Tenterden Railway Station (Tenterden, Kent)
The Tenterden railway line gently makes its way for ten and a half miles through the unspoilt countryside of the Rother Valley. Beginning at Tenterden, it terminates at the doorstep of the magnificent Bodiam Castle. Having been out of use for more than a decade, the line has been restored by a charity keen to preserve one of the country's finest light railways. Tenterden is located near Ashford in Kent, on the A28 to Hastings. Postcode TN30 6HE. Please note, some experiences start at Rolvenden Station, just down the line at TN17 4JP.
Free car parking and toilet facilities are available at the station, along with a gift and souvenir shop. There is a restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, providing everything from ice cream to cooked lunches. For spectators waiting for participants to return, there is also a Railway museum next door to the station, celebrating the work of Colonel Holman Fred Stephens who built the railway. Entry £2.
Plans for a railway station at Tenterden were first made in the 1850s, but it was fifty years before any plans were approved. Construction began in 1896 on the Tenterden station that would link the town with the Tonbridge to Hastings line. The first journey to Tenterden station took place on the 2nd April 1900.
This independent railway service was a success under new legislation to bring cheap, light railways to rural areas. Its decline only began with the rise of more convenient road buses. It survived the Second World War but was nationalised in 1948, along with all the nation's railways. By 1953, only 118 passengers were regularly using the 90 trains that ran between Tonbridge and Hastings. By 1961 only the occasional train for farmers, hop-pickers and ramblers travelled the line, and it was finally closed to people and goods.
Railway enthusiasts battled to save the track from demolition, until in 1973 the present charity were awarded ownership and have restored the line one stage at a time. The final stage at Bodiam was reached and restored in 2000, 100 years after it first opened.