Friday, 7 April 2017

We're there....

Message from our Chairman Paul Kemp

I am pleased to be able to report that the last few sleeper infills were fitted today and the 'missing link' rails over the traverser beam were completed. A works train had been in operation with a special headboard "CDMES Permanant Way Special" with which gauging and levelling trials were undertaken and at 17.00 this afternoon the line was declared fit to run by the Chief Civil Engineer Ernie Millard and Chairman Paul Kemp. There remains some fine tuning to be done on dressing some joints, re-gapping some expansion joints and fine tuning to levels but this work will be progressed on the normal Wednesday maintenance programme through the summer. There is also some painting and tidying up to do. To get the track settled it now needs some running and to this end it has been decided to go ahead with the previously published public running day this coming Sunday when hopefully the untested 3 1/2" rail can also be proven. As discussed at the AGM we will now be progressing with plans for a grand re-opening day on Saturday 27th May.

See attached pictures of the special headboard and our Chief Civil Engineer setting off on his inspection and proving run.

Finally my personnal thanks and appreciation to all those who have been so generous with their time and tools over this rather intense few weeks work, gentlemen I salute you, what has been achieved over a few short weeks is absolutely incredible. Ernie has been the mainstay of this project and without his enthusiasm, drive and determination we would still be looking at a pile of matchwood and rusty rail!

Best regards,

Monday, 27 March 2017

Message from Canterbury & District Model Engineering Society Chairman Paul Kemp:-

Update 28th March 2017

Having just received the very timely payment from the Just Giving Crowd Funding page courtesy of Chris Holloway, CDMES Chairman Paul Kemp sends the following message:-

Over the last week having taken delivery of the new rail and with all other preparations complete, laying the replacement track has commenced and is progressing well.  There is still much to be done but if the weather holds and we can continue at the current rate we will be well on target to be back up and running in May.  Whilst the rapid progress with the physical work has been down to a dedicated band of members it has only been made possible by the generosity and support of the local and wider community, other model engineering and model railway groups, individuals, Brett's and of course Chris Holloway who initiated the just giving page that became a focal point for donations from some incredible people and generated over £1,700.  We are extremely grateful to all who have shown support and made contributions towards the repairs.  The insurance claim has now been agreed but as yet has not been settled so the funds from the just giving appeal will be crucial in ensuring repairs can continue. Words of thanks on a web site or printed page seem a rather small thing in acknowledging the incredible generosity and support we have received.  Therefore based on the progress we have made so far we are provisionally planning an official re-opening of the line for Saturday 27th May where all can attend and see the new track, ride the trains and hopefully be entertained by some other attractions but generally to come and have a good family day out and allow us to thank you properly.  At present it is too soon to cast that date in stone but that is what we are working towards as a target and in the coming weeks, hopefully before Easter we will be able to confirm it as definite date.  So very many thanks to all who have supported us through this unexpected incident and we hope we can thank you properly in the way we know best on 27th of May.


Friday, 24 March 2017

A Major Milestone is Reached !

Update 24th March 2017....

Since my last update some very good progress has been made sorting out the fixing scheme, bending the first lot of rail and welding down the first length along the straight.  The various jigs were tested and proven in anger and we are ready to press on and get the majority of the rail bent if not laid.  Thanks to Ernie, Terry Jewis, Dave Pearson, Duncan Graham and Chris Davey for their efforts proving everything works.


The aim at this point has been to get the rails laid and welded to the newly designed and produced tie plates. The track in this state is still a long way off being able to be used in anger.

Major Milestone !

Shortly before five on 23rd March 2017 the rails were connected from both directions at Woody Curve so we now have a circuit again.  See below shortly after Duncan Graham and Mark Cox drove in the final spike that made the final join !

Whilst this is very good news it also marks the next stage of the work required which is adjusting the sleepers for height and the rails for alignment and of course the onerous task of fitting the infill sleepers, so while tonight may be a celebration, we are not there yet and are still some way off running trains again and help is still required.  Many thanks to those who have already made significant effort, you know who you are.
We should also mention at this point those that very kindly transport any tooling and machinary we need on a daily basis, and then of course transport it back to their homes at the end of the day.
From the financial point of view we have been funding this work from a small club reserve and donations very kindly made directly to the Society without which we would be unlikely to have got this far. We have still to receive the insurance settlement or the money very kindly raised by Chris Holloway and all those who donated on the just giving Crowd Funding page.

However as already noted we still have a very long way to go. Whilst progress has been greatly helped by some unexpectly good weather we are still looking at many weeks hard work by our small band of workers.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Update 8th March 2017

Rebuilding begins....

