Tenterden - Northiam - Bodiam
Kent & East Sussex Railway

20 for 20 Appeal
The GWR Diesel Railcar Restoration & Conservation Appeal
In Memory of Andrew Webb

W20 at Tenterden Town Station in 1974 Photo copyright Charles Adams, courtesy of Benjamin Boggis collection

Help us to complete the restoration of our unique GWR Railcar W20
for the K&ESR’s 50th re-opening anniversary

The restoration of 1940’s GWR Diesel Railcar W20 is the K&ESR’s longest running and most complex restoration project. After more than 25 years of steady progress, we need your help to get W20 across the finishing line so that it can, once more, play a leading role at the K&ESR and join the celebrations for the 50th birthday of K&ESR reopening in 2024.

This project has been supported by a restoration grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology

We are already two thirds of the way to raising the necessary £60K required to complete the restoration and provide for ongoing conservation, thanks to a grant of £20K from the Association for Industrial Archaeology – the national society for industrial heritage – and a matching pledge from the railway itself. Can you help us raise the remaining £20K for W20?

The '20 for 20 Appeal' is being made in memory of former K&ESR Director and longstanding volunteer Andrew Webb, who sadly passed away in 2019. Andrew spent over 25 years championing and working on the restoration of W20 after it had been withdrawn from service in 1979 due to the deterioration of its bodywork.

Click here to see the different ways you can donate to help us return W20 to the rails and fulfil Andrew’s dream to see it once more in passenger service.

A historic gem with a new role to fulfil

W20 in service in ‘Blood and Custard’ livery
Photo courtesy of Colour-Rail.com

Built in 1940 for the Great Western Railway, W20 has not only great historical significance but also renewed relevance for both the K&ESR and heritage rail as a whole:

  • W20 was originally one of just two and is now the only 1940’s Diesel Railcar to be built with dual-range gearboxes, which uniquely enabled it to run on both branch and mainline rail routes
  • W20 has been part of the K&ESR family for the last 56 years, arriving on the K&ESR in 1966
  • On the K&ESR’s reopening day, 3rd February 1974, W20 formed the first public service passenger train – how fitting it would be for it to reprise this role in 2024!
  • As climate change brings hotter, drier summers, we can no longer rely solely on steam trains for our busiest period due to the risk of trackside fires; diesel railcars like W20 are therefore taking on a new importance in the future operation of our heritage railways
  • Completing W20’s restoration will also bring a little closer the possibility of one day reuniting W20 with its sister Railcar, W22, now resident at the Didcot Railway Centre

Andrew Webb and W20: a labour of love

Andrew Webb
Image courtesy of Janice Webb
Volunteers Chris Davis (left) and Neil Edwards (centre) work on W20 under the watchful eye of Andrew Webb (far right) in June 2018
Image: Janice Webb

On several occasions over the last three decades, the restoration of W20 could certainly have ‘hit the buffers’ if it hadn’t been for the determination of longstanding member and former Director of the K&ESR, Andrew Webb - in whose memory this new funding appeal is being made.

The project was kept alive during many difficult years through his tenacity, project management and vision. Sadly, Andrew passed away in November 2019 without seeing the project completion that had become his labour of love. However, many of the volunteers who worked under his direction continue to work on the project and are determined to finish what Andrew had striven to achieve yet was so sadly denied.

Donating to '20 for 20'

Members of the current team prepare to start work on the final phase of restoration in the Carriage & Wagon Workshop, September 2022
Image: Robin Coombes

Due to the scope and complexity of the remaining restoration tasks – from structural and engineering matters to internal fixtures, fittings and livery - the budget needed to complete W20 and enable ongoing conservation stands at £60,000.

With the AIA grant and matched funding pledged by K&ESR, this leaves a shortfall of £20,000 to be raised through donations – with your help, we can close this gap!

Any amount will be welcome, but to fulfil the spirit of the appeal’s title, the K&ESR is encouraging giving in one of three ways:

  • one-off donations of £20
  • any number of regular £20 donations
  • a commitment of any amount in regular donations for 20 months

How to donate

Image: Robin Coombes
  • By making a single payment or creating a regular standing order through CAF Donate which, if you are a UK tax payer, will also enable the K&ESR to collect Gift Aid
  • By sending a cheque made payable to the 20 for 20 Appeal, Kent & East Sussex Railway, Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6HE. Please mark '20 for 20' on the reverse of your cheque
  • By texting 'Railcar' to 70460 to make a £20 donation

20 for 20 Appeal Update - March 2023

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.Raised £58,000 towards the £20,000 target.£58,000Raised £58,000 towards the £20,000 target.290%

We are delighted to report that the ’20 for 20’ Appeal has not only met, but now significantly surpassed its target of £20,000 to reach an extraordinary current total of £58,000 – almost triple the original amount!

