rest against a tree which held her weight and prevented her falling into ten feet of water. After the accident, the name¬plates were removed and new ones substituted bearing the name "Hes¬perus," supposedly to prevent pas¬sengers recognising the engine as the one involved. As "Ringing Rock" was most distinctive in ap¬pearance, being the only saddle tank on the line, this ruse was not likely to have been successful, but the name "Hesperus" remained. The "Ringing Rock” nameplates were later given to another Manning Wardle, West Sussex Railway No. 2.

The original K. & E.S.R. livery is believed to have been dark green edged black and lined in white, very similar to the contemporary Southern Railway livery. The dome and safety valve were polished brass, and the chimney cap polished copper. At this time or a little earlier, the nameplates were removed altogether, and in this form No. 8 ran until final withdrawal in 1941.

Either as "Ringing Rock" or "Hesperu " she would make a rather nice model. It may prove difficult to obtain wheels of the correct type commercially, though "TT" ones might do for 4 mm. scale. There is plenty of room under the saddle tank for a good sized motor, and also room for plenty of ballast to improve ad¬hesion. I use Cerrobend, a low melting point alloy, for this pur¬pose, as it can be melted in hot water and poured into odd corners of a completed model without damaging the paintwork. It should only be used on a metal model, though; plastic would probably soften.

One final comment. The accur¬acy of the drawings cannot b. guaranteed as very few dimensions are known for certain. However, they should be adequate for most modelling purposes and will pro¬duce a model that looks right. For those interested in modelling this locomotive in one of her earlier guises, there are two illustrations in Part 3 of the R.C.T.S. publi¬cation "Locomotives of the Great Western Railway."