The RHDR Nr 56

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Later this year is a special eightieth birthday, not of a person but of a tourist attraction. In nineteen twenty-seven, Captain J. E. P. Howey, with the help of engineer Henry Greenly, opened the Romney, Hythe and ...

Later this year is a special eightieth birthday, not of a person but of a tourist attraction. In nineteen twenty-seven, Captain J. E. P. Howey, with the help of engineer Henry Greenly, opened the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. The RHDR is often called Britain’s only ‘mainline in miniature”. There are several miniature railways in the UK, but this is the longest in Britain. In fact, it’s the longest in the world at over thirteen miles.

The track gauge is only 15 inches, a quarter of the size of standard gauge, but the locomotives are a third scale. This is because true-scale locos would not be powerful enough for the speeds and distances (and train sizes) the line needs.

Starting in the quiet seaside town of Hythe, the trains pull passengers past fields of sheep, the old military canal and the hills of Kent. At about the halfway point, it reaches New Romney, where the line has its headquarters. New Romney used to be the terminus, but in 1928 the line was extended further, across several miles of flat, empty shingle, to the lighthouse and fishing cottages of Dungeness. There’ll be more about Dungeness next week.

Apart from its length, what makes this unique among miniature railways? Well, firstly, children use it to go to school. The line has a commercial function. Also, about half of the line is double track. All the other miniature lines in the country are single. The army used it in World War Two. They put armour plating on one of the locomotives. Then they patrolled the coast with two soldiers who had machine guns in the front and rear trucks. This was part of the defence against a possible German invasion.

It also has one of the longest miniature-railway coaches in the world (the bar wagon, also an observation coach), a Royal Coach you can hire for special occasions, and the line is faster than most preserved steam railways. If you go to the south-east of England this summer, take a trip on the RHDR, and you’ll see why so many people ‘caught the train bug” there. My first journey on the line was when I was eighteen months old. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Romney Hythe trivia:
Where did Captain Howey get the money for this?
He was fortunate enough to own a lot of land in Australia and so he was an extremely rich person. Sadly, he didn’t write a will so when he died the railway had to look for new sources of money. They made a few changes and the line survived.

Howey also had a friend called Count Louis Zborowski. Zborowski was even richer, but was killed in the Italian Grand Prix.

If you look out from the train near Hythe, and again near Dungeness, you can see two of the wartime ‘sound locators”, mentioned in a previous edition of this paper.

Did you know?
There are no miniature
railways in Poland, although
there are quite a few
narrow-gauge ones.

Wordsearch
These words are all to do with small things and small sizes.
Q I A I K N L N K R I J C X O Q E T E I
Q Z Z W V I F L W H E M Y K Z L L W A N
I F B B U X G X A O Y D C N U X Q O I E
J C Q V U U R J Q I D E U C I V R C L P
C I P O C S O R C I M D S C B T W C B H
Q X V R J Y A K M A U I E U E J F D U T
E I H B T D I R C B N C D L G D C E R V
R L Z X O Q B U W I E G K G A I Q T K P
X Z X U K I H J M R E X R D A C I N Q O
F U N S I Z E D Q T X T P P W L S B C D
B W D Y O T O P D Y E R O N D A U E O E
C L C D H R Y C I B R L V Q W C Z E M V
A H J B A H N J C C U E Q B J Z K J P W
R B G T J W G S B N T Q U H T N V I A H
W B K G V V B I P W A E Q C K T Q E C X
G L C T G Z Z N Z D I X B M F Y I X T O
M B V U B V G N B M N N J Z R M D P H F
K G U J Y Q W S N J I N T W K K Y T K S
M B T A C Y F Q J A M X F A D F H X J F
N R X F V E S O X R X U C Y W U H U I R

KEY
miniature, microscopic, reduced, scaled-down, tiny, miniscule, budget, fun-sized, compact, micro

polecane: Pierwszy Polak połknął elektroniczną pigułkę

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