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Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by lynbarn, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Whilst it would be sad to see the S&KLR close in its current location, and it would be a great loss to the industrial heritage of the area, I can't help but imagine just how much potential there could be if they shifted the whole lot to, say for instance, the Lyme Regis branch and set up there. I am sure that it would attract Bert and Ada in their thousands.
     
  2. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Whilst the long term viability will always be in doubt given that Sittingbourne isn't the greatest tourist centre in the UK, packing the railway's bags and moving to another location will, IMHO. mean the S&KLR ceases to exist. The viaduct and the lines surroundings ARE the S&KLR and no other location will do as far as that is concerned. You can see former Bowaters locos at work in Whipsande Zoo but the S&KLR it ain't. A railway is much more than its locos and rolling stock.
     
  3. Avonside1563

    Avonside1563 Member

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    Personally I would be right behind any attempt to retain the line in it's current location. Let's face it, it's not beyond the wit of man to do these these, witness Tornado! After all, we managed to buy the remaining colliery buildings and headgear at Foxfield, restore them, and will be running trains back down to the colliery next year. 10 years ago there were some serious doubts that we could do it! Who knows what 10 years could bring to Sittingborne?

    Let's stop being negative and offer whole hearted support to preserve a unique piece of railway and industrial heritage!
     
  4. ipod

    ipod New Member

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    I totally agree.... =D>
     
  5. WB2624

    WB2624 New Member

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    The 'Save Our Steam Railway' campaign is really to raise awareness of the plight of the SKLR and so bring pressure on the Swale Borough Council to reconsider the lack of Heritage in their plans for the town. The way National Preservation members can help is to send messages of support to the railway via the website - www.sklr.net . These messages can then be used to show the SBC the volume of support that the railway has.

    It is not really a viable proposition to move the railway to another location - it is just too expensive in terms of planning, infrastructure and lowloading the rolling stock etc.

    Apparently there are currently no potential buyers for the Sittingbourne mill site.

    In response to a previous poster regarding the fact that the railway is stuggling - we do attract sufficient custom to be able to do most the things we want, including bi-annual repairs to the viaduct. Where we perhaps are challenged is in manpower - I have underspent my loco budget in the last few years because we aren't able to progress loco overhauls quickly due to the few of us able to do the work.

    Although I am the Engineering Director of the railway, I am writing as an individual.

    Best Wishes

    Nigel
     
  6. ipod

    ipod New Member

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    Well that is easy enough.... it is the least we can do... message of support on the way!
    Thanks for explaining things Nigel.
     
  7. 5944

    5944 Well-Known Member

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    Posted on RMWeb earlier.

     
  8. simon

    simon Part of the furniture

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  9. 5944

    5944 Well-Known Member

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    Ah cheers Simon. I forgot to check the link after posting it.
     
  10. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    If moving the railway, is prohibitively expensive - though I would not exclude this, - is it not possible to negotiate with developers to include a steam line in the development, as an attraction?

    Though obviously, it could not be directly underneath balconies of new apartments!

    I can understand why the council and developers would want to bulldoze the paper mill and the concrete viaduct and pipeline ASAP - not the thing in a new development - very different to waterfront views!




     
  11. triassic

    triassic New Member

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    Apoligies if I was a bit scathing in my first post but what are your options? I`ve looked at the agents details , is the SKLR just in the corridor or does it use some of the other land too? Surely a long thin strip of land is fairly useless to anyone else, but I`m just surmising here.
    Without knowing the agents valuation on the land and potential other interested parties its difficult to come to a solution but looking at the way they are selling the plots off there should be a way forward.
     
  12. WB2624

    WB2624 New Member

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    The hope would be to negotiate renting the land that the line runs on from the purchaser, but as there are no names in the frame now there is no one to negotiate with. The mill owners are currently not willing to talk. An added complication is the fact that the Kemsley terminal land is owned by another company - they don't want to sell the land but will hopefully let us stay there if the rest of the line is saved.

    However, none of the above will be possible if the Council do not update their regeneration plan.

    I will stress again that I am not a Trustee, so there may be things that I'm not aware of.

    Best wishes

    Nigel
     
  13. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    Can I just get one thing straight in my mind does the SKLR own the track? or is that least as well. I don't mean to offend anyone but I just need to have a clear point of reference to start from.

    What I am saying is that I understand that the SKLR don't own the trackbed, but do they own the track its self? if not then the landowners could still come along and lift the track even if an agreement was made between all parties concerned.

    Regards


    Lynbarn
     
  14. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    I'd hate to see this line close. Not just the engines and stock, but the general environment that makes it special. Sadly, it's the very authenticity of this environment that makes it unattractive to the general paying public. This line is a case for state assistance as an industrial monument. It forms a part of the country's history and deserves to be preserved, unless we all subscribe to a philistine view that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    If worst comes to worst, the engines and stock might find a place, joining a former colleague, on the Welshpool and Llanfair, but it would not be quite the same.
     
  15. Achar2001

    Achar2001 New Member

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    That would be interesting - lord knows where we'd put them, we struggle to find space for what we already have! We sold the Chattenden coaches years ago to the SKLR...

