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257 Squadron Battle of Britain Class steam engine to run on Kent and East Sussex Railway between Tenterden and Bodiam

The largest ever locomotive to run on a heritage railway in Kent will be staying on the line until the summer.

257 Squadron, a 1948 Battle of Britain Class locomotive, ran its first trip on the Kent and East Sussex Railway in Tenterden on Good Friday.

It used to haul The Man of Kent express service down to Dover from London but a rise of diesel trains saw steam trains use start to decay in the 1960s.

But now it is back in the county and running trips on the heritage railway where it will stay until June.

Peter Spowage, from Southern Locomotives, which owns the loco, said: "It was part of the Battle of Britain class locomotive for Southern Railways and British Railways.

"They were named Battle of Britain purely and simply for the people of Kent and it's to commemorate the lads that fought during the Second World War so these are very special to the people of Kent.

"These were built to haul trains from Dover and Folkestone up to London and to do fast express trains."

257 Squadron is a Battle of Britain Class locomotive
257 Squadron is a Battle of Britain Class locomotive

The engine, built in Brighton, was recovered from the scrapheap and restored in 1990 and tours the country and will be spending the next few months on loan at the KESR.

Robin Coombes, general manager, Kent and East Sussex Railway. said: "A locomotive like the one, 257 Squadron could not have run it in the 1920s or 30s because it's just simply too heavy.

"But bit by bit we have strengthened the track and now we can take these larger locomotives, so this is a very exciting day."

The steam engine is on loan from the Spa Valley Railway where steam and heritage diesel trains operate throughout the year between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge.

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