The Cavell Van – a journey of historic discoveries

05 November 2011

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The Cavell Van No.132The Cavell Van No.132

The story of the Kent & East Sussex Railway began in 1896 when Holman F. Stephens was appointed to engineer the line as a light railway.  Today, over 400 volunteers help to operate and maintain the line as the country’s finest example of a rural light railway and the beautifully restored locomotives and carriages take around 100,000 passengers annually on the gentle journey from Tenterden for 10 ½ miles, through the unspoilt countryside of the Rother Valley, to terminate in the shadow of the magnificent National Trust castle at Bodiam.

This month passengers can travel to Bodiam on the 11.30am steam train departure from Tenterden Station on 11 November 2011 as part of a service of remembrance.  A Terrier steam locomotive will make this special journey with a train consisting of the Cavell Van and other historic vintage stock.

Life inside the Cavell Van

The restored Cavell Van is an important railway legacy of the Great War era.  Built in 1919, the Cavell Van’s historic significance originates from its role in conveying the remains of three war heroes repatriated from Europe. The first of these sombre journeys from Dover to London was made during May 1919 when No.132 carried the body of nurse Edith Cavell. Thereafter, it became known to railwaymen as the Cavell Van.

The body of Captain Charles Fryatt (in 1919) and The Unknown Warrior (1920) were also conveyed by this vehicle.

For one special weekend, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 November 2011 the Cavell Van will be on view to the public at Tenterden Station on between 10am and 4pm.

To purchase tickets or for further information please visit

Posted by Graham Sivyer, Kent & East Sussex Railway Co. Ltd

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