Following the removal of the last of the vandalised track, an inspection of the main concrete beams revealed minor frost damage to two sections. We are fortunate that we have spares  and this morning a good number of members turned out to help with the heavy lifting. There was a tea break before the new beams were lifted into position and the Chairman Paul Kemp ably assisted by Mark Cox made the final checks and adjustments.

As we don't keep any tools or machinery on-site each working party is preceeded by our members transporting all the required equipment which is then assembled on-site and then returned to their workshops afterwards, so each day is quite a long drawn out affair.

Work has started on the milling and drilling operations on the main steel ties which will hold the new steel rails in position and there is pleanty of hacksawing and other hard work going on in a variety of members workshops around the local area.

There has been a delay with delivery of our new rail but there is still pleanty of activity going on in the background.

We are grateful to New Romney Model Engineering Society who are kindly loaning us their railbender. 

Words and pictures from Granville Askham and Paul kemp !

 Everything stops for tea !

Many hands make light work !
Machining of the metal rail ties. You can see the locating slots which enable accurate location of the rail section which will speed up the build once on site. The rail will be welded to these on-site however transporting all the welding gear and other tools and equipment for each working party is a big job in itself as we don't keep any tools or machinery on-site. These have been machined by Granville Askham and Ernie Millard however threaded stainless steel rods and other items are being cut and prepared in a variety of members workshops around the area.... 

 There will be some wooden sleepers in between the metal rail ties. This jig made by Paul Kemp enables accurate drilling and the correct angles. Some slightly angled wooden sleepers have been machined by Ray Darvell to give the superelevation required on some curves. For the uninitiated superelevation is the slight raising of the outside rail on tighter curves to prevent the engines and riding cars tipping and counteract the forces of gravity as the trains go round a bend .... Just like the full sized railways....

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Update 28th February 2017

An update from last nights members meeting...

We now have a design for our new track that will make it more secure and resistant to theft. The donations received via the Just Giving page and directly to the society have made it possible to use a heavier cross-section rail in steel rather than the previously used aluminium. While aluminium has better running and riding qualities steel will be more secure as it can be welded to the baseplates although it will need a higher degree of maintenance due to corrosion but we will be painting the rail to help delay this process. Current thinking is Smoothrite but the cost of this is quite high so we will consider other options before we get to the painting stage. We should have received most of the materials within the next two weeks and we are assembling working parties to carryout the rebuild.

We have had meny offers of help from other Model Engineering Societies and we are very grateful to Romney Marsh Society for the allowing us to borrow their rail bender.

The first job will be to replace two sections of concrete beam that have suffered slightly over the past 30+ years due to frost damage. We have these sections available and this will be attended too within the next week.

We believe we have enough people with the right skills from within our members but we have not forgotten the many people from outside our Society who have kindly offered to help. However we do need to avoid people getting in each others way which would hinder progress so we will see how the first few working parties go and if we need more help we will put out the call on facebook and our news page .

We are currently working toward a stage where the track can be used (painting can happen later) in mid-May. Therefore we do NOT anticipate any of our major events being effected.

Again we are very grateful to all who have sent donations directly to the Society and donated on Chris Holloway’s funding page and of course to the many offers of help received. The kind messages of support have also been a great help and encouragement.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Update 27th February 2017

Tonight's club meeting will be a presentation from that well known double act, Chairman Paul Kemp and Ernie Millard, about the new track construction. I can now confirm that the stud material will also be available tonight for collection by those who have volunteered to assist with cutting. There should also be further details about the upgrades designed to improve track security. Meeting is at The Barn, Kingston at 7pm (for a 7.30 start)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Update 19th February 2017

A remarkable act….

It is now exactly 2 weeks since our track was vandalised and I can report that this pointless and senseless act which will have left many of our members upset and disheartened has been replaced and outshone by a remarkable outpouring of support. This is indicated in no better place than the Crown-Funding page set up by Chris Holloway. Within the last few days the total raised has passed the £1500 mark and I’m sure I speak for all our members when I say we are incredibly grateful to Chris and everyone who has donated. It is a remarkable act of collective kindness.

As materials start to be ordered to replace the track the decision has been made to beef up the fixings and the costs are rising so this money will be very gratefully received to enable a more secure track to be used. As is reported elsewhere the insurance only pays out on a like-for-like basis and will be reduced by an allowance for depreciation. The rest we will have to cover from our own funds so these donations will be a great help and will be very gratefully received.

To answer a few questions that have been received our main event of the year, Trains & Traction, will NOT be affected by the damage to our track. We are working toward have the track up and running by June at the very latest with a target date for the end of May. This will entail a lot of hard work by our members but we believe this is possible.

People who had arranged to use the track for Children’s Parties and educational visits during the time the track is expected to be out of action have been contacted. However we will still be able to arrange these for later in the year.

