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A steam legend returns to the rails in time for the Jubilee


PRESS RELEASE - Tuesday 31 May 2022

Poplar choice: a steam legend returns to rails in time for Jubilee

Terrier No70 Poplar returns to the rails

A much-loved steam locomotive - one of the original icons of the Victorian railway - has returned to the rails following major restoration, in time to lead the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR)'s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the Best of British weekend (2-5 June)

London Brighton & South Coast Railway Terrier No 70 ‘Poplar' has been restored to the full glory of her heyday through a £150,000 project, including reviving the original ornate livery that she carried when first built in 1872. ‘Poplar' re-joins sister Terrier No 2678 ‘Knowle', which is also based at the K&ESR, to resume pulling passenger trains, including services over the full Bank Holiday weekend.

Her first paid passenger service will leave the station at 11.45am on Thursday 2 June, accompanied by representatives of the railway, the Terrier Trust, the Borough of Ashford and Tenterden Town.


A £150,000 restoration project

‘Poplar' sreturn to the rails forms part of the Terrier Trust's 150th anniversary celebrations of these small but mighty engines first entering service to work passenger trains in South and East London.

The restoration itself was made possible by a successful fundraising appeal, launched in 2019 by the Terrier Trust and K&ESR, to ensure she would be back to working order by the time of the anniversary. Fundraising efforts were extensive and included securing a major donation of £25,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation:a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK, as well as generous gifts from steam enthusiasts, from the general public and members of the Terrier Trust.

‘Poplar' required an extensive overhaul. This was outsourced to the North Norfolk Railway, with the final work and livery painting undertaken back in Kentand the final coats of varnish only being applied just days before the locomotive was due to make her debut.

Steam legend with a key educational role

At 150 years old ‘Poplar' is one of only a handful of working examples of Victorian steam railway locomotives and, as such, has a major educational role to play, helping bring history to life and telling the story of Britain's industrial and transport past.

‘Poplar' was one of the first of this class of engines to enter service and is named after one of the areas served by the railway so, as part of the celebrations, ‘Poplar' will be revisiting her London roots in June to spearhead an outreach event for primary schools and the local community.

 Unveiling the newly-restored ‘Poplar' on Tuesday 31 May at Tenterden Town Station, in advance of its first passenger service, Simon Marsh, Chairman of the Kent & East Sussex Railway said: "‘Poplar' was first purchased by the K&ESR in 1901 and has worked this line almost continuously ever since. It is therefore wonderful to have this iconic locomotive back to service in time to celebrate both the 150thanniversary of her engine class and the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. We are certainly fortunate to have not one but two of the last surviving Terriers available to treat locals and visitors alike to wonderful scenic rides along the Rother Valley, as well as reminding us of the past which has brought us here."

Tom White, Chairman of The Terrier Trust said: "Terriers and other historic steam engines deserve to be more than just preserved in static displays. We, along with so many others, believe that this aspect of our heritage is transformed by being seen and experienced when ‘in steam'. We are therefore truly grateful for the generosity of all the donors - in particular the Garfield Weston Foundation - the staff of North Norfolk Railway Engineering, and the dedicated volunteers and staff at the K&ESR for helping to make this possible so that these legendary engines can once again play their part in bringing our industrial and social history to life."

Tickets for the inaugural ‘Poplar' service on Thursday 2 June are priced at £30 and can be booked online at

The history of LB&SCR A1 Class Terrier No 70: ‘Poplar'

 'Poplar' in c1880, Col Stephens Museum

No 70 ‘Poplar' is an A1 class locomotive, built 150 years ago for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway to work passenger trains on their network of lines in South and East London.

These engines became affectionately known to many as "Terriers" for their astonishing capacity for hard work - well in excess of their diminutive size - and their distinctive ‘bark'.

No 70 entered service in 1872 and was given the name ‘Poplar' in line with one of the areas that it operated in. It continued to work suburban trains in the London area for almost two decades but, by the turn of the century, it had become too small for the increasing traffic on those lines.

However, these locomotives offered considerable potential to other railways on the second-hand market. ‘Poplar' was purchased by the K&ESR in 1901 for £650 - with 664,108 miles to its credit - and became known as ‘Bodiam'. It served the K&ESR well until 1931 when it was withdrawn.

In 1933 a sister locomotive was ‘harvested' for parts to restore ‘Bodiam' to working order.

After nationalisation, British Railways renumbered ‘Bodiam' to 32670; she continued to work on the K&ESR and then later worked the Hayling Island branch until 1963, when she was again withdrawn.

Fortunately, the locomotive was saved from the scrapheap when the K&ESR converted to a heritage railway in 1964, and is now owned jointly by the Railway and The Terrier Trust.

The major restoration project of the last two years has not only restored ‘Poplar' to working order but also to her original and ornate Victorian livery.

Alongside the Terrier Trust's sister working Terrier 2678 (known as ‘Knowle'), also residing at the K&ESR, ‘Poplar' is one of only ten surviving members of this legendary class of British locomotive.


For press enquiries and to request further images of ‘Poplar' past and presentplease contact:-

Alison Miles  /  07900 691116
Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6HE

Notes to Editors:-
Photo of restored Poplar back at the K&ESR (May 2022) by Dan Dickson 

The Kent & East Sussex Railwayruns from Tenterden to Bodiam, through 10 miles of the beautiful Rother Valley.It receives stunning TripAdvisor reviews and in normal years attracts more than 80,000 visitors. The railway is mainly staffed by volunteers and is looking forward to another successful season, now covid restrictions have eased. Kent & East Sussex Railway is operated by the Kent & East Sussex Railway Co Ltd, a charitable company, limited by guarantee and not having a share capital. Registered charity No. 262481. The railway was built by Holman F Stephens and was the first light railway opened in Britain under the Light Railways Act of 1896. Today it is one of Britain's most loved and original heritage railways.

The Terrier Trustis a Registered Charity (No 1165782) to advance the education of the public by the preservation, maintenance, public display and operation of "Terrier" Class steam locomotives. The Trust is the custodian of two of these Victorian steam locomotives: No 2678 ‘Knowle', and No 3 ‘Bodiam' - originally No 70 ‘Poplar' and the name to which it is returning following its restoration. Both are cared for by the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Most unusually in preservation, the pair have spent the majority of their working lives hauling trains on this rural railway which was closely associated with ‘Terriers' before its closure and reinvention as a popular heritage railway.

Garfield Weston Foundation:Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK and, in the most recent financial year, gave over £98 million. Since it was established, it has exceeded donations of more than £1.3 billion, of which well over half have been given in the past ten years. One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation's funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others - a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown, so too have the charitable donations. Known for its transparency, flexibility and straightforward approach, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities from small community organisations to large national institutions. Over 2,000 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation's grants.