Ashford Steam Centre

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Ashford Steam Centre
Black Five 45110 at Ashford Steam Centre (02).JPG
Black Five 45110 at Ashford Steam Centre
Ashford Steam Centre is located in Kent
Ashford Steam Centre
Ashford Steam Centre in Kent
LocationWillesborough, Ashford, Kent
TR 021 416
Coordinates51°08′17″N 0°53′17″E / 51.138°N 0.888°E / 51.138; 0.888Coordinates: 51°08′17″N 0°53′17″E / 51.138°N 0.888°E / 51.138; 0.888
TypeOperational railway museum
FounderEsmond Lewis-Evans
OwnerBritish Railways Board
Ashford Steam Centre
Ashford International

Ashford Steam Centre was a short-lived railway museum at Willesborough, Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom. It was located at the former engine shed that was situated east of Ashford railway station. The museum opened in 1968 and closed in 1976.


Ashford Steam Centre was established by Esmond Lewis-Evans.[1] It occupied the former engine shed that was located east of Ashford railway station. The shed, with its turntable, coaling stage and water tower had been built by the Southern Railway in 1931. It ceased to be used for the servicing of steam locomotives in June 1962, following which it was used to service diesel locomotives. The steam centre was established in 1968.[2] On 11 April 1971, the Southern Electric Group organised the Man of Kent '71 railtour, which visited the steam centre. Class 71 locomotive E5005 and 4TC set 427 were used.[3]

In 1974, the centre was open once a month, on the second Sunday of the month. At the time, there were around a dozen locomotives on site.[4] Due to mounting debts, the steam centre was closed May 1976 and its rolling stock was dispersed.[5][6] The engine shed and surrounding area were cleared in 1989, with the area being used for the storage of motor vehicles.[2] Since 2005 most of the site has been sold for housing development.

Rolling stock[edit]

The following items of rolling stock were based at Ashford Steam Centre.


Origin Wheel
Class Notes Photograph
SECR 0-6-0 C No 592. Moved to the Bluebell Railway post closure.[1] 592 Wainwright C Class (6276532531).jpg
SECR 0-4-4T H No. 263, running in plain green livery.[7][8] Following closure, the locomotive was transferred to the Bluebell Railway.[9] SECR H class 263 at Sheffield Park.jpg
SR 4-6-2 MN No 35028 Clan Line, running in full British Railways lined green livery.[10] Clan Line and Lucille at Ashford Steam Centre.JPG
SR 4-6-0 N15 No 777 Sir Lamiel.[11] King Arthur class 30777 Sir Lamiel, Ashford 150.jpg
SECR 0-6-0 O1 No. 65, running in plain green livery.[7] Bought from British Railways by Lewis-Evans in 1968. Moved to a site in Kent post-closure, then to the Bluebell Railway in 1996.[1] SECR O Class no. 65 on display at Sheffield Park (9131379780).jpg
LMS 4-6-0 Black Five No. 45110, running in British Railways black livery. Black Five 45110 at Ashford Steam Centre.JPG
Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Acquired from Blue Circle, Swanscombe by the Gravesend Railway Enthusiast's Society. Moved to Colne Valley Railway in May 1976.[6]
Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Munition Singapore, Ex-HMNB Chatham. Moved to Rutland Railway Museum post-closure.[12] Rutland Railway Passenger Train 05-09-25 54.jpeg
CF du Nord 4-6-0 3.513 De Glehn compound No 3.628. Built in 1908 for the CF du Nord, which became part of SNCF on nationalisation. Imported from France in the early 1970s. To Nene Valley Railway post-closure, where it worked the inaugural train. Sold to the Science Museum, London but later sold to a private owner. The locomotive was returned to France for restoration at Longueville, Seine-et-Marne by AJECTA.[13] 230-D-116.jpg
Norges Statsbaner 2-6-0 NSB Class 21c No. 376 King Haakon VII.[citation needed] NSB 376 Saint-Valery-Canal-a.jpg
Fireless locomotive Scrapped in 1984 in lieu of rent owed.[14]
Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 D810 Enterprise, diesel-mechanical prototype of the Paxman Hi-Dyne engine

Scrapped 1992

Hudswell Clarke D810 Enterprise at Ashford Steam Centre 1972 (8613530103).jpg

Multiple units[edit]

Origin Class Notes Photograph
SR 4RES DMBTO No.11161. Returned to service in 2012 as part of 4COR unit 3402 on the East Kent Railway.[15][16]
SR 4DD Unit No. 4902, British Rail blue livery. Three vehicles of a four-car unit, both driving vehicles and a trailer. The trailer was scrapped in 1984, in lieu of rent owed.[14] Class 4DD no 4902 at Ashford Steam Centre.jpg
SR 5BEL Pullman Kitchen First No S280S Audrey.[17] British Rail blue and grey livery.[18] To East Somerset Railway in May 1978. Sold in 1980 for use in the Venice-Simplon Orient Express.[17] Yorkshire Pullman carriage Audrey 18 April 2009 York station backward.JPG


