Thousands of railway enthusiasts and holidaymakers joined in with an army of staff and volunteers to start the official 90th year of operation with a ‘Gala’ weekend.
As well as nearly all of the Railways own engines being in service, several guest engines also joined the birthday party.
Two of the major highlights included a 24-hour timetable, with a service running through the night from Hythe to New Romney; with many comments on social media about being surprised to see the miniature one third replicas of their mainline counterparts thundering across crossings at 1am in the morning.
But despite the unusual hour this did not stop hundreds of ‘Puffer Nutter’ enthusiasts making the pilgrimage to the railways just so that they could say ‘they were there’.
This is the first of many special events and special trains to mark this landmark achievement, including the commemoration weekend on the 15th and 16th of July which marks the official 90th birthday of the opening of the line.
As well as thousands of visitors descending to the Marsh three visiting steam locomotives came to join in the celebrations, two from the Bure Valley railway in Norfolk and one from the Ravensglass and Eskdale railway, which made the epic journey all the way from the Lake District!
The Railways Managing Director, Danny Martin, posted on the railways social media site: “Everyone knows that I, like so many, are fiercely proud of our railway and of the people who work for it, support it and use it. I struggle when things go off plan but being a realist I know they sometimes will. This weekend we piled in nearly every ingredient we could think of to show off our line and many people have given their absolute all to make it happen. I could never thank all individually but please be sure I am deeply grateful to all the Romney people and those from our great friends in the 15”-gauge fraternity who gave an equal amount. So, to see the 6 engines prepared with pride, organised with pride and saluted with pride tonight was the dream and that so many of our great supporters were there morning, noon and night to share this has been brilliant. Thank you all from us all.”
The weekend drew to a close with the site of what was described as ‘6 of the best’ a 30-coach special train pulled by 6 of the railways most iconic engines, in order of their railway number featuring, No.2 Northern Chief, No.3 Southern Maid, No.7 Typhoon, No.8 Hurricane, No.9 Winston Churchill and No.10 Dr Syn.
To find out more about the railways year of celebration visit their website: www.rhdr.org.uk