Fifteen of us boarded the luxury bus organised by Geoff and left the lowering skies of Kent for the sunnier climes of Essex where sheep were safely grazing and headed off to Mangapps Railway.
Greeted on arrival by John Jolly we were given free access to roam the carriage and engine sheds and inspect John’s very extensive collection of railway artefacts and memorabilia. In addition to the traditionally well-weathered coaching and goods stock, there was also a signal box and a host of signalling equipment.
Roger and I got quite excited about a previously unseen type of ground signal, unlabelled in John’s collection but standing next to an SER example. We wondered whether it could also be from the SER but after discussion with John and Richard, we calmed down and decided it was probably a Great Eastern signal.
The shed walls were festooned with probably hundreds of railway company signs mainly from East Anglia but also some from our area including a station name board for Grove Ferry & Hersden. In the signalling display section, there was also an article about the closure of Lenham signal box.
Later on, we all boarded John’s Canadian Pacific caboose which his Class 31 then took us the ¾ of a mile to the end of the track and back again. John said he had a thing about cabooses and had bought this one from someone in Iowa and had it shipped to the UK.
After that we then moved on to the engine shed where there were eight Class 03 diesel shunters in various stages of restoration. Apparently, John has a thing about these as well. In addition to the 03s and two Class 31 diesels there were also two steam locos; a Fox
Walker 0-6-0 “Minnie” formerly part-owned by Geoff and an ex-NCB 0-4-0. After a cup of tea in the refreshments coach, we headed off for something to eat before returning home and arriving back at Badlesmere in the rain at 6.00pm.