Station Name: ISFIELD
|Location:||On the north side of Station Road|
|Company on opening:||Lewes & Uckfield Railway|
|Date closed to passengers:||4.5.1969|
|Date closed completely:||4.5.1969|
|Company on closing:||British Rail (Southern Region)|
|Present state:||The station has been fully restored and is now the base for the Lavender Line steam railway.|
|OS Grid Ref:||TQ452172|
|Date of visit:||July 1975, May 1976 & 24.11.2005|
Notes: During WW2 trains brought German POW's. to Isfield for forestry work in the Plashett Wood area. At the end of the day they marched back to the station for the return to camp.
On 16 June 1983 Isfield Station was purchased at auction by a Dave & Gwen Milham with restoration of the station in mind. The rebuilding began immediately, including the laying of new track, the renovation of the signal box, and renewal of the all the perimeter fencing. The booking hall was renovated, the station awning renewed, and all platform signs replaced. The original platform waiting room had been purchased from Isfield by the Bluebell Railway in 1978 and rebuilt at Sheffield Park station. Two months were spent constructing an exact replica, completed in January 1984. With the help of the Bluebell Railway, Dave Milham purchased track material from British Rail, made available from work being done at Croydon.
The main restoration that took place at the station was completed by the spring of 1987. This included a track stretching three quarters of a mile ending at a weak bridge over the River Uck, a new 100ft by 60ft engine shed, and the complete renovation of the station house. Costs by this point had escalated to in excess of three quarters of a million pounds.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LEWES
- TUNBRIDGE WELLS WEST LINE
Initially, nothing was done until after the completion of the Brighton - Hastings Line in 1846. In the mid 1850's the independent Lewes and Uckfield Railway Co. was incorporated and on 27th July 1856 they obtained an Act to build the branch line. With the promise of extra traffic on the existing Lewes line, the support of the LBSCR was sought and obtained. Lewes up to that date had been served only by a terminus called Friar's Walk and a new station closer to the present site was planned to provide extra accommodation. This was completed by 1857
The line to Uckfield opened from Uckfield Junction on the 18th October 1858, 7 1/2 miles up the Ouse valley to Uckfield and within a year the LBSCR took over the independent company. For the first ten years the track ran from a junction off the line to Wivelsfield which had opened earlier in 1847. But this meant trains had to reverse at Lewes en route to Brighton and a new track was built in 1868 giving access to Lewes from the east.
With the line pointing towards Tunbridge Wells the LBSCR were anxious to close the gap in their network and gave their support to the Brighton, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells Company which was incorporated in 1861. Its 12 mile single track line opened on 3rd August 1868 from an end on junction at Uckfield to join the recently opened extension from East Grinstead - Tunbridge Wells at Groombridge Junction. The company was taken over by the LBSCR before the line opened.
This was a further part of the Brighton Company's strategy to consolidate the area against competition from the South Eastern. When a further line was opened from Polegate to Eridge south of Groombridge Junction in 1880 the LBSCR had achieved its objective.
In 1878 powers were obtained for a 1 mile long spur between Ashurst Junction on the East Grinstead - Groombridge Line and Birchden Junction, 1 mile north of Eridge on the Uckfield line. This enabled Groombridge to be bypassed without a reversal there. It remained largely unused until the final piece of the jigsaw was put into place with the opening of the Oxted & Groombridge Railway's line from Hurst Green Junction south of Oxted to Ashurst Junction. The local company was incorporated in 1861 and taken over by the LBSCR in 1864 four years before the line opened in 1888.
After WW2 commuters and local passengers were on the increase, encouraged by a frequent service and competitive fares but by the 1960's the Beeching era had begun and in 1964 new timetables were introduced making travel difficult with long waits for connections, by now a common ploy to reduce the number of passengers. The railway board wanted to close the line south of Hurst Green Junction to Lewes, together with the branch to Tunbridge Wells West. This met with vigorous opposition from local authorities and private individuals. Eventually the Minister gave way and agreed closure between Uckfield and Lewes only and the date was fixed for 6th January 1969.
Bickering followed and the licensing of replacement buses was deferred. The railways board then said the viaduct across the River Ouse was safe only on one line and a shuttle service was introduced. This did not fit in with trains north of Uckfield and traffic dropped still further. Eventually railway engineers insisted the viaduct should be completely closed.
The railways then hired buses for a time and Barcombe Mills and Isfield stayed open to issue tickets. The buses could not negotiate the narrow winding road to Barcombe Mills, so the railways provided a taxi to take passengers from the railway station to the bus stop. But this was only after intending passengers had walked over a mile to the station to buy their tickets!
The last train ran on 23rd February 1969 and buses finally
stopped on 6th May 1969.
Isfield station has now been restored to early Southern Railway
colours and looks very much as it would have done in the 1920's
and 30's. The track has been extensively overhauled and modified
since the society took over and the line has recently been extended
to one mile operating a steam service as the Lavender
Line, named after A E Lavender and Sons the coal merchants
which used to operate from Isfield station yard.
The Wealden Line Campaign was launched in 1986 to fight for the full restoration of the train services between Lewes and Tunbridge Wells
A blow to their campaign came in 1991 when Uckfield Station
was resited to the north side of the level crossing. Initially
the old station and route to the bypass was preserved in case
it should be required for a future restoration of passenger
service. But in 1998 the local authority decided that a land
use policy to restrict development around the former route could
not be justified. The campaign continues.
To see the other
stations on the Eastbourne - Tunbridge Wells West line click
on the station name: Barcombe
|Last updated: Tuesday, 20-Apr-2010 16:12:06 BST||
© 1998-2005 Disused Stations