Station Name: HAILSHAM

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 15.5.1849
Location: On the south side of South Road (Lindfield Drive now lies on the station site) and west of Station Road.
Company on opening: London Brighton & South Coast Railway
Date closed to passengers: 9.9.1968
Date closed completely: 9.9.1968
Company on closing: British Railways (Southern Region)
Present state: All evidence of the station was cleared away during the construction of Lindfield Drive. The Terminus pub in Station Road indcates that Hailsham was once a terminus.
County: Sussex
OS Grid Ref: TQ589093
Date of visit: June 1968, June 1975, May 1976, September 1982 & June 2005
Notes: The small market town of Hailsham was a terminus from 1849 to 1880. The railway at Hailsham assisted in transport of the town's main trade of the day, this being the manufacture of rope, twine and sacking. Hailsham was one of the busiest stations on the line with staggered platforms and a large goods depot. It remained a terminus for short workings from
Eastbourne, sometimes worked by main line locomotives.

The `Cuckoo Line' from Polegate to Eridge was completed in two stages. Initially a route from Polegate to Hailsham was opened on 14th May 1849 and a line south to Eastbourne opened to traffic on the same day. These lines followed only three years after a route had been completed east from Brighton via Lewes and Polegate to St. Leonards.

The remainder of the route northwards from Hailsham to Eridge was completed some 31 years. In 1873, local business interests promoted a Bill for a 3' gauge line from Tunbridge Wells to Polegate. Little progress was made in raising the required capital and the LBSC stepped in, obtaining an Act in 1876 giving them authority to extend their Hailsham line to Eridge where
it joined the Uckfield - Groombridge Junction line (opened in 1868). The South Eastern Railway was to be given a share in the receipts and running powers over the line into Eastbourne.

The 7 1/2 miles of single track was opened between Hailsham and Heathfield on 5th April 1880 and the 9 3/4 miles on to Eridge on 1st September that year.

At Redgate Junction, south of Eridge it joined the route from Uckfield to Groombridge and both lines ran in parallel to Tunbridge Wells and to London via the Oxted line. When the Uckfield line was doubled in 1894 the Heathfield line north of Redgate Junction became the down line.

The name `Cuckoo' was adopted by the railwaymen themselves. This relates to the old Sussex legend that on the 14th April annually the first cuckoo of summer is released at Heathfield Fair.

By 1904 services on the Brighton lines had assumed a pattern that was to remain radically unaltered until 1933. There were a total of 83 workings between Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells West where trains went on to three destinations, Three Bridges, Brighton via the Uckfield line and Eastbourne via the Cuckoo line.

By 1925 the single track spur from Tunbridge Wells West to Central was little used with four daily trains to Brighton and two to Uckfield. Three of these carried through carriages for the Cuckoo line which were detached at Eridge. By the 1950's this had improved and in 1956, 58 passenger trains and two freights used the spur making it, for that year, the busiest section of single track in the country.

The main goods stations on the Cuckoo line were at Heathfield and Hailsham, the other stations handled little more than the occasional wagon of coal.

Despite a new timetable being introduced in the 1950's with one train an hour on the Cuckoo line, it was not to survive the Beeching cuts. In 1965 a survey revealed that there were only 250 passengers a day using the line of which only 23 were season ticket holders. Any attempt to promote the line was halted under the Beeching plan and a new timetable was introduced
with long waits between connecting trains designed to deter passengers from using the service.

The Cuckoo line was closed to passengers north of Hailsham on 14th June 1965. Freight
trains continued from Hailsham to Heathfield until 26th April 1968 when a bridge became damaged and repair was considered uneconomic and not carried out. Hailsham closed completely on 9th September 1968 and with this the final stretch of Cuckoo line had gone

Although the line between Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells West was also proposed for closure this remained open but there was no future investment in the line and by the early 1980's the track and signaling needed replacing. With the planned removal of Grove Junction during the upgrade of the Tonbridge - Hastings line British Rail decided they could no longer
justify keeping the line open and announced closure of the line from 16th May 1983.

Once again there were strong objections but these were outweighed by British Rail's cost argument. They estimated that to upgrade the infrastructure, while retaining the existing services, would give a £175,000 loss per year and the Secretary of State confirmed closure of the line on 6th July 1985.

Grove Junction was removed the day after closure but the line from Eridge to Tunbridge Wells remained in use until 10th August 1985 when the depot was closed.

Shortly after closure the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Railway Preservation Society was formed with an aim of reinstating the passenger service on the line. The Society acquired the line in the early 1990's and by winter 1996 they had refurbished half a mile of track and were able to run a steam service from their base on part of the old Tunbridge Wells West station site.
TWERPS later merged with the North Downs Steam Railway at Dartford, Kent. The line is now known as The Spa Valley Railways, a name chosen as the result of a competition.

The Spa Valley Railway now runs for 3 1/2 miles to a new station at Groombridge with an intermediate station at High Rocks built by the owner of the High Rocks Inn and Restaurant.

Between 1992 - 1994 the section of line between Polegate and Heathfield was reopened by the county council as a footpath and cycleway known as the Cuckoo Trail. There are proposals to extend northwards from Heathfield and as part of this extension Heathfield Tunnel has been restored and lit and the 'Millennium Gates' fitted to the south portal.

Tickets from Michael Stewart except 0290 & 5338 Nick Catford

To see the other stations on the Eastbourne - Tunbridge Wells West line click on the station name: Tunbridge Wells West, High Rocks Halt, Groombridge, Eridge, Rotherfield & Mark Cross, Mayfield, Heathfield, Horam, Hellingly, Polegate, Hampden Park & Eastbourne

Hailsham Station in the early 20th century
Copyright photo from John Alsop  collection

1899 1:2,500 OS map.

1928 1:2,500 OS map. There were two docks, a cattle dock is shown on the down side to the south of the station. There is another dock, also on the down side but to the north of the station.

Hailsham Station looking south before September 1906. Note the goods dock on the left, this was not the cattle dock which was on the down side to the south if the station building.
Copyright photo from John Alsop  collection

Hailsham Station in April 1962

Hailsham station looking south in 1963
Photo by A J Wills

Hailsham station looking north in June 1968
Photo by Nick Catford

Hailsham station looking north c1969 shortly after the track has been lifted
Photo from Bob Battle collection

Hailsham Station and goods shed looking north in June 1975
Photo by Nick Catford

Hailsham Station looking south in May 1975. Same viewpoint as the top picture.
Photo by Nick Catford

The site of Hailsham Station looking north in June 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

Hailsham station looking south in April 2013. The house above the red mini is also seen in
the 1975 picture above.
Photo by Malcolm Court

Click here for more pictures of Hailsham Station





:[Source: Nick Catford]

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