Hythe station is the northern terminus of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and although smaller than New Romney, it is an impressive facility with curved platforms and overall roof, loco release road, former engine shed now an independent engineering works, signalbox with 16 lever frame, and a turntable.
Of the three platforms, only numbers 2 and 3 are normally used for arrivals and departures, number 1 being used mainly for stock storage as it has no loco release facility. Prior to the 1970s resignalling it was used for occasional departures, although today this happens very rarely it is only for non-passenger trains.
As originally built the station had a fourth platform to the south with its own loco release road, and platform three had no release facility. It seems the original design (as with the Dymchurch bay platform) assumed trains would arrive and then shunt into a different departure platform to release the loco and turn. In the 1920s the layout was altered to make operation more efficient. Platform 4 disappeared in the resignalling, as platforms were extended and has now been incorporated into the car park.
Adjacent to the station the former station master's house which is now a private residence.
The railway was constructed during the 1920s and opened on 16 July 1927, the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway was the dream of millionaire racing drivers Captain J.E.P. Howey and Count Louis Zborowski. Zborowski had constructed a railway at Higham Park, his home at Bridge, Kent, and agreed to donate the rolling stock and infrastructure to the project. Zborowski however was killed in a motor racing accident at Monza before the Romney Marsh site was chosen, and Howey continued the project alone.
The locomotives were designed by engineer Henry Greenly who worked with Captain J E P Howey. Greenly also served as the railway's first Chief Engineer.
Mountain Class 'Hercules' hauled the inaugural train from Hythe to New Romney with guests including the mayors of the two towns, and General Sir Ivor Maxse. Howey was not happy with just 8 miles (13 km) from New Romney to Hythe and he extended 5 1⁄2 miles (9 km) from New Romney to Dungeness. This section was originally double track, but is now single due to damage during World War II, when the line was taken over by the military. A miniature armoured train was used on the line. After the war the line re-opened between Hythe and New Romney in 1946, with the singled New Romney to Dungeness section reopened in 1947 by Laurel and Hardy.
Smallest public railway in the world
From 1926 to 1978, the RH&DR held the title of the "Smallest public railway in the world" (in terms of track gauge). The title was lost to the 12 1⁄4 in (311 mm) gauge Réseau Guerlédan in France in 1978 and regained from 1979, when the Réseau Guerlédan closed, until 1982, when the 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge Wells and Walsingham Light Railway opened.