Canterbury City Council is consulting on whether the historic Invicta engine should be relocated to Whitstable Museum or Whitstable Harbour.
Invicta was delivered to Whitstable by sea in 1830. It ran on part of the Crab and Winkle Line between Canterbury and Whitstable where it pulled the first regular steam passenger railway in the world – as acknowledged in the Guinness Book of Records.
Its current home is the Canterbury Heritage Museum at Poor Priests’ Hospital in Stour Street, but last year city councillors agreed to move it to Whitstable and to consult residents on which of the locations they preferred.
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The museum proposal would see Invicta initially displayed in the main hall, before being moved to a new central courtyard where it would be visible from Oxford Street.
At the harbour, the engine would be displayed on the south quay as part of a new commercial and community building.
Cllr Neil Baker, chairman of the council’s community committee, said: “The Invicta will be moving to Whitstable – the only issue is where it will go. It’s a straight choice between two locations and we’ll be interested to see what the public prefers.”
Invicta is owned by the Transport Trust and is on loan to the council. The trust has stated it is happy with either location.
The steam locomotive was built at a cost of £635 by Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1829.
It was retired in 1839 and put under cover at the old Canterbury North Lane station. The first locomotive to be preserved, it was then exhibited at the Golden Jubilee of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1875 and at the Newcastle Stephenson Centenary in 1881.
For 70 years, the train sat on a plinth in the Dane John Gardens before being moved to the museum.