“We are delighted by this response,” said longstanding K&ESR volunteer Derrick Bilsby, who has been leading the fundraising campaign. “Having slowed over the Christmas and New Year period, donations picked up rapidly afterwards. However, we were taken aback by the sheer volume of new pledges and donations.”

He continued “Consistent with the stated aims of the appeal, the amazing sum raised will not only enable the completion of the restoration but will also provide a secure fund to ensure its continued conservation so that it can operate at the K&ESR for many years to come.”

“We would like to thank everyone who has so generously donated to the Appeal, especially in these challenging times,” said K&ESR General Manager Robin Coombes. “I think Andrew Webb, in whose memory the Appeal is dedicated, would have been astonished by the scale of the response but, like us, would see it as confirmation of the iconic nature of W20 and how well-loved it is by heritage railway enthusiasts everywhere.”

The Appeal will remain open, as some donors have pledged to give regularly over a set period rather than provide single sums, and will accept any further donations to add to the ring-fenced conservation fund.

W20 progress report – March 2023


Railcar. Image: Robin Coombes.

As promised, and not without a great deal of co-operation, long hours and a major effort by Alan Brice and the C & W team to complete the work on the new Kitchen Car for the Wealden Pullman, W20 was returned to the Carriage & Wagon workshop on Saturday 4th March. This was only just in time as the vehicle needed to cleared out and prepared on the Sunday, ready for the heating contractors to begin their installation on Monday March 6th. A fantastic team effort, for which the Railcar team are very grateful.

Photo: Neil Edwards

The installation effort over the following week was very successful, with the contractors completing the majority of the work. All the copper and flexible pipe runs are complete and the Diesel burner units have been mounted in the Guards compartment. The heater units have taken up the position where the original steam heat boiler was located, and the existing cabinet will be re-fitted to house the new units. With the heaters being located in the guards area and the pipe runs following the exact layout of the original steam heat pipes, this allows the installation to replicate, as near as possible, the displaced steam heat system, without having the issues of boiler certification. The contractor will return later next month to make the final connections and commission the system. This element of the work cannot be completed until the finished floor has been laid in the guards compartment, to enable the exhaust system and air intake to be properly fitted and sealed prior to testing.

Other achievements since the railcar returned have been the servicing and temporary re-fitting of the six, yes six, prop shafts. Final fit is awaiting the delivery of the correct Independent Competent Person (I.C.P.) approved components. In addition, the ceiling installation has commenced having also received I.C.P. approval, with the small saloon and vestibule having been completed, as far as possible and it looks very appealing in its ivory finish.

Preparations have also been made for the new wooden base layer flooring, especially for within the guards compartment, to enable the heating to be completed. This has now been approved by the I.C.P. and is on order. Once delivered this task will be prioritised.

Chris Mileman

Pipework in main saloon Photo: Neil Edwards

W20 progress report – January 2023

We are delighted to report that the ’20 for 20’ Appeal has raised over 90% of our target!

There has been more great progress on W20 in the last month and we are delighted to report that the first official inspection by Steve Beck from Cambrian Transport Services Limited, our appointed compliance oversight company, has approved the work done to date.

Here’s what’s been happening:

  • Restored air vents have been fixed to the roof
  • The saloon glazing and frames have been completed, along with the installation of the sliding top window vents
  • The roof has been fully insulated and materials for the internal ceiling panels have been approved
  • The saloon light fittings have been carefully refurbished and are ready for installation
  • The gearboxes, which were restored a number of years ago, have been removed, checked and reinstalled
  • Heavy duty cabling in poor condition, perished wiring and flexible conduit have all been removed, ready for replacements
  • An external contractor has started work to ensure precise fitting of the cab ends and domes
  • A replacement heating system has been approved and contracts have now to be agreed to supply and fit the system at the beginning of March.

W20 progress. Inset: some of the Railcar team – Alan Crotty, Chris Davis, Neil Edwards, Steve Beck and Mike Artlett. Photo by Chris Mileman.

W20 progress report – December 2022

The restoration team has made excellent progress, working hard to make the railcar watertight by permanently fitting the roof sheets, installing the saloon glazing and window surrounds and working on the cab end.

Many thanks to all those who have so generously contributed to the Appeal so far. Please keep donating and spreading the word about the Appeal to enable the completion of this project in time for the railway’s 50th anniversary of reopening.

Neil Edwards



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