Kent & East Sussex Railway
The Kent & East Sussex Railway was opened as
the Rother Valley Railway in 1900. It was constructed as a
light railway, meaning that it was only designed to handle light
traffic and vehicles, but its building costs were lower. The line
proved popular, especially with local farmers, and in 1903 the
route was extended to what is now Tenterden Town Station. It was at
this time that the railway was given its current name.
Unusually - especially for a company of its size - the railway
retained its independence after the Grouping of 1923. However, this
did mean the line faced a huge challenge to stay financially
The Kent & East Sussex Railway became part of
British Rail in 1948, but soon after all traffic on the route began
to decline. Passenger services were withdrawn in January 1954, and
the section north of Tenterden was closed completely, with the
rails being lifted that year.
The railway closed completely in 1961. A preservation
group formed shortly afterwards, but protracted legal battles meant
that the line's re-opening was delayed until 1974. Only two miles
of track could be operated initially, as major structural repairs
were required following years of inaction on the light railway.
However, the short services were popular, and so the preservation
group was able to reopen Northiam in 1990. Bodiam was reached in
2000, and the now 10.5 mile long railway has been very popular with
locals and tourists alike ever since.