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The East Kent Railway (Hardback)

The Line That Ran to Nowhere

Transport Photographic Books Trains and Railways

By John Scott-Morgan
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Series: Light Railway Profiles
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 180 illustrations
ISBN: 9781526726858
Published: 28th May 2021

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The East Kent Railway was one of Britain's less well known light railways. A part of the Colonel Stephens group of lines, the East Kent Railway was meant to open up the newly discovered Kent coal field and help to make its shareholders wealthy. However, things took a different turn when the projected collieries along the line did not materialise the way the promoters had first envisaged.

The only colliery to produce quantities of coal was Tilmanstone, near Shepherdswell, which opened in 1912. Other pits were started along the formation of the line from Shepherdswell to Wingham, but in these cases only the surface buildings or test shafts were constructed before the work was abandoned. This was largely due to flooding and the poor calorific quality of East Kent coal, which had to be mixed with other coal to be effectively used.

There were four collieries completed in Kent, the East Kent Railway only served one of them and this together with the other three lasted until the latter part of the 20th century.

The railway operated a loss making passenger service to Wingham and for a few years to Sandwich Road halt on the line to Richborough Port line. However, the service to Wingham Canterbury Road came to an end in October 1948, after British Railways had taken control.

The East Kent Railway lasted through two world wars and was nationalised in 1948, becoming part of the Southern Region of British Railways, before closing to traffic in 1984 during the coal strike.

Scott-Morgan’s latest description is refreshing and a pleasure to indulge, allowing the reader to follow more clearly the details of its short history in the early 1900s to closure and current success as a partly preserved railway at the present day.

The book’s greatest achievement is undoubtedly the inclusion of many photographs and detailed descriptions. About half of those shown have not been published before so will provide a renewed source of interest to followers of Colonel Stephens’ Railways.

Tenterden Terrier

"Exploring a classic railway".

This book will take you back to the sometimes busy, often chaotic and grimy days of the line that oozed Colonel Stephens' character.

Heritage Railway Magazine

Featured in

Branch Line News members magazine. Issue No: 1382 dated 7th August 2021

"This great book is jammed pack with superb photos."

The Colonel Stephens Magazine no 144

Featured in

East Kent Railway News Issue No 133

This isn't trying to be a definitive work on the history of this fascinating railway, but rather provide a good overview through well presented and informatively captioned pictures, and it does that very well. It's an easy book to read or just flick through, enjoying the photos and learning about the quaint and minimalist railway that once ran through a quiet corner of Kent.

Read the full review here

Michael's Model Railways

The new series of ‘Light Railway Profiles’ from Pen and Sword starts with a brief history of this interesting railway which mainly covered the Kent coalfields in the eastern part of the county and contains probably more photographs of the whole setup than there has ever been in one publication before. Highly recommended.

Peter Harding, Branch Line & Light Railway Publications

An interesting volume covering this forgotten railway. It provides a good overview with some nice black and white photographs that give a good flavour of the line

James Simmonds

About John Scott-Morgan

John Scott-Morgan has been writing about light railways for forty five years, he has written some of the definitive books on light railway subjects, including about the Colonel Stephens group of lines.


This volume covers the East Kent Railway, a line that was meant to open up the Kent Coal Field, which did not come up to the expectations of the promoters and investors.


John Scott-Morgan has written thirty eight books on railways over the last half a century, covering subjects as diverse as first generation diesel traction and main line subjects, such as the London Transport Red Panniers and Branch Lines in Kent, however its light railways that the author often returns to, as this is one of his main areas of research.


He lives in Woking in Surrey, where he continues with his writing and railway historical studies.

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