The steam locomotive has returned to the tracks of the Kent & East Sussex Railway

The beloved Terrier locomotive is a Victorian railway original and made it back in time to lead Kent & East Sussex Railway’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations on their Best of British weekend which took place from June 2 to 5.

London Brighton & South Coast Railway Terrier No 70 ‘Poplar’ is now back and in impressive shape following a £150,000 project which saw her return to the original ornate livery she wore during of its construction in 1872.

Poplar joins her sister Terrier No 2678 ‘Knowle’ who is also based at K&ESR and the holiday weekend event saw her return to passenger service once again.

Poplar’s first paid passenger service took place at 11.45am on Thursday June 2 and saw on board representatives from K&ESR, the Terrier Trust, the Borough of Ashford and Tenterden Town. The return of ‘Poplar’ to the rails also coincided with The Terrier Trust’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the entry into service of these small but mighty engines on passenger trains in south and east London.

The restoration saw a successful fundraising appeal launched in 2019 by the Terrier Trust and K&ESR, which saw ‘Poplar’ back in action for the anniversary. A major donation of £25,000 has been made by the Garfield Weston Foundation, a family charity which supports causes across the UK, alongside generous donations from railway enthusiasts, the general public and members of the Terrier Trust.

North Norfolk Railway undertook the extensive refit of ‘Poplar’ with final work and livery carried out in Kent and final coats of varnish applied just days before her first run.

‘Poplar’ was named after one of the areas served in London and will revisit its roots in June as part of an awareness event for primary schools and the local community.

Unveiling the newly restored ‘Poplar Tree’ on Tuesday May 31 at Tenterden Town station, ahead of its first passenger service, Simon Marsh, Chairman of Kent & East Sussex Railway, said:

“’Poplar’ was first purchased by K&ESR in 1901 and has worked this line almost continuously ever since. So it’s wonderful to have this iconic locomotive back in service in time to celebrate both the 150th anniversary of its engine class and Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. We are certainly lucky to have not one but two of the last surviving Terriers available to provide locals and visitors with wonderful scenic walks along the Rother Valley, as well as to remind us of the past that brought us here.

Tom White, Chairman of The Terrier Trust, said:

“Terriers and other historic steam engines deserve to be more than simply preserved in static displays. We believe, like so many others, that this aspect of our heritage is transformed when seen and experienced when experienced. We are therefore truly grateful for the generosity of all the donors – in particular the Garfield Weston Foundation – the staff of North Norfolk Railway Engineering, and the dedicated volunteers and staff of K&ESR for helping to make this possible so that these legendary engines can once again play their part in the revitalization of our industrial and social history.

Jose P. Rogers