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Securing the future of the Wealden Pullman - we need YOUR help!

We're embarking on an ambitious investment programme to enhance and secure the future of the Wealden Pullman dining train

Our plans include:  Marquetry sml


 • Building a canopy for the Pullman siding to ensure the historic carriages are protected from the weather
 • Completion of restoration of Pullman Car ‘Aries’ - once a favourite of the Royal Family
 • Improving access for wheelchair users
 • Restoration of the original 1920’s marquetry panels that once adorned the walls in ‘Theodora’


Diana pots

But the first part of the journey is to replace our kitchen car, the very heart of the train where all the wonderful meals we serve are freshly prepared onboard. Our existing kitchen carriage ‘Diana’ has served us well, but after nearly 40 years’ continuous service, she will soon require a major overhaul and update. Fortunately, we've been able to secure another kitchen carriage which we plan to overhaul to modern standards. This then releases ‘Diana’ for her own refurbishment, before she takes her new place in our regular passenger trains, offering an improved range of everyday meals.

In addition to a kitchen to modern specification, the project incorparates vastly improved access arrangements for passengers confined to a wheelchair. Back in the 1920's, Pullman Car doors were not designed with ease of access in mind, but by incorparating a wider doorway in the new carriage, access into Pullman Car Theodora will be greatly improved.

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Help us turn ↑ this into this ↓
Pullman RU2

Why 'Project Camilla'?

Whilst we've not yet chosen a name for the new kitchen carriage itself‘Camilla’ was the name carried by one of the six Hastings-line Pullman Cars, of which our own ‘Barbara’ and ‘Theodora’ are now the sole survivors.

The first element of the project will cost around £200,000 to complete, but in early 2019 the project gained the support of the LEADER Fund and Kent County Council when it was awarded a grant for £74,000. To this excellent start we have been able to add £38,000 from donations and our own funds already held in reserve, leaving £88,000 to be raised. Fortunately, as a registered educational charity, the project can benefit from Gift Aid, so for every £1 donated UK tax payers, the government will put in 25 pence - so with Gift Aid, the total we need to raise is £70,000.

We need YOUR help to achieve that - every donation, however small, is valued, but if you donate:


We will provide you with an attractive donation certificate suitable for framing, recognizing your contribution to the project.

Donate online


A donation certificate, one years membership of the K&ESR for yourself or a friend, project updates

Donate online


A donation certificate, one years membership of the K&ESR, project updates, complimentary entry to an exclusive members only event and a table for two on the special Wealden Pullman train bringing the new kitchen car into service.

Donate online


All benefits as above, but to include life membership of the K&ESR and a table for four on the special Wealden Pullman train to bring the new kitchen car into service

Donate online

To make a donation for another amount or to setup a regular donation, visit our dedicated donation page

Donate online



Project Progress

Update #2   17/08/2019

Recent Events

RU 1987 is now safely in Arlington Ltd's premises at Eastleigh.

K&ESR Project Manager Dave Raimbach, supported by Alan Crotty, has had a first meeting on site with the company, and asbestos removal is the first stage of the work.

Back at Tenterden, the K&ESR C&W Dept are making plans to refurbish a pair of ‘Commonwealth’ bogies on which the refurbished coach will run.

HiRes KESR RU1987 Arlington Fleet 120819 AJCDSCF6635

Photograph: Arlington (Eastleigh) Ltd.


This is a £200,000 project. The final figure may vary a little, depending on how closely to budget it can be kept. We have a grant of £74,000 from the EU ‘Leader’ Fund managed by Kent County Council. We have around £50,000 of our own, from the Pullman ‘tips’ fund and some donations already received.

This leaves around £76,000 to raise between now and March 2020 when the coach is due to come into traffic.

An appeal was included in the last Tenterden Terrier, and ‘table talkers’ and gift- aid donation envelopes are being left on every Pullman table. We will be exploring potential donors of all kinds and would welcome suggestions in that regard.

There may be some special fundraising activities taking place on 2nd November 2019, of which more later.

All donations that can be gift-aided (from UK tax payers) bring a 25% addition from the UK government.

The project cash-flow needs to be carefully managed, as funds have to be spent and then the 40% contribution claimed back from the ‘Leader’ fund. We are verygrateful to the K&ESR Loco Trust for a £20,000 loan to the project, and a similar sum loaned by a number of private individuals which have provided some much needed ‘working capital’ for the project.

What's in a Name?

The project needed a name. It would have been impossible to ‘sell’ a project called ‘RU 1987’ or ‘The Blue RU’ (given that it will be outshopped in Pullman livery) to grant funders. The name ‘Camilla’ was suggested by a member of staff and adopted by the Board for the project.

But no decision has been taken about the name of the vehicle in traffic. The most likely outcome, consistent with Pullman tradition, given that the car will not carry passengers, is that it will be titled ‘Kitchen Car’.

Any comments, suggestions or offers of help can be directed to myself, Dave Raimbach the Project Manager or André Freeman, Commercial Manager.

Robin Moira White, Project Director

Update #1   29/07/2019 – ‘We’re Off’

Departure from Wittersham Road

The first physical steps in the ambitious project to restore a kitchen carriage for the popular ‘Wealden Pullman’ dining train were taken today. Having been loaded onto a specialised lowloader yesterday, the carriage left the K&ESR for transfer to Arlington Fleet Group Ltd's restoration workshops at Eastleigh, Hampshire.

The £200,000 vehicle overhaul is expected to take 6 months. Following restoration of the vehicle, it will be returned to Tenterden where kitchen contractors will fit out the interior.

KESR RU 1987 being loaded at Wittersham Station

Witt Road departure 1

Photographs: DJ Hazeldine / D Raimbach

The restoration of ‘Restaurant Unclassified’ coach 1987 is a significant and essential step in securing the future of the ‘Wealden Pullman’ dining train by having a newly refurbished kitchen car in service by March 2020. The new kitchen car will replace car ‘Diana’ which will need to be retired in 2020 for attention. The new coach will have enhanced kitchen and other facilities, a machine dishwasher, enhanced disabled access and a guard’s compartment. After a light refurb, Diana will be cascaded onto other services to provide catering there.

The work to prepare the coach for departure:

The K&ESR-based ‘TREATs’ group have kindly lent KESR bogies for the duration of the Arlington’s overhaul so that KESR can prepare an overhauled set, made up from the existing RU1987 bogies and other commonwealth wheelsets that KESR already have. The bogie swap was completed 12th July. Thanks to all those involved. The carriage’s preparation for transport including the replacement of buck-eye couplers and the boarding up of windows without glass and major rust holes.

Specifications for the overhaul of Mk1 RU1987 were finalised by KESR in June, and Arlington’s of Eastleigh responded soon after. After a few tweaks and modifications an agreement was reached.

The coach was loaded up on 29th July, and left the Railway that evening for a delivery to Arlington’s on Tuesday 30th July.

The expected progress of the project:

The £200,000 vehicle overhaul is expected to take 6 months. When Arlingtons of Eastleigh have overhauled the vehicle, it will be returned to Tenterden where kitchen contractors Keemlaw will fit out the interior.

The shiny new Mk1 RU1987 is expected to enter service in March 2020.

If you have any questions about the Project, please ask Andre Freeman (Commercial Manager), Dave Raimbach (Project Manager) or Robin White (Project Director)

Andre Freeman


The project is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

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