Thursday, March 22, 2007
The origin of the "Planet" locomotive can be traced back to the Kent Construction & Engineering Co. Ltd., which had a works in Victoria Road, Ashford, Kent, rented from the South Eastern & Chatham Railway (and later from the Southern Railway). There was a standard gauge private siding connecting with the SE&CR, and a narrow gauge test track ran from the works into a nearby field; on the latter many of the firm's products such as skips and locomotives were tested and displayed.
Kent Construction's first excursion into the light railway locomotive market was after the 1914-1918 War, when they purchased from the Government a large number of petrol locomotives and associated spares. These locomotives were of two makes, the familiar Motor Bail "Simplex" and those built to the (American) Baldwin Locomotive Works design. Some had seen service in Europe but others were in new condition and had probably never been used. All were given a thorough overhaul by Kent Construction before being offered for sale in "as new" condition as reconditioned "Simplex" or "Baldwin" locomotives. catalogue covering the "Simplex" locomotives had official Motor Rail photographs of the three types offered - 2½ ton narrow gauge 20hp; 6 ton narrow gauge 40hp; and 8 ton standard gauge 40hp. Examples of the 6 ton and 8 ton units were fitted with armour plating, and all three types had their engines set across the frames. Another catalogue covered the one Baldwin design offered which was a 7½ ton narrow gauge 45hp machine of the same type as the now much rebuilt MOELWYN on the Festiniog Railway.