Origin Number Type Notes Photograph
SECR 950 Birdcage brake Built for the South Eastern & Chatham Railway's boat trains, with the introduction of the new corridor boat train in the early years of the Southern Railway, it was then kept as a spare, downgraded to third class. It subsequently found use in one of the Eastern Section's 'long' sets until converted into a mess van on withdrawal.[citation needed] Moved to a farm near Ashford in 1983, then to the Bluebell Railway in September 1998. It is stored unserviceable on the Bluebell Railway.[8][19]
Pullman No 243 Lucille Parlour First Built in 1928 by Metro Cammell for the LNER Queen of the Scots service. Transferred in 1963 to the Southern Region of British Railways for use on the Bournemouth Belle. Withdrawn in 1967 and arrived at Ashford the following year. Following closure, Lucille remained on site until she was sold in May 1985 for use on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express.[5][7][20] Pullman Parlour First No.243 "Lucille" (6761022971).jpg
Pullman No 306 Orion Built in 1951 for use on the Golden Arrow. Withdrawn on 1 October 1972 and arrived at Ashford later that month. Moved to Peco Modelrama, Beer, Devon post-closure.[21] Golden Arrow Pullman car Orion at Pecorama.jpg
Pullman No 238 Phyllis Parlour First Built for the LNER in 1928. Arrived at Ashford in 1968. Moved to Molash, Kent in 1983 and subsequently to Shottenden. Stored at the Bluebell Railway in 1997. Sold to the Venice-Simplon Orient Express in 2000.[22]
Pullman No 43 Sapphire Built for the SECR in 1910, rebuilt in 1937. To Lavender Line in 1984. Sold in 1988 to a private owner and used in a restaurant at Seaburn, Tyne and Wear.[6][23]
NSB 1001 Four-wheel brake Moved to the Great Central Railway post-closure. Later moved to Bressingham, Norfolk.[24]

Other items of rolling stock[edit]

Origin Number Type Notes Photograph
Grafton Self-propelled crane. [14]
Six-wheeled van [14]
Smith's, Rodley Steam crane. [6]


  1. ^ a b c "Profile of O1 Class No.65". Bluebell Railway. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b "ASHFORD (SR)". Sheamsheds. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  3. ^ "11th April 1971 Southern Electric Group Man of Kent '71 Rail Tour". Six Bells Junction. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Newsletter No. 3" (PDF) (June 1974). Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society. Retrieved 3 April 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b "Lucille". Kentrail. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Miall, Geoff. "History of the Gravesend Railway Enthusiast's Society". The Gravesend Railway Enthusiasts Society. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Ashford Steam Centre, 2 of 3. Ashford Steam Centre: Southern Railway Films. 1969. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  8. ^ a b Ashford Steam Centre, 1 of 3. Ashford Steam Centre: Southern Railway Films. 1969. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  9. ^ Spafford, Tim (26 October 2014). "Railways: A small boy's memories of a little railway that ran through Bodiam on Kent and Sussex border - Photos". Hawkinge Gazette. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  10. ^ Ashford Steam Centre, 3 of 3. Ashford Steam Centre: Southern Railway Films. 2 December 1973. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Happy New Year for 2011". 5305 Locomotive Association. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Japanese POW repainted to mark Second World War's end". Heritage Railway. Horncastle: Morton's Media Ltd (201): 24. ISSN 1466-3562.
  13. ^ "Brief History of Nord Compound 3.628". SNCF Society Journal (109). March 2003. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d Bright, Thomas (3 November 2017). "'O1' saviour Esmond Lewis-Evans dies". Steam Railway. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media (457): 18. ISSN 0143-7232.
  15. ^ "4COR GALLERY - ASHFORD STEAM CENTRE". Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  16. ^ "4COR UNIT 3142 INTRODUCTION". Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  17. ^ a b "SR/Pullman TPFK no.S280S 'Audrey'". East Somerset Railway. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Ashford Steam Centre/Works, Image 1 of 3". Cambrian Models. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  19. ^ "SECR 950 'Birdcage' Semi Saloon Lavatory Brake Second built 1907". Vintage Carriages Trust. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Look Back at Pullman:" (PDF). Coupé News. SEMG (27). May 1985. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Golden Arrow Pullman Cars". RCTS. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  22. ^ "Pullman LNER 238 Phyllis Pullman Kitchen First built 1928". Vintage Carriages Trust. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  23. ^ "Pullman SECR 43 Sapphire Parlour First built 1910". Vintage Carriages Trust. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  24. ^ "Norwegian Coach - NSB 1001". Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Retrieved 3 April 2015.