Rother Valley Railway
|Kent and East Sussex Railway|
The Rother Valley Railway (RVR) is a heritage railway project based at Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It takes its name from the original name for what later became the Kent and East Sussex Railway, running from Robertsbridge through to Headcorn in Kent, via Tenterden. The project is to replace the ‘missing link’ between Robertsbridge, a station on the Tonbridge to Hastings mainline, and Bodiam on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, a heritage railway which operates from Bodiam to Tenterden. A charity supported by a society of volunteers are attempting to re-establish the railway link. The RVR began by reinstating the first few hundred yards of line eastwards from Robertsbridge, and also a short stretch westwards from Bodiam. In 2010, the latter section was further extended to reach Junction Road. In summer 2011 work began at Robertsbridge to extend further eastwards to Northbridge Street, which entailed the rebuilding of five bridges. By June 2012, this further extension was also completed. In September 2013, a Gala weekend at Robertsbridge marked the progress to date and the start of the next phase - the re-instatement of the section between Northbridge street and Junction Road. While the RVR does not yet feature regular passenger trains, the base at Robertsbridge houses a small shop and visitor centre open to the public each Sunday, utilising a building formerly used as the London terminus of the Orient Express. There is also a small collection of historic railway vehicles in various stages of preservation.
The Kent & East Sussex Railway Preservation Society was formed in 1961 following closure of the line.
After many trials and tribulations, the Tenterden Railway Company Limited was incorporated in 1971 as a Company limited by guarantee and in 1973 was successful in purchasing that part of the line between Tenterden and Bodiam. The Tenterden Railway Company is now known as The Kent & East Sussex Railway, as of January 2004. The preservationists were refused permission by the then Transport Minister Barbara Castle to take over the section between Bodiam and Robertsbridge, despite taking the Minister to the High Court. The latter section was lifted and became abandoned.
Trains first ran again on the Kent & East Sussex Railway on 3 February 1974 between Tenterden to Rolvenden, the line gradually being restored and extended in stages, reaching Wittersham Road in 1977, Northiam in 1990 and finally Bodiam on 2 April 2000, exactly 100 years to the day since the original opening of the line to passengers. The Tenterden Railway Company has powers under its Memorandum and Articles of Association to operate the Railway between Tenterden and Robertsbridge.
A separate Company, the Rother Valley Railway (East Sussex) Ltd, was formed on 22 May 1991 with the approval of the Tenterden Railway Company to reconstruct the railway between Bodiam and Robertsbridge and has since simplified its name to Rother Valley Railway Ltd.
Since 1991, the railway has been acquiring parts of the trackbed as and when possible. Negotiations continue with remaining landowners to secure the remainder of the route. Planning permission has been secured for its scheme at Robertsbridge, and the whole route is now safeguarded in the Council's local plan. Liaison continues with the relevant authorities.
From 2009 to 2010 the RVR with help from K&ESR and volunteers were able to complete the mile long extension westwards from near Bodiam station, through Quarry Farm, to the B2244 (Junction Road). The first official train ran on the weekend of 19/20 March 2011. Attention then focussed on extending from Robertsbridge to Northbridge Street, and this was followed by work to recast the Robertsbridge section in readiness for the planned eventual join-up with K&ESR's track, once the necessary permissions have been obtained and construction completed. A gala weekend in 2013 saw a steam passenger train operating at Robertsbridge for the first time since the early 1960s.
A small collection of rolling stock is stored at Robertsbridge, with several items undergoing active restoration. The RVR also recently acquired its first steam locomotive, Charwelton, which is presently stabled on the K&ESR due to lack of suitable facilities on the RVR.
The following locomotives are on site
- "Titan", a Drewry 0-4-0 diesel mechanical shunter, Vulcan Foundry works number D140.
- "Dougal", a Drewry 0-4-0 shunter, Vulcan Foundry works number D77 pic.
- D2112, an ex-BR class 03 diesel mechanical shunter.
In addition are a number of other wagons and carriages undergoing or awaiting restoration.
The Rother Valley Railway proposes to restore the missing rail link between Bodiam and Robertsbridge. This is approximately a 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long section. There will be an end-on link with the Kent and East Sussex at Bodiam enabling through running. Trains will run into the Rother Valley Railway's own new station at Robertsbridge, the platform for which is nearing completion, with further structures planned.
Several bridges need to be rebuilt between Northbridge Street and Junction Road, and three road crossings made, including the A21 Robertsbridge by-pass. The proposal to build this road was the major reason preventing the acquisition of this section of the railway by the Tenterden Railway Company in the 1960s, and the railway land was subsequently sold off to local farmers. Recently, however, official attitudes have moderated, and the Railway is convinced that when the time is right, assistance and permissions will be granted.
- Kent and East Sussex Railway
- Colonel Stephens
- From 1988 until the early 1990s, another "Rother Valley Railway" had a brief existence on the site of Upperthorpe and Killamarsh station near the River Rother in South Yorkshire. The line had three locomotives on loan, a five ton steam crane and a membership of over eighty. Although the line featured in a two page article in The Railway Magazine in 1990, little seems to have happened and the society faded away.
- Skullclamp Creations. "Rolling Stock". Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- Hill 1990, pp. 398-9.
- Booth 2013, p. 52.
- Booth, Chris (2013). The Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway A pictorial view of the "Dukeries Route" and branches. Blurb. 06715029.
- Hill, Peter (June 1990). "Revival in the Rother Valley". In Kelly, Peter. The Railway Magazine (Cheam, Surrey: IPC Magazines Limited) 136 (1070).