SEmG

Crowborough

Crowborough in East Sussex has the distinction of being the highest town on the Weald. It is perhaps best known as the chosen place of residence of the celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from 1909 until his death in 1930. The town's elevation and local topography resulted in a much lesser known association with secret society, being the location of a secret radio transmitter beaming propaganda to continental Europe during World War II and an equally secret Regional Seat of Government during the Cold War era.

This relatively populous and prosperous area of south east England attracted a web of railway lines fostered in part by competition (or the fear of competition) between the LBSCR and the SER. The railway arrived in the vicinity of Crowborough - for the station is a mile and a half from the town centre in an area known as Jarvis Brook - on the 3rd August 1868 with the opening of this section of the line from Hurst Green Junction to Lewes. The station was initially known as Rotherfield after the village which is just as close as Crowborough. It was renamed Crowborough in 1880 with the opening of Rotherfield & Mark Cross station (fractionally closer to Rotherfield than the station at Jarvis Brook!) on the nearby Eridge - Polegate (Cuckoo) line. Crowborough Station was subsequently renamed Crowborough and Jarvis Brook on the 1st May 1897 and then back to Crowborough in recent years.

 
As it used to be..... Crowborough & Jarvis Brook station in the early 1960s. Note there was a good canopy on both platforms that stretched the length of the station buildings.

photograph by Ray Soper

Crowborough in the 1960s
 
Crowborough in the 1960s Looking in the opposite direction, as it was in November 1985.

photograph by Mark Westcott

 
The Signalbox with sidings behind. This scene is long gone today with the 'box and sidings removed and the remaining passing loop controlled from the Signalbox at Oxted.

photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

Crowborough in the 1960s
 
street side station buildings The station buildings from the forecourt on 22 April 2002. This is commuter territory and between the peaks the station adopts a sleepy air.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The station buildings from the down platform. The canopy has clearly been cut back to the north end of the building and modernised.

photograph by Colin Duff

railway side station buildings
 
Such was the duplication of lines in the area that the Southern Railway's electrification programme passed them by and many saw complete closure or truncation in the 1960s. The Hurst Green - Lewes line was cut back to Uckfield from the 4th May 1969 giving the line the name it is known by today - the Uckfield branch. In the intervening years plans have been launched both for complete closure and for reinstating the line from Uckfield to Lewes. The latter currently remains a long term aim however the reinstatement and electrification proposal has recently been dropped by the Strategic Railway Authority. So the line remains one of the two non electrified lines in the south east and currently soldiered on with "heritage" DEMU stock. The line was most associated with 3D/class 207 units built for it, also the class 205, but today is the stamping ground of class 170 and class 171 "Turbostar" units.
 
building on down platform Viewed from platform level this boarded up building on the down platform looks from its clean brick facings to be modern and was, in fact, a waiting room that was built in 1988. The reason it looks so old now is that local youths have done their best to destroy it. It's been boarded up for years and so with no glass to smash, they've turned their attention to the roof tiles.

Behind this building are the remains of the goods yard/ballast train sidings.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The lattice footbridge is at the up end of the platforms.

photograph by Colin Duff

station footbridge
 
The line is still two track through the station and both platforms are used. The substantial station buildings, as befit this, the major station on the line, are on the up platform. There was a goods yard on the down side which closed in 1968 but the sidings remained in use for a considerable time for stabling ballast trains. These tracks are now lifted. Signalling is now controlled from Oxted. Except for peak hour workings through to Victoria (to become London Bridge) using two units, service on the Uckfield branch is worked by single units between Oxted and Uckfield.
 
207017 working an up service 2D unit 207017 is working the 1214 departure to Oxted on 22nd April 2002. The "D" in the unit designation is associated with these services, the "D" being derived from Oxted.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
Looking up line from the footbridge towards Oxted on 22 April 2002. The beginning of the double track section can just be seen and 2H unit 205012 with the 1314 service from Oxted is just about to switch to the down track.

photograph by Colin Duff

the line towards Oxted

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This page was last updated 29 January 2011

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