Captain Howey Hotel
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The history of Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

The Captain Howey Hotel and the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

The Captain Howey Hotel derives its name from the esteemed founder of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. To fully appreciate this historical connection, it's essential to delve into the origins of this remarkable development.

Opening of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was opened on July 16, 1927.

Founders and History of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

It was initially the dream of Captain J.E.P. Howey and Count Louis Zborowski, two millionaire racing drivers who shared a passion for miniature railways. Their adventure truly began when Count Louis Zborowski ordered two Pacific locomotives from the engineer Henry Greenly, while still searching for a suitable location to build the Railway. Unfortunately, Count Zborowski died in a racing accident before the locomotives were delivered. Thus, Captain J.E.P. Howey was left with the task of finding a suitable site to operate them and start building the Railway. With the help of Henry Greenly, he chose the Romney Marsh.

The first tracks covered 8 miles, linking the neighbouring towns of New Romney and Hythe, and were built as double tracks to allow trains to travel in both directions simultaneously. In 1928, the tracks were extended to Dungeness, also as double tracks. The railway was a success with tourists who not only wanted to ride on the "Smallest Public Railway in the World," but also wanted to visit the nearby towns and enjoy some quality time by the seaside.

World War II Role of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

During the Second World War, the War Department recognized the strategic advantage of utilizing an existing but relatively unknown railway for building undersea pipelines as part of Operation PLUTO (Pipeline Under The Ocean). Consequently, the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was requisitioned to transport pipes, fuel, and other essential supplies to the embarkation points along the coast, playing a crucial role in the operation's logistical support.

Post-War Reopening of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway

After the war, in 1946, the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was able to reopen to the public. However, due to the high costs of rebuilding, the railway initially reopened with only a single line in operation.

Captain J.E.P. Howey's Death and Legacy

The Captain Howey Hotel, originally named the Station Hotel, was constructed in the 19th Century to cater to weekend visitors. During this era, Littlestone was a favored destination for London tourists seeking beachside relaxation and golfing at the renowned Littlestone Golf Club. Carriages would utilize the hotel's rear stables for resting horses after their long journeys. After the death of Captain J.E.P. Howey in September 1963, the Station Hotel was renamed the Captain Howey Hotel in honor of its founder's enduring legacy.