The historic steam locomotive Invicta will make a spectacular return to Whitstable this Sunday (16 June), 189 years after she first arrived in the town.
Invicta will be craned over the Victorian rooftops and lowered into her new home at Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery in Oxford Street. One of the few remaining early Stationary Beam Engines will also be craned into position.
The locomotive and Stationary Beam Engine were built by Robert Stephenson and Co. Both operated on the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway and played a significant role in early national and international railway history.
The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, known as the Crab and Winkle Line, was incorporated in 1825 and was the first railway in England to carry people in steam-hauled trains.
Invicta is owned by the Transport Trust and is on a long term loan to Canterbury City Council’s museums and galleries service. Until fairly recently, the locomotive has been on display at the former Canterbury Heritage Museum in Stour Street, but the building has now become the home of the new Marlowe Kit, requiring the relocation of Invicta.
After extensive public consultation, council officers have been working with specialist heritage consultants and engineers to find a way of transporting and rehousing the engine safely back in Whitstable.
Invicta will be the star exhibit at the Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery, which is run by an independent charitable trust under the guidance and mentorship of the council’s museums and galleries team.
Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “This will be a very emotional day in Whitstable as Invicta arrives back to what many see as her natural home. Such is the interest in this historic locomotive, we expect people right around the world to be following what happens.
“It’s the start of a new chapter in Invicta’s life, under the careful and loving stewardship of a great team of volunteers who run Whitstable Museum. They have worked their socks off to make this happen over the last few years and I know they will make a success of showing off this fantastic piece of railway history.”
Chair of the Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery, Brian Hitcham said: “What an exciting moment, waiting for the arrival of Invicta! Who would have imagined this, four years ago, when the journey first began?
“It’s amazing what an enthusiastic, committed team of volunteers can achieve! My thanks go to everyone who has played a part in making this happen and I look forward to seeing the celebrations.”
The transporting and craning of Invicta on Sunday 16 June requires stringent health and safety measures, with both road and pavement closures in place. Public viewing will therefore be limited to some distance away. Work will begin on-site at 6am, with Invicta likely to be craned in at around 7.30am and the Stationary Beam Engine to follow after that.
Once Invicta has been safely delivered, it will take some time to install her and get the exhibit set up. An official launch and celebration will begin on Thursday 18 July with various events taking place during the summer. Full details are available on the Whitstable Museum website.