Royal visit: HRH Duke of Kent visits South Devon Railway

HRH The Duke of Kent KG will be visiting the SDR on the morning of Thursday 19th March where he will be inspecting the railway’s extensive engineering works and officially opening our new, impressive workshop £200,000 extension.

During his stay, His Royal Highness will meet many of the staff and volunteers who make the SDR tick, ranging from the engineering, running shed, carriage & wagon personnel and footplate crews to station groups, museum and gardens workers, catering and retail staff, and permanent way and cutting back teams.

He will also make a short trip to Staverton on the footplate of a steam loco where he will be shown how the engine works by veteran SDR driver Dave Knowling, believed to be the longest serving steam engineman in the country with 61 continuous years of service.

The loco will haul a three coach train of VIP guests and dignitaries plus SDR and SDR Association directors and officers and, in a direct link with his family’s past, one of the vehicles – first class super saloon King George (named after the then monarch, King George V) No. 9111 – carried HRH’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, on their honeymoon from Paddington to Birmingham on 29 November 1934.

The full story was described at the time:

The Great Western Railway provided the "Honeymoon Train" which carried the Duke and Duchess of Kent from Paddington to Birmingham on Thursday, November, 29, 1934. The formation of the train was :

• Locomotive No. 6000, "King George V"

• Seventy-foot first-class brake coach

• Seventy-foot first-class corridor coach

• "King George" special coupé saloon

• Seventy-foot first-class brake coach.

The "Honeymoon Train" left Paddington at 4.20 p.m. and arrived at Snow Hill Station, Birmingham, at 6.20 p.m., drawn by the first of the "Kings," for the engine was the one exhibited in the United States at the time of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Centenary Exhibition in 1927. It was built at Swindon Works, is 68 ft. 2 in. long over the buffers, and weighs, with the tender, 135 tons 14 cwt.

The coupé saloon, "King George," was one of eight designed and built at Swindon, and named, by permission of the King, after members of the Royal Family. The names of the other seven are "Queen Mary," "Prince of Wales," "Duke of York," "Duke of Gloucester," "Duchess of York," "Princess Mary," and "Princess Elizabeth." These saloons are 60 ft. long and 9 ft. 7 in. wide, as are those of the Cornish Riviera Express—the widest in use in Great Britain. Each car is divided by sliding doors into two sections, seating seventeen and eight passengers respectively, and there is a coupé compartment seating four.

For the "Honeymoon Train" the interior was decorated in autumn tints, the various shades of brown giving an atmosphere of warmth and comfort. The chairs, of the wing type with loose cushions, were upholstered in brown-patterned moquette, and the floor was covered with brown carpets. The saloon was panelled in highly polished natural light walnut veneer, with dark burr walnut pilasters on panels between the deep windows. The ceilings were panelled in flat stippled vellum, and the saloon was lighted by concealed electric lights covered by satin-faced gloss panels in bronze frames fitted flush with the ceiling and end panels of the saloon.





Super Saloon 9111 King George will transport HRH Duke of Kent to Staverton. The coach also formed part of his parents' 'Honeymoon Train'.