Notes: (Brief history of the Kent & East Sussex Railway)
The Rother Valley Railway was proposed in 1896 and was the first
line to be built under the 1896 Light Railway Act that permitted
lightly constructed lines to be built in rural areas. The line
was engineered by Holman Stephens (later Colonel Stephens) who
went on to build a number of light railways around the country.
The first section between Robertsbridge and Tenterden (later renamed
Rolvenden) opened on 2.4.1900. The line was extended to Tenterden
Town in 1903 and Headcorn in 1905.
The line was renamed the Kent & East Sussex Railway was initially
moderately profitable although the northern section was subsidised
by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway. After WW1 there were
heavy losses eventually leading to bankruptcy in 1931. The line
had remained independent after the 1923 amalgamation and despite
loss of revenue with many of its passengers switching to busses
it continued to provide a valuable service, especially to the
farming community, through the 1930's.
The line was nationalised in 1948 but despite improvements, passenger
numbers continued to fall and during a typical week in 1953 only
118 passengers traveled on 90 trains, many of which ran empty.
The end was inevitable with closure coming on 2 January 1954.
The line was abandoned and the track lifted between Headcorn and
Tenterden Town while the southern section remained open for goods
traffic to Tenterden Town until 12.6.1961. The line also saw occasional
passenger trains primarily for hop-pickers and ramblers during
Shortly after final closure a preservation society was formed
but it was a further 13 years before trains returned to the line,
the main stumbling block being the large number of road crossings.
Eventually a compromise was agreed once the Society agreed to
drop the section of line between Bodiam and Robertsbridge from
the restoration proposal. The Kent
& East Sussex Railway Company became a registered charity
and work progressed quickly with the first section of restored
line opening at Tenterden on 3.2.1974; this was extended to Wittisham
Road in 1977, Northiam in 1990 and Bodiam in 2000.
Kent and East Sussex Railway by Stephen Garrett - 1999 Oakwood
Press ISBN: 0853615160
The Kent and East Sussex Railway by Matthew Beddall - 2000 Solo
The Kent and East Sussex Railway by Terry Gough - 1998 Past &
Present ISBN 1858951496
Rails to Tenterden by J L Smith - 1967 Lens of Sutton
Kent & East
Sussex Railway Company (official web site)