One Man's Railway; J.E.P. Howey and the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch Railway
The 15in gauge Romney, Hythe. & Dymchurch Railway, running for 14 miles across the flatlands of Romney Marsh bordering the south-east coast of Kent, is unique. Not only did it hold the title of the world's smallest public railway but its life and fortunes were largely controlled by one man, Capt J. E. P. Howey. It was his brainchild, stemming from his love of miniature railways, and though others were involved, particularly in design and construction, he was the driving force and the railway's financier. He lived alongside the railway and little escaped his attention; though at various times day-to-day running was looked after by a general manager, the RHDR was very much Howey's railway right up to the time of his death in 1963. By that time the inability of one man to keep such an expensive toy running in top-class order was becoming obvious and decline had set in with maintenance at a bare minimum. Change was inevitable and the line was bought by a business consortium, but they soon found that running a railway is very expensive and the RHDR was sold for a second time, now to railway enthusiast businessmen anxious to see the line continue, but fully aware of the immense problems they faced.
This is not the first history of the RHDR, but here J. B. Snell, the railway's managing director at the time of publication, goes much more behind the scenes than hitherto, with material from previously unpublished company records, from Howey family history, and from memories of former associates and employees. A picture emerges of a railway which may indeed have started as one man's obsession but which soon developed a character and life of its own; contrary to all expectations it has managed to survive its founder's death and in spite of some daunting problems continues to be the only miniature main-line railway.
Softback, 96 pages, black & white photographs
Condition: Very Good
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Updated: 1 July 2021