Once again we are extremely grateful to all those that have expressed their support with such kind messages and donations to the funding page.

Very many thanks !

Barry Loraine
Web Manager and Newsletter Editor
Canterbury & District Model Engineering Society

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

UPDATE 14th February 2017

Update and Pictures from our Chairman Paul Kemp

In little more than a week since our miniature railway track was destroyed a lot of work towards its replacement has already been done! Firstly our members have rallied round and cleared all the debris from the concrete foundations some of which was extremely sharp metal, ready for new track to be installed. Quotations have been obtained for materials to allow the insurance claim to be quantified and also the various options for new track evaluated. Today (Monday) the decision has been taken to replace the previous aluminium rail with profiled steel rails of broadly the same form. 

Steel rail will be stronger and more resistant to vandalism and hopefully less attractive to thieves! We now need to place orders for materials, some of which have lead times of up to four weeks. We are hopeful that actual track laying can commence late March and perhaps a return to operation some time in May but there is a great deal more to be done before we reach that stage! Secondly but more importantly we have received an incredible amount of support from everyone who has heard about the incident, to the point where we have been struggling to respond to everyone individually! It has been truly incredible in both the generosity and strength of feeling demonstrated by those contacting us. Other model engineering and model railway groups have offered the loan of equipment, help with the work and made donations. Chris Holloway started a 'just giving' page last Monday that has already generated £1482.00 through donations from members of the public who have enjoyed our track in the past. Various other organisation's have also contributed. Our landlord, Brett's Aggregates has been very supportive, as ever and offered assistance through equipment loan and storage. 

It has been an absolutely amazing week and on behalf of CDMES a very big thank you to all who have donated or offered help. Whilst the track was insured, the insurance settlement will be on a like for like basis and allowing for depreciation, so there will be a differential between what we receive from the insurers and the cost of laying the new track. Through the generosity of all we will now be able to keep the cost of replacement down by utilising offers of help and equipment and the financial burden on society funds will be minimised by the generosity of all who have donated. 

So once again a very appreciative thank you from myself, the committee and the members of CDMES. 
Paul Kemp. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Update 10th February 2017

Canterbury & District Model Engineering Society Chairman Paul Kemp appears on local news station talking about the damage to our track. We are extremely pleased that Chris Holloway has been credited for creating the crowd-funding site and raising so much money to support us. Of course we thank all who have donated as well. Many thanks to you all.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Update 8th February 2017 

Latest update on developments today.

It does seem that my most used word in recent days since our track was destroyed is 'Overwhelmed' and we truly are. Tonight the crown-fund set up to support us by local resident Chris Holloway has broken through the £1000 mark. This is truly astounding and although thankyou doesn't seem enough we do thank you all for your valued support. It really is, to use that word again, overwhelming !

There is still much media interest and our Chairman is booked for a television interview on Friday. 

Today there was a working party on site. They were there to remove all the left over pieces of metal from the track bed many of which had been left jagged and sharp and therefore were a safety issue. There are a few remaining which need larger power tools to remove but for now have been hammered down to make them safe and we have a more powerful angle grinder available for later in the week.

The other purpose today was to carry out a detailed inspection of the track base, now the emotions have died down a little, and assess the need, if any, for repairs to the concrete base. Fortunately it seems this has survived intact. 

A number of our committee members are obtaining quotes from rail suppliers and investigating sources of supply for sleepers and other track fixings. All this information will be brought to the table at a committee meeting on Monday so that we can get a clear view of the way forward and decide what type of rail and construction to use in rebuilding the track. Once we have a clearer picture of materials and costs required to rebuild the track our Chairman, Paul Kemp, will provide a more detailed update.

While our members were on site today they were visited again by the police whose investigations are ongoing and a representative from the site owner Bretts who again have committed to provide any additional help we need. We are investigating ways in which security may be increased but as mentioned previously the options are limited as Bretts make this land available as open amenity ground for the benefit of the local community as part of their ongoing policy of supporting locsl communitees around the country. Our society is very gratefull to Bretts for their ongoing support. This has been a feature of our relationship with Bretts since the foundations for the track were dug in 1977.

We continue to recieve support, encouragement and offers of help from other Model Engineering Clubs around the country and the support from individuals, particularly the local community in and around Canterbury seems unending and we are extremely thankful to you all.
There is no doubt that what comes through in all this is the community spirit that exisits in the local area. And there is no doubt that what comes through the misfortune that we have suffered is just how many caring people that value the community they are part of there are any why we at CDMES are so pleased to be part of that community.

Again a big thank you to Chris for setting up the crowd funding page and a very big thank you to all those lovely people that have donated to it.

