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Securing the future of the Wealden Pullman

We're working on an ambitious investment programme to enhance and secure the future of the Wealden Pullman dining train - and we need your help!

The project includes:  Marquetry sml


 • Building a canopy for the Pullman siding to ensure these historic carriages are protected from the weather
 • 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 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 update. With this in mind, we purchased another kitchen carriage which we're now overhauling to the latest standards. But we're not casting 'Diana' aside - she will take a new place in our regular passenger trains, offering a greatly improved range of everyday meals.

In addition to a kitchen to modern specifications, the project incorparates 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

The first element of the project will cost around £250,000 to complete, but in 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 £36,000 from donations, £25,000 from legacies, £20,000 of K&ESR investment, and £30,000 from the Wealden Pullman's own staff fund (built up from customer gratuities), leaving £65,000 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 £52,000.

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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.


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


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.


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

Please note that, as a result of the current COVID-19 restrictions, there may be a small delay in processing benefits as outlined above - thank you for your kind understanding

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

Donate online



 Project Progress

 Update #5   1/3/2020

A short update to show the state of progress on RU 1987 on 18 February 2020 when K&ESR representatives visited Arlington’s premises in Eastleigh. Arlington’s work is nearly complete and the vehicle is expected to return to Tenterden in March for completion of external paintwork & signwriting by K&ESR staff and the kitchen fit-out by contractors Keemlaw.
Photos: Dave Raimbach.

RU1987 0093

The completed bodywork awaits paint.

RU1987 0094

The saloon interior panelling takes shape

We still need to raise funds for the kitchen equipment fit out - every donation, of whatever size, helps us to close the gap - thank you!

Donate online

Robin Moira White, Project Director

Project Progress

Update #4   27/1/2020

It is pleasing to be able to report that Arlingtons Ltd have now finished the bodywork refurbishment of the vehicle and are well on with the internal fit out as the accompanying photos (all courtesy of Alan Crotty) show.

kitchen endThe current focus is electrical work and the doors.

reskinned corridor side

There has been about a month’s delay to the project, largely due to the K&ESR in-house overhaul of some door components and the finalization of the kitchen plan taking a little longer than expected. Car 1987 will be the Pullman kitchen for many years to come and so it is important to get it right.

saloon generalThe car is now expected back on the K&ESR in March for final fit out and entry into traffic in April 2020, which is not far away!
Car 1987 will initially return to traffic on bogies loaned by the K&ESR ‘TREATS’ group while its own bogies undergo overhaul. The Railway is grateful to them for this.
The K&ESR management team are now turning their minds to the use of ‘Diana’ on service trains when Car 1987 takes the Pullman load. 2020 is certain to be an exciting year for K&ESR catering.
Approximately £60,000 remains to be raised to complete this project and allow us to move on to the other items to make the K&ESR Pullman sustainable for the long term. Every donation, however small (or large!) to close that gap would be most appreciated.

Donate online

Robin Moira White, Project Director

Update #3   27/10/2019

Project Manager Dave Raimbach, supported by K&ESR experts Alan Crotty, Alan Brice and David Brailsford, visited Arlington’s on 15th October to inspect progress to date.
The asbestos has now all been removed, and the underframe has been cleaned and painted.

RU1987 271019 3

Bodywork and roof repairs are underway, surplus air brake equipment has been removed, and K&ESR refurbished vacuum cylinders and pistons are ready to be fitted..

RU1987 271019 2


The biggest risk to any project of this magnitude is funding.

This is a £250,000 project. The final figure may vary a little, depending on how closely to budget it can be kept. Can you help us with the major “Next steps” and their expected cost?


Parking brake modification to include an interlocking parking brake and isolating valve.



Install steam heat pipework and refit existing radiators.



Water tanks and pipework, overhaul water raising equipment, fit drain down valves and thermostatically controlled trace heating system.



Refurbish and fit gas cabinets, run gas services to kitchen.



Fit 24v DC carriage lighting system, supply and install electric generator, connect to coach AC electrical installation and provide shore supply/vacuum brake interlock.



Overhaul vestibule connections, buffing and draw gear, re-fit drop-head auto couplers, fit vestibule diaphragms, gangway hoods and tail-pin rubbers.



Bodywork and roof repairs, replace buffer-beam top plates.



Alterations to windows, doors and roof fans.



Create Guards Brake area.



Replace flooring throughout.



Guttering repairs.



Fit insulation material, walls in saloon area and Guards partition.



Repaint in Pullman livery.


We encourage everyone to help by sponsoring any part of these items. If you are a UK tax payer, please consider gift-aidng your donation, which boosts the value by 25% thanks to the UK government.

Donate online



Dave Raimbach, Project Manager

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 met with the appointed contractors and asbestos removal will be undertaken shortly.

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 £250,000 project.

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 very grateful 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.

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 bodywork overhaul is expected to take around 6 months. Following restoration, it will be returned to Tenterden where specialist catering contractors will fit out the kitchen.

KESR RU 1987 being loaded at Wittersham Station

Witt Road departure 1

Photographs: DJ Hazeldine / D Raimbach

The restoration of ‘Restaurant Unclassified’ coach No.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 during 2020. The new kitchen car will replace car ‘Diana’ which will take up its new place in our public daytime services. The new coach will have enhanced kitchen facilities, including a commercial dishwasher, enhanced disabled access and a guard’s compartment.

The work to prepare the coach for departure:

The K&ESR-based ‘TREATs’ group have kindly lent some spare bogies for the duration of the Arlington’s overhaul, so that we can prepare an overhauled set, made up from the existing RU1987 bogies and other commonwealth wheelsets that we have in stock. 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.

Specifications for the overhaul of Mk1 RU1987 were finalised by the K&ESR in June, and contract agreement with Arlington’s of Eastleigh was reached soon after.

The coach was loaded onto road transport on the 29th July and left the Railway that evening for a delivery to Arlington’s the following day.

The expected progress of the project:

The £250,000 overhaul is expected to take around 6 months, following which the interior fit-out will be undertaken at Tenterden.

If you have any questions about the Project, please ask Dave Raimbach (Project Manager) or Robin White (Project Director) [email protected] 


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

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