    Cheers

    Andrew C
    (Press Officer, W&LLR)
     
  16. Ben Fisher

    Ben Fisher New Member

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    I vividly remember my first trip on the W&LLR which was in one of these carriages, with snow blowing through the gaps in the woodwork, and this was after the carriages had been fitted with full height doors...

    However, it looks like a Glyn Valley revival on 2'6" gauge is on the cards, might be a useful home for some of the stock? But far better if the whole operation can stay in Sittingbourne - original stock in original location.
     
  17. BiggerBob

    BiggerBob New Member

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    Napoleon Bonaparte once said “Plans are nothing, planning is everything”. Hemuth Von Moltke, Chief of the Prussian General Staff built on that saying,” No plan survives contact with enemy.” The Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway based on the former Bowater site faces extinction at the hands of property developers – a fighting fund is being raised but with the local council no doubt tempted by the prospects of broader economic regeneration it could be, to quote another military leader, “ a close run thing” in the battle for hearts and votes. It is time to hope for the best but plan for the worst. There is a need for plan B as well as Plan A. If the SKLR has to close at the end of the year – what next? It’s not just a question of the assets – the rolling stock, the workshop equipment, the track nor even the cost of moving it's about the intangible assets in the form of the experience and the élan, the team spirit, of the volunteers who have worked hard to keep the railway in being. Breaking up the assets would be a tragedy. The root problem is that the SKLR is losing is a track bed – if that’s the problem what’s the answer.

    A number of new narrow gauge railways have been created in this country based on disused standard gauge track beds – The South Tynedale at Alston, The Welsh Highland from Caernarfon to Dinas, The Launceston Steam Railway and the Seaton Tramway based on old LSWR not forgetting my miniature friends at Rudyard Lake. The lines fit in well with that other favoured use for old railways – the linear park or trail. So is there a local (ish) site that the SKLR could consider as a part of a Plan B. I offer for discussion purposes for the article below – from the comments it sounds unlikely that any standard gauge scheme will get off the ground. Are there perhaps other options closer to Sittingbourne?Chatham has been mentioned.

    Quote
    Could Cuckoo Line run again?
    http://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/featu ... 4473529.jp
    Published Date: 09 September 2008
    By Andrew Raeburn
    FORTY years ago on Monday (September 8), the last passenger train left Hailsham railway station and the curtain came down on the much-loved Cuckoo Line.
    The steam trains, which ran for the best part of a century, were soon replaced by walkers and cyclists as the section between Polegate and Heathfield became the Cuckoo Trail.
    In 1981 Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council bought the route of the old railway line to the south of Heathfield. The Cuckoo Trail opened in 1990 and the two councils continue to jointly manage it.
    An estimated 200,000 people use the footpath every year.
    But with some 7,000 new houses needing to be built in the Willingdon, Polegate and Hailsham area by 2026, transport links will have to be greatly improved to meet the demand.
    The Hailsham and Hellingly Masterplan, which sets out a 20-year vision for the future of the area, says it is 'unacceptable that a town the size of Hailsham does not have a rail link'.
    It adds that if reinstating a railway is not practical, consideration should be given to a 'light monorail' to run alongside the Cuckoo Trail footpath.
    Hailsham mayor Ian Haffenden says bringing in a rail or tram link is 'highly desirable but highly improbable'.
    He told the Gazette, "It was regrettable the rail line was ever stopped. It could never be put back in as it was because of the Freshfield Close and Lindfield Drive housing development built over part of the line (just south of the old Hailsham station site].
    "This prevents the railway ever going south of Hailsham again.
    "There are some alternatives - you could run the railway back up north to Heathfield if that was ever connected up again.
    "Alternatively you could run some sort of tram line alongside the Cuckoo Trail from Polegate to Station Road Industrial Estate.
    "The industrial estate originally evolved around the railway line and now that's gone, it's isolated and tremendously hard to get to.
    "If you put a tram line in to run between there and Polegate it would enhance the viability of the industrial estate.
    "There's a need for greater links between Hailsham and Polegate but in this day and age unless a private company feels it can make a profit out of rail or tram lines it won't put the money in to fund it."
    Cllr Haffenden said he remembered Hailsham's railway station from living in the town as a boy in the early 1960s.
    He said, "I remember going under the Station Road bridge and hoping a train would come along so you could see all the steam and smoke. It was always very exciting."

    Unquote
     
  18. RGCorris

    RGCorris New Member

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    The S&K is a unique and historic line, running original rolling stock on original formation. Moving its track and rolling stock to a former standard gauge trackbed would achieve nothing other than creating a new pleasure line. IMHO n-g lines on s-g trackbeds never feel right - they lack the curves, gradients and tight clearances that should be an integral part of the n-g experience. Riding from Caernarfon to Dinas is very ho-hum, whereas Dinas to Rhyd-Ddu is great.

    All efforts should be directed at keeping the S&K in situ. Suggesting alternate sites for its equipment at this stage could be counter-productive.

    Richard
     
  19. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    Richard is right on suggesting a suitable new location, and I can think of one new site in Kent where there has not even been a railway.

    I don't intend to say anything else about this place just yet, but I do know that the area is very popular with visitors, so if the push come to shove, I will make sure that those that need to know are aware about this possible site.

    Regards

    Colin
     
  20. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    Bluewater? that has lots of visitors!
     

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