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Historic Locomotive Marcia Returns to Kent & East Sussex Railway

Marcia stands at Rolvenden with a short vintage train. Photo by Alan Crotty.

After a brief holiday in Devon, Marcia, the 101-year-old locomotive and one of the smallest operational standard gauge engines in the UK, is set to return home to the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR). For the past 61 years, Marcia has been an iconic part of the K&ESR.

Initially donated to K&ESR, Marcia was later sold to member Richard Beckett. Following Beckett's passing in 2023, the locomotive was put up for sale through GW Railwayana Auctions and Berrybrook Steam and Classics near Exeter. In June 2024, Marcia was jointly purchased by K&ESR driver Andy Hardy and Rapido Trains UK, a model railway manufacturer based near Staplehurst, Kent.

Andy Hardy shared his excitement, stating, "Owning a locomotive has always been a dream. Having driven Marcia’s sister Teddy, I knew how much fun Marcia could be. The chance to purchase and bring her back to K&ESR was irresistible."

Jason Shron, owner of Rapido Trains, added, "Helping Andy fulfil his dream is an honour. Andy's passion for steam is infectious, and we eagerly anticipate Marcia's return to her longstanding home."

Robin Coombes, General Manager of K&ESR, emphasized the broader significance of Marcia’s return: "Bringing Marcia back is about more than acquiring a locomotive; it's about fostering a strategic partnership that aligns with our long-term goals, enhances community and educational engagement, and ensures our sustainability. Marcia symbolizes our commitment to heritage, innovation, and community."

Marcia is expected to return to Rolvenden in the coming weeks for an annual boiler examination and minor maintenance before resuming service. The new owners and K&ESR have identified numerous opportunities to utilize Marcia, including educational events like the Junior Engineer Experience for children aged 6-12. They also plan to make Marcia available for hire to other heritage lines and are developing a website detailing her design, history, and preservation at www.peckett1631.co.uk.

A Brief History of Marcia

Constructed by Peckett and Sons of Bristol in 1923, Marcia is a unique 12-ton locomotive. Originally owned by Constable’s (Matlock Quarries) Ltd, she later served at Marcus Bain Ltd and the West of Scotland Shipbreaking Co before being sold to Manchester Oxide Company. Named after Marcia Clayton, the wife of the company's Managing Director, she was donated to K&ESR in 1962 and sold to Richard Beckett in 1965.

In the late '70s and early '80s, Marcia was a regular at "Steam at Bodiam" events and often served as an ambassador for K&ESR at various shows. After being withdrawn from service in 1982 for restoration, Marcia returned to steam in 2011, but soon required further repairs. She was fully operational again by spring 2022. Following the passing of her owner in 2023, Marcia was put up for sale and subsequently acquired by her new owners in 2024.

For more information and updates, please visit www.peckett1631.co.uk.

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