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Poplar choice: steam legend returns to rails in time for Jubilee

A much-loved steam locomotive – one of the original icons of the Victorian railway – has returned to the rails following major restoration, in time to lead the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR)’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the Best of British weekend (2-5 June).

London Brighton & South Coast Railway Terrier No 70 ‘Poplar’ has been restored to the full glory of her heyday through a £150,000 project, including reviving the original ornate livery that she carried when first built in 1872. ‘Poplar’ re-joins sister Terrier No 2678 ‘Knowle’, which is also based at the K&ESR, to resume pulling passenger trains, including services over the full Bank Holiday weekend.

Her first paid passenger service will leave the station at 11.45am on Thursday 2 June, accompanied by representatives of the railway, the Terrier Trust, the Borough of Ashford and Tenterden Town.

Tenterden Mayor Cllr John Crawford and Ashford Mayor Cllr Jenny Webb were invited to celebrate the return to service of the iconic Terrier No 70 “Poplar” locomotive.

Mayor Crawford said:

“I should like to thank Mr Marsh of Kent & East Sussex Railway and Mr White of Terrier Trust for inviting me, along with other distinguished guests, to the formal launch of the rejuvenated and restored Terrier locomotive known as the “Poplar”.

For a locomotive to have been originally built 150 years ago and now be back in service carrying passengers on the round trip to Bodiam Castle is a remarkable feat of workmanship.

Our ancestors certainly knew how to engineer locomotives with quality materials that would last.

The restored Poplar, together with the other five regular stream trains will last for a long time into the future.

Over the years I have taken my grandchildren on the 10½ mile ride to Bodiam Castle on these steam trains. The best part is to see the smiles and excitement on their faces as we chug along through the beautiful countryside.

It is not just train rides the community can enjoy, but I understand Kent & East Sussex Railway have a range of fantastic and unique experiences to indulge our childhood dreams.

These include a footplate ride with the locomotive crew and an opportunity to work in the signal box.

All these treats put Tenterden on the map as a special tourism town of which we are all very proud.

In addition to our rejuvenated Terrier, we can, in two years’ time, look forward to celebrating Kent & East Sussex Railway’s 50 years of service. An event I will be very proud of.”