The attached pictures are from todays working party and show in a little more detail the damage that was left after the track was ripped up and the result of todays clean up operation.
Best regards
Barry Loraine
Update 6th Februaury 2017 - Canterbury & District Model Engineering Society would like to thank you all for your kind and supportive comments, emails and facebook posts since our track was vandalised in the early hours of Sunday 5th February. We apologise for not responding on this earlier but we have been overwhelmed by the response to our plight from around the world not just the UK. We have received much interest from the national media also. We are incredibly grateful to all but particularly the local community in Canterbury who have always been very supportive over the 30+ years our track has been in operation. Following many offers of practical help we will update our facebook page if and when this is required. It is likely to take many months to get the track up and running again but we are determined to do so. An insurance claim has gone in and we will then look at our financial position and how best we can secure the track for the future. I would say we are limited with how much we can do to secure the site because the site owner Bretts, who have always been fantastic to us over the years, keep the site as an open amenity for the benefit of the local community however it is a lovely site and we enjoy being there for the most part other than such setbacks. Bretts have also expressed support for our current situation and we are very grateful to them. Again many thanks for all the messages posted on here and the emails and Facebook messages. I just wish we could reply to them all.
Among all the other kind messages and offers of support a local resident, Chris Holloway, who has often visited our track with his son, has been kind enough to open a crowd funding page for all those that have expressed a wish to donate money to help the society. I must stress we are making an insurance claim which will hopefully cover most if not all of the cost of replacement but any donations made will be most gratefully received. And put to good use. …
In addition we have received a very generous offer of free commemorative mugs to sell when we reopen the track from Frizbee a company based in Folkestone who have for many years printed the mugs we present to exhibitors at our annual event Trains & Traction.
As before we are totally overwhelmed by the response and very grateful and will post updates when they are available on our facebook page. If we get a chance to draw breath we will post them here as well...
Again many thanks and best regards from the CDMES committee and members !
Crowd Funding Site


Canterbury and District Model Engineering Society
Chris Davey, Vice-Chairman. Tel:  07741 012004.
During the early hours of Sunday morning 5th February 2017 the miniature railway track of the Canterbury and District Model Engineering Society at Brett Aggregates, Sturry was targeted by a group of callous and determined metal thieves. 
The entire 720' circuit was stripped of its aluminium running rails and sleepers and initial estimates suggest around 200' of the total was actually stolen from the site, the remainder being cropped into lengths between six and fifty feet apparently ready to be carried to the road for loading onto a vehicle.

Chairman Paul Kemp said “This is very disappointing and demoralising for our members and also impacts on the wider community who come and enjoy rides on the trains, community groups who visit for educational purposes and those who celebrate birthdays with private trains being run for the purpose”. 
“ It is impossible to immediately speculate the true cost of repairing the damage and replacing the rails but you have to seriously question the motives and perhaps intelligence of the perpetrators when the scrap value of the rail stolen using the London Metal Exchange rates for Friday amount to around £36,  not a terribly lucrative nights work”.
“ Sadly even the rail left behind is beyond further use and will need to be renewed which is particularly unfortunate as we were nearing the end of a rail renewal program and most of the rail stolen or damaged was relatively new”.  “
The cost of repairs is still to be properly assessed but when factoring in new rail, sleepers and fixings is likely to run into several thousands of pounds.  That is without any labour cost as all our members are volunteers who are now looking at many hours of effort to rebuild the track”.

“The Police have been notified and attended the site where some evidence was left behind.  Information regarding suspicious vehicles at the entrance to the site over the previous couple of weeks is also emerging.  Anyone with any information that could assist with enquiries or lead to an arrest is urged to contact Canterbury Police”.

“The Society wishes to thank all those members of the public making the effort to notify us of the incident and calling with messages of sympathy and support”.


Formed in 1972 the society has been largely dominated by members with miniature railway locomotives and has operated a 750 foot 3½ and 5-inch gauge raised track on land owned by Brett’s Quarries at Sturry just east of Canterbury for the last 30-years, but over the last few years the society has enjoyed an influx of new members with traction engines and other road locomotives.
The Canterbury and District Model Engineering Society meets on the last Monday of each month during the winter at the village hall in Kingston (The Barn) at which there is often a speaker on subjects of engineering or historical interest.
In the summer we meet at our permanent miniature Railway Track at Sturry on land owned by the Brett Group.  The 750-foot long continuous track caters for both 3½ inch and 5-inch gauge locomotives and there is sufficient space to run traction engines or model steam road vehicles.
Public running takes place on selected Sundays from April through to October and groups of members often gather by arrangement at other times.
The Society also owns a portable track which is subject to members availability used to support local events and charities.
For more information visit