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Hythe's historic pier carriage restored ready for 100th celebration

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A RAILWAY carriage which is almost 100 years old has been restored and put back to use on Hythe pier.

The Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) held a small ceremony to mark the completion of the project, which involved work by the local Men's Shed and support from engineers at Blue Funnel, which runs the Hythe ferry.

Restoration work began in July 2020 but progress was interrupted by repeated Covid lockdowns. It included new side frames built using Iroko hardwood and with marine-grade plywood panelling, new safety glass and period electric lighting units. The seats were also re-stained.

Nigel Hasted, grandson of train engineer Gerald Yorke, was at the restoration unveiling ceremony
Nigel Hasted, grandson of train engineer Gerald Yorke, was at the restoration unveiling ceremony

Funding for the project came from a grant from the Beaulieu Beaufort Foundation and from the local community through events and donations.

HPHA project manager Tina Brown said she was "thrilled" that the carriage was back in service and thanked all those who helped with the project.

The carriage was originally the first of two ordered by the then owners of the pier, ahead of the railway installation, and it arrived at the end of May 1922.

The second carriage, which arrived a month later, has now been withdrawn from service for the next restoration project.

The carriage has been fully restored (picture: Alan Titheridge)
The carriage has been fully restored (picture: Alan Titheridge)

In addition to the putting the carriage back on track, HPHA held a naming ceremony for locomotive 16307. The event for the 104-year-old tractor unit named Gerald Yorke was attended by Nigel Hasted and Sara Richardson, grandchildren of Gerald Yorke, who was the consultant engineer for the Hythe pier railway project.

Mr Yorke oversaw the installation of the railway which was brought into use in July 1922 and continued to act as a consultant engineer until the late 1940s.

The locomotive was initially built for use in a First World War munitions factory and was one of three procured from the War Office in 1920. One of the other two still operates on the pier, while the third was broken up for spares many decades ago.

The tractor unit has also undergone some work, with engineers reproducing sections of metalwork and renewing the mechanics. The Men's Shed has made new luggage racks, compartment boxing and given it a fresh coat of paint.

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