The ‘Golden Arrow’ ©Photographer Trevor Tupper
In 1959, Pathe News reported on a ‘Railway Triumph’ as the Mayor of Ramsgate and other dignitaries celebrated the inauguration of the Kent Electrification Scheme.
Now, 60 years later, local mayors have been inspired by the 1950’s train journey story and local dignitaries from the Dover, and Folkestone and Hythe districts are marking the anniversary with a journey on the Kent Coast Line from Westenhanger to Sandwich on Friday 2 July.
The journey’s end will celebrate the official launch of the White Cliffs Community Rail Partnership (CRP) at Sandwich station. The CRP encourages communities to be more involved in initiatives to get the most from their local railways, stations and services.
The History Project – a local community group based in Deal – will give a short presentation based on the 60th anniversary of rail travel, supported by local people’s recollections.
Guests will include the Mayors, and Town Sergeants for Hythe, Folkestone, Dover, Deal and Sandwich and the Chairmen of both Dover District Council and Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
The Community Relations Manager of Southeastern, Chair and Vice Chair of the newly formed White Cliffs Community Rail Partnership and representatives of the Community Rail Network will also be at the event.
Sandwich station has recently welcomed design improvements to increase platform capacity, reduce disruption to local roads and residents, and enhance the experience for passengers and spectators ahead of The Open which returns to Royal St George’s in Sandwich this July.
Brin Hill, Head of Community and Digital Services, said: “The White Cliffs Community Rail Partnership brings together a variety of local partners to bring social, economic and environmental benefits to communities served by rural and secondary rail services. We have recently held a virtual community launch event to discuss ideas for how we can improve our local railway stations and make them more welcoming for residents and visitors alike”.
George Chittenden, co-founder of The History Project, said: “Electric trains first arrived in Kent 60 years ago, replacing the steam trains fuelled by coal. Times have most definitely changed but it has been a joy to invite memories from our local community of their own train travels through the decades.”
Matthew Fraser, Community Relations Manager of Southeastern Railways, said “I am delighted to be part of this 60th year celebration of electrified rail travel and the launch event of the new White Cliffs Community Rail Partnership. Going by train is one of the safest and most environmentally friendly ways to travel, and we look forward to welcoming our customers back to travelling by train this summer”.