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Eridge

Eridge station opened with the opening of the LB&SCR line from Groombridge to Uckfield on 3rd August 1868, providing a route to Brighton via the line from Lewes to Uckfield which had by then been open for some ten years. Then on 1st September 1880 the line from Redgate Junction (just south of Eridge) to Heathfield opened, providing a through route to Eastbourne using the previously opened Eastbourne - Hailsham (14th May 1849) and Hailsham - Heathfield (5th April 1880) lines. This second route, which was nicknamed "The Cuckoo Line" by railway workers after the Sussex tradition that the first cuckoo of spring was released by a little old lady at the annual Heathfield Cuckoo Fair, produced a lot of milk traffic to and from Horam as well as through traffic to Eastbourne and Hastings. At one time the South Eastern Railway had powers to run a few trains from Tonbridge via Eridge and the Cuckoo Line to Eastbourne, but these trains were unreliable and unpopular so didn't last for long. Horam station, incidentally, must have been one of the most confusing in Britain for passengers as it had no fewer than five changes of name from Horeham Road when it opened to Waldron, Horeham Road & Waldron, Waldron & Horeham Road, Waldron & Horam until finally in 1953 it gained its last name as simply Horam!
 
Eridge Eridge station in 1972. Despite the loss of the Cuckoo Line trains there are still two main line platforms and two bay platforms in use.

photograph by Terry Heeley

 
And looking the other way, this time photographed during November 1985.

photograph by Mark Westcott

Eridge
 
Eridge station prospered over the years with trains leaving in four directions, to Lewes via Uckfield, to Polegate via Hailsham, to Tunbridge Wells via Groombridge and direct to Oxted, and was expanded to provide two through platforms and two bay platforms plus goods facilities. Quite a lot of splitting and joining of trains took part with Brighton - London trains conveying a portion for Tunbridge Wells West, to be detached at Eridge and attached to an Eastbourne - Tunbridge Wells West service, whilst a portion from the Eastbourne - Tunbridge Wells West service would be detached and attached to the Brighton - London train, with the opposite happening with down services. The route from Brighton to London via Eridge was known colloquially by the drivers as the "Outer Circle" with the comparable "Inner Circle" being Brighton to London via Horsted Keynes.

Between the two World Wars there was also a service from Brighton to Maidstone, which was cut back to Brighton - Tonbridge by the 1960s. Then during that decade the era of decline set in, although in 1964 a new regular interval timetable for the Uckfield line trains, by then dieselized, speeded up services - though most terminated at Lewes rather than running through to Brighton. 1965 saw the closure of the northern part of the Cuckoo Line from Hailsham to Eridge. (The remaining line from Hailsham to Polegate closed soon after in 1968).

 
Eridge The epitome of the Country Station! With a backdrop of fields, trees and an Oast House, Eridge was a very pleasant station both to wait for a train or to work at. The modern lamp posts (with the ugly Network SouthEast coat of red paint still long in the future) seem a little incongruous here! The number 9 denotes the appropriate stopping place for a three unit 'Thumper'.

photograph by Terry Heeley

 
The now infamous Beeching Report, published in March 1963 and aiming to prune out the "dead wood" from the rail system, was the death knell for the Cuckoo Line but did not call for any closures on the Uckfield line. Despite this, in December 1966 British Rail applied to close the lines from Lewes to Hurst Green and Eridge to Tunbridge Wells, but the Transport Minister of the day, Richard Marsh, ruled that only the Lewes - Uckfield section could be closed. This duly happened in 1969, leaving Eridge on a truncated line to Uckfield. Despite the earlier ruling, the line from Eridge through Groombridge to Tunbridge Wells was closed on 6th July 1985. Within five years of the closure of the Lewes - Uckfield section it was realized that a big mistake had been made, but to date all efforts to reopen the line through to Lewes have failed. In the meantime "rationalization" of the line set in after the electrification of the East Grinstead line left Hurst Green to Uckfield as an isolated pocket of diesel traction. Proposals were put forward to single a large part of the line which took effect from 1990.

One result was the complete downgrading of Eridge to a single line of track with all signalling removed and the former Up Main Line platform handling all traffic in both directions. Not even a passing loop remains. For a short while it seemed that the Tunbridge Wells and Eridge Light Railway would take over the down side of the station, and a Light Railway Order to this effect was obtained on 28th June 1993, but to date this has not been utilized with the society concerned concentrating its efforts on Tunbridge Wells to Groombridge. Eridge today is a shadow of its former self, but at least it still has a train service and has a strong prosepect of trains once again running to Tunbridge Wells West as the TWERPS re-opening scheme draws ever closer. New trains were introduced on the line (the first 'Turbostar' traversed the line on 15th December 2003) and the possibility of rebuilding from Uckfield to Lewes not quite extinct, so the station may yet rise from its present state some time in the future.

 
Eridge Two "thumpers" photographed in the station on 18th October 1988. Last generation 3D DEMU Nº1307 is in the Down Main platform whilst similar unit Nº1305 is in the Up bay.

photograph by John Atkinson

 
Also taken in 1988, this photograph shows the first of the earlier 3H DEMUs, Nº205001 at the rear of a six car service, just pulling out of the Up Main platform. Note the addition of the Network SouthEast sticker beneath the route indicator box, the now red post of the platform lighting with the "British Rail" style station signing and the wording "Mind the Gap" on the Down Main platform.

photograph by John Atkinson

Eridge
 
Eridge Eridge Signalbox in 1972. Having served the station so well for so long it was boarded up when singling of the line and removal of the signals made it redundant.

photograph by Terry Heeley

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This page was last updated 29 January 2011

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