The Kent & East Sussex Railway is the country’s finest example of a rural light railway. The line gently wends its way from Tenterden – “The Jewel of The Weald” for ten and a half miles, through the unspoilt countryside of the Rother Valley, to terminate in the shadow of the magnificent National Trust castle at Bodiam.
The K&ESR locomotives were all built by Hunslets for the Army after the war. Their works numbers are: No. 23, Wks No 3791 (built 1952); No. 24, Wks No 3800 (built 1953); No. 25, Wks No 3797 (built 1953).
Each was stored initially at the Longmoor Military Railway. The WD logbook for No. 23 shows it was put into service at Bicester in 1956 as WD 191 Black Knight, generally repaired in 1957/58, stored in May 1962 at No. 1 Engineers Supply Depot, Long Marston, before final transfer in December 1967 to No. 1 Railway Group, Royal Corps of Transport at Shoeburyness. There it worked for only nine months before again being put into store. From Shoeburyness it was sold out of Army use, arriving at Rolvenden in February 1972. It ran a total of 23,178 miles during its 20 year military career.
No. 23 entered service in August 1974, No. 24 becoming available three years later. In 1977 Dr. John Coiley, then Curator of the National Railway Museum, named the former Holman F. Stephens after the Railway’s engineer and first Managing Director.In almost continuous use it returned once again from overhaul in 2004
Tonemapped in Photomatix Pro