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The Sheppey Light Railway was a railway on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England which ran from Leysdown to Queenborough, where it connected with the South Eastern and Chatham Railway's Sheerness Line. It was engineered by Holman Fred Stephens and opened in 1901 and closed on 4 December 1950.[1] Originally there were stations at Sheerness East, East Minster on Sea, Minster on Sea, Eastchurch and Leysdown. Two halts were opened in 1905 at Brambledown and Harty Road.[1]

Sheppey Light Railway
Harty Road Halt
RAF Eastchurch
Brambledown Halt
Minster on Sea
East Minster
Sheerness East
Sheerness line
Sheppey Light Railway, shown with other railway lines in Kent.


For the first few years after opening the SE&CR operated the line using standard locomotives and stock. However the light traffic on the line required a rethink.

Petrol railcars

In 1904 trials were carried out of two petrol engined railcars. One only had seats for four passengers, insufficient even for this byway, but the larger 16 seat railcar proved satisfactory. Unfortunately it proved impossible to find a motor mechanic on Sheppey to maintain it in those early days of internal combustion so the SE&CR had to stay with steam power.

Steam railmotors

The solution was a steam railmotor - a small steam engine permanently coupled to a carriage portion. Two were bought in 1905, one for the Sheppey Light and one for the equally remote Hundred of Hoo branch on the other side of the Medway estuary. A further six were acquired in 1906 for use on other lightly used services. The railmotors remained in use until the outbreak of World War I. The steam engine components were scrapped but the carriage portions were united in pairs, coupled over a shared bogie, and in this format they remained in use on Sheppey, hauled by normal steam engines, until the line's closure.

Goods traffic

As the steam railmotors did not have enough power to pull goods wagons, the SE&CR sought out a small engine for the daily goods service. One, No. 54 Waddon, was obtained secondhand from their neighbour and rival, the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. This was one of that railway's famous Terrier class tank engines. This particular example survived into British Railways days and is still preserved, albeit as a static exhibit, in Canada's National Railway Museum.

LCDR 653 & 20

Two carriages that were used on the Sheppey Light Railway are preserved. These two being London, Chatham & Dover Railway No. 20 6w Saloon and No. 653 BTZ, later Saloon are preserved on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. No. 20's centre wheel was removed for use on the IoWR when absorbed into Southern Railway ownership in 1924. No. 20 and 653 join over 15 more SR-used on-IOW carriages. Restoration of 20 was completed in 1993 and 653 was officially restored in 1979. [2] [3] [4]



  • Kidner, R. W. (1985). Southern Railway Halts. Survey and Gazetteer. Headington, Oxford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-321-4.

Further readingEdit

  • Harding, Peter A. (1984). Sheppey Light Railway. P.A.Harding. ISBN 0950941409.
  • Hart, Brian (1992). The Sheppey Light Railway. Wild Swan Publications Ltd. ISBN 1874103097.
  • Scott-Morgan, John (1978). The Colonel Stephens Railways: A Pictorial Survey. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0 7153 7544 X.

External linksEdit