It is a key objective of the RHDRA to help tell the story of the railway and in so doing, enrich the experience for passengers.
To do this we have set up The Old Paintshop Heritage Centre at New Romney Station where visitors can learn more about the railway. This will make their visit even more enjoyable and hopefully encourage them to return and become more involved with the line.
As you can see comparing the photographs below with those of 2021 above, a lot of work has been done. This is how the building looked in 2018 :
Located within the former Paint Shop, the building has been brought up to a suitable condition. This has included a complete re-roofing, automatic sliding doors, new internal wall panelling and flooring as well as under-floor heating.
Inside the Heritage Centre are;
- Information panels and timelines that tell the story of the railway
- Two large model layouts of New Romney station at the time of opening in 1927 on which various models are displayed
- A TV screen showing slideshows and/or videos
- A selection of headboards and signs
- A flip display of posters with fun facts and stories
This is not a complete list of the contents and displays will be added to and updated in the years to come. For example, Will O’Shea has designed a computerised “Then & Now” display which will allow visitors to explore the line and compare historic and current photographs. This should be installed later in summer 2021.
However, we have had to pull back on ideas for many interactive displays because of the pandemic restrictions – for now at least.
The project is costing the Association around £100,000 which we have been able to fund from our own resources. It would have cost much more were it not for the fact that much of the work creating the displays is being done by RHDRA members without charge.
It is not intended that the Centre will be manned on a routine basis, but we hope that members of the Heritage Group and other members with an interest in the history of the railway will be available at busy times to meet and greet visitors and answer any questions they might have.
The Heritage Centre was formally opened on Saturday September 4th 2021 by the Mayor of New Romney, Cllr Paul Thomas who welcomed this addition to the experiences on offer to visitors. He emphasised the importance of the railway to New Romney and the whole of the Romney Marsh and looked forward to Centenary celebrations in 2027.
Association Trustee and Chair of the “Education and Heritage Portfolio Group, Nigel Whitburn added,
‘Whether you are a mad keen railway enthusiast; interested in the history of the Romney Marsh or just mildly curious, we hope there will be something for you in the Heritage Centre.
‘Find out about the railway in war time, visits by Royalty and Hollywood stars, seaside holidays and taking the train to school. And the answers to two of the most common questions to staff – “Why was the railway built?” and “How fast does it